Guidelines



Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at]gmail.com. No simultaneous submissions. Use "Verse News Submission" as the subject line. Send a brief bio. No payment. Authors retain all rights after 1st-time appearance here. Scroll down the right sidebar for the fine print.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

DEJA VU

by Phyllis Wax



'WORST FAMINE IN 100 YEARS' COULD SEE 13 MILLION PEOPLE STARVE IF SAUDI-LED COALITION KEEPS BOMBING YEMEN: U.N.” —Newsweek, October 15, 2018. The United States supplies bombs and other support for the war that’s killed civilians and is creating famine. Children in Yemen are acutely malnourished. Those who survive will often be stunted for the rest of their lives, physically and mentally. Photo Credit: Hammadi Issa/Associated Press via The New York Times, September 26, 2018.


Some of us remember the photos
when the camps were liberated

skeletons
lethargic from lack of food
legs and arms just fleshless bones
ribs perceptible without x-rays                       
                                                                     
In Yemen
it’s the children—
big-eyed
visibly starving                           
                                                     
pinned in place
by warheads
made in the USA
targeting markets
funerals    schools


Social issues are a major focus of Milwaukee poet Phyllis Wax. Among the anthologies and journals her work has appeared in are Portside, Obama-Mentum, TheNewVerse.News, Surreal Poetics, Ars Medica, Naugatuck River Review, The Five-Two, Star 82 Review and Mobius.  When she’s not writing you might find her escorting at a local abortion clinic. She can be reached at poetwax38 (at) gmail.com.

SIMPLE MATH

by Marissa Glover




When he calls her horseface
I hear dumb bitch and remember
when you texted to tell me
Wife #2 is 5x the woman I am.
It doesn’t matter if I’m 1/2 Italian
or 1/4 Irish or 1/1024 Cherokee—
you’ve always got my number.
If only one drop of Eve’s blood
lurks inside these arteries, the heart
pumps sin to the body.
You point your finger > I take the fall.
Cow + Crazy + Lowlife + Loser + Cunt
Never equals,
we’re reduced to a name
that is not our own.
Not even the one our fathers gave us
because zero plus zero is always zero.
5,246,670 women could march on Washington
and, still, the sum of every woman in America
is nothing.


Marissa Glover is a teacher and writer who shares her thoughts more than necessary, which she considers a form of charitable giving. If it counted as a tax deduction, she’d be rich. Her poetry has been published at Easy Street, The Opiate, Lipstick Party Magazine, Unbroken Journal, Helen: A Literary Magazine, and Muddy River Poetry Review, among others—and is forthcoming from Riggwelter. Twitter:  @_MarissaGlover_.

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

OLD MAN SHOUTING IN A BARN

by Tricia Knoll

Photo by the poet.


On any given fine fall day and this one was given
as gold on the hills, gold in sunshine after rain,
two young parents push a stroller for a baby
wearing a knit hat down a fine gravel road.

The sun might have known it would dip soon
to a sunset but in that moment’s radiance, I asked
what brought them to this Vermont farm
this afternoon. They had many choices

on a day as fine as this. Snow has already topped
a nearby mountain. My purple petunias took on frost
last night. These October days are numbered
more reluctantly than most days, double digiting.

They said they came to u-pick a pumpkin
for Halloween to carve the baby’s first ghost face.
Light a candle. A fine Sunday to get out. Then
they heard “the old man shouting in the barn.”

I nod to the baby, ask “Another first?”
They smile. Another first for sure.
Too bad the baby won’t remember this.
That old man is Bernie Sanders,

a rally three weeks before mid-terms.
The baby inherits our crisis of climate change
and on this fine day, the old man whipped us
up to cheering his amplified words in a barn.

The mother, father and little boy—who will soon
see his first ghost—go rolling up the road to a field
where they might find a perfect pumpkin,
harvest gold despite this fine summer’s drought.


Tricia Knoll attended the rally in a barn in rural Vermont for Democratic candidates in Vermont on Sunday, October 14. This is a true story that means whatever you think it does.

Monday, October 15, 2018

WHAT KIND OF BIRD

an erasure poem by James Penha derived from 
"You Thought Modern Life Was Bad. This Neanderthal Child Was Eaten By a Giant Bird" at Smithsonian.com 


“About 115,000 years ago in what is now present-day Poland, a large bird ate a child. As Laura Geggel at LiveScience reports, it’s not known whether the bird killed the Neanderthal child or happened upon its body and scavenged its remains, but two tiny finger bones found by paleontologists tell a gruesome tale, all the same.” —Smithsonian.com, October 11, 2018. Image by PAP/Jacek Bednarczyk.


“Trump says he is considering a new family separation policy at U.S.-Mexico border.”
The Washington Post, October 13, 2018


The lingering question is what kind
of bird could attack and eat a human child?

Researchers don’t address the topic,
but the record shows
other instances of hominin children becoming
bird food. . . .

When you dig into it,
there’s actually somewhat of a rich history of hunters
gobbling up children.

Even today, there are occasional reports.


James Penha edits TheNewVerse.News .

Sunday, October 14, 2018

OBJECTIONABLE SUSTAIN

by Scott Keeney



Judge, it’s hard to remain calm and measured
and I’m not even alone in a room with you,
not even a teenage girl, not even a woman
of today looking out at a landscape of tattered gowns
and heels in the trees and slips on the wires,
listening to the clamor of countless voices
that might as well be the silence
of the countless others, hum and burn.
It’s hard to remain calm and measured
even without a hand over my mouth
and another groping the smooth hellacious
curves of my salacious details
until I want to throw up, and maybe do a little
in my mouth under your hand
and under the snickering in my ear
under the echoing snicker of your friend,
until I want to vomit the musculature
of an entire culture of pretty domination.
Judge, you have made a mockery of us
who stood all night in a drunk girl’s room,
who got in maybe half a kiss
before realizing she was about to pass out
and so eased her down on her bed
without so much as copping a feel
and watched out her window
and stood by her door other men had entered before,
and wondered if we were a chump, a loser,
an impossible man, missing our chance
for what, the anonymous no-glory
of doing the right thing? And it’s not
that we should be judged by what we did
in high school, I liked beer
so much I drove my mother’s car
into the broad side of the Public Works garage,
but we shouldn’t misrepresent ourselves
before congress, before the people, and that
shouldn’t be a thing that needs pointing out,
and we shouldn’t forget that to be Supreme Court Justice
is not a right but a privilege and any
who would hold that position should be above
causing consternation and palpitations,
agita and outrage to a huge swath
of our population. It’s October 8th,
the Monday after your unholy confirmation
and a mosquito lands on my hand
as I type this. Judge, should I squash it like a bitch
who’s confused about the past?
Karie at work emailed me today to say
she was leaving the office early, too much talk
about how could this happen, how could women
vote that way? She couldn’t concentrate,
was shaking inside. I don’t know when
she’ll return. It’s enough to almost make you
forget there are still kids in cages, separated
from parents sent who knows where, for
the crime of impatiently wanting
nothing more than a better life, wanting just
to survive. Unconquerable violence.
Do you know what it’s like just to want to
survive? My teenage daughter rages every day
that we have a sexual assault artist
in the oval office, and now that artless force
of capitalist nature, with his congenital
shell games and compound interest, has his
justice. The Liar in Chief and his Liar in the Court
blaming the blameless, shaming the shamed
who should not have been shamed, but who always
are. Liar in the court. Liar in the court.
Bang, gavel, bang! Liar in the court!
Go sit well in your seat in your death-colored robe.
Go ahead and adjudicate the defiling of Democracy
with your green hand over her mouth.
Go, you Strawman, go and judge.
Go bury your past, you Executioner of Justice,
you sword in the hand of the Galahad of doublespeak
in this land of liberty and whatnot for all.


Scott Keeney has published four collections of poetry, most recently Pickpocket Poetica. His works have appeared previously at TheNewVerse.News (here and here) as well as in Columbia Poetry Review, Failbetter, Mudlark, New York Quarterly, Poetry East, and other journals.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

THE MAN WHO WANTED MORE

by Nancy Gauquier     





Once upon a time, before sustainability,
in a land far away and ruled by greed,
there was a man who wanted more

he was born to riches and power,
a lot more than most, but to him
it was just a ghost of what could be
in his imaginary reality,
though he was treated like a prince
of the most elite and revered,

clearly, he needed more,
he didn’t want to be loved,
he wanted to be adored
why couldn’t the people see
that he was the emperor of all
that best that could possibly be
from sea to shining sea

the people thought
he must be right
what he says must be true
he has more than I have
he has more than you.

He surrounded himself with sycophants,
men who worshiped him on their knees,
and women who exercised their spleen,
until they were so skinny and mean,
they looked like beauty queens on meth,
addicted to important men who shot up death
and preached hate, but they didn’t come
cheap, they came with silver bullets, bombs,
and armored jeeps.

The poorer people were in so much pain,
that they started to complain.

FAKE NEWS! The big man sputtered,
FAKE NEWS! He cried,
It’s all lies, and I should know
I’m the bigliest liar and that’s how it goes,
BELIEVE ME,
I’ve talked at every business meeting,
I’ve danced at every entitled ball,
I know how it works, I know it all.

And the bullets and the bombs began to fall,
again and again and again,
the war makers became so rich,
on the blood of the poor,
they thought it was only their due,
their egos overcame their brains,
they were better than me,
they were better than you,
no one could beat them,
nothing could stop them now,
they chanted More, more, more, more,
and they didn’t care how.

They would rape their own mother Earth for oil,
regiment their own children to feed on the fear,
rob your piggy bank because their money is dear,
they would do it all and cheer,
More, more, more, more,
Year after year after year.

Until finally the people got so sick
of being so poor,
they just couldn’t take it anymore,
and they started going door to door.
We need to take back the power
they said, we need to give it back
to ourselves instead.
Let the rich sleep in their soft little beds,
we’ve got work to do,
you for me, me for you,
all together, for now and for all
take out your cell phones
and call all your friends!

They rushed through the cities,
they rushed through the towns,
the nurses, the teachers, the actors,
the clowns, they rose up all together
and they put their feet down.

The statesmen all shook in their shoes,
they tried to stifle the news,
but the people all twittered and tubed,
they called and they shouted out loud,
You cannot hide the truth anymore,

it’s time to open the doors and let us in,
to let us breathe, to live without poverty
or fear, and they all began to cheer
for themselves, hand in hand,
black and white and red and tan,
every color, every size, every sex
and otherwise, they marched together
and strong, in a line that was so long,
you couldn’t see the end of it –

the plutocrats all ran for their lives,
they ran to their islands where their money
was stored, and stockpiled so high,
it formed a wall for them to hide behind,
but the surrounding seas began to rise,
they swallowed the islands whole,
along with all the pollution and coal,
the ones who cowered there disappeared
without a sign, they did not even have time,
the wall they built to keep them above
the sea of humanity, gave way, so the people
and all the other creatures could finally be
free
of all the lies and hypocrisy.


Nancy Gauquier lives in central CA, and has been published in many off-beat obscure lit mags, online and off, including Defenestration, Hermaneutic Chaos, Melancholy Hyperbole, and Lummox. She is a single parent and has worked in child-care, and as a nanny, and has been influenced by one of her favorite authors, Dr. Seuss.

Friday, October 12, 2018

POST-KAVANAUGH MUSINGS

by George Salamon






Let us read the Kavanaugh debacle not as
Map of the future but as a map of our history
In which most men aspired to power,
To command an empire, a city, a family,
Employing their talent to be obeyed,
Fulfilling their need to excel, and
Succeed in dividing humans into
Executioners and victims, exempting
Only madmen and wise men,
Saints and beggars from engaging
In this jostling game, played in every
Nation and tribe and their institutions.
This political instinct that dominated
The hearings for Justice Kavanaugh
Disguised the cannibalism that rules
Where humanity is taught and raised to see
Itself as leaders and their followers,
Tyrants and slaves, where human beings
Enter a pact, sacrificing their dreams
For either committing or enduring crimes,
And pretending that the tune of this
Dance is the music to the march of progress.


George Salamon watched the Kavanaugh hearings but, so far, has noticed no side effects, He lives and writes in St. Louis, MO.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

YOU MAY IGNORE THE DUPLICATE REQUEST TO FRIEND ME

by Devon Balwit




not that it was from a bot; it was not,
but from me after I unfriended you. (It’s true.)
Working the warp and weft of us left
me stressed. I thought it best to regress
to solitary, me alone already more than I
can handle. You (and other yous) weighed
in on myriad matters—I wanted my view
unskewed. So, rather rude than band-wagoned,
I un-cliqued. Now, riddled with regrets,
I suspect there might have been another way
to maintain center. But thus it ever is—
the act, the doubt, the retraction, the plow
of one’s furrowed brow into whether.


Devon Balwit has six chapbooks and three collections out in the world. Her individual poems can be found here or are forthcoming in journals such as The Cincinnati Review, apt, Posit, Cultural Weekly, Triggerfish, Fifth Wednesday, The Free State Review, Rattle, Poets Reading the News, etc.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

HOLD HER DOWN, SHUT HER UP

by Kathleen A. Lawrence






She put her cold hand over my mouth,
she whispered hotly in my ear
a wet warning, “don’t talk about it.”
She ordered me to keep his secret,
their secrets become our secrets,
their sins we own, if we share what should
be buried, for country, and for tradition.
Silence is your patriotic virtue,
your civic duty to keep it to yourself.
Swallow the pain, spare us your burden.
“Shhh!” she blew with heavy, minty breath
in my face like a school librarian
who didn’t like her job, she glared
at me with the eyes of a water moccasin,
never blinking, she repeated her threat
to everything good I had ever known,
every future I had ever dreamed,
she swatted away my annoying truths,
she laughed uproariously at my viridity,
innocence, naivety, and guilelessness,
and pelted me with any other Ivy League
language she could spit and spatter
my way. To intimidate me, she put all
her boozy weight on top of me,
covering me like a wool blanket
at a rainy homecoming game,
she left me raw, itchy, confused
and unsure I’d ever get rid of the need
to scratch, to tell, to scream out
spilling her secrets, their secrets,
that kept them standing on marble,
speaking under alabaster columns,
holding conferences to tell their stories.
She held me down, like a pile-up
on the playground when you couldn’t see,
or breathe, or scream, but you knew
you knew them just the same. You
knew his face, like you knew
your own sweat, and stomach ache,
and migraine, and fear of the dark.
Leaning on me she excused herself,
her own participation, she spoke kindly
of her own parents, old like mine,
but obviously not as important.
She stood without empathy while keeping
me locked in another room upstairs,
over and over, blaming me and my sisters,
aunts, friends, little girls not yet able to speak,
and anyone who spoke, tried to speak.
But I was muffled, suffocating with her thick
deference to men. She gulped water
for fuel and fury and shouted of her anger.
She looked down with a whiff of pity
and smarminess, high with condescension,
drunk with power, unhinged with desire
to overpower me and feeling superior
from the artificial height of her leather pumps.
She wished I was still, quiet, subdued,
still asleep in my tower. But I am awake.
Locked in a bathroom, at a party,
dragged into a bush, cornered in a bar,
shoved into the backseat, and I scream
without sound. She covered her ears
to my words, her eyes to my struggling,
and uses her mouth instead to tell his lies
and to keep me the liar. She was not rumpled,
her manicured hands washed with rose hips.
She proudly marked the date with Sharpee
on her calendar with a gold star for her ability
to twist, conquer, silence, strip, and grope
the truth all without a wrinkle, smudge or tear
to her well-pressed suit. Like the cunning asp
slithering down the flag pole she has silenced me,
before the stars and stripes and Alexander
and Anita. She has humiliated me, and hissed
a reminder of what will happen to anyone else
who tries to get away with the truth.


Author’s Note: This piece was written as a reaction to the extensive news coverage of Senator Susan Collins delivering her lengthy, self-indulgent, speech to provide explication and some might say excuses for her decision to vote in support of Kavanaugh's acceptance to the Supreme Court. Her desperate rhetoric tried to explain the irony of her assertion that she, like many of her Republican colleagues thought Dr. Blasey Ford's testimony was wholly believable and 'compelling' however, she still didn't believe her testimony or find it reason enough to stall her approval. Many of the senators said they thought something must have happened to the 'nice lady' they just don't think it involved Kavanaugh and that she must be 'mixed up.' They were quick to add that while they were impressed with what seemed to be her 'truthful' testimony they think the whole situation is a case of mistaken identity. Some questioned her ability to recall all the details, and T**mp even mocked her about this. The way she's been treated is despicable and more classic, blaming the victim, or assaulting the assaulted. This poem tries to get at the idea that Collins was telling another woman to keep her mouth shut. In my opinion, she has joined the enablers. She tells Blasey Ford and millions of other women and girls and yes, some men and boys to keep quiet. Like the mother who calls her daughter a liar, for accusing her step-dad of assault and warns her that they could lose everything if she tells anyone, the message is clear. That no one will believe her. I tried to use the details of Dr. Ford's description of the assault she endured as well as some of the other details of other women giving testimony across the country this week interwoven with the assault on the truth.


Kathleen A. Lawrence was born in Rochester—home of the Garbage Plate, Kodachrome, and Cab Calloway. She has been an educator for over 35 years, teaching Communication, Popular Culture, and Gender Studies at SUNY Cortland. She started writing poetry two years ago and her favorite challenge is the spiraling abecedarian. She has had poems appear in Rattle online for Poets Respond®, Scryptic, Eye to the Telescope, Parody Magazine, and Inigo Online Magazine. She's had poems nominated for the Rhysling Award and twice for the "Best of the Net" award. Her poem "Just Rosie" was nominated for the Pushcart Prize.

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

SHEETS

by Donna Katzin


Inside an immigration detention center in the desert outside Los Angeles, guards threw detainees into solitary confinement without hearings, routinely forced them into shackles, and cut off visits with family. Doctors signed off on medical assessments that never happened. Detainees were allowed to hang knotted sheets inside their cells, despite the facility’s extensive history of suicide attempts. And an extraction-happy dentist refused to fill cavities while suggesting detainees floss with threads pulled from their socks. These were just some of the conditions inside the Adelanto Detention Facility when federal inspectors from the Department of Homeland Security arrived for a surprise visit in May, according to a searing report released today by the DHS Office of the Inspector General. Investigators concluded that conditions at the privately run facility amounted to “serious” violations of Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s own detention standards, representing “significant threats to the safety, rights, and health of detainees.” —Mother Jones, October 2, 2018


In the high desert,
caged creatures languish, six to a cell,
for arriving without papers, seeking
refuge from drug lords and gangs,
or jobs as tomato-pickers,
baby-sitters, meat-packers.

Wrong words to faceless uniforms
bring handcuffs, shackles,
days, weeks of isolation . . .
walls closing in . . . No one knows
what will happen to the newcomers
or their children taken at the border.

When guards pretend not to see,
the enterprising hang
sheets twisted into nooses—
Ariadne’s threads that offer
the only way out.


Donna Katzin is the founding executive director of Shared Interest, a fund that mobilizes the human and financial resources of low-income communities of color in South and Southern Africa.  A board member of Community Change in the U.S., and co-coordinator of Tipitapa Partners working in Nicaragua, she has written extensively about South Africa, community development and impact investing.  Published in journals and sites including TheNewVerse.News and The Mom Egg, she is the author of With the Hands, a book of poems and photographs about post-apartheid South Africa’s process of giving birth to itself. 

AMERICA FIRST

by Gil Hoy




He proudly said
“my name is Francisco”

As he served me
my 3rd glass
of crystal clear water

At my 5 star restaurant
below the border.

And he proudly
proclaimed, and I
agreed

That his country
would never pay

For America’s
border wall.

But he stumbled
against the back
of a chair

As he walked away
in cheap shoes.

I sat long and still
in my chair

Thinking about
how he became he
and I became I.

The holiest way I knew.
And I felt ashamed.


Gil Hoy is a Boston poet and semi-retired trial lawyer who studied poetry at Boston University through its Evergreen program. Hoy previously received a B.A. in Philosophy and Political Science from Boston University, an M.A. in Government from Georgetown University, and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. He served as a Brookline, Massachusetts Selectman for four terms. Hoy is a regular contributor to TheNewVerse.News. His poetry also has appeared (or will be appearing) most recently in Chiron Review, The Penmen Review, Ariel Chart, Social Justice Poetry, Poetry24, Right Hand Pointing/One Sentence Poems, I am not a silent poet, The Potomac, and Clark Street Review.

Monday, October 08, 2018

FOR THE DARK

by Carol Alexander



A tsunami as high as 20 feet was triggered September 29 by a 7.5-magnitude earthquake and hit two cities and nearby settlements about 800 miles northeast of Jakarta, Indonesia. Here, a ship is wedged between buildings on a street in Wani, Sulewesi. Mast Irham/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock via The Washington Post, October 2, 2018


Dusk that is woven of sighs and a bomb of sparrows
shooting over the grass: a mild explosion before the thunder breaks.
For us the sighs, the birds, the thunder spin a little drama out of air,
while in the interval of eastern waves, a wall of ocean wipes out
even the shadow of the fisher hawks.  We glimpse the water,
hear cries tamped beneath thick mud in someone's cellphone video.

A group of women scream and disappear,  breath mingled with the wind.
So close to the edge, has this documentarian survived?

On the beaches they say lies anything, everything touching the human sphere.
Imagine tangled skeins of clothes, smashed up festival lights,
a wooden pipe sluiced of ash. Still bodies of the swimmers, beach strays,
amid the bamboo and pottery tiles. Bodies carried from the wreckage
either by the sea or living hands.  And as the rain comes down 9,000 miles away

we think of those frozen figures of Pompeii going about the quotidian
in their easy ignorance, and relic ourselves with open mouths upon this frieze.


Editor's Note: Global Giving, which funnels donations to local organizations, has raised $248,000 of its $1 million goal to help people in Sulawesi. The effort centers on emergency supplies such as "food, water, and medicine, in addition to longer-term recovery assistance to help residents." Global Giving has a 96 rating on Charity Navigator.


Carol Alexander is the author of the poetry collections Environments (Dos Madres Press, 2018) and Habitat Lost (Cave Moon Press). Her chapbook Bridal Veil Falls is published by Flutter Press. Alexander's poems appear in a variety of anthologies and journals, most recently Aurora Poetry, Belletrist, Bluestem, Cumberland River Review, Halfway Down the Stairs, One and Third Wednesday. She is a past contributor to TheNewVerse.News.

Sunday, October 07, 2018

THE DEED IS DONE

by Marsha Owens


Cartoon by Michael de Adder @deAdder


            October 6, 2018
            lying Supreme Court Justice confirmed


I have no tears
maybe music for solace. . .
my cat sings soft melodies
moments click by on the clock
the wine cork pops
and I settle, watch

evening fold its cloak
around trees dropping leaves
the sun drops into its night
place beside those who can cry

and the anger, the anger
roils like hot oil

tap it down, tap it down!
stay calm! vote! be strong!

Being strong sucks . . .
We’ve been strong for centuries
We’ve marched for decades
We’ve kept silent because
            (“it’s a man’s world” my mother said)
We’ve raised daughters
We’ve raised sons
We’ve raised husbands
We’ve cried into pillows at night
We’ve put one foot in front of the other
We’ve organized
We’ve been in therapy
We’ve cashed inferior paychecks
We’ve walked in the dark with fear
We’ve birthed babies
hoping . . .

WE. ARE. TIRED.

My dear women friends . . . sleep.
Find peace and quiet.
It’s been a long day.


Marsha Owens writes to understand. Her poems and essays have appeared at The Literary Nest, TheNewVerse.News, The Huffington Post, thewildword, Rat’s Ass Review, Streetlight Magazine, the Dead Mule School of Southern Literature, among others. She lives in Richmond, VA, not far from the peaceful Chesapeake Bay.

THE STAIRS, THE BED, THE LAUGHTER

by Jennifer Davis Michael
Drawing by Ann Telnaes, The Washington Post, December 5, 2017 


The stairs, the bed, the laughter,
the hand over her mouth.
The silence that came after
the stairs, the bed, the laughter;
the faces that looked past her.
The mockery, the doubt.
The stairs, the bed, the laughter.
Fifty hands over her mouth.


Jennifer Davis Michael is Professor and Chair of English at the University of the South in Sewanee, TN. Her work has appeared in a number of journals, including Mezzo Cammin, Southern Poetry Review, Turtle Island Quarterly, Leaping Clear, and previously in TheNewVerse.News.