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Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at]gmail.com.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.

Monday, February 19, 2018

SHE WAS PLEADING WITH HER EYES

by Darrell Petska


Samir Salim is a White Helmets volunteer in Syria's Eastern Ghouta. Already out on a rescue mission when another air strike hit, Samir rushed toward the smoke: a Syrian government air strike had destroyed his house. He saved his infant nephew, sister, sister-in-law and father, but he could not save his mother crushed by the ceiling. He vows to continue his work.


Save the baby, Samir.
Now, fast to the girls.
Your Papa: Take him!
His cries tear my heart.

Samir, my angel,
release my soul
from this burden of being.
Be strong, as I taught you.

I am above you, Samir.
I am all around.
Tell them we are more,
more than paltry flesh.

Inhabit their eyes, my son.
Toward life's supple altar
draw their misspent hearts.
Show them we can fly.


Darrell Petska learned of Samir Salim and his family and felt a great sadness.

Sunday, February 18, 2018

VIGIL

by Sister Lou Ella Hickman


The Pieta Com. by Water-Lilly-Love at Deviant Art


                your child’s body stretches out on your lap    a pietá
                 as you remove the thorned crown of thoughts and prayers
                                       blood slowly crawls down the leg of your chair
                 then drop by drop marks your vigil on the floor
                                      visitors pass           your silence answers their questions
                 the outside darkness fills the window pane
                 the Senator's secretary says
                                      i have to lock up now
                  you reply
                  i’ll be back tomorrow


Sister Lou Ella Hickman is a poet, writer, and a certified spiritual director.  Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines such as First Things, Emmanuel, Third Wednesday, and TheNewVerse.News.  Her first book of poetry was entitled she: robed and wordless.

HONORING THE FALLEN

by Mary Kay Schoen




At Chichen Itza the guide said the ancient
Mayans threw innocents into the cenote
human sacrifice to forestall the end of the world

In World War II young Americans
died to defeat an evil regime
human sacrifice to make the world safe

At Littleton and Sandy Hook
and the school down the street
we send in our children

innocents in the line of fire
to defend the rights of congressmen
to finance reelection to defend the rights

of the folks who want assault rifles handy
in case the US Armed Forces are insufficient
or a deer might bound away

Shall Congress not hand out thanks
and Gold Stars to all the grieving parents
whose children gave their lives

to keep safe those seats on Capitol Hill?


Mary Kay Schoen is a Virginia writer whose feature stories have appeared in The Washington Post and association publications. Her poetry can be found in Persimmon Tree, America, and an anthology of Southwestern poetry from Dos Gatos Press. She spends too much time reading the newspaper.

RINSE AND REPEAT

by Rene Mears


Family members embrace following a shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Feb. 14, 2018, in Parkland, Fla. “Deadliest School Shootings in Modern US History” —VOA, February 14, 2018


Snow falls
Summer calls
                  Crying out for what can not be.
Winter’s chill
Sparrow’s trill
                  Darkness reigns, I can not see.
Many fools
Always cruel
                  The soul, all that remains
Only pawn
Myself gone
                  Invisible, are the chains
Your woe
Strikes the blow
                 So many lying still, asleep
Another gun
Better run
                 I’m left alone, to weep.
Never ends
These trends
                 Infinity. Infinity.  No way to decease
Winter’s chill
Sparrow’s trill
                 Funeral. Funeral. Forget the peace.


Rene Mears lives in Castle Rock, Colorado.  Nurse by day, aspiring writer by night.  This is her first published poem.

THEY AREN'T JUST TAKING SELFIES

by Tricia Knoll


Florida student Emma Gonzalez to lawmakers and gun advocates: 'We call BS'. CLICK HERE to see her dramatic speech via CNN.

having sex before graduation,
or trying pot before sloe gin.

They volunteer, ride horseback
to halt pipelines, engage

with hip hop, rockers and rappers
to say words that need saying,

march in Washington and our city,
enlist, vote, call for police accountability,

and want citizenship for DACA immigrants.
Teenagers and twenty-somethings

see a world every day on their phones
where shooters slaughter friends

in school because there is no will
to ban assault weapons and control guns.

They know shots crack living room windows
on residential streets, that gangs fight useless

wars. When young people knew rightness
of the opportunity for gay marriage,

the nation swayed and so did judges.
They are screaming for gun control

and the right to sit in school
and learn without fear

with no more brush-off praying
for teachers and families

until something is done.
Yell with them.

We need them
to know we’re with them.


Tricia Knoll is an Oregon poet who has signed petitions for gun control for more than forty years. "We are children" say the survivors in Parkland. Do we need to hear more? She doesn't. She is tired of the empty rhetoric of pray for the families and do nothing to stop gun lobby money in Washington. Her book How I Learned to Be White is coming out from Antrim House in 2018.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

DRIVING ALL NIGHT IN THE RED STATES

by David Tucker


Graphic from The Georgetown


I will drive all night in the Red States
I will take backroads through towns with one traffic light.
I will shop at gunshows that stay open late,
their windows festooned with assault rifles
at discounts that will make me weep.
I will make my peace with Jesus billboards
that glow from hilltops and welcome signs decorated
with bullet holes. I will make no comments
on the sexual confusion
of flag-emblazoned pickups, the twinkle
of their gun racks. I will give in
to the longing of satellite dishes as they turn
to early bird jewelry sales at four in the morning.
I will marry a trailer park beauty
who sits in a lawn chair beside a road, winding
pink curlers into her hair, I will slouch
in a lawn chair beside her, smoking Camels
as the sun comes up. I will reject national healthcare
and Islam, I will ban homosexuals and burn newspapers,
I will denounce foreign nations, ambitious women
and abortion, I will ignore the jails overflowing
I will oppose food stamps and Spanish,
I will wave to everyone who passes
glad to see them,  glad to see them go.


David Tucker’s book Late for Work won the Bakeless Poetry Prize, selected by Philip Levine, and was published by Houghton Mifflin. He also won a Slapering Hol Press national chapbook contest for Days When Nothing Happens and was awarded a Witter Bynner Fellowship by the Library of Congress. A career journalist, he supervised and edited two Pulitzer Prize winners for The Star-Ledger newspaper.

Friday, February 16, 2018

THRESHOLD

by Scott Bade


A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose is all
of them aligned in their identity a row
of matching matches each one the source
of course of course to the extinguishing
moment that follows a spectacle of what
we have to believe about what we can’t
believe. I’m not shaking anymore, neither
am I feeling much beyond the growl of dog
fattened on tables scraps lounging next to
the fire as someone pounds on the front
door their urgency their hands their rapid
fire knocking their pulling and pushing
and twisting the door handle it will not
give it won’t turn and then the turning
to living room window peering through
frantic hands binocularing now a palm
flat slapping window all heat red as you
guessed it a rose blooming in palm’s lined
lives & the dog’s ears inside perking
as the flames spread from room to room


Scott Bade earned his Ph.D. in creative writing at Western Michigan University (WMU). In addition to teaching at Kalamazoo College and the Kalamazoo Institute of Arts, Scott is also the coordinator of the WMU Center for the Humanities. He is a former poetry editor for Third Coast Magazine and editorial assistant at New Issues Press. His poems have appeared in Fugue, Shadowgraph, H_NGM_N, Foothill and elsewhere. 

LIKE A BULLET HOLE

by Alexis-Rueal




What is left to write when everything
comes out looking like a bullet hole?
When everything sounds like
a coffin door closing.
How do you make room for a pen
in your hand when you are too busy hugging
toddler nephews tight and thanking
God and fate that they’re too young for school?
This time.
How many synonyms are left for despair
and fury? Do they even mean anything, anymore?
How does the poet write
when it has all been written before?
How does the poet write when they know
they will write it again tomorrow?


Alexis-Rueal is a Columbus, Ohio poet whose work has appeared in online and print journals throughout the US and in Europe. She has appeared in festivals and venues throughout Ohio and Kentucky. Her first full-length collection I Speak Hick was published by Writing Knights Press in 2016.

17 HEARTS FOR VALENTINE'S DAY

by Tammy Nuzzo-Morgan



Mourners hug during a prayer vigil Thursday for victims of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting at Parkridge Church in Coral Springs, Florida. Rhona Wise / AFP - Getty Images via NBC News.



b                e a           t
            red balloons
        b             e     a            t
            red cards
b    e        a                t
            red roses
           b                         e                 a                 t

17 hearts for Valentine’s day           

red                        red                     red               red

b                e a           t
           red hall floors
        b             e     a            t
            red on walls
b    e        a                t
            red of youthful flesh
           b                         e                 a                 t           
         2/14                    celebration of love                
        
2/14/18    life seeps         a                        way                         
children weep

b                e a           t
        b             e     a            t
b    e        a                t

           b                         e                 a                 t

be                          at                peace




Tammy Nuzzo-Morgan, named 2017 Long Island (NY) Poet of the Year by the Walt Whitman Birthplace, was the 2010-2011 Suffolk County Poet Laureate. She is the Founder/President of The North Sea Poetry Scene, Inc., President of The Poetry Place, and the editor of the poetry anthology series Long Island Sounds. She is the author of five poetry collections including Let Me Tell You Something, For Michael, and Life’s a Beach.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

DORSIMBRA FOR COURTLAND SYKES

by Diane Elayne Dees



In Missouri, an acolyte of President Trump is running for the U.S. Senate and denouncing “manophobic hell-bent feminist she-devils.” The candidate, Courtland Sykes, . . . is worth quoting as a window into the backlash against #MeToo and empowered women: “I don’t buy into radical feminism’s crazy definition of modern womanhood and I never did,” Sykes wrote on his campaign’s Facebook page. “They made it up to suit their own nasty, snake-filled heads. . . . I don’t buy the non-stop feminization campaign against manhood. I want to come home to a home cooked dinner at six every night, one that [my fiancée] fixes and one that I expect one day to have daughters learn to fix.” —The New York Times, January 31, 2018


My head is filled with snakes of many kinds—
huge pythons, cobras, moccasins, and corals.
Unlike Medusa’s, mine are hard to find;
they lurk within and poison my morals.

The venom of equality
is stored in my fangs,
paralyzing your patriarchal limbs,
rendering you unprivileged.

The reptiles crawl; they hiss, prepared to strike
at monsters who are deadlier than they
could ever be. You hold me in contempt,
for my head is filled with snakes of many kinds.


Editor’s note thanks to the Poets Collective: The dorsimbra, created by Eve Braden, Frieda Dorris and Robert Simonton, is a 12-line poem consisting of (1) a quatrain of iambic pentameter rhyming abab, (2) a quatrain of "short and snappy" free verse, and (3) a quatrain of blank verse (unrhymed iambic pentameter). The final (12th) line is the same as the first line. The form's creators suggest the use of enjambment, interlaced rhymes, and near-rhymes to bind the three stanzas.


Diane Elayne Dees's poetry has been published in many journals and anthologies. Diane also publishes Women Who Serve, a blog that covers women's professional tennis throughout the world.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

THE SPACE ROADSTER

by Martin Elster



Even Elon Musk, engineer of the circus show, was surprised that his audacious stunt worked. “Apparently, there is a car in orbit around Earth,” he tweeted. His plan is for the $100,000 Tesla Roadster—with the message “Don’t panic!” stamped on the dashboard and David Bowie playing on the speakers—to cruise through high-energy radiation belts that circuit Earth towards deep space. —The Guardian, February 7, 2018


Elon, you’ve lost one of your cherry cars.
We doubt you miss it, though, for Starman steers it,
piercing the emptiness en route to Mars
and the ring of rocks beyond. What flyer fears it,

the absolute of space? Not this fake pilot!
Its gaze is black as the gaps between the stars,
and yet the worlds and suns seem to beguile it.
Who would have thought that dummies in red cars

could zip into earth orbit and keep going?
They flabbergasted us, your booster rockets
which settled like a pair of sparrows (owing
to bang-up engineering). In your pockets

were all the funds you needed for a test
that bested your most hopeful expectations.
Now car and mannequin are on a quest
to beat our wildest visualizations

as earth recedes with all its blues and whites
as Mars grows closer with its browns and coppers
as space becomes spectacular with lights
as we audacious apes become star-hoppers.


Martin Elster is a composer and serves as percussionist with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. His poetry has appeared in Astropoetica, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, The Chimaera, and The Road Not Taken, among others, and in anthologies such as Taking Turns: Sonnets from Eratosphere, The 2012 and 2015 Rhysling Anthologies, New Sun Rising: Stories for Japan, and Poems for a Liminal Age.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

ITALY

by Susana H. Case


Monolithic domes in Italy, Texas.


(ITALY, Texas) — A 15-year-old student in Texas was injured in a shooting in her high school cafeteria Monday morning and a 16-year-old boy, also a student at the school, was taken into custody, sheriff’s officials said. —Time, January 22, 2018


Italy, Texas, so named because a guy
once took a vacation overseas
and came back impressed, is filled with domes
that look like giant, peeled half-
grapefruits. You can put them anywhere.
Next to a power plant, if you want to.

Today, a teenager shot another teenager,
but we can’t do anything about that,
all the guns. Italy is filled
with domes of polyester and PVC,
reinforced with concrete, which means
no tornadoes
or earthquakes
or firestorms
can destroy them.
You can’t even shoot
a bullet through them.
They will last a century—with rebar, centuries.

The thing is, they’re ugly.
Not at all like Brunelleschi’s opulent
Duomo in Florence, in the real Italy, though
Michelangelo compared it to a cricket cage.
Ugly grapefruit halves.

Not as ugly as going to a school to shoot
a young girl. Those domes can take a lot
of abuse, as long as you don’t use propane
or natural gas, which can leak and accumulate,
maybe even kill you. They won’t kill
you as easily as a gun.


Susana H. Case is the author of five books of poetry, most recently Drugstore Blue from Five Oaks Press, 2017, as well as four chapbooks. She is a Professor and Program Coordinator at the New York Institute of Technology in New York City.

Monday, February 12, 2018

I LOVE A PARADE

by Linda Ferguson




as spontaneous as kissing,
one that opens like skies and camellias in January,
one that’s snug as the petals of artichoke buds,
one as knock-kneed as newly born calves in the spring.

I love a parade that knows the way, like elephants returning to a stream,
or a parade without purpose, one that drifts along, trailing its fingers in a summer lake,
or one that’s as wistful as the hound with its nose pressed
against the rough grain of gray fence planks.

Let’s have a parade that gleams like the keys that open the hidden doors,
or like the intrepid turtles that continue to carry small polished maps of the world –
a parade that smells of peaches and petrichor and pine –
a parade that surprises, like the sight of your name, handwritten in ink,
on a cream envelope.

Let’s have a barefoot, makeshift parade made of pinecones and popsicle sticks and twine –
a red-wagon parade, with wheels that squeak and trumpets that strain and ponies that canter
along crooked brick streets.

Give us a piggy-back, leapfrog, hopscotch parade –
a parade of acorns and feathers and beads,
a parade of thick knitted socks and worn wooden clogs,
a parade with spider web streamers and twig batons
covered in clumps of fresh emerald moss.

Let’s have a parade of flags stitched with verbs
like gentle and shimmy and billow and mist
or humble signs printed with pudding and pillow
and button and bone and apple and toe—

Let’s see a parade of dazed passengers stepping off a plane
into a long embrace,
a parade of soldiers lifting their palms,
a parade of perpetrators asking forgiveness,
a parade of jurors confessing, I, too, have sinned,  
a parade of ancestors promising, it will be alright.

Come, let our parade know the beams of a blue supermoon,
let our parade know the loneliness of being lost at sea—
let our parade be the one that remembers
how footprints tremble when they touch
foreign soil.


Linda Ferguson is an award-winning writer of poetry, fiction and essays. Her poetry chapbook was published by Dancing Girl Press. She has a passion for teaching creative writing classes that inspire and support students of all ages.

BELLS & WHISTLES

by Paul Smith




I love a parade
with all the bells and whistles
tanks and cannons and ICBM’s
and, of course,
Sidewinder missiles
I love to watch the men march
and hear their stomping feet
all pound as one in unison
thudding down the street
I love to see the beamish boys
cheering for the troops
waving at their gravity
with manxome jaws outstuck
I love to see the young girls
swept up by fervor true
swooning at platoons festooned
in khaki, white and blue
as the marchers pass the graveyard
their drums and bugles cease
their toots and tweets
a still salute to fallen men
who now lie still
and march no more
the lull is brief
just a moment
a semi-quaver of relief
then right on cue
the band strikes up
Hail to the Chief!


Paul Smith lives near Chicago. He writes fiction & poetry. He likes Hemingway, really likes Bukowski, the Rolling Stones, Beatles, Kinks and Slim Harpo. He can play James Jamerson's bass solo for 'Home Cookin' by Junior Walker & the Allstars.