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Sunday, November 28, 2021


by Jenna Le

November Rain - Contemporary Blue Abstract Painting by Gordan P. Junior 

November is a mammal, smoke-gray, meek.
Its lumbering body uses weighty flippers
to paddle, making short-lived silver streaks
in the surface of the bay where it’s immersed.
It loves the brackish waters of year’s end,
where black-green tufts of daydreams toss and seethe,
the fodder that it munches till it’s fattened
and farts its way up toward the sun to breathe.
At times, its blimp-like bulk, incautious, crashes
into our worries, our hurry to complete
our home improvement plans before the fractious
first snow, our human habit to mistreat
each other, our campaign ads, our work stress.
It wears those scars from one year to the next.

Jenna Le is the author of Six Rivers (NYQ Books, 2011) and A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora (Indolent Books, 2017), a Second Place winner in the Elgin Awards, and Manatee Lagoon (forthcoming from Acre Books, 2022). Her poetry appears in AGNI, Denver Quarterly, Los Angeles Review, Massachusetts Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Pleiades, Poet Lore, Verse Daily, and West Branch.

Saturday, November 27, 2021


by George Salamon

Digital Painting of an old woman’s hands by Victoria Castro.

I confronted my fondest memory of Thanksgiving,
not long ago, as the oven door was opened to baste
the turkey with yet another coating of bubbly pan
juice, that was to make the meat more tender, when
I heard the scratching of Cleo's paw at the kitchen 
door shut to her, Cleo the golden retriever who knew
what she smelled and what she wanted, while the
humans were told not to didscuss the important things
they cared about—politics and race, the economy 
and money, having it all or having nothing at all, the
state of the union and the abuse of the environment—
while the word important made my skin crawl I
thought of Cleo's paw and glanced over to the old
grandma, eyes shut and the sensitivity in her lapped
leathery hands, that feeling in the tips of her fingers
for all living things and understood the paw and her
fingers mattered and counted, and the rest belonged
with all that stuff we sought and still seek at the mall.

George Salamon is fond of the German word Fingerspitzengefuehl—the feeling at the tips of your fingers. It seems to him that we will lose it completely with all that clicking on the computer and smart phone. Have a lovely Thanksgiving weekend —anyway.

Friday, November 26, 2021


by Melissa Balmain

with apologies to Lydia Maria Child

Over the river and through the woods
To Grandma’s we planned to go,
But floods rose all day
And the bridge washed away
And a Honda is hard to row.

Over to Amtrak we went, of course,
Which would have been just fine
If wildfires had not 
Occurred on the spot
To block the 4:09.

Over our budget, we caught a plane—
We’d soon take off, we knew!
But cyclones and swarms
Of tropical storms
Had stranded the whole damn crew.

Over and over we tried to Zoom:
Hail knocked the power dead.
No time to stay put,
We’ve departed on foot
For New Year’s Eve instead. 

Melissa Balmain edits Light, America's longest-running journal of comic poetry. Her newest book of verse is The Witch Demands a Retraction: Fairy Tale Reboots for Adults (Humorist Books). Twitter: @MelissaBalmain

Thursday, November 25, 2021


Photo source: Plimouth Patuxet Museums

Howie Good
is the author most recently of the poetry collections Gunmetal Sky (Thirty West Publishing) and Famous Long Ago (Laughing Ronin Press).


by Rebekah Wolman

A painting done in 1995 by Karen Rinaldo, of Falmouth, Mass., depicts what many Wampanoag tribal leaders and historians say is one of the few accurate portrayals of “The First Thanksgiving 1621,” between the Wampanoags and the Pilgrims. —Dana Hedgpath, “This tribe helped the Pilgrims survive for their first Thanksgiving. They still regret it 400 years later.” The Washington Post, November 4, 2021

We’ve read the picture books about the harvest feast we call the first Thanksgiving—
no mention that for the Wampanoag it was a cursed Thanksgiving.
How many ways to brine and roast a turkey? Ask the food editors
what’s the virtue of this excess in which we’ve been immersed, Thanksgiving.
Some kids dressed up as Pilgrims; others wore construction paper feathers.
What did they learn about the Wampanoag when they rehearsed Thanksgiving?
In COVID quarantine, we roasted Cornish hens for one or two. Instead
of hand-drawn place cards we had names in Zoom squares at our dispersed Thanksgiving.
Two years after settling on Wampanoag land, the Pilgrims saw no rain
for two long months. Two months of fast and prayer and then a cloudburst Thanksgiving.
Family tensions linger, wrongs go unredressed, pain unspoken. Food and drink
are plentiful but other hungers go unsated at lips-pursed Thanksgiving.
What I’m asking, settlers’ descendants and other white folk, is what if we returned
ill-gotten gains, atoned, and then observed—a people reimbursed—Thanksgiving?

Author's Note: This poem was written in the shelter of a house built and bought and sold multiple times on stolen land...the unceded ancestral homeland of the Ramaytush Ohlone people, the original inhabitants of the San Francisco Peninsula.

Rebekah Wolman is a retired educator living in San Francisco. A previous contributor to The New Verse News with poems also appearing recently in Limp Wrist, she is a 2021 winner of Cultural Daily’s Jack Grapes Poetry Prize.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021


by Peter Neil Carroll

Outside the little grocery, a woman
in a black cloth coat and feather hat
waits quietly near the electric door.
A shopper, stocked with pie crust,
biscuit mix, garlic flavored Velveeta
for the grits, pushes her cart
with one hand, the other fingers
a folded $5-dollar bill, looking  
to give it away for Thanksgiving.

Neither says a word.

Peter Neil Carroll's seventh collection of poetry, Talking to Strangers, will be published in 2022. He lives in northern California.  

Tuesday, November 23, 2021


by Mary Saracino 

Source: Pinterest

In what pocket of my heart do I shove my grief  
over vigilante white boys being exonerated?
In this land of justice, justice was not served.
The scales of Lady Justice have been upended. 
The blindfold covering her eyes has been torn asunder.
She weeps with outrage.
She wails with sorrow.
She sees the abuse of power.
She calls us to resist.
And for the preservation of humankind
we must act
for love is a verb
and resistance is the antidote
to evil, to fear, to hatred,
the only medicine that
can heal
what festers deepest in the wounds of America's inglorious story.
No shining city on the hill,
a nation founded on unspeakable atrocities
must tourniquet its bleeding limbs
suture its oozing lesions 
nurse its traumatized people back to wholeness.
Together we must embark on this  
beautiful and necessary mending.
Or die trying. 

Mary Saracino is a novelist, memoir writer, and poet. Her most recent novel Heretics: A Love Story (2014) was published by Pearlsong Press. Her novel The Singing of Swans (Pearlsong Press 2006) was named a 2007 Lambda Literary Awards finalist in the Spirituality category.

Monday, November 22, 2021


by Earl J Wilcox   

Photo by Peter Forister, November 19, 2021 at 04:00, Charlottesville, VA, USA at EarthSky

My plus one last night, Alexa,
awakens me right on time.
I am up—groggy, sour-mouthed,
muttering, mumbling musing,
old guy grumbling despite
a magnificent moonshine worship
moment waiting above my balcony.
Alexa plays some familiar Mozart,
as agreed on at my bed time. Out-
side I shiver, huddle in a small chair,
I’m overcome with a sublime scene:
in the fog of near-freezing November
and my dense macular mist, a small,
bright Beaver moon hides half its face
behind a dark somewhat ominous shadow.
A distant shrill of sirens, ubiquitous
revving motorcycles break my
somnolent stupor. Even with a cold
arse my heart pounds with warmth and joy.
Unique as this moon light masquerade
provides, earth is the place for me.
It is not music of the spheres I hum
—just some earth-made melodies
by Mozart, our universal plus one
making a little night music.

Earl Wilcox has been humming and howling at The New Verse News for many years.

Sunday, November 21, 2021


by Gil Hoy

Dan Hudson. "Garbage Can" (1992), oil on panel, 24×34 inches.

On Wednesdays, 
I take my trash down to the curb. 

There's a blue bin for recyclables, 
a black bin for regular trash
and a brown bin for yard waste. 

You can tell a lot about a man 
from the contents of his trash. 
Our neighbor is obsessed with Covid 
and now buys most of her things 
on Amazon. Her son got sick a year ago, 
was in intensive care for three weeks 
and then died. Her blue bin is filled 
with broken down boxes every week. 
Her husband stays inside and has started 
drinking again. There are three or four
empty wine or bourbon bottles 
in their blue bin every week. 
A divorcee a few houses down  
worries about getting old. Her black bin 
holds the week's trash from products 
promising to make her gray hair brown again 
and remove the wrinkles from her face. 
She's put on weight since her husband left her 
for a younger woman five years ago. 
There are often three or four 
empty pizza boxes in her black bin. 
You can tell a lot about a woman
from the contents of her trash. 
Another neighbor has three birch trees 
next to his driveway. His yard waste bin 
is filled with grass the yard boy cut 
and birch tree branches that once encroached 
upon his driveway. His shiny Mercedes 
can now get in and out again without a scratch. 
His regular trash bin has empty pill bottles 
used to keep his blood pressure down. He bought 
the Mercedes and keeps his yard carefully 
manicured to keep up with his neighbors.
A house up the road has two recyclable bins 
that are always full. The house's black bin 
never has much trash at all. The owner works 
for a company that reduces greenhouse gases 
and makes our water cleaner. The owner 
attends political events most nights 
focusing on climate change. 
You can tell a lot about people 
from the trash they don't have.
A neighbor on the next street over 
is an accountant. His blue bin is filled 
with shredded paper: tax schedules, 
financial statements and old tax returns. 
By the time April 15 comes around, 
he has three blue bins that are overflowing.
Another one of my neighbors 
doesn't play by the rules.  
He puts his trash out early most weeks. 
And then he's fined by our Town. 
He was arrested a while back 
for stealing money from his clients 
and had to spend a few years 
away from his family. 
You can tell a lot about a person  
from how they handle their trash.
And as for me, my trash is not 
what it used to be. My wife passed away 
suddenly and the kids have all grown up 
and moved away. I don't talk with them 
or see them much anymore. 
I miss the deflated balloons from birthday parties 
and worn out hockey skates that used to be 
in my black bin. And the leaves that filled 
my yard waste bin when I could sometimes 
get the boys to rake. I miss my wife's 
empty fancy shampoo bottles 
I used to put in my blue bin.
On a good week, when I'm eating well, 
my bins may be as much as a quarter full. 
But most weeks, they're as empty 
as an old man's broken heart.  
You can tell a lot about a man 
from the contents of his trash. 

Editor's note: The losses mentioned in the final four stanzas of the poem are suffered by the poem's Speaker and not, thankfully, by its author. 
Gil Hoy is a widely published Boston poet and writer who studied poetry and writing 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. While at BU, Hoy was on the wrestling team and finished in second place in the New England University Wrestling Championships at 177 lbs. He served as an elected Brookline, Massachusetts Select Board Member for four terms. Hoy is a semi-retired trial lawyer. His work has recently appeared in Best Poetry Online, Muddy River Poetry Review,  Tipton Poetry Journal, Rusty Truck,  Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, The Penmen Review, Misfit Magazine, Rat’s Ass Review, Chiron Review, The New Verse News, and elsewhere. Hoy was nominated for a Best of the Net award last year.

Friday, November 19, 2021


by Pete Mackey

I bring my gun to keep others safe
with my gun but if my gun 
makes you feel unsafe 
I feel unsafe about my gun 
and will use my gun 
to keep myself safe
from you with my gun 

Pete Mackey is a previous contributor to The New Verse News, and his poems have appeared in numerous other publications including, in 2021, Bangalore Review, Cathexis Northwest Press, Third Wednesday, Panoplyzine, Eclectica, The Dewdrop, The Drabble, and Global Poemic along with a Pushcart Prize nomination.


by Buff Whitman-Bradley

Source: Puzzle Warehouse

Once again reality
Has collided with fantasy.
Once again the truth
About America
Has crashed into 
Our pretty beliefs
About the basic goodness
Of our nation under God.
And once again 
All the old cliches
Will be hauled out—
“Sure, we’re not perfect,
We make mistakes sometimes,
But at the end of the day
We’re still lucky to be living
In the Land of the Free
The Home of the Brave
From Sea to Shining Sea
And little by little
Memory of the latest grotesque injustice
Will fade.
We will go to the movies,
Watch the Super Bowl,
Have dinner with friends,
Take our kids to the park,
And recede back into 
The collective dream
Of America the Good.
And we will be shocked 
All over again
The next time a cop murders a black kid,
The next time a governor
Poisons a whole city with contaminated water,
The next time a hospital 
Throws an indigent patient 
Out onto the street,
The next time
A vigilante gets away with murder.

Buff Whitman-Bradley’s poems have appeared in numerous print and online journals.  His most recent book is At the Driveway Guitar Sale: Poems on Aging, Memory, Mortality, from Main Street Rag Publishers.  He podcasts poems on aging at and lives with his wife, Cynthia, in northern California.


by Julian O. Long

after the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict

Speaking of ’lectric cars,
once at a Fort Worth stop sign
a lowrider lifted a fender
like a dog might lift his leg to piss
and flipped me the bird as he took off
laughing around the corner.
That was long ago, but he knew what
he meant—and he loved it.
As the uptight white boy I was
in those days, I may have deserved
his contempt. These days I’d like
to blow him a kiss on the wind he stirred,
as he spun out that souped-up Chevy.
Would it were so, amigo,
would it were so.
Staggerlee remembers Xmas
but King Brady, he lies dead
and the ghost of old St. Louie
flew past my naked bed
when the rage for George Floyd started
up and down my street,
and the high-tailed carriages
came and went all night
breaking in the windows
knocking down the door
startling me in bed on the second floor... 
Busy now, containing Russia,
smug in my alabaster pink
pragmatism, I rejoiced in my country’s
apparent arrested decline. Cop who murdered
Floyd will go to jail, I thought. We threw out
the bastards who stormed the Capitol, I said—
forgetting only too eagerly
Republicans’ settled intention
to lynch the rest of us, La Migra still
lording it up at the border, catching runaways
jury finding Rittenhouse ‘not guilty on all counts.’
Nothin’ for it but the blues?
James Baldwin’s Staggerlee let pent up anger, blues remade,
hiss out of him like rancid air from some hack’s
rubber tire.
Seem like King Brady never died,
Duncan shot him,
doctor found him dead
but he just raised his hammy fist, took that doctor by the throat
and growled, “Sumbitch, you know I cain’t be killed!”
We’ll not overcome this last lynch mob—they’re us;
we’ll watch polite and passive as the Good Old US steals
away down Dixie one last time; no matter clawhammer steels
ring out from edges of fields
to tell it again
how we’ve all of us been—
yeah, we’ve been on the job
too long... 

Julian O. Long is a previous contributor to The New Verse News. His poems and essays have appeared in The Sewanee Review, Pembroke Magazine, New Texas, New Mexico Magazine, and Horizon among others. His chapbook High Wire Man is number twenty-two in the Trilobite Poetry series published by the University of North Texas Libraries. A collection of his poems, Reading Evening Prayer in an Empty Church, appeared from Backroom Window Press in 2018. Other online publications have appeared or are forthcoming at The Piker Press, Better Than Starbucks, The Raw Art Review, and Litbreak Magazine.  Long has taught school at the University of North Texas, North Carolina State University, and Saint Louis University. He is now retired and lives in Saint Louis, Missouri.


by Linda Gelbrich

Source: Northwest Arbor Culture

In this country a young white man
goes to trial for shooting and killing
two people and wounding another at a rally.
Today he is declared—not guilty.
In this same country a black voter
tries to cast a ballot,
unaware she is ineligible to vote,
goes to prison for five years,
and a black man is in prison for decades
for a murder he says he did not commit,
is now declared innocent by prosecutors,
but authorities say his release is not a priority.
Perhaps this is why
some of us write about trees,
about persistently blooming geraniums
and cosmos, even about squirrels that pester,
about the regular appearance
of the sun and moon.      

Linda Gelbrich lives in Western Oregon among many trees.  

Thursday, November 18, 2021


by Rémy Dambron

The US has condemned Russia for conducting a "dangerous and irresponsible" missile test that it says endangered the crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The test blew up one of Russia's own satellites, creating debris that forced the ISS crew to shelter in capsules. Astronauts on the ISS are increasingly having to take precautionary measures when fragments from old satellites and rockets come close. —BBC News, November 17, 2021

how far we’ve come

since our primitive wheels first rolled on dirt roads
and expanded our means of transit 

since our sails first met the unyielding winds of the sea 
sending us over entire oceans in search of new worlds

since we built the first railroads to journey across continents 
along iron paths only humans could pave

since our mechanical wings first presented us 
with the gift of flight
momentarily freeing us from the grounding force 
of earth’s gravitational pull

lifting us into lower skies to tour our globe and glide 
soaring beyond what the eye could see

since our first expedition to the moon 
launched by the thrusts of internal combustion

rockets powerful enough to achieve escape velocity 
and break through the comforts of our planet’s atmosphere 

propelling us into the perils of space 
where no soul had previously traveled 

merely dreamed...

how far we’ve come only to have become 
the very perils we feared

the very menaces we strived 
to mitigate

pieces of ourselves  
unapologetically returning to haunt us

unhesitant to disrupt our lives 
unsympathetic to our vulnerabilities 

our persistent flaws 
our stubborn mortality

an unmerciful reminder of our physiological limits
and the little chance they stand against our cerebral endlessness

Author’s note: To me this story was about more than the handful of lives that were put in harm's way as a direct result of typically destructive human behaviors. While I am relieved that the crew aboard the ISS is safe, this story was a sobering reminder that mankind remains its own greatest threat. We’ve entered a very dangerous era in our brief history as a species, where, in addition to our hazardous nature here on Earth, we have somehow managed to make space.. that cold and dark place with no water, no air, and no life, even more dangerous than it was before we got there. Where do we draw the line? When will we have gone too far?

Rémy Dambron is an English teacher and poet whose writing focuses on denouncing political corruption and advocating for social/environmental justice. With the help of his chief editor and loving wife, his works have appeared in What Rough Beast, Poets Reading the News, Writers Resist, Society of Classical Poets, Robot Butt, and The New Verse News