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Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at]gmail.com.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

Sunday, November 19, 2017

WHEN I SAW JESUS IN RICHMOND, VA

by Marsha Owens


Volunteers Mary Akemon (left) and Alexandra Marcus and, with Let America Vote, talked with Farrukh Kahn as they canvassed a neighborhood on Friday, October 27, 2017 in Woodbridge, Virginia. Let America Vote, formed by former Democratic Missouri Senate candidate Jason Kander debuted its electoral field operations in Virginia with a field office in Manassas that drew 114 interns from across the country to help knock on doors for 10 Democratic delegate candidates. (Pete Marovich/For The Washington Post)


Lo, in the year two thousand and seventeen,
I walked among Democrats and knocked
and the young woman, wearing a friendly
smile, opened the door to me and said,
yes, we will vote tomorrow
for the one who is good to all people,
to my black family and to my Muslim
neighbors, the one who does not hurt
women, does not steal from the poor,
and I said, that is good, and my gaze
fell on the old woman on the couch,
her hand patting the tiny baby,
and she asked me to name names
of the others who care about others
and I showed her the list, and she
rejoiced and was grateful
and I saw, too, the man seated on a stool,
the old woman’s foot on his knee,
and I watched this young man wash
the feet of his mother-in-law who was lame,
saw him file her splintered toenails,
and my eyes did not deceive,
and his child—an old soul—waved her
baby hands, and his young wife spoke
again—do you see what my husband is doing?
and I saw, then turned away, walked through
golden leaves and the sun reached down, and I
heard nearby loud voices praising Sunday
football and seemed to hear heavenly voices
sing blessings for this holy shit, and within
the loudness, a small voice, maybe my own,
whispered, This is good stuff, damn good stuff.


Marsha Owens lives and writes in Richmond, VA and celebrates her roots in the Chesapeake Bay area. She is pleased to say that she survived 18 years of teaching English to middle schoolers. Her poems and essays have been published at The Wild Word, Feminine Collective, Rat’s Ass Review, TheNewVerse.News,The Literary Nest, and the Dead Mule School of Literature.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

WE DID ALL WE COULD

by Carolyn Martin



"World Scientists’ Warning to Humanity: A Second Notice" by William J. Ropple et al and 15,364 scientist signatories from 184 countries  in BioScience, 13 November 2017 via the Alliance of World Scientists.


We did all we could.
This came later—
after miscues, closed eyes,
full-throated ignorance
singing through church pews,
school rooms,
chamber halls,                                            
families at supper time.

We did all we could.
This came later—
after sold-out masks,
cracked water lines,
the silence of bees,
monkeys, elephants,
eucalyptus, maples,
and nature poetry.

We did all we could.
Someone would
have scoffed
at this arrogance
if there were, that is,
someone left to hear
and later hadn’t disappeared.


Carolyn Martin is blissfully retired in Clackamas, OR, where she gardens, writes, and plays. Her poems have appeared in publications throughout North America and the UK, and her third poetry collection Thin Places was released by Kelsay Books in 2017. She hopes the Earth won't go extinct before her next book is published.

Friday, November 17, 2017

INGLORIOUS BASTARDS

by Kathleen A. Lawrence





Acting badly,
boorish comics
coax deranged egos.
False good-guys
going Hollywood,
icons indecently
jones and jerk,
kindling lascivious
meager manhoods.
Nihilistic ogres, odd
paunchy producers,
quibble ruthlessly.
Ransacking solicitors,
sleazy thieves
undressing virtue,
these villains wither,
when exposed,
yanking zippers
ad nauseam.


Kathleen A. Lawrence continues to write poetry in upstate New York. Recently she received word that two of her poems have been nominated for 2017 Best of the Net awards, and another was nominated for the 2017 Rhysling Award of the international Science Fiction and Fantasy Poetry Association (SFPA). She has also  had poems published in Rattle (Poets Respond), Eye to the Telescope, haikuniverse, Silver Blade Magazine, The Wild Word magazine (Germany), Altered Reality Magazine, Undertow Tanka Review, and Proud to Be: Writing by American Warriors, among others.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

A FLOCK OF WILD TURKEYS

by Tricia Knoll




You’d pull off the road for that,
wouldn’t you? Beside Pigeon River?
A flight of forty landing.

Thin and sleek, running.
Watch their heads bob
and thin legs pedal.

You’d forget news
of feathered nests
and overstuffed breasts.


Tweeted by Bill Kristol.


Tricia Knoll is an Oregon poet who has only seen one wild turkey in Oregon but many, many more in Vermont.

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

MEDITATION IN ROME

by Sharon Olson


School had not started and students at Rancho Tehama Elementary were still in the playground when staffers first heard gunshots in the neighborhood Tuesday morning, said Richard Fitzpatrick, superintendent of the Corning Union Elementary School District. “The bell had not rang, roll had not been taken, when the shots were heard,” he said. Staffers immediately began to lock down the campus, rushing students into classrooms and under desks when the gunman came around the corner toward the school, Fitzpatrick said at a press conference Tuesday. The gunman crashed through the front gates of the school in a white pickup truck traveling at high speed, he said. Authorities say this was part of a larger rampage through the rural community in Northern California that left five dead and 10 wounded. The man came out of the truck with a semiautomatic rifle and ran into the center of the school’s quad and began firing at windows and walls as staffers, including the school’s custodian, rushed students into classrooms under gunfire. One student was shot in a classroom while under a desk, Fitzpatrick said. That student was said to be stable. —LA Times, November 14, 2017


The gaze from Sant’Eustachio Il Caffe
reveals a stag atop the nearby church,
a crucifix sprouting between its antlers.
Stirring my cappuccino I think of Hubertus,
as Eustace is called in Belgium,
the hunter who saw his vision of the crucifix
in the forest of the Ardennes,
and asked his would-be victim
what he might do.

The stag counseled good hunting,
trimming the ranks of the herd.
I think of the X’s spray-painted
onto the carcasses of “fallen” deer
in my neighborhood,
marked for hauling away.

Fallen perhaps over-used as a euphemism
for dead soldiers, as if they had merely
stumbled, breaking rank in procession
towards the enemy at Waterloo,
Khe Sanh, Kanduz.

In my America gun cases beckon,
designer bags hold personal revolvers,
video games tally the number killed
for the game player with his joy stick,
the one who flunked anger management
and blamed the schoolmates who mocked
and bullied him, who now focuses his aim
on the heads of children in the crosshairs.

Inside the church lie the bones of Sant’Eustachio.
Painted onto the dome above, the wings
of the Holy Spirit, flung wide.


Sharon Olson is a retired librarian, a graduate of Stanford, with an MLS from U.C. Berkeley and an M.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of Oregon. Her book The Long Night of Flying was published by Sixteen Rivers Press in 2006. Her poems have appeared in such journals as Off the Coast, String Poet, Arroyo Literary Review, The Curator, Adanna, Organs of Vision and Speech Magazine, The Midwest Quarterly, Edison Literary Review, California Quarterly, The Sand Hill Review, and Cider Press Review. Two of her poems have been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She currently lives in Lawrenceville, New Jersey where she is a member of the U.S. 1 Poets’ Cooperative, and since 2015 has been part of the Cool Women Poets critique and performance group, which gives readings in venues throughout New Jersey.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

CAN IT HAPPEN HERE?

by  Jon Taylor


Image source: Newspaper Rock















Ask a Native American
declared a “merciless Indian savage”
in the country’s founding document
taught with reverence to schoolchildren.

Ask a descendant
of slaves from Africa
who isn’t behind bars with two million
others of his inheritance.

Ask a Mexican
who had the temerity
to resettle in the land Anglos stole
from his ancestors.

Ask an Arab immigrant
who was removed from an airplane
because his fellow passengers
felt uncomfortable in his presence.

Ask a six-year-old
taken from school in handcuffs
because he pulled the pigtails
of the girl in front of him.

Ask the parents
who lost custody of their children
because they let them walk home
from school by themselves.

Ask the old boy
shot dead in his armchair
when the law broke down his front door
looking for someone else.

Ask yourself
while being cavity searched
at the side of the road
for rolling through a stop sign.


Jon Taylor is the author of Berry Picker’s Blues, a book of Michigan/Northwoods/Upper Peninsula poems. He can be reached at taylor.jon440[at]gmail.com .

Monday, November 13, 2017

OVER

by Judith Terzi


The Trump administration announced tight new restrictions Wednesday on American travel and trade with Cuba, implementing policy changes President Trump announced five months ago to reverse Obama administration normalization with the communist-ruled island. Under the new rules, most individual visits to Cuba will no longer be allowed, and U.S. citizens will again have to travel as part of groups licensed by the Treasury Department for specific purposes, accompanied by a group representative. Americans also will be barred from staying at a long list of hotels and from patronizing restaurants, stores and other enterprises that the State Department has determined are owned by or benefit members of the Cuban government, specifically its security services. —The Washington Post, November 8, 2017. Havana photo by Judith Terzi.


To Barack Obama



Like the Roman deity Janus, you looked
to the past & the future. Janus––god of time.
God of gates & passages. God of trade.

Yes, trade. Shadowy jumble of words &
punishment emerges today from the WH.
No golf resorts, no ties, no towers, no art

of the deal. The future is opaque, grieves
the loss of your imagination, your
luminosity, your esperanza. No sunrise

today over restoration in Old Havana,
over skyscrapers along Avenida de los
Presidentes, over Hemingway's weary

Corona, over John Lennon's statue in
Lennon Park. No sunset watch from Fort
Morro, from Lucky Luciano's sunlit rooms

at the Hotel Nacional where John Kerry's
photo hangs over a bar, where Nat King Cole
hangs out in bronze, & a sculpture

of Isadora Duncan surprises in the lobby
of this hotel now blacklisted for Americans.
Can we still use their bathrooms? Can we

still drink their mojitos, smoke Cohibas
on the terrace after La Parisienne show?
Can we still speak to the two Parisian

couples fêting their marriages, or tourists
from Jamaica, Shanghai, Czech Republic,
Germany, Barcelona, Chile, & México?

These travelers on their own, alone. Can we
still walk through the bunker, stark reminder
of the verge of war––the Missile Crisis. Can

we still climb to the top of this blacklisted
hotel & view our Embassy & the cruise
ships beyond & wish you were here?


EDITOR’S NOTE: TRAVEL TO CUBA WITH THE AUTHORS GUILD FOUNDATION: "New Cuba Trip Added by Popular Demand February 10-17, 2018 (December and November trips are SOLD OUT) Please note that recent sanctions on travel to Cuba prohibit individual travel; however, it is legal to visit Cuba with a group led by a licensed educational organization. The Authors Guild Foundation trip qualifies under the new restrictions."


Judith Terzi's poems appear or are forthcoming in journals and anthologies including Caesura, Columbia Journal, Good Works Review (FutureCycle Press), Myrrh, Mothwing, Smoke: Erotic Poems (Tupelo), Raintown Review, Unsplendid, and Wide Awake: The Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond. Her poetry has been nominated for Best of the Web and Net and included in Keynotes, a study guide for the artist-in-residence program for State Theater New Jersey. Casbah and If You Spot Your Brother Floating By are recent chapbooks from Kattywompus Press.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

THE THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS OF TRADER JOE SHOPPERS

by Kristin Berger


Image source: Kim's Cravings


That tonight will be the quiet, easy Sunday when all cars obey
the lights and the moon escorts clouds to the other side
of the overpass, under which homeless families are thankful
for no rain and church tips—
That tonight you reduce the odds and leave the children home,
the one fuming that you won't let him get the Nerf gun
that handles & loads like a semi-automatic;
Because you are the mother, and tonight will be the random night
you return with a trunk full of groceries, nothing
but a split nail and no sirens in the distance.


Kristin Berger is the author of the poetry collection How Light Reaches Us (Aldrich Press, 2016), and a poetry chapbook For the Willing (Finishing Line Press, 2008), and co-edited VoiceCatcher 6: Portland/Vancouver Area Women Writers and Artists (2011). Her long prose-poem, Changing Woman & Changing Man: A High Desert Myth, was a finalist for the 2016 Newfound Prose Prize. Her most recent work has been published in Contrary Magazine, Half-Mystic Journal, The Inflectionist Review, Timberline Review and Wildness. She lives in Portland, Oregon, where she hosts a summer poetry reading series at her neighborhood farmers market. 

Saturday, November 11, 2017

IN THE FALLING DARK

by Devon Balwit 


Sheree Rumph of San Antonio prays over two of the 26 crosses erected in memory of the 26 people killed in a shooting in Sutherland Springs, Texas on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017. The shooting took place during a Sunday service at the Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church. (Jay Janner/Austin American-Statesman via AP via The Times-Picayune, November 7, 2017)


Each day I take my little target and go out.
I cling to my petiole—call it life
I hope for no storm, no rending gust,
no one with a gun, a grudge, a common truck.

I cling to my petiole—call it life
I shield its flicker with my hand, invite in
no one with a gun, a grudge, a common truck.
I wring the last green from my short day.

I shield my flicker with my hand, inviting in
only beauty, only the heroism of the ordinary.
I wring the last green from my short day.
I close the door on threat. I turn inward.

Only beauty, only the heroism of the ordinary,
please, people—not invective, not hate—
Close the door on threat, turn inward.
Listen to the breath and find the vital.

Please, people—not invective, not hate—
the human world is so late. It’s dusk.
Listen to the breath and find the vital.
I try. Every day, I’m a beginner.

The human world is so late. It’s dusk.
Each day, I take my little target and go out,
I try. Every day, I’m a beginner.
I hope for no storm, no rending gust.


Devon Balwit is a writer/teacher from Portland, OR. Her poems have appeared in TheNewVerse.News, Poets Reading the News, Rattle, Redbird Weekly Reads, Rise-Up Review, Rat's Ass Review, The Rising Phoenix Review, Mobius, What Rough Beast, and more. The author thanks Bruce Cockburn for the title of this poem.

Friday, November 10, 2017

BIPARTISAN TO BIPENNATE

by John Beaton


Eagle with One Wing by Christopher Hall.
I saw a bird with just one wing.
The poor thing could not fly;
it fluttered in a clockwise ring.
Another squawked nearby,

similarly handicapped,
but anticlockwise in
the one-winged way it feebly flapped.
They filled me with chagrin

and then a bright idea brewed—
what if I was to tie
the two together? Then they could
Siamesely fly.

And so they did, the left wing and
the right, united, flew.
It happened in cloud cuckoo land—
one wing was red, one blue.



John Beaton, a retired actuary who was born in Scotland, is a widely published poet and spoken word performer from Vancouver Island, Canada.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

ON THE SAME DAY

by John Kotula


Detail of a mural in Santa Maria de los Angeles Church, Riguero, Managua, Nicaragua. Image source: Alliance for Global Justice.


Thousands of immigrants from Nicaragua who came to the United States illegally, many of them decades ago, will lose special permission allowing them to stay in the country, the Trump administration said on Monday. —The New York Times, November 6, 2017


T***p says
2,500 Nicaraguans
Must go,
I go to the mall
In Managua
For 2 X 2 color photos
No glasses,
Neutral expression,
Natural smile
To renew my passport.
Like Superman
Leaping buildings
I cross fronteras
In a single bound.
My passport
Sports an eagle and
Stars and stripes.
One look at the old,
Well fed, white guy
In the photo
And nobody claims
I’ll take their job,
Rob their house
Or rape their granny.
But back in the
US of A
No “bad hombres”
Are allowed,
Even if
They work,
Pay taxes,
Own a home,
Have kids,
Coach little league,
Dress up for Halloween,
Bake apple pies, and
Deck their lawns
With inflatable
Snow men.
On the same day
T***p says
2,500 Nicaraguans
Must go,
I feel welcomed in
Managua.


John Kotula is a writer and artist from Peace Dale, Rhode Island who is currently living in Managua, Nicaragua.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

SING A SONG OF CAYMAN

by S.O.Fasrus






Cayman as in Cayman (Islands)—often confused with the homophonous Caiman: A large aquatic reptile found in swamps and closely related to crocodiles and aligators.


To the Queen from her accountant:
'About Your Majesty's money?'
'The poor are always with one -
send it somewhere sunny!'
The Duke of York reminds her
the lion's share is hid,
'but we always have the Caymans Ma'am
to park ten million quid.'

The maid is in the garden
by the potting sheds
the Counting House is near
she hears everything he says.
'I'm on a bloody pittance -
the royals are in a bubble,
so I'm off to call the Daily Mail.
I'll cause a lot of trouble.'

The Monarchists are furious
they say 'Oh what's the point'
the latest royal palaver
puts their noses out of joint:
'Our taxes pay for parasites
like Charles and Parker Bowles
yet they're hiding all their private wealth
in tax exemption holes.'

The maid's in the Bahamas
enjoying a nice rest
the papers bought her story
'she's feathering her nest,'
the Monarchists go turncoat
agree The Crown's despotic
the headline on the front page:
OUR QUEEN'S UNPATRIOTIC.'


S.O.Fasrus has verses at LUPO and is currently writing a YA novel.

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

POLITICIAN

by Howard Winn




The doorbell rang once politely
and he was already smiling
when I opened the front door
while his hand reached out
in welcome as he said my name
and we agreed that I was
in fact that person enrolled
in his political party and ready
to vote when the time came
for we must throw the rascals
out not having voted to put them
in at the last election day when
we with the best intentions lost
out and in fact we were right
for fraud and personal gain has
been revealed although we
wonder if the voters read or
care as we stand in the doorway
agreeing how right we were
the last time even if the majority
did not know or pay attention
so having concurred we shook hands
once again and he turned into
the rain to try the next registered
door and I went back to lunch
wondering if our conversation
had mattered since the opposition
was not there to hear our wisdom
exchanged since they were our
beliefs and not their convictions
as it seems always the case
and once again we talk to ourselves


Howard Winn's work, both short fiction and poetry has been published in Dalhousie Review, The Long Story, Galway Review, Antigonish Review, Chaffin Review, Evansville Review, 3288 Review, Straylight Literary Magazine, and Blueline.  His B. A. is from Vassar College. His M.A. is from the Stanford University Writing Program. His doctoral work was done at N.Y.U. He is Professor of English at SUNY.

Monday, November 06, 2017

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT VIOLENCE

by Diane Elayne Dees


Carrie Matula hugs a woman who lost her father in a mass shooting at the First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, on Sunday, Nov. 5, 2017. Matula said she saw and heard everything as it happened from the gas station where she works just a block away. (Nick Wagner / American-Statesman via AP via Yahoo!)


Some were on the sidewalk,
some were at a concert,
some were in a needless war,
some were in a laboratory cage,
some were living in a house of rage and sadism,
some were in a church,
some were in a car when the police showed up,
some spent their lives in tiny, cramped pens,
some were at school,
some were in a house with monster parents,
some were raised only to be on your plate
at the prayer breakfast, where you begged for peace.
All longed for freedom.
None wanted pain.
All wanted to live.


Diane Elayne Dees’s poems have been published in many journals and anthologies. Diane, who lives in Louisiana, also publishes Women Who Serve, a blog that covers women’s professional tennis throughout the world.

Sunday, November 05, 2017

THE FLOATING PEOPLE

by Mark Tarren


Kulsuma Begum, 40, a Rohingya refu­gee, cries while recounting her story at Kutupalong refugee camp in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. She said that her daughter was missing and that her husband and son-in-law were killed by Burmese soldiers. Photo source: Hannah Mckay/Reuters via The Washington Post, October 29, 2017.


We are the sea
of people

that flows from Rohingya
to Bangladesh.

We are the sea
of colour

red veils
shirts of saffron
violet dresses
that flows through green
banked rivers.

We are water.
There is mud and hunger
in our footprints

they call us insects
they call us

The Floating People.

We live in our

shared Book of Stories
so that our children will know
where they came from

our shared drawings
our songs
our taranas.

Where we remember home.

We are life. We are sky.
We are air.

When they burnt our babies alive
we looked to the east
towards Arakan
to the mountains of Arakan Yoma
and remembered many things

the colour of rooftops
where we had dried food

the colour of fields
where we once loved

the colour of turmeric and chilis

it is the colour of fire.


Mark Tarren is a poet and writer based in Queensland, Australia. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in various literary journals including The Blue Nib, Poets Reading The News, and Street Light Press.

Saturday, November 04, 2017

THE EYES OF CHECHEN AUTHORITIES WILL NEVER LET THEM FORGET WHAT THEY HAVE DONE

by David Hanlon


A leading Russian human rights group has expressed “serious fears” that a gay pop star may have been killed in Chechnya’s crackdown on gay people. Zelimkhan Bakayev, 26, went missing in August when he left his home in Moscow to visit the capital, Grozny, for his sister’s wedding. “When a person disappears and the police force refuse to investigate his disappearance, we have serious fears for the life of that person,” Oleg Orlov, from Memorial, Russia’s oldest civil rights group, told AFP on Friday. Russian NGOs and media outlets have raised concerns about the fate of Bakayev and speculated that Chechen police may have abducted him due to his sexual orientation. —The Guardian, October 27, 2017. Photo: Some time before his disappearance,  Zelimkhan Bakaev (right) posed with Chechnya's leader Ramzan Kadyrov. —Facebook


Even when they squeeze
them shut,

they’ll bulge
like fat camera reels

turning, projecting
the images on the backs

of their eyelids –
flesh screens

a silent,
black-and-white

horror movie
stuck

on repeat.


David Hanlon is from Cardiff, Wales. He is sickened by these atrocities that are still ongoing. With a leader who claims 'no gay men exist in Chechnya,' how can gay men ever feel safe within the republic again? Outside authorities need to intervene & put a stop to this inhumanity now!

Friday, November 03, 2017

LAIKA (1954 - NOVEMBER 3, 1957)

by Martin Elster


Laika statue outside a research facility in Moscow
(AP Photo/RIA-Novosti, Alexei Nikolsky)
via Universe Today.
The more time passes, the more I’m sorry about it. We did not learn enough from the mission to justify the death of the dog. —Oleg Gazenko























We pulled you off the windy streets,
crammed you in a windless room,
stuck electrodes to your skin,
then hurled you to your doom.

Black ears alert, brown eyes alarmed,
you fought against the fearsome thrust,
heart overheating, wildly beating,
hanging on to trust.

What was this floating-feather-lightness?
Where was the man whose gentle hand
had stroked you after every test?
When will this bubble land?

Our plan was, after a week in orbit
you’d polish off the poisoned kibble.
(Your air was running out, dear friend,
but you weren’t one to quibble.)

Because of you, men gained the moon,
touched a comet, launched the Hubble.
Yet building a craft that could have brought
you back was too much trouble.

There stands a statue of a rocket,
you atop it, proud and regal.
Small Moscow stray, could you have dreamed
you’d die a wingless eagle?


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.

Thursday, November 02, 2017

ROLE MODELS

by Alan Walowitz


FBI to release all of its JFK assassination files. In this file photo, President John F. Kennedy's hand reaches toward his head within seconds of being fatally shot as first lady Jacqueline Kennedy holds his forearm as the motorcade proceeds along Elm Street past the Texas School Book Depository in Dallas on Nov. 22, 1963. | James W. "Ike" Altgens, File/AP Photo via Politico, October 30, 2017

I was in homeroom when JFK got shot
and we weren’t told much
about what’d happened—
or about much else—
this was high school, late shift,
and the afternoon wore
so damn slowly into night.
But that day I learned
from the very purposeful
and well-dressed Mr. Wulf
that life must go on
and a greater angle of a triangle
is opposite a greater side,
and though I never had the need
to read the Warren Report,
I hear those august guys
absolutely nailed Theorem #6
with their fine discussion and diagrams
of angles and distance from the Book Depository
to the limo riding by in Dealey Plaza
carrying a human god, the man we most admired,
though we later found out
he had feet of clay and was just a guy.
I also learned that
if a teacher remains in the back of the room
and tamps down weeping to a quiet, plaintive sob,
a tough old bird like Mrs. Hirsch in English
can wring a pink handkerchief dry
then drown it again with her tears
and no one will think less of her.
Though the president we’ve got now
makes me sick with his lies,
his ugliness, and everything else he hides,
there’s nothing left in the vault,
unrevealed from 1963 or ‘64
that could have taught me any better
what kind of grownup
I ought to hope I’d grow up to be.


Alan Walowitz has been published in various places on the web and off. He’s a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an Online Community Journal of Poetry, and teaches at Manhattanville College in Purchase, NY and St. John’s University in his native borough of Queens, NY. Alan’s chapbook Exactly Like Love was published by Osedax Press in 2016 and is now in its second printing.

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

FIRST MANAFORT . . .

by Jean L. Kreiling




Justice may not work the way
you wish.  They’d fall like dominoes
if truth prevailed, but sad to say,
justice may not work that way.
What gleeful hopes rise on this day:
first Manafort, and soon T***p goes?
Though justice may not work that way,
you wish they’d fall like dominoes.


Jean L. Kreiling’s first collection of poems The Truth in Dissonance (Kelsay Books) was published in 2014; her second collection will appear in spring 2018.

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

PUMPKIN MAN

by David Spicer


Portrait pumpkin by Hugh McMahon


His name alone is an October
cartoon, but he’s an omen
that warns us like a hawk
swooping above black snakes
unluckier than the thirteenth
disciple who hovers like a specter.

Infamous Pumpkin Man isn’t a specter,
but he’s full of the famed October
surprises that fall on Friday the 13th,
standing in cornfields, yelling, Oh men,
oh women, kill all the snakes,
hang any women who hawk

their wares at nights and seek to hock
their babies’ souls. No, he isn’t a specter,
but real as a crawling king snake
that strikes on the last day of October.
Pumpkin Man’s more than an omen:
he’s the personification of the number 13,

betrays friends with his straw heart, as the thirteenth
disciple did at the last supper. He’s the hawk’s
nemesis, the hawk unafraid of human omens,
fearless of pumpkin men fearful of specters,
especially on the last day of golden October,
the day of lizards, of alligators, of orange snakes.

One day, it’s foretold, a ghostly stranger will snake
with a plumber’s auger the second to the thirteenth
straw in Pumpkin Man’s brain, October-
colored, like his hair that barkers have hawked
as a brand, as immortal as a specter’s
mastery of spells, sacrifices, and omens

to belie the trust of women and men.
And Pumpkin Man, alone in the field, will sneak,
or try to sneak, away in his final days like a specter
from a graveyard, and the twelfth and thirteenth
members of a boil of spiraling hawks will
grab his long red tie on the last day of golden October,

strangling him as no omen can, the thirteenth
and last time specters roam the days of October,
celebrating with the world, the snakes, the hawks.


David Spicer has had poems in Chiron Review, TheNewVerse.News, Alcatraz, Gargoyle, Easy Street, Third Wednesday, Reed Magazine, Santa Clara Review, Rat’s Ass Review, Yellow Mama,  Midnight Lane Boutique, Ploughshares, The American Poetry Review, and elsewhere. The author of Everybody Has a Story and five chapbooks, he’s the former editor of raccoon, Outlaw, and Ion Books. His latest chapbook is From the Limbs of a Pear Tree available from Flutter Press.

Monday, October 30, 2017

CHICKEN

by Susan Vespoli


“The body of someone who has died from a suspected opioid overdose. In January, 2017, there were sixty-five overdose deaths in Montgomery County [Ohio]. At times, there has not been enough room at the morgue for all the bodies, and the county coroner has been obliged to rent space from local funeral homes and lease refrigerated trailers for more space.”  From “Faces of an Epidemic,” The New Yorker, October 30, 2017 issue. Photo by Philip Montgomery; text by Margaret Talbot.

    “I didn’t cause it, can’t control it, can’t cure it.” —Al-anon slogan


I tried to write a poem
about how the opioid epidemic
had stolen one of my children,
now an adult,
and how it threatens
like a terrorist
to take another,
about how there’s nothing
a mother can do but watch
the way a body thins, how teeth dissolve,
how beings disappear
from behind their own eyes:
the brown or green irises darkening,
the eyeballs resting
in more hollow sockets—
but the words, lines, stanzas
of my poem attempts
were all failures.

So instead I will tell about a golden hen
that appeared in my backyard
like magic
to stand on her four-prong-star feet,
her body an oval covered with feathers
a strawberry blond fluffy as fur
backlit by the sun
when she bent to sip water
from the pale green bowl
I’d placed beneath the Palo Verde tree.
At first she strutted like a little queen
around the center of the grassy expanse
surrounded by oleanders,
sort of haughty, wide-eyed, solo,
but then she began to trust me,
sidling up to my ankles,
saying bwak, bwak, bwak
like she had some news to share
and I grew to sort of love her.
Then one day, as it happens,
I looked for her and she was gone.


Susan Vespoli lives in Phoenix, AZ where the opioid epidemic is alive and well. Her work has been published in a variety of spots including Mom Egg Review, TheNewVerse.News, Write Bloody, and dancing girl press.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

DEATH AND SALVATION IN NEW HAMPSHIRE

by George Salamon


'A cremation urn was donated to the Salvation Army Family Store in Portsmouth [NH] with an engraving on the bottom that reads “Richard L. Pettengill 1929-1981.” . . .  According to an obituary that appeared in . . . the Exeter News-Letter, a Richard L. Pettengill, of Newmarket died at age 52 on Oct. 18, 1981. The obituary described him as a brick mason who served with the Army in Germany and Korea.' —Seacoastonline, October 22, 2017. Photo by Rich Beaychesne / Seacoastonline.


He was a brick mason
Who served with the Army.
Death ended his pain and his life,
But his life was not concluded by his death.
He cares not whether marble adorns him,
His soul was brought across the stream
Where, at last, man ambition scorns.
In death, he calls no place his own.
Let us instruct ourselves to be still
When we should.
He was a brick mason
Who served with the Army.


George Salamon lives and writes in St. Louis, MO. He served with the Army.

Friday, October 27, 2017

FACES OF MARIA

by Andrés Castro


“We found many children in Utuado living in these conditions. No roofs, water, power, and little food.” Tweeted by Antonio Paris‏ @AntonioParis 



Who in their right mind would name a hurricane Maria?

Only the diabolical would wrap death in Mother Maria.



As Boricuas die, our Commander and Chief Drone tweets,

plays golf, calls the begging Mayor of San Juan, no Maria. 



My grandfather, Don Manolo, an Independista until the end,

cut cane as a young man, hoping to marry sweet sixteen Maria.

Titi Carmen, the Santera in the family, would take her old
grandmother and introduce her to the spirit Orichas as Maria.

In Don Pablo’s basement church, sacred African-Cuban drums
conjured my favorite Changó by the statues of Virgin Maria.

Don’t substitute your prayers for baby food, water, electricity,
give your money to crooked Priests and Pastors, Ave Maria.

We know this is a man’s world, a white man’s world, a rich
white man’s world, I am a poor Nuyorican, loving Maria.

The trees, birds, little green coquis will come back in time,
fathers and mothers with faith will name their babies Maria.


Andrés Castro is a PEN member/volunteer and is also listed in the Directory of Poets and Writers. His work has appeared in the anthologies Off the Cuffs: Poetry by and About the Police and Close to Quitting Time, as well as in print and online journals including Left Curve, Counterpunch, The Potomac, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, Long Shot, Acentos, Pilgrimage, Montreal Serai, and ImageOutWrite. He also regularly posts work on his blog The Practicing Poet: Dialogue to Creativity, Poetry, and Liberation.   

Thursday, October 26, 2017

T***P VISITS GOLF CLUB FOR THIRD CONSECUTIVE WEEKEND

by JP Thelbert Bryant

Donald Trump has played golf every four days of his presidency.
The Independent (UK) October 23, 2017


What’s out there, the solution to healthcare?
Secret plans to back down North Korea?
An apology letter about Russia’s interference?
Pussies to grab?

And do you ever feel guilty in those tight khakis
and white shirt, that children are hungry,
that gays are scared, that religion is taking over,
that women hurt?

Does it make you feel powerful to swing a club, put balls in holes,
tug on that baseball cap probably made in China?

I wonder these things as I work everyday, as I set aside money for sickness, as I monitor the gasoline I use, the food I buy.

I have no time for golf. Most of us have no time for golf.
We have to worry about feeding our children, fending off diseases,
nuclear bombs, conservative evangelicals dictating our lives,
our bodies, our minds.

But only pretty rich folks play with you.
And no one wants to think about sad things anyway.
It’s just some of us have to think about them. Everyday.


JP Thelbert Bryant is a poet and a writer of creative nonfiction. He is a graduate of the low residency MFA program at West Virginia Wesleyan College. He lives in the woods of Virginia where he burns incense, deer watches, and dreams of oceans.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

TONIGHT, I'LL BE THE SKY

by Megan Merchant 


#MeToo


I’ll take the noise of you and leave a salt streak
across the sheets. I’ll let you caw behind my knees
and cumulonimbus well ahead of the squall line,
your trailer wobbling in the wet-wind.

After, when you blow smoke in my hair,
I’ll catch a puff on my tongue. Swallow.
You’ll call me home, tar feathering my teeth.

Let’s pretend you don’t know my secret—
how everyone said, he’ll be the end of you,
forecasting me dark, which I thought was ok
because I never knew where I began.

Maybe somewhere purple in these
bruised constellations.

Even if I float thin, you’ll find your
way home. You’ll knock, but only after
you shred the door.


Megan Merchant lives in the tall pines of Prescott, AZ.  She is the author of two full-length poetry collections: Gravel Ghosts (Glass Lyre Press, 2016 Best Book Award), The Dark’s Humming (2015 Lyrebird Prize, Glass Lyre Press, 2017), four chapbooks, and a forthcoming children’s book with Philomel Books. She was awarded the 2016-2017 COG Literary Award, judged by Juan Felipe Herrera, the Poet Laureate of the United States.

Monday, October 23, 2017

OUR FLAG SPEAKS

by Sister Lou Ella Hickman


A homeless man on a park bench in Brooklyn. Credit Spencer Platt/Getty Images via The New York Times.


how many have I seen fall     countless
as every flag has carried into battle
yet you have not asked me
how I should be honored because of them
so I have remained silent  until    now
honor    the word  the thought  the ideal
that raises everyone to something greater  noble   true
however trite that may sound
so I would have honor in other words
those that give voice to the silenced
to speak for the few, the different . . .
even those who oppose your own heart’s path
I am only cloth and color    the value I have is from you
and when you Pledge  make  those words real
for I fly not just for those countless lost or maimed
but also for those whose living defeats them
for everyone whatever stripe or shade of flesh
standing is but a moment   a song  a brevity
let all this honor be your life time  your daily gratitude
for those I saw fall and die


Sister Lou Ella Hickman has been an all-level teacher and a librarian. Presently she is a freelance writer and a spiritual director. Her poems and articles have been widely published in numerous magazines. One of her poems was published in the anthology After Shocks: Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events edited by Tom Lombardo. Her first book of poetry she: robed and wordless published by Press 53, was released in the fall of 2015.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

GLADIATORS REIMAGINED

by Katie Chicquette Adams


Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers suffered a broken collarbone on Sunday and may miss the rest of the season. Credit Bruce Kluckhohn AP via The Charlotte Observer, October 17, 2017.


Though the Roman Empire is long
behind us, cultural remnants survive:
we still gorge on gladiators, groomed
for maybe not death, but a definite
kind of destruction
for our distraction.
We are still the Romans
paying the gross
ticket price, shaking our heads
in something like sadness
or shock when men trained to be tough
fail to be gentle enough.



We slaver with feigned concern, 

fans susceptible to the schadenfreude
of modern athletics, anxiously
awaiting the next agile, brawny feats
performed by men of a singular will
who know that in this world,
competing is what they can do well.
They push on, pawns of passion, paid
in glory and more,
hoping for less possessive,
more benevolent owners
who will mete out compassion
over control, respect over derision
for fighters choosing feet,
knees, or absenteeism as the
musical ode to past bloody battles
unnecessarily peals, and viewers believe
theirs to be the worthiest appeals--
because who are these gladiators
to dare to think, to speak, to feel?

These 21st century warriors
we parade and glorify,
degrade and deconstruct. 

We are fiercely invested
in players whose pockets we line,
personally disappointed (though
generally unaffected)
by their platform management
by their life-changing injuries,
disrupting our coveted consumption
of physical prowess
we neither possess nor deserve,
hollering, grumbling, reminding them
it is our needs, our bloodlust
these battered and battering
contenders serve.


Katie Chicquette Adams is an educator and writer in Appleton, WI.  She is a live storyteller with Storycatchers, Inc.; she has appeared or is forthcoming in River + Bay, Mothers Always Write, Heavy Feather Review, the regional radio segment “Soul of the Cities,” and on the regional blog, Storycatchers. She works as an English teacher for at-risk young adults at a public alternative high school, with hopes they will remake their own stories. She can be reached at k.chicquette.adams[at]gmail.com

Saturday, October 21, 2017

AMERICAN INTERESTS

by Alejandro Escudé


Artwork by Lennart Gäbel.


"When somebody says something about me, I am able to go 'bing, bing, bing' and I take care of it," T***p said. “You know, you have to keep people interested.” —CNN Politics, October 20, 2017


In the hours after President Donald T***p said on an Oct. 17 radio broadcast that he had contacted nearly every family that had lost a military servicemember this year, the White House was hustling to learn from the Pentagon the identities and contact information for those families, according to an internal Defense Department email.—Roll Call, October 20, 2017


Escher-like, America block after block,
stairway after stairway, the dead ends,
the verbal multiplicity—the ugly prank
that is this presidency. But I keep my hand
over my heart when we say the Pledge
of Allegiance where I teach high school.
I didn’t say it when Bush was the president.
During W, I abstained, and looked away.
Something in the drug works. I believe
we’re going to be better after the parade
of clowns ends. Holy soldier! I’m thinking
of his body having not known what he
signed up for. How the soul is a wreck.
Those fatherless children. The lights
over the coffin. The echoing of the war.


Alejandro Escudé published his first full-length collection of poems My Earthbound Eye in September 2013. He holds a master’s degree in creative writing from UC Davis and teaches high school English. Originally from Argentina, Alejandro lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.

Friday, October 20, 2017

HER BROTHER

by Penelope Scambly Schott


Abdi Ali Ibrahim speaks during a Reuters interview after burying the hand of his sister Asha Ali Ibrahim believed to have been killed during an explosion that killed hundreds last Saturday in KM4 street in the Hodan district in Mogadishu, Somalia. -- REUTERS/Feisal Omar, October 17, 2017.


He came downtown to hunt for his sister.
He couldn’t reach her on her cell phone.
He can’t find her in any of the hospitals.
Someone has collected loose body parts
and put them into black plastic bags. He
searches in the bags until he recognizes
his sister’s wedding band. Now this man
stands ankle deep in the charred rubble.
He holds all he has–his sister’s left hand.


Penelope Scambly Schott was awarded four New Jersey arts fellowships before moving to Oregon, where her verse biography A is for Anne: Mistress Hutchinson Disturbs the Commonwealth received an Oregon Book Award for Poetry. In 2013 she had two books published: Lovesong for Dufur and Lillie Was a Goddess, Lillie Was a Whore. Penelope’s most recent book (2014) How I Became an Historian is a lyric examination of the connections between past and future, both in her family and in the larger world.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

PRICK AN AMERICAN

by Zev Shanken


Still from Ang Lee's film of Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk.


America is bad on health care because
   Americans never get sick.
America favors the rich in taxes because
   all Americans are rich.
Americans carry guns because
   Americans shoot bad guys.

America isn't afraid of war because
   Americans never die, and if they do,
they live forever in half-time shows—
      well worth the sacrifice.

Prick an American, he will not bleed.
Prick him again, he re-invents Hollywood.


Zev Shanken’s poems “The Hora for the First Passover under President T***P” and “High Noon” have appeared in earlier issues of TheNewVerse.News.  A collection of his poems, Memory Tricks, is available from Full Court Press. He co-chairs a monthly poetry reading series, Thursdays are for Poetry,  at Classic Quiche in Teaneck, NJ.