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Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at]gmail.com.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, April 11, 2021

ECHOES OF MERCY, WHISPERS OF LOVE

by Earl J. Wilcox




In a back room of the home nestled

among pines and dogwoods—bam bam

 

bam—shots over and over, bullets 

felling grandfather, grandmother, 

 

two grandchildren. The fescue lawn 

shaded but ready for a Carolina summer 

 

held in its red clay care two others hit 

by the bam bam bam bullets. Echoes

 

from silenced beautiful lives fill 

the patient pines. The ER will not 

 

receive nor save these lives or

the shooter’s. Nothing in this world

 

can soothe the pain in the hearts

of those of us left behind, our faces

 

racked with tears and fears for 

a world where—over and over and

 

over—guns break the silence among

hollow pine trees, our consolation

 

in each other, hopeful that one day

a brave new world answers our prayers.


 

Earl Wilcox is a friend both of the family of those killed in Rock Hill, SC on April 7 and of the family of the alleged shooter.

Saturday, April 10, 2021

HOW SUBTLY IT HAPPENED

by William Doreski




Secretly, I slip the daylight
moon into my pocket. A crowd
has formed. As I approach,
stainless things clatter. A cop
 
kneels on a neck. A sigh kites
into the trees and deflates.
The cop looks too dispassionate
for this lifetime. The man
 
on the ground no longer speaks.
The stainless things rain down
with naked blades twittering.
I ease the moon from my pocket
 
and compare it to the face
of the cop and of the man
he’s stifling. None of these three
expressions can tell me the time.


William Doreski lives in Peterborough, New Hampshire. He has taught at several colleges and universities. His most recent book of poetry is Mist in Their Eyes (2021). He has published three critical studies, including Robert Lowell’s Shifting Colors. His essays, poetry, fiction, and reviews have appeared in various journals.

Friday, April 09, 2021

FLORIDA MAN AT THE CAPITOL

by Mickey J. Corrigan


Cartoon by Andy Marlette.


On the same marble floor
where legislation is passed
and the invaders broke in
on January 6th
Florida Man held contests
for scoring with aides.

In this historic building
where laws fail to pass
for equal rights 
for all 
Florida Man lit up
donned a gas mask
during session.

From this legendary building
where flags became weapons
the mob broke down doors
looted rooms, beat cops
Florida Man made dates
online, young girls
hired and seduced
by his political clout.

Outside this same building
in the early spring sunlight
yet another cop killed
the violence continuing
while Florida Man 
FOX-faces us all
proclaiming his innocence
in all things unseemly.


Originally from Boston, Mickey J. Corrigan writes tropical noir with a dark humor. Novels include Project XX about a school shooting (Salt Publishing, UK, 2017) and What I Did for Love, a spoof of Lolita (Bloodhound Books, UK, 2019). In 2020, Grandma Moses Press released the poetry micro-chapbook Florida ManThe Physics of Grief puts the fun back in funerals while taking a serious look at the process of mourning (QuoScript, UK, April 2021). 

Thursday, April 08, 2021

HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY, 2021

by Howie Good




The SS officer rolled the corpse over, and the girl saw the face of her music teacher, with blood here and there. He had gone to fetch a ration of bread, and a loaf was sticking out of his coat. The girl drew closer. It looked like a serious piece of bread, and Jews had little to eat, soup that was mostly water with grass. Her instinct was to grab the bread and run. But she left it. She left it because she saw his face, with blood here and there.

&

When someone complains to me about trivial stuff, I’ll say, “Oh yeah, try going through life as a Howard.” In Judaism, at least as practiced by my parents, one is named in honor of a person who has died. I was named in honor of my mother’s father’s brother. I never met him. I’ve never even seen a picture of him. He died long before I was born and without leaving a trace—except for the 100-year-old man, a former guard at the Sachsenhausen concentration camp, arrested in Germany on 3,518 counts of being an accessory to murder.

&

It’s spring in name but not in substance. The land, to my amazement, seems to constantly rearrange itself in wild new patterns of rage and decay. On the border, small brown children languish in lockups. On city streets, young black men in police chokeholds beg for breath. There is something I have to do. I don’t know how I will do it. I just know from the pressure of tears behind my eyes that it has to be done.


Howie Good is the author of more than a dozen poetry collections, including most recently The Death Row Shuffle (Finishing Line Press), The Trouble with Being Born (Ethel Micro Press), and Gunmetal Sky (Thirty West Publishing).

Wednesday, April 07, 2021

THE CONDITIONAL CASE FOR CONVICTION

by Diana Cole


A patron of a laundromat near Cup Foods watching the Derek Chauvin trial on Monday. Credit: Joshua Rashaad McFadden for The New York Times, April 6, 2021


for George Floyd
 
 
Nothing can be true, so the dog barks all night
          missing the man who feeds him.
 
Into the fire go the stars. If the garbage is collected
          in the morning, the moon will go too.
 
Without evidence of insects, birds have nothing to eat.
          He’s talking so he’s fine.
 
Nothing but a man, a sizable guy who loves his Mama, 
          who lost his Mama.  
                                    
I kneel in case the sun will intervene in time.
          Inside the car, the back seat is a thick darkness. 
 
A black man could get lost if the air is handcuffed.
          Even if he pleads 20 times, he is under the influence,
 
under suspicion, under the knee, undertaken.
          All for 20 dollars, supposing that, even if, as long as… 


Diana Cole, a Pushcart Prize nominee, has had poems published in numerous journals including Poetry East, Spillway, the Tar River Review, the Cider Press Review, GBH Public Radio, Friends Journal, Verse Daily, and the Main Street Rag, and upcoming in Crab Creek Review. Her chapbook Songs By Heart was published in 2018 by Iris Press. She is an editor for The Crosswinds Poetry Journal and a member of Ocean State Poets whose mission is to encourage the reading, writing and sharing of poetry. 

Tuesday, April 06, 2021

IT'S THE QUICK PRICKS

by Tricia Knoll




You lament we’ve missed so much
theater, solstice estivals, state fair curly fries,
Aunt Moo’s 75th birthday at the river
 
but I’m thinking of what I don’t miss
    yellow fever       polio       lockjaw
          flu         hepatitis       diphtheria 
 
because I learned a thing or two
     from   mumps     measles    chicken pox
                whooping cough
 
see I’m old enough to have had those
      but not the firsts because I got the shot
 
and I’m old enough to have had
       my two COVID quick pricks
 
so I don’t miss holding my new grandson
       on the way, seeing our plays unfold
       on a stage with open curtains. 
       Amen and thank you.  


Tricia Knoll just got her second COVID shot. She took the "quick pricks" from Naomi Shihab Nye's poem "Dear Vaccine." Knoll's new chapbook Checkered Mates is available from Kelsay Books and Amazon.

Monday, April 05, 2021

THE DIRECTOR'S CUTS YOU DIDN'T SEE

by Joseph Hope




The United States Country Report on Human Rights Practice in Nigeria, published on March 31, 2021, tepidly states that “On October 20, members of the security forces enforced curfew by firing shots into the air to disperse protesters, who had gathered at the Lekki Toll Gate in Lagos to protest abusive practices by the Nigerian Police Force’s Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS). Accurate information on fatalities resulting from the shooting was not available at year’s end. Amnesty International reported 10 persons died during the event, but the government disputed Amnesty’s report, and no other organization was able to verify the claim.” The US government report is seriously at odds with the CNN report reproduced above. 

A subsequent CNN report documents how the Nigerian government edited a key piece of video evidence. "The Lagos State government's security camera footage of the Lekki toll gate shooting did not capture everything."


We don't have evidence
but we have our truth.
We don't have evidence,
because it was ripped away from us 
with guns aimed at our heads.
People were shot and taken away to unmarked graves.
We have their faces crested on our hearts,
the nameless uncounted for.
Protesters waving their flags were shot in their heads
in their guts
in their backs
in all the places that could kill a man.
The numbers of the dead increases by enough.
A bullet goes through a youth's  
throat like hypens 
silencing the anthem in his mouth.
Mustapha is down. John too.
How many brothers do I have to bury 
to know how hard it is to dig a grave?
Peace and bullets ain't mixable, 
Don't you agree? 
Our blood is also red like the blood of Abel.
The dead are restless.
The dead  were shamed:
Their bodies were washed off the cameras, 
washed off the internet, 
washed down the filthy drains like shit
by the unremorseful ruling monsters?
But the dead have many tongues: so listen 
to me, you proprietor of death—
This is our Homeland!
It's our right to sing, 
think, and talk.
We will not yield
even if you level us like fields, 
and cut us away from our names and identity.
Turn us to organic manures 
and we will still grow trees 
whose adventurous roots will infiltrate your resorts (Aso Rock)
to strangle you 
and your ignoble generals.
We are too stubborn
to be wiped off clean.
We'll continue to speak underneath the earth 
until someone up there hears us.


Joseph Hope is writing from Nigeria, a student of Usman Danfodio University. His works are either forthcoming or already published in Reckoning Press, Evening Street Press, Praxis Magazine, Gemini Spice Magazine, Spillwords, SprinNG, Writers Space Africa, Nthanda Magazine, 5th Chinua Achebe Anthology, Ariel Chart, Best "New" African Poets 2019 Anthology, and many more. He's a young man running away from his name. How absurd!

Sunday, April 04, 2021

SPRING (IS THE SEASON)

by Jeremy Nathan Marks


A row of flowers with tags of the victims’ names are tied to a fence at the site of a shooting at King Soopers grocery store in Boulder, Colo., on March 24. (Alyson McClaran/Reuters via The Washington Post) "Over the past three weeks, 22 people have died in three major mass shootings in the United States, according to a Washington Post database that tracks those events." —The Washington Post, April 4, 2021


Again, 
spring comes around 
and people talk of hope 

The coming of columbines 
daffodils and hyacinths
the way the greening willows
weep 
 
Squirrels, 
working in the dark
moved many bulbs 
so no one knows where 
they will sprout this year

But who is speaking 
about spring as the season 
of mass shootings 

The ammo crop that is ever ripe  

When young men emerge 
from the long, dim winter 
and find themselves 
deathly pale 
in the too brilliant sun

Who is watching out for them?


Jeremy Nathan Marks lives in Canada. Recent work appears in Dissident Voice, Jewish Literary Journal, Bewildering Stories, Anti-Heroin Chic, and Chiron Review.

Saturday, April 03, 2021

BUFFALO SOLDIER

by Katherine West




America’s growing Black community is “not a monolithic population, but one that has people of many different demographic, social and economic characteristics and many different experiences in their backgrounds.” Mark Hugo Lopez, Director of Race and Ethnicity Research at Pew Research Center, told The Root in an interview, March 30, 2021.


On the other side 
of the street 

walks a young
Black man 

going to work 
perhaps 

or perhaps 
like me 

getting a coffee 
while the clothes spin

Perhaps 
his great great great

grandfather 
was a Buffalo Soldier 

Perhaps 
his family 

settled here 
before New Mexico became a state 

Perhaps he's a painter
that paints his

history 
how history 

surrounds him 
like a herd 

steaming and stamping 
in the morning cold 

jumpy
dangerous 

or quietly 
pulling 

at the turf 
The herd contains him

shifts 
when he takes 

a careful 
step 

but any sudden 
movement 

could cause a stampede 
leaving the painter crushed 

to nothing 
at one 

finally 
with his desert home 

with the dry grass 
the wind riffles 

like the tawny fur 
of the great cat 

he becomes 
when he paints 

at one
finally

with the invisible wind 
uncontained 

free to walk the world 
unhated 


Katherine West lives in Southwest New Mexico, near Silver City. She has written three collections of poetry: The Bone Train, Scimitar Dreams, and Riddle, as well as one novel, Lion Tamer.  Her poetry has appeared in journals such as Writing in a Woman's Voice, Lalitamba, Bombay Gin, The New Verse News, Tanka Journal, Splash!, Eucalypt, and Southwest Word FiestaThe New Verse News nominated her poem "And Then the Sky" for a Pushcart Prize in 2019. In addition she has had poetry appear as part of art exhibitions at the Light Art Space gallery in Silver City, New Mexico and at the Windsor Museum in Windsor, Colorado. Using the name Kit West, Katherine's new novel, When Night Comes, A Christmas Carol Revisited has just been released, and a selection of poetry entitled Raising the Sparks will come out in March of 2021, both published by Breaking Rules Publishing. She is presently at work on the sequel to When Night Comes. It is called Slave, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Revisited. She is also an artist.

Friday, April 02, 2021

LINGUICIDE

by Akua Lezli Hope

 


No elder bids are there to sing
Regent honeyeaters’ male song
So young ones copy other things
their bird culture nearly gone
 
Regent honeyeaters’ male song
tells females if they are strong and fit
Their bird culture is nearly gone —
we play old recordings to fix it
 
Tells females if they are strong and fit
if they sing the right song
We play old recordings to fix it
fearful they won’t last long
 
If they sing the right song
extinction will be kept at bay
We’re fearful they won’t last long
as their habitat shrinks away
 
Extinction will be kept at bay
when females hear the strong songs
As their habitat shrinks away
we strive to correct our invasive wrongs


Akua Lezli Hope is a creator and wisdom seeker who uses sound, words, fiber, glass, metal, and wire to create poems, patterns, stories, music,  sculpture, and peace.  A third generation New Yorker, her honors include the NEA, two NYFAs, SFPA, Rhysling and Pushcart Prize nominations. 

Thursday, April 01, 2021

EVER GIVEN

by Kat Frabotta


“Ever Given” by DaveRiver at Deviant Art.


She trudged on, steered towards Rotterdam
The captain’s son called him. Something pestering
The wind. He felt itchy. His grip tightened
He jerked the wooden wheel
Left. Left. How fucking far can you go.
Too far, it seems.
A simple, swift U-Turn will fix things
She had other plans.
Had since leaving Taiwan, but now he spurred her on.
Now it wasn’t just a magical dream of a looming, vast, powerless vessel
He had actively propelled her, set her off, equipped her with the tools needed
To make her mark.
Ever Given,
For decades, Passing various goods to every spot she’s been told
Humans have not moved her.
People shoot Asians, step on the necks of black men,
Buy plastic to put on top of plastic
As the world burns.
Incredulous, she did what she could
With her mass and the blessing of propulsion
She burrowed deep.
She takes to Egypt, ignoring the cries of the Captain
Slowly entrenches herself into the sand of the canal.
And now she sits.
She sits, she blocks. She has no intention of budging.
Why should she?
We don’t budge.
And maybe we need to get stuck for a while right now, she thinks,
Shutting her eyes and making herself comfortable.


Kat Frabotta is a 29 year-old living in New York City. She is currently an advertising student and aspiring creative. In her freetime, she loves cuddling with her orange cat and talking to friends over a bowl of penne alla vodka.

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

A WOMAN IN TIGRAY

by Sarah Mackey Kirby


Britain's Channel 4 recently aired a devastating report on these atrocities. One survivor recounted a harrowing 10-day ordeal to the network during which she said she and five other women were gang-raped by Eritrean soldiers. She said the troops joked and took photos as they injected her with a drug, tied her to a rock, stripped, stabbed and raped repeatedly her. Doctors who've treated Tigrayan women have said one woman's vagina was stuffed with nails, stones and plastic. —CBS


is filled with stones,
nails. By her captors.
If she is not human,
if she must be bloodline-cleansed
from existence,
then why does crying matter.
 
The sun rises all over the world
as if it doesn’t know.
And sets apricot embers
each evening.
In darkness, a woman in Tigray
is filled with stones.
Filled with soldiers.
Alone below Orion’s belt,
sharp in the night sky,
glowing fire
three stars in a row.


Sarah Mackey Kirby's first poetry collection The Taste of Your Music (Impspired) will be published in May 2021. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Ploughshares, Chiron Review, Connecticut River Review, Impspired Magazine, and elsewhere. She and her husband live in Louisville, Kentucky.

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

CALEDONIAN FIGHTING FISH

[Scotland's] First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said there are "significant questions" about Alex Salmond's political comeback. Her comments came after Mr Salmond revealed he would be among the new Alba Party's regional list candidates. The former first minister said his aim was to build "a supermajority for independence" after the May election. —BBC, March 27, 2021




Jerome Betts lives in Devon, England, and edits the verse quarterly Lighten Up On Line. His work has appeared in a wide variety of British magazines and anthologies as well as UK, European, and North American web publications such as Amsterdam Quarterly, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, The Asses of Parnassus, Better Than Starbucks, The Hypertexts, Light, The New Verse News, and Snakeskin.

Monday, March 29, 2021

EXPOSED IN MINNEAPOLIS, MINNESOTA

by Sandra Sidman Larson


A fist sculpture is situated at the intersection of 38th Street and Chicago Avenue, also known as George Floyd Square, on March 25 in Minneapolis. (Joshua Lott/The Washington Post)


As a spring storm begins to rumble outside, I wrap
my dog in his thunder shirt, yet I must remain calm
and unprotected from what bears down
on us, whether it is thunder, city coyotes howling,
the probable headlines of the Star Tribune—the paper flung
outside my door this morning, as every day, by a poor man,
his young children waiting in his idling car.
The fate of George Floyd’s murderer is soon to be
determined by twelve citizens in a courtroom barricaded
with barbed wire as have been the halls of Congress,
precautions against returning mobs, recently sicced
on the representatives of our frail democracy
by a crazed president who we supposedly ushered out
the door. But what to do about the cop who puts his knee
for nine minutes upon the neck of a Black man,
smothers him to death, stopping all our lives, turning us
to marching in the streets, while troublemakers—homegrown,
or blown into Minneapolis—set the city streets and stores afire,
inciting chaos among thousands of protesters, many of us
now realizing we need other gods or old gods to appear,
to stop us from killing each other, we who are filled with love,
hate, hope, and despair, stirred up by the fates—
so little to protect us?  All I can do is close the window
against the thunder, the smells of rain-damped debris;
note the snow almost gone from the ground, now newly bare.


Sandra Sidman Larson, twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, has three chapbooks to her credit: Whistling Girls and Cackling Hens, Over a Threshold of Roots (both Pudding House Press Publications), and Weekend Weather: Calendar Poems. Her chapbook Ode to Beautiful was published by Finishing Line Press in 2016 and her first full manuscript by Main Street Rag Publications in 2017. Her poetry has been published in many venues such as the Atlanta Review, Grey Sparrow, Earth’s Daughters and on-line in The New Verse News and others. Her work has also appeared in numerous anthologies, one being what have you lost? edited by Naomi Shihab Nye.  (Who nominated her for one Pushcart Prize). With a Masters Degree in social work and community planning, Sandra’s primary career was in social service and social justice work. Her poetry career began at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. As a poet with grandchildren and great nieces and nephews she longs for a world where all children are cherished and cared for and justice reigns for all.