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Sunday, May 19, 2019


by Pepper Trail

A tangled bank, near Sandwalk, Charles Darwin’s walking path near his home at Downe House. —Image by GrrlScientist via Millard Fillmore’s Bathtub.

“Around 1 million animal and plant species are now threatened with extinction, many within decades, more than ever before in human history.” —The Global Assessment Report on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services, May 6, 2019

It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank,
clothed with many plants of many kinds,
with birds singing in the bushes,
with various insects flitting about,
and with worms crawling through the damp earth,                                                      
and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms
have all been produced by laws acting around us,
and that from so simple a beginning endless forms,
most beautiful and most wonderful,
have been, and are being evolved.
          —Charles Darwin, the final paragraph of The Origin of Species, 1859

It is interesting to contempl te  t ngled b nk,                              
clothed with m ny pl nts of m ny kinds,                                      
w th b rds s ng ng  n the bushes,                                                  
w th v r us  nscts fl tt ng bout,                                                                              
nd w th w rms cr wl ng thr ugh the d mp e rth,                        
nd t  reflect th t these elb rtely c nstructed fr ms,                                
h ve  ll been pr d ced by l ws  cting  r nd  s,                                            
nd th t fr m s  s mplbeg nn ng endless f rms                          
m st  b   t fl  nd m st w nd rf l                                                      
h v   b   n,nd   r   bng   v lv d.          

Pepper Trail is a poet and naturalist based in Ashland, Oregon. His poetry has appeared in Rattle, Atlanta Review, Spillway, Kyoto Journal, Cascadia Review, and other publications, and has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net awards. His collection Cascade-Siskiyou was a finalist for the 2016 Oregon Book Award in Poetry.

Saturday, May 18, 2019


by T R Poulson

Gary West is offering a $20 million reward to the owners of Country House, War of Will, Long Range Toddy, and Bodexpress if any of those horses finish ahead of Maximum Security the next time any of them race against the colt through Dec. 31, 2019. West will give the owners of Country House (the elevated winner of the Kentucky Derby), War of Will (placed seventh after finishing eighth), Bodexpress (placed 13th after finishing 14th), and Long Range Toddy (placed 16th after finishing 17th) $5 million each if they finish ahead of Maximum Security the next time they meet in a race. Kentucky stewards determined each of the latter three horses were fouled by Maximum Security in the Derby. West announced the reward May 17, one day before the Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico Race Course. His horse crossed the wire first in the May 4 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) but was disqualified to 17th for interference. Maximum Security is not running in the second jewel of the Triple Crown. —BloodHorse, May 17, 2019

The Derby runs, complete with roses,
and the list of things all banned.  Poles,
selfie sticks, confetti, balloons, frisbees,
banners, and umbrellas.  It rains again,
and those in the grandstands roar, wet
as horses on the track, unfrightened.

A bay horse with a question mark
blaze breaks clean, runs fast, leads, kicks
mud on the rest, until the final turn.

One hundred fifty thousand fans, drenched
with drink and rain, scare the bay with the blaze
(He’s a baby, his jockey will say after). He drifts
from his lane, unraveled, and then hooves,
shod with steel and nails, tangle, the next horse
somersaults, mane into the mud, legs bent
the wrong way, and more horses hurdle, tumble,
jockeys’ bodies flop into the slop.  Rain drops
drizzle silks and broken goggles.  Backs,
withers, and empty saddles leave impressions
turned to puddles, bright as mirrors. Would this
be better than a rose blanket, stolen?

T R Poulson is a University of Nevada alum and life-long racing fan.  Her work has appeared previously in TheNewVerse.Newsas well as Rattle: Poets Respond, Verdad, Trajectory, Raintown Review, The Meadow, Alehouse, and J Journal.

Friday, May 17, 2019


by Emily Jo Scalzo

months will bleed by
when gunshots don’t echo
down school hallways
in classrooms or lecture halls
a reprieve from hero-teenagers
called to sacrifice themselves
jump on the grenade
clot the flow of bullets
to buy seconds
for their classmates

red rivulets dammed
not due to prevention
or common sense
but because summer
darkens these venues
empty of fear for now
the halls lie waiting
for fall and more
blood shed

Emily Jo Scalzo holds an MFA in fiction from California State University-Fresno and is currently an assistant teaching professor teaching research and creative writing at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana. Her work has appeared in various magazines including Midwestern Gothic, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, Blue Collar Review, and others. Her first chapbook, The Politics of Division, was published in 2017 and awarded honorable mention in the Eric Hoffer Book Awards in 2018.


by George Held

The governor’s statement places
the key word, “God,” in the place

of emphasis, at the end, where
it makes the most of her pious case

but most offends those who question
when a fetus has become a “life”

or even doubt there is a god,
at least one who can give sacred gifts,

and those who believe that a woman’s life
is her own to join in sex with whomever

she wants and once pregnant whether
or not to delete that tiny comma without

the intervention of the almighty state.
What sort of Handmaid’s Tale

is ‘Bama spinning here now that its Senate
and the Court are packed with Medieval

men of the Right who consign women
to the stove and the marital bed,

where all conception is authorized
by a Fundamentalist Godhead.

What country is this where theocracy
struts its stuff in public and democracy

hides under the bed to avoid
a vengeful thrashing? My count-

try, ’tis of me, I sing, sweet place
of Liberty, of thee I sing . . .

George Held, a frequent contributor to TheNewVerse.News and other periodicals, has received ten Pushcart Prize nominations and published or edited twenty-two poetry books.

Thursday, May 16, 2019


by Ashley Green

Hours after the Alabama Senate voted late Tuesday to ban abortions in almost all circumstances — including in cases of rape and incest — women’s rights activists and abortion advocates said the decision to approve the nation’s strictest abortion measure has energized them. Knowing that the bill was designed to challenge Roe v. Wade, they are gearing up for the fight. The Senate’s approval of the legislation in a party-line 25-to-6 vote Tuesday sent it to Gov. Kay Ivey’s desk. . . . Ivey signed the law Wednesday.” —The Washington Post, May 15, 2019. Photo by Chris Aluka Berry/Reuters via Aljazeera, May 15, 2019.

Twenty-five fingers slide between
Alabama’s legs as the white, male
gaze of the white, male monster
searches Her face for panic.
Women can’t be trusted
drips from its twenty-five mouths
and its fifty corners upturn as its
red tape tongues wraps themselves
around Her body.
They pull Her toward the stench
of the past that blossoms
at the back of its throats.
Her sisters' cries
echo from the darkness
of the monster’s shared gut.
She can hear the dying
of Georgia, Kentucky and Ohio,
of Mississippi and Arkansas,
as each plummets backward
in time behind the teeth of
the white, male mouths
sitting on the white, male faces
of the white, male monsters
destroying the country.

Ashley Green is a Southern California writer, poet, and feminist.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019


by Laura Lee Washburn

Couches, aquamarine, gold, avocado,
raspberry bubble gum, blue
stacked to the ceiling.

Behind my blonde, so blonde head
and coiffed, curled bob,
the air was marigold.

I had a standard poodle
with a rhinestone, no, diamond
collar.  My gay best friend

wore tight pants, and, I’m sure,
was in love with me
all day and night long.  We talked

with ivory phone cords circling
our wrists.  We were bound
to the colors of saturated pink sky

and the crushed red velvet lounge.
Come what may, let it.
Be what it is, be

until we rest in peace,
gingham polka dot plaid
and the green green grass under
our white patent leather feet.

Laura Lee Washburn is a University Professor at Pittstate.  She’s the author of This Good Warm Place and Watching the Contortionists and has a couple of manuscripts up for grabs.  The Co-President of the Southeast Kansas fund, Women Helping Women, she is often involved in raising money to combat poverty, but this month has turned her efforts to supporting a small press through the Tupelo 30/30 project.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019


by Paul Smith

In the latest chapter in the on-going saga following Trump’s unilateral withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal, the US president has asked the Islamic Republic to call him in order to “make a fair deal”. Speaking at a news conference at the White House yesterday, Donald Trump told reporters that he “would like to see them [Iran] call me”. What they should be doing is calling me up, sitting down. We can make a deal, a fair deal, we just don’t want them to have nuclear weapons – not too much to ask. And we would help put them back to great shape,” Trump said. Trump’s conciliatory tone comes three days his administration dispatched American aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln to the region in a move that was widely seen as an attempt to escalate tensions with Iran. —MEMO, May 10, 2019. Photo: Trump speaks at Washington rally against the Iran deal back in September 2015. Credit: Olivier Douliery/Sipa USA/Newscom via The American Conservative, May 9, 2019

Wait a minute
so we supported the Shah
so we overthrew Libya and
got Khadafi killed
so we ousted Saddam
and he wound up getting done in
but not by us directly
and so we pulled out of the phony
nuclear weapons pact instigated
by a former stooge president of ours
we asked you to call us
‘for a fair deal’
our phone hasn’t rung
Don’t you trust us?

Paul Smith lives near Chicago. He writes fiction and 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.

Monday, May 13, 2019


by Elane Gutterman

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Red Cross volunteers distributed the first shipment of badly needed emergency supplies in Venezuela on Tuesday after months of feuding between the government, which has denied the existence of a humanitarian crisis, and opponents who have been seeking to use the delivery of aid to force President Nicolás Maduro from power. —AP, April 16, 2019

A father hugs his child good night, his nightmare, her dwindling insulin doses.
For love of his country, Maduro turns down aid, insists “We aren’t beggars.”

A mother sells her thick, braided hair to buy rice, beans and chicken for her children.
With chants of venceremos, Maduro raises his fist “We aren’t beggars.”

A mother grieves for her older child stabbed when they grabbed his cell phone.
With hatred toward his enemies, Maduro resists “We aren’t beggars.”

A pregnant teen reveals there were no contraceptives or money to buy them.
In his embrace of the dead Chavez, Maduro can’t desist “We aren’t beggars.”

Now a father lines up by a Red Cross van for water purification tablets.
As a maid pours his fine wine, Maduro shifts yet persists “We aren’t beggars.”

In the latest issue of Journal of Global Oncology, Elane Gutterman, a health researcher, read how cancer care in Venezuela has been transformed from an advanced level of diagnosis and treatment to rudimentary services through government policies and indifference. In addition, she credits her friend and former Spanish teacher, Ana M., with making the needless suffering of the population personal through sharing stories of her Venezuelan family. Elane has published poems in Patterson Literary Review, U.S. 1 Summer Fiction Issue, Kelsey Review and TheNewVerse.News.

Sunday, May 12, 2019


by Allison Blevins

In 1973, Ms. magazine published a haunting photo of a woman named Gerri Santoro, who'd died of a back-alley abortion. At the time, no one could have predicted what an impact it would have on the pro-choice movement. —Vice, October 26, 2016

After “Police Photo, Norwich Connecticut, 1964”

I want us all to imagine her dead body rising, jerking
and mechanical, the lurch and halt and sputter of a carnival ride,
how The Whip and Wipeout and Scrambler
move, attempt to start over—put themselves back together
only to be taken, pulled to pieces once again.  I want us to feel
her suffering.  Not how it felt in her
body.  That is unimaginable.  That should remain unspoken.  Let us live
in the suffering of the body clambering back
to feet, body heaving up—empty now.  Let the body be ready to fight.
I want that body like Judith—searching for heads
of men who’d bring all of us
naked to our knees, who’d photograph us
prone and paling from the slow drain.  Let us imagine
all the bodies wandering forward—swords in hand.

Allison Blevins received her MFA at Queens University of Charlotte and is a Lecturer for the Women's Studies Program at Pittsburg State University and the Department of English and Philosophy at Missouri Southern State University. Her work has appeared in such journals as Mid-American Review, the minnesota review, Nimrod International Journal, Sinister Wisdom, and Josephine Quarterly. She is the author of the chapbooks Letters to Joan (Lithic Press, 2019) and A Season for Speaking (Seven Kitchens Press, 2019), part of the Robin Becker Series. Her chapbook Susurration (Blue Lyra Press) is forthcoming.  She lives in Missouri with her wife and three children where she co-organizes the Downtown Poetry reading series and is Editor-in-Chief of Harbor Review.

Saturday, May 11, 2019


by Devon Balwit

Kendrick Castillo was killed while trying to stop one of the assailants during a shooting at his school in Highlands Ranch, Colo., on Tuesday. Photo credit: Rachel Short, via Associated Press via The New York Times, May 9, 2019

To run towards the man with the gun is not
what we mothers want our sons to want,

dead hero sons harder to bear than living ones,
and there being so many shooters, so many guns,

and though it makes us cry to read of the goodness
embodied in such sacrifice, we imagine the badness

of every day thereafter—the silent, strangely clean
house, and all the milestones unseen—

graduation, grandbabies, holidays—the eulogy
in the Times a poor substitute for the ordinary prodigy

of our boys. Our hearts burst at these still children
laying down their lives—we’d rather all stood up again.

Devon Balwit's most recent collection is titled A Brief Way to Identify a Body (Ursus Americanus Press). Her individual poems can be found in here as well as in Jet Fuel, The Worcester Review, The Cincinnati Review, Tampa Review, Apt (long-form issue), Tule Review, Grist, and Rattle among others.

Friday, May 10, 2019


Sari Grandstaff is a high school librarian and writer in the Mid-Hudson Valley/Catskill Mountains of New York State. Her work has appeared in many print and online journals including TheNewVerse.News and Eastern Structures.  She and her husband are the proud parents of three adult children.

Thursday, May 09, 2019


The Attention-Deficit Version   
by George Salamon
“Where Rudy Giuliani’s Money Comes From” by Stephanie Baker, Bloomberg Businessweek, April 5, 2019. "Really Rich Rudy" image by Drew Friedman, New York Observer (2005) via

You'll arrive ignorant of the national scene.
Leave it in greater amorality than it's been,
Set up a golden retirement in between.

Okay, George Salamon recalls, Truman, Ike and Carter didn't do it, but who in between, and who after? George is struggling to see the funny side ofour politics in some of the verse he publishes in Dissident Verse, Poetry24 and TheNewVerse.News. He lives in St. Louis, MO.

Wednesday, May 08, 2019


by Earl J Wilcox

Riley Howell, 21, took three bullets while tackling a gunman last week at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He was one of two killed. In interviews with relatives and friends of Mr. Howell, not one person was surprised that he had acted decisively and with little regard for himself. —The New York Times, May 6, 2019. Above: Photographs of Riley Howell at his viewing ceremony on Saturday in Waynesville, N.C. Credit Swikar Patel for The New York Times.

Up the interstate about forty minutes
from our campus, Charlotte 49ers
weep as do their Eagle friends—
both schools connected by Carolina
geography, by our students taking
classes there, friends come for classes
here, some adjunct faculty teach at both
schools. Carolina cousins, uncles, aunts,
friends, sports competitors, youthful
world citizens making their way.
Today we grieve our mutual losses—
a semester ending too soon for some.

Earl J Wilcox is a retired Emeritus English Professor at Winthrop University (whose mascot is the Eagle), located about 25 miles south of Charlotte, NC.

Tuesday, May 07, 2019


by Kelsey Bryan-Zwick 

Photo by Richard Baker, Concord Monitor, May 2, 2019

Buried under the rhododendron, left cold in a back
alley dumpster for the garbage person to deliver
to indiscriminate piles of city landfill, torn to
nothing by screaming seagulls, or tossed like so
many refugees seeking asylum, to the bottom of an
ocean more likely to be remembered as graveyard
did you think our stories would be pretty as we are?

Covered in lipstick, hair braided, words worn like
a dress, did you think our fight would be somehow
less violent than the all wars described to you in your
history books?  Well they don’t gag and bind you
with a patriarchy of rules meant to diminish your power
and your voice because they think you’ll have
nice things to say. As we shed the millions of slights
and insults meant to define us, we don’t even know
our own skin.

And when you hear us at first maybe it will just
sound like a siren, almost indiscernible from all
the white noise, but then unmistakable, an ill pitch
in the stomach, a long sickening wail, some
visceral animal, a tearing crawling shriek, clawing
our way through the silence.  After so many years in
exile, the truth is hideously real: the monster we made
our monster to love.

Kelsey Bryan-Zwick is a Spanish/English speaking SoCal poet and artist with a B.A. from UC Santa Cruz in Literature/Creative Writing.  She is the author of three chapbooks, the most recent being Watermarked (Sadie Girl Press) a hand-bound edition which intermixes both her poetry and art.  Disabled with scoliosis from a young age her poems often focus on trauma, giving heart to the antiseptic language of hospital intake forms.  A Pushcart Prize nominee, Kelsey’s poetry appears, or is forthcoming in Rise Up Review, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, Incandescent Mind, petrichor, Like a Girl, Lummox, A Poet is a Poet No Matter How Tall, Eunoia Review, and Redshift.