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Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at]gmail.com.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

Saturday, September 26, 2020

MANMADE

 by Paul Smith


In Chicago, 558 people have been killed this year. That is 158 more than 2019. (Data and graphic through Tuesday, September 22 from Chicago Tribune)


We like to think
we are safe up here
away from the rising waters
to our south
when the winds blow really hard
and the seas get angry
we watch our brothers and sisters perish
on the news
glad we’re not among them
and far to the west
where our mountains meet the sea
fires burn out of control
houses blaze till they are skeletons
our brothers and sisters
suffocate and go up in smoke
whatever twinge of sympathy ignites in us
is escorted by the comfort provided by
the distance of a thousand miles
but something else new is going on
almost a natural phenomenon
that excites all our senses
here in Englewood and Austin
bright flashes in the brown light of evening
the smell of gunpowder
the sharp crack of weaponry
the wail of raging sirens
the chill of flesh going limp
without a pulse
mothers cry
brothers and sisters
get strapped to gurneys
so ongoing and constant
it makes you think of the Devonian
the Pleistocene
the Reconstruction


Paul Smith is a civil engineer who has worked in the construction racket for many years. He has traveled all over the place and met lots of people. Some have enriched his life. Others made him wish he or they were all dead. He likes writing poetry and fiction. He also likes Newcastle Brown Ale. If you see him, buy him one. His poetry and fiction have been published in Convergence, Packingtown Review, Literary Orphans, TheNewVerse.News, and other lit mags.

Friday, September 25, 2020

THE WAY PAVER

by Nan Ottenritter


“The Four Justices” by Nelson Shanks at the National Portrait Gallery.


for Ruth Bader Ginsburg

She liked to be inclusive,
provide comfort for everyone,
this woman-loved-by-most
who accomplished-so-much.

She preferred to say way paver over
pioneer-champion-prophet-ballbuster-
activist-change-maker-hero-leader
and I think I know why.

way paver does not part waters;
she lays paver after paver for the journey ahead.
way paver does not construct guardrails
but provides traction, focused action.

way paver builds upon those before,
celebrates those after, serves tea along the way.
And when her journey ends, we sip our warmth,
thankful for this paver’s way. 


Nan Ottenritter is a poet and musician who lives in Richmond, VA.

FOR YOUR INFORMATION

by Katherine Smith
Artist: Steve Brodner via Pinterest


On the Senate Majority Leader


The oaks do not aspire
to spirit or imagination,
but grow straight up.
Indifferently

casting their shadows
over the saplings,
they search
for unopposed light
 
to fall from their canopy                       
into the shadowy ridged bark
of withered trees.
So too

there are human beings—
you know their names—
whose principles are limited
to domination and money.

They are called champions,
these proud lucky ones
that kill everything
that lives

beneath them.


Katherine Smith’s publications include appearances in Poetry, Cincinnati Review, Missouri Review, Ploughshares, Southern Review, and many other journals.  Her short fiction has appeared in Fiction International and Gargoyle. Her first book Argument by Design (Washington Writers’ Publishing House) appeared in 2003. Her second book of poems Woman Alone on the Mountain (Iris Press), appeared in 2014. She teaches at Montgomery College in Maryland.

THE POOL BOY WHO BROUGHT DOWN THE FALWELLS

by Guillermo Filice Castro


Giancarlo Granda, the former Miami hotel pool attendant whose accusations of an affair helped lead to Jerry Falwell's resignation from Liberty University last month, now lives in the Washington area. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post September 18, 2020)


While some stay in the
shade, others sparkle by the pool
ogling the hunky towel boy,
peach Bellini in hand. And who
knows what else stirs in their minds, brought
forth by a pulpit’s power, dumped down
into a young life: Here is my prayer for the
day when we bid farewell to the world’s Falwells.


Guillermo Filice Castro is a poet and photographer from Argentina. His chapbooks include Mixtape for a War (Seven Kitchens Press, 2018) and Agua, Fuego (Finishing Line Press, 2015). His work appears in The Brooklyn Rail, What Rough Beast, The Normal School, Fugue, Court Green, La Presa, among many others. Instagram: @guillermo_f_castro

Thursday, September 24, 2020

"PERHAPS YOU SHOULD ADOPT A MORE CONSERVATIVE POLITICAL ORIENTATION"

by Katherine West




In Memoriam for victims of the Rochester, New York shooting.


My doctor suggests after a complete physical 
He has failed to discover 
The source of my trouble 
Though I feel as if I will never recover 

He finds nothing in the blue pools of my eyes 
What could cause this endless weeping?
Blood pressure numbers don't lie
I will have a long time yet to live 

No medication for what ails me 
I am simply living inside-out 
He seems to imply, wearing my heart on my sleeve 
Where it has no business being, it has no clout 

In the streets, in the slums 
At the parties that are not fun 
Where students lie in pools of blood 
Too much love, he claims, not enough guns

Too much love, he claims, not enough guns 
Where students lie in pools of blood 
At the parties that are not fun 
In the streets, in the slums 

Where it has no business being, it has no clout 
He seems to imply, wearing my heart on my sleeve
I am simply living inside-out 
No medication for what ails me 

I will have a long time yet to live 
Blood pressure numbers don't lie 
What could cause this endless weeping?
He finds nothing in the blue pools of my eyes 

Though I feel as if I will never recover 
The source of my trouble 
He has failed to discover 
My doctor suggests after a complete physical 

"Perhaps you should adopt a more 
conservative political orientation."

Katherine West is the author of three collections of poetry and one novel: Scimitar Dreams, The Bone Train, Riddle, and Lion Tamer, respectively.  She has had poetry published in Bombay Gin, Lalitamba, Tanka Journal, Writing in a Woman’s Voice, and TheNewVerse.News who nominated her poem "And Then the Sky" for a Pushcart Prize in 2019.  She lives in the mountains outside of Silver City, New Mexico where she translates Mexican revolutionary poetry and creates custom, hand-made poetry chapbooks.

BUT

by William Aarnes


Art by Clara Lieu


The guy who’s keyboarding these lines
wants to hope that the world would be better—  

more hospitable, less deadly—
if people agreed to do without guns.

But I’m the dread in his head, dwelling      
on how many guns are already loaded,

how many aimed, how many already fired,
piercing lead already in the wounded, in the dead,    

my thoughts having shot their way through    
his fingers on to his computer screen:

“Time to buy a gun or two?  Or stockpile
an arsenal?”  Sure, he’s already deleted

those thoughts. But I’m the dread in his head. 


William Aarnes lives in South Carolina.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

THE LAST ELECTION

by George Held


“The worst case,” [Barton] Gellman writes [in The Atlantic], “is not that Trump rejects the election outcome. The worst case is that he uses his power to prevent a decisive outcome against him.” Merely by refusing to concede, Trump could keep the electoral result in doubt through the 79-day period between Election Day and the day the next president is to be inaugurated. Gellman's reporting shows that Republicans are already discussing plans to bypass the popular vote and directly appoint electors to the Electoral College. This could lead the country to a precipice: Two men could show up to be sworn in on Inauguration Day. “One of them,” Gellman writes, “would arrive with all the tools and power of the presidency already in hand.” —Jeffrey Goldberg, Editor, The Atlantic in today’s email to subscribers releasing the magazine’s November cover story.


 ...the House of Representatives shall choose immediately, by ballot, the President. But in choosing the President, the votes shall be taken by states, the representation from each state having one vote... 
—Twelfth Amendment, U.S. Constitution
 

The sound of horse-drawn tumbrils
Echoes in DuPont Circle 
Punctuated by the chop of the guillotine 
As the heads of the opposition fall—
the chairs of the most strategic committees,
ranking members of others,
obstreperous heads of key organizations... 
 
The death of the most influential liberal
Justice and her replacement
By another grim rightist ideologue 
Have opened the sluice gates
Of reprisal and crimson revenge. 
 
The Orange Duce is often smiling
As good fortune shines upon him,
Death having opened a decisive seat
On the Supreme Court—never more supreme
Than when handing down death—and then
As prescribed by the Twelfth Amendment,
He receives another term in what will be
The last election, election for life.
 
So, set in motion by his hippo
Of a compliant attorney general,
Who gets the Orange Man’s code— 
No translator needed—his bizarre fantasy
Of a return to the terror of the sans culottes
Haunts official Washington and the entire country,
 
Like a corporeal rendition of the Four
Horsemen of the Apocalypse,
Every night at 5 on Fox TV, kicked off
By a pep rally and boastful remarks
By the Orange Man in Chief,
The tumbrils roll and the glistening blade falls
While, in the continuing pandemic,
The maskless base howls in visceral support.
 
 
A longtime contributor to The New Verse News, George Held plans to vote in 2020.

PAEAN TO AUTUMN

by Earl J. Wilcox



None would have believed last fall—
a serene, simple season of coolish
weather, baseball season winding
down, tailgating, leaf peeping,
early frosts all—sublime memories
of a time before now: wildfires, 
hurricanes, Covid deaths, floods, 
earthquakes, melting ice caps, 
hummingbirds astray and lost,
migrant camps afire, baseball
season so bizarre even umpires
get the blues. We need more
Whitmans, fewer Plaths, a couple
of Frosts, a seashore Oliver. 
Even an old-fashioned Wordsworth
or Shelley might spirit us away
toward winter already on its way
on this first week of autumn.


Earl J. Wilcox has sung his share of September songs.

DENIAL

by Joanne Kennedy Frazer


Dying Sunflower is a photograph by Robert Ullmann


The huge       yellow-orange sunflower
     once showy    &    tall    &    haughty       
 
looked down       on common      
      ordinary      plant life.
 
Now     petals gone     devoid     of seed     
      spine collapsing     it does not
notice        its season     has  passed.


Joanne Kennedy Frazer is a retired peace and justice director and educator for faith-based organizations at state, diocesan and national levels. Her work has appeared in several Old Mountain Press anthologies, Poetic Portions anthologySoul-lit Spiritual Poetry, Postcard Poems and Prose Magazine, Panoply Literary Zine, Snapdragon Journal, Whirlwind Magazine, Kakalak, Red Clay Review and Gyroscope Review. Five poems were turned into a song cycle, Resistance, by composer Steven Luksan, and performed in Seattle and Durham.  Her chapbook Being Kin (CreationRising Press) was published in 2019.  She lives in Durham, NC.

THE CREW

by Mark Danowsky




Never enough love
for friends of our youth

some of whom get left behind

or so it feels

Hearing one of us went down
unnatural, too soon

I don’t know what to tell myself  

with each fresh loss
I turn a little more inward  

not ambiguous

layer on layer 

What is it we all wanted for each other back then? 
Glory? Fame? No―

togetherness


Mark Danowsky is a Philadelphia poet, author of the poetry collection As Falls Trees (NightBallet Press), Managing Editor of the Schuylkill Valley Journal, and Editor of ONE ART poetry journal.

THE RACEHORSE THEORY

by Mickey J. Corrigan


T***p tells white audience in Minnesota they have 'good genes.'



Only the best horses
the best of the best
genes all American
we have been told
winning is ours, it's
in the genes

In the genes
of the whitewashed
suburban picket fences
clean rural outposts
pristine fields, barns
purebred offspring
the best future
of the ultimate winners
of this gifted generation
history outpacing, outrunning
imagination so we cannot see
our dwindling
power dementia darkness
taking root.

Taking root
in the hayfields, cornfields
urban tracks and highways
bleachers and country clubs
of the best country
only the best
of the best of us
betting on the top
horse to win
at any cost.

At any cost
we run the track
we've run before
we keep losing
the best
of the human race
costing us
everything.


Originally from Boston, Mickey J. Corrigan writes Florida 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, 2019). Kelsay Books recently published the poetry chapbook the disappearing self. Grandma Moses Press will publish the poetry chapbook Florida Man later this year. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

THE YEAR 2020 WEST COAST FIRES

by Sister Lou Ella Hickman 


An orange sky filled with wildfire smoke hangs above hiking trails at the Limeridge Open Space in Concord, California, on Wednesday. Photograph: Brittany Hosea-Small/AFP/Getty Images via The Guardian, September 9, 2020


Sister Lou Ella is a former teacher and librarian. Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines such as America, First Things, Emmanuel, Third Wednesday, and TheNewVerse.News as well as in four anthologies: The Night’s Magician: Poems about the Moon, edited by Philip Kolin and Sue Brannan Walker, Down to the Dark River edited by Philip Kolin, Secrets edited by Sue Brannan Walker, and After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events edited by Tom Lombardo. She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2017. Her first book of poetry entitled she: robed and wordless was published in 2015. (Press 53.)

IMPOSSIBLE

by Diana Morley


A neighborhood destroyed by fire is seen as wildfires devastate the region, Thursday Sept. 10, 2020 in Talent, Ore. (AP Photo/Paula Bronstein via The Record Searchlight)


Two long days driving
through thick smoke
behind, ahead, behind
other fleeing drivers,
all going seventy, eighty mph
to get to air.
 
Diverted from inland to coast
from coast to inland—
fire grenades exploding 
in the hills alongside,
confusing the confused

on the road through 
Sweet Home
behind family
trailer homes
horse trailers
evacuating out of town 
till I reach a motel
where I need news— 

the radio 
assures me at 5 pm—

stock market up a tad

China, a valuable resource
for released Disney film—
‘an impossible resource to ignore.’


Author’s Note: I escaped the Alameda fire in Talent last Tuesday. For two days I thought my house was gone, then learned mine and one other neighbor’s survived on the block. That’s fire for you. My return won’t be to the neighborhood; it will be to both sorrow for my neighbors and joy for all those helping and planning for the future.


Diana Morley has published two books of poetry, one in 2019, one this year, been awarded honors by the Oregon Poetry Assn.  Lived in Oregon for 20 years, in Talent for 15 years. 

HAZED AND DIFFUSED

by Rémy Dambron




As the sound of our neighbor’s lawn 
mower pierces the silence of the hellish 
landscape forming just past our bedroom 
window my wife and I exchange mirroring 
glances of hostile befuddlement 
maddened by this man’s unfathomable 
indifference to the bewilderment of 
smoke flowing freely into his eyes 
and down deep into his lungs despite 
wearing a confident smile as he strolls 
absentmindedly through his yard 
pushing that obnoxious gas powered 
machine to shorten the small strip of 
parched grass that faces our still baffled 
faces now visibly posing the inevitable question 
what in the actual fuck is happening? 
We continue to watch in shock as I frantically 
google the news desperate to confirm that 
yes in fact there are wildfires blazing at 
our city’s doorstep in addition to riots and 
shootings and protests and looting and tagging 
and militias immersed in science refuting and 
that this conundrum of a man tending to his plot 
amidst the infiltrating remains floating in from 
burning homes incinerated cars perished 
businesses lost livelihoods vanishing forests 
and melted memories isn’t just symptomatic 
of some feverish dream or drug-induced vision 
or mystical illusion or some grave delusion but 
that our mutual astonishment is actual credible 
physical proof of the resilience of our little remaining 
sanity.


Rémy Dambron is an activist, environmentalist, and author based out of Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in What Rough Beast, Writer's Resist, Poets Reading the News, and TheNewVerse.News, focusing largely on denouncing political corruption and advocating for social justice. Without the love and support of his wife Susan, he would not be the writer he is today.