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Monday, May 17, 2021

AGGRIEVED

by Karan Kapoor


Many patients across India have died when hospitals suddenly ran out of oxygen. Credit: Atul Loke for The New York Times, May 16, 2021


I

An old friend's father whom I once called father
is now dying. We're hunters who cannot hunt
oxygen for him, or her or the many theys, 
nor god, and the men who bought the internet
know we've tried to find both. Anything below
hundred minus five is a potential threat. 
He is at 51 and going down with the sun.
We carry time on our shoulders as it bleeds.
Souls leave bodies; leaves in autumn, 
pus from an abscess. Everywhere birds 
appear; everywhere there's song.

II

Our premier is deaf without being mute.
Isn't he guilty of all the good he did not do?
Sometimes the body astonishes the mind.
He visits a gurdwara to pray, to pay homage 
to Guru Teg Bahadur, extends greetings 
to a nation dying. He bows to him: a guru
We're trying to balance on the fence 
between irony and contempt.


III

Some pray for their fathers to be relieved,
some want them to live no matter. The one
who now stands in the queue for oxygen will 
soon stand in the queue for crematoriums.
The sun scorches us like a lover we've
wronged, pissing fire on us. In turn, 
our shaved heads threaten the moon.
Everyone we love plunges deep into a sleep 
there's no waking from, men and women
reduce to rising numbers on television.
We were never taught to count so far.

IV

India's spine crushes under the burden
of screams. The newspapers must be full 
of obituaries but they aren't. The trees laugh.
The dead are nameless. The government
is busy filing cases against the aggrieved.
The greatest indication of irresponsibility 
is blame. We get high on camphor, the sky 
falls. We exit the world through a wound.
Is there no god in the heart of a monster? 
He is tearing us apart, and making slow work 
of it. Dear destruction, we dread your old song.

V

When people suffer, they want to scream.
All we hear is an expression of suffering,
not the anguish itself. Time is a window
we cannot pass through. Have you ever
watched someone suffocate slowly?
We are drifted ashore, stripped of all but
our grief which too needs oxygen to survive.
There are no words, all we can do is look
silently at the dead. Sometimes the song
just sings itself apart. The birds disappear.
Future is nothing but a hole in the ground.


Author's Note: A friend's father died today, and another friend's grandfather. Many others have lost many others. India is suffering with an almost-apocalyptic second-wave, which comes directly as a result of failure of the Modi-government to prepare for it. This poem emerged from the angst which is a big, initial part of grief.


Karan Kapoor is the author of a novelette Maya and the co-author of a novel The Dreaming Reality, both independently published. Long-listed for Toto funds the Arts awards, his poems have appeared in The Indian Quarterly, G5A Imprint, Stride, and the Mountain Ink. He's currently working on his debut poetry collection. When not reading or writing, he is obsessing over classical music. Currently in his final semester of MA in Literary Art Creative Writing, he wants to continue to live a life devoted to music and literature.

Sunday, May 16, 2021

STOP A WAR

by Amy Shimshon-Santo


“i don’t understand why people keep choosing fascism.” —my mother. 


my words are knots, 
while I need parachutes. 

sleepless from threading imaginary-strategies 
potential sentences to disrupt the state. 

try lots of periods. . . . . .
put the [killers in brackets]

some writers spin enviable lines,
bumper sticker responses 

at the ready, 
then go out for cappuccino.

as if the correct terminology 
could bring back the dead 

my body is tangled,  
it can’t sleep for grieving

my head shakes, 
remembering do Nascimento’s lyric
 
eu sou america do sul,
eu sei você não vai saber.
 
same with everywhere,
imperial windows barely see in

much less out. do something, her body said
the world is on fire

you can only change what you touch 
how can a mom bring down a fascist state? 

massage therapists post information
on demonstrations, they sing

bring flowers, 
and are dragged on the ground by police

fascism comes in all flavors
styles and sizes

anyone can be a fascist
two for one, on sale now

maybe anyone
can be a freedom fighter too.

I want to stop the war
words were supposed to make the world

but mine roar within 
i misspell lines, small lions

the people who are doing the fighting 
are the ones who must stop.

i want to make them
let's see, i have hot water and a barrel of lemons

try! use your words
stop a war with your body

“we are not all that powerful, “ h says. “its ok,
we are not built for that.”

but my body, made of moon dust 
cells and pillage histories believes it is

it dreams of becoming 
big as a u.n., an i.c.c. — BIGGER!

a small body, dreams of being 
a body of power

she is more  
like a garden bird 

small and two-footed,
feathered with emotion
 
while history wears 
boots and helmets

carries rifles, barges in
drops bombs and burns

“we will get crushed 
if we try to carry the world,” h says. 

but that is what the body feels 
responsible for

how does a mother 
stop a war? 

"the people who are bombing must stop," 
the mother stirs, but we must find a way to stop them


Amy Shimshon-Santo is a poet and educator who believes that culture is a powerful tool for personal and social transformation. Her interdisciplinary work connects the arts, education, and urbanism. She is the author of Even the Milky Way Is Undocumented (Unsolicited Press, Pushcart Prize & Rainbow Reads Award nominee). 

Saturday, May 15, 2021

PEACE WILL ALWAYS SOUND BETTER

by Joseph Hope


“peace” by Shahid Atiq at toonpool.


The body would prefer perfume to real bullets.
Prefer water to tear gas.
Prefer flowers to rockets.
Prefer anything that will not kill it 
to what can.
Ask the dead!
Brokering peace is better than taking a side.
Whether it's 
Palestine vs Israel or
Allah vs Jesus or 
White vs Black or 
Jews vs non-Jews
peace will still remain the only cure to conflicts.


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, Zoetic Press,  The New Verse News, 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! He tweets @ItzJoe9

A Letter to Readers of The New Verse News

Dear Readers,

I AM PLEASED TO REPORT THAT BLOGGER HAS “RE-INSTATED” WITHOUT APOLOGY OR EXPLANATION THE NINE POSTED POEMS IT DELETED SOME TWELVE HOURS AGO.

I AM LEAVING BELOW THE ORIGINAL NEWS OF THE DELETION... FOR THE RECORD.


Within the past few hours, Blogger, which hosts this site, deleted nine posted poems from March 2021:

"The Year of the Great Pause"
"Brave Red"
"Free Range Bird"
"The Pursuit"
"Waiting Room"
"International Women's Day 2021"
"Calendar Girls"
"Cracking the Code"
"Mr. Potato Head Responds"

According to emails from Blogger, The New Verse News's "content has violated our malware and viruses policy."

There is no further explanation to help me understand how, if true, these violations could have been avoided... or, more worrying, how they can be avoided in the future since Blogger warns us: "We encourage you to review the full content of your blog posts to make sure that they are in line with our standards as additional violations could result in the termination of your blog."

After having had Facebook summarily take down our page there some months ago with even less explanation, I can't help thinking that someone is out to get us and our politics.

We shall see.

For now, I apologize to the poets of the deleted poems.

Best,
James Penha,
Editor, The New Verse News

Update: A Blogger community expert writes in reply to my call for help: "Your posts may have been removed in error. Blogger is aware of the issue and working on a fix."😖

Friday, May 14, 2021

TWO SIDES TO THE STORY

by Lynn White


Cartoon by Matt Lubchansky at The Nib, May 12, 2021


There are always two sides to every story,
you said.
The protesters were armed.
The protesters were violent
when faced with soldiers in full combat gear.
Faced with snipers armed with live ammunition.
Armed but
only with stones,
and only some of them.

There are always two sides to every story,
you said.
I ask,
to every story?
Do you really believe that
for a demonstration of unarmed people
when the snipers and soldiers
are already waiting
ready.

There were terrorists amongst them 
intent on doing us harm,
You say
so, yes, to every story, every story.
Really?
Would the not harm be similar 
to the tens who were killed
and the hundreds that were injured?
We have a right to defend ourselves,
you said, 
so yes,
there are always two sides to every story.
Every story.

Well,
so, you will want to hear it for the Nazis then!
No? 
That’s not what you meant.
That story stands alone
one sided.
Really?
Perhaps the number of sides
depends on the differences in power.
Perhaps it’s not alone.

Really.


Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality and writes hoping to find an audience for her musings. She was shortlisted in the Theatre Cloud 'War Poetry for Today' competition and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Rhysling Award. Her poetry has appeared in many publications including Apogee, Firewords, Peach Velvet, Light Journal and So It Goes.

Thursday, May 13, 2021

ON BUOYANCY

by Julie Steiner




Look for the helpers, Mister Rogers said.
Whenever you feel sad or scared about
the news, look for the people helping out.
Keep those within your sight. Your heart. Your head.

It’s good advice. On days when all I’ve read
puts basic human decency in doubt,
and all I’ve heard’s what hurtful people shout,
I focus on the helpful folks instead.

Or try to. Sometimes all that’s in the frame
is evidence that helpers never came.

Two long, light-gray balloons, like downturned lips,
say several states withheld their rescue ships.

No helpers in the picture. Not this time.
But you can help bear witness to this crime.


A shipwreck off the Libyan coast has reportedly claimed the lives of 130 people, despite SOS calls for help, the UN migration agency IOM said on Friday [April 23]. The tragedy was confirmed late on Thursday by the volunteer rescue vessel Ocean Viking, which found dozens of bodies floating in the water northeast of Tripoli. It had been in distress since Wednesday morning, the NGO said in a statement. IOM spokesperson, Safa Msehli, told journalists in Geneva that the victims had been on board a rubber dinghy for two days before it sank in the central Mediterranean. “For two days, the NGO alarm phone, which is responsible for sending distress calls to the relevant maritime rescue centres in the region, has been calling on States to uphold their responsibilities towards these people and send rescue vessels. Unfortunately, that has not happened.” More than 500 people have drowned on the so-called Central Mediterranean sea route this year according to IOM—almost three times as many the same period last year. —UN News, April 23, 2021


Julie Steiner is a pseudonym in San Diego. Besides The New Verse News, the venues in which her poetry has appeared include the Able Muse Review, Rattle, Light, and the Asses of Parnassus.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

LIZ

by Jo Ann Steger Hoffman




Only a few are brave enough, a few
only, who listen to the inner voice
that does not lie, speaks clearly what is true.
These few decide to make the harder choice
 
to stand apart, alone, claim truth out loud
despite the storms that blow the House apart
when one with strength of purpose stands unbowed
beneath the weight of censure, dares to chart
 
a course that steers its way by compass points
unshaken by fierce winds of ambition,
steadied by faithfulness to what anoints
a leader with the right to set direction.
 
What some will view as weakness in this hour
will soon reveal itself as peerless power.


Jo Ann Steger Hoffman’s publications include a children’s book, short fiction and numerous poems in literary journals, including The Merton Quarterly, Persimmon Tree, Pinesong, The New Verse News, Kakalak, Red Clay Review, Broad River Review and Flying South. Recognition from Palm Beach Poetry Festival contests and a Pushcart nomination are among her awards. Her narrative non-fiction book Angels Wear Black recounts the only technology executive kidnapping to occur in California’s Silicon Valley. A native of Toledo, Ohio, Jo Ann and her husband now live in Cary and Beaufort, North Carolina.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

FROM THE EXECUTIONER OF KHET THI: A LETTER

by Indran Amirthanayagam


Myanmar poet Khet Thi, whose works declare resistance to the ruling junta, has died in detention and his body was returned with the organs removed, his family said. A spokesperson for the junta did not answer calls to request comment on the death of Khet Thi, who had penned the line “They shoot in the head, but they don’t know the revolution is in the heart.” His Facebook page said he was 45. —The Guardian, May 10, 2021


We have a body for you Mrs. Thi
but some organs are missing.
You understand that we had
to keep the heart for further study,
to better understand the root cause
of your husband's delusion,
and our apologies if the eyes
too seem askew. We dug into
ball and cornea, to unsplice
the vision fiber.This revolt must
be attacked by all available means,
including forensics, tear gas,
live bullets, home visits at night,
torture sessions in the nearest
police station. and we will be
ready for blowback from abroad,
the bloody poets gathering,
shouting words in their hearts.
Come on you chattering birds. Sing.


Indran Amirthanayagam writes in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Haitian Creole. He has 19 poetry books, including The Migrant States (Hanging Loose Press, 2020) and Sur l'île nostalgique (L'Harmattan, 2020). In music, he recorded Rankont Dout. He edits The Beltway Poetry Quarterly, is a columnist for Haiti en Marchewon the Paterson Prize, and is a 2020 Foundation for the Contemporary Arts fellow.

Monday, May 10, 2021

VERDICT

by Donna Katzin


Demonstrators march towards Boston Police Headquarters to protest the police-perpetrated killing of 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant who was shot by Columbus Police on April 21, 2021. This march was initially organized to celebrate the life of George Floyd following the verdict of Derek Chauvin. Credit: ANIK RAHMAN / NURPHOTO via GETTY IMAGES via TRUTHOUT


There’s a reason why so many activists have insisted that the Derek Chauvin verdict — though it offers a measure of solace for George Floyd’s family — isn’t justice. Our current way of thinking about and doing justice does not and cannot meet the moment. If anything, the Chauvin verdict achingly demonstrates that justice as we know it is wanting. It’s time to imagine a new justice that does and can…  It’s about reckoning with and disrupting entire histories, legacies, and systems of racial terror and white supremacy that, like monsters who we think are dead but keep coming back, relentlessly replicate and reproduce themselves. —Fania E. Davis, Truthout, May 9, 2021


After a year of protests,
witnesses, testimonies, videos,
this time we see the scales balance --
a white perpetrator in blue found guilty
of squeezing the life out of a Black man.
 
For a moment the weight of planets
lifts from our backs, shoulders,
necks, and we can stand
a little straighter,
breathe again.
 
But still we hear
the ripping of the land
as more Black bodies fall, blood
oozing from crevasses
too wide to heal.
 
In the streets, the howl
of the original sin refuses to die,
roots like a relentless, toxic weed
in its shallow grave, waiting
to show its face again.


Donna Katzin is the founding executive director of Shared Interest, a fund that mobilizes the human and financial resources of low-income communities of color in South and Southern Africa.  A board member of Community Change in the U.S., and co-coordinator of Tipitapa Partners working in Nicaragua, she has written extensively about South Africa, community development and impact investing.  Published in journals and sites including The New Verse News and The Mom Egg, she is the author of With the Hands, a book of poems and photographs about post-apartheid South Africa’s process of giving birth to itself. 

Sunday, May 09, 2021

NOTES ON LEAVING A HOUSE AFTER 50 YEARS

by Earl J. Wilcox


“Puff of Wind,” painting by Tonya Schultz.


By some ancients’ reckonings
Five decades are a puff in the wind
A tick in the tock of time.
Summing up by comparison needs
Too many tropes to catalogue—
As Milton or Whitman might—
A few more than Miz Dickinson
Did nearing the end of her years
In the same house, rooms familiar
To her as butterflies or gentle poots.
My leaving this house feels more
Like Frost traveling to Florida
Near wintertime or south to Boston
On occasion—journeys which
Beckon or intrigue may satisfy
The urge to know what lies
Ahead more than gone before.
 
 
While it is not true that Earl Wilcox has been sending poems to The New Verse News for 50 years, he has contributed about two dozen in the past 15 years.

Saturday, May 08, 2021

RESPONSIBLE SPACE BEHAVIORS

by Marsha Segerberg


You can keep an eye on the re-entry of the Long March 4B at Aerospace.


“Heads Up! A Used Chinese Rocket Is Tumbling Back to Earth This Weekend. The chances of it hitting a populated area are small, but not zero. That has raised questions about how the country’s space program designs its missions.” —The New York Times, May 7, 2021


The Long March 5B is tumbling out of control. 

A 10-story, 23-ton array of hurtling
rocket junk. Uncontrolled re-entry.
Yes.
 
It’s a bus that went to a space station called Tiangong,
Chinese for Heavenly Palace.
 
Chances you could be hit are not zero, they say in the news.
Some time Saturday. Maybe Sunday.
Chicago is safe. New York City—maybe not.
 
I think it’s irresponsible, said someone from NASA.
Some people are not displaying responsible space behaviors.
said the press secretary.
 
A NASA satellite about the size of a school bus,
whammed back to earth in 2011, but only a 1-in-3,200 chance
anyone would be hurt. That’s what they calculated.
 
The Long March 5B could spread 10 tons over hundreds of miles.
Think about three pickup trucks’ worth of debris,
NASA said. Not so bad, spread out like that, right?
 
There was the Columbia, disintegrating over Texas. 
No one was hurt on the ground by the 85,000 pounds of junk. 
I wonder if that included the seven astronauts..
I wonder what their collective ashes weighed. 
 
There was the Challenger blowing apart after launch. 
Another seven astronauts. Several crew members
 are known to have survived the initial breakup
 of the spacecraft... no escape system... the impact
of the crew compartment at terminal velocity
with the ocean surface was too violent to be survivable.
You can visit the metal pieces in a museum.
 
There was Apollo 1 that didn’t even get off the ground,
so not to worry about falling mangled debris. Just
three astronauts burned up on the launch pad. 
We don’t count them as space junk. 
It was only a test.
 
They say they’re doing their best to stick ocean landings,
(except for the Long March 5B, for which there is no plan).
I wonder what the fish think.
 

Marsha Segerberg is a retired biology educator and member of COW (Community of Writers) in Phoenix, Arizona. Her poems have appeared in Chiron, Rat’s Ass Review, and Rogue Agent, among others. She lives in the Phoenix desert with her dog, Peggy.

Friday, May 07, 2021

IT’S THE AMERICAN WAY

by Joanne Kennedy Frazer




“Shootings never stopped during the pandemic: 2020 was the deadliest gun violence year in decades.” —Washington Post, March 24, 2021

 
consumed     with disgust,
          anger       at the other tribe?
 
have you given any thought     
      to addressing       your differences
     
    with, say,   
  the Ruger AR-556 assault weapon?    
 
you can buy one       on the world wide web
      right now       today      
 

Joanne Kennedy Frazer is a retired peace and justice director and educator for faith-based organizations.  Her poetry has appeared in several anthologies, journals, ezines and magazines. Her chapbook Being Kin was published in 2019. Home is Durham, NC.

Thursday, May 06, 2021

ONLY ONE TICKET PER FAMILY PER DAY

 by Susannah W. Simpson


Photo: The Seemapuri crematorium in eastern New Delhi, on April 29, 2021. "As India's second wave of coronavirus sweeps through the country, bodies are piling up faster than workers can cremate them or build new pyres… Demand is so high that Seemapuri crematorium has expanded into its parking lot, where dozens of workers construct new cremation platforms from bricks and mortar. There is so little space and so many bodies that families have to get a ticket and wait in line for their turn." —CNN, May 1, 2021


Delhi... 2031... 

Blue-grey haze hangs low over
bundles of bodies and bundles of wood.
When the wood runs out, blankets
and chairs, shutters, both yellow
and green serve double-duty to carry
and to burn, ashes—snowdrifts
of mothers, daughters, uncles
float on the Ganges.  No one left to fill
Diwali lanterns with oil, no one left
to string up lights, to sweep or wash streets,
no one left to weave marigolds into their hair,
or wrap saffron saris round the young and old
no one left to feed the water buffalo,
or to tie ribbons to their tails.


Susannah W. Simpson is a hospice nurse. Her work has been published in The North American Review, Potomac, The Wisconsin Review, South Carolina Review, POET, Nimrod International, Poet Lore, Salamander, Xavier Review. Her poem "Lily" has been anthologized in Full Moon and Foxglove (Three Drops Press, UK), and her book Geography of Love & Exile was published by Cervena Barva Press in 2016. She holds an MFA from Bennington, a Ph.D. from SUNY/Binghamton and is the Founder & Co-Director of the Performance Poets of the Palm Beaches.

Wednesday, May 05, 2021

WHAT THE PANDEMIC TAUGHT AMERICA

by George Salamon




"In the Great Recession more than a decade ago, big tech companies hit rough patches just like everyone else. Now they have become unquestioned winners of the pandemic economy," in "A perfect positive storm: Bonkers dollars for Big Tech," The New York Times, April 29, 2021


Every plague has 
its silver lining:
the people suffer,
high tech profits,
those who have
much, receive more,
next time around
I'll come back as
a Silicon Valley CEO
and avoid the rabble's
usual woe.


George Salamon, who lives and writes in St. Louis, MO, thinks "nice guys finish last in high tech" is what the great Yogi Berra might have said about this.