Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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

Wednesday, September 21, 2005


by Peggy Smith Duke

Montage of birthdays and T-ball. Invincible,
a paratrooper launches from the shop roof
into the backyard pool. Girlfriends, guy friends,
sleepovers. Confirmation. Graduation. Prom

with walking sticks, top hats, limousines.
Six weeks of soldiering promised college
when his nation went to war. The reasons
hovered like shapeless ghosts,

if you believe in ghosts. Suddenly a father
whose life has been manageable strains an ear,
an eye toward every byte of news, living
the teetering life of any parent who imagines

the horror of Isaac’s Abraham divinely unbidden.
Possibilities, uninvited companions, chattering
mindlessness. Phone calls shatter the night:
the soldier wants underwear. He prays earnestly,

bargains shamelessly. Black and white morph
into gray. No answers are the right ones. This man
who lights lives with acceptance, understanding
and love, clouds with confusion, his face dimmed

by the patina of whom we must be to craft
such retorts. Two soldiers are at war.

Peggy Smith Duke lives in rural Middle Tennessee, USA, with her husband. She is a retired human resources professional and has published in newspapers, professional journals and magazines for 30 years. She has published several poems and received recognition in a number of competitions. She holds a BS in Journalism and an MA in Industrial Psychology, from Middle Tennessee State University; and an EdD from Vanderbilt University.