Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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

Tuesday, June 27, 2006


June 3, 2006

by Rochelle Ratner


In Vienna, a tax collector places a black attaché case filled
with the day's collections on the back of the toilet while he
takes a crap. He finishes, washes his hands twice to get all
the crud off, then leaves. By the time he realizes it's
missing it's of course been taken. Using a red marker,
George makes a note about how other countries waste
taxpayer's money. And he'll add some comment about how
all American public restrooms are stocked with extra toilet


Some Canadian running for office accepted $27,000 in
contributions from school children. Raiding the piggy
banks, one challenger called it. Shaking down kids for their
lunch money, someone else said. Now they want to ban the
damn liberals from campaigning within 500 feet of an
amusement pier or kindergarten. George circles this one,
picks up the phone, asks an aid to find someone who'll
donate little plastic piggy banks his fellow Republicans can
hand out to promote family values. Only for senators
running for re-election. Only for those who don't speak out
against the war in Iraq.


"Do not vote for the red coalition. Vote for a 20 percent
discount," a Czech sports store is advertising, trying to
make certain the communists don't gain seats in the
coming election. George taps his pencil against his
forehead as he thinks that one over. Czechs apparently
send out several ballots and you only return the ones
you're voting for, so he supposes that makes a difference. It
would never work here, would it? He taps his pencil against
his lips, chews on the eraser.


Enough about foreigners. Let's put the focus back on
America. This country's really getting out of hand. A
woman in a Pittsburgh bus terminal tries to steal a bag of
peanuts, spits on two people restraining her, then slips out
of her shirt to get away, walks outside, takes off the rest of
her clothes and darts into traffic. Police chase her down
and take her to the psyche ward, but she's not facing
criminal charges. And what he wants to know is -- why


Oh dear. It says here that Washingtonians love their game
of tag, wearing lanyards around their necks for admittance
to Congress, the State House, the Pentagon, the Supreme
Court, even some press conferences and museum openings.
And they display these tags like stripes on a uniform when
they go out for drinks after work. Sometimes four or five
tags will jingle around a man's neck, proving his
importance. He checks his wallet, his pockets, even the sofa
cushion, wondering where he could have lost the one they
gave him.


Hot diggity dog! He knew Texas was in good hands under
Rick Perry's leadership, but it really took a genius to come
up with the idea of hundreds of video cameras along the
border, streaming live to computers everywhere. The
ultimate reality show. If you see something, say something.
Get the public, heck, get the whole world involved. He can't
wait to get home.

Rochelle Ratner's books include two novels: Bobby's Girl (Coffee House Press, 1986) and The Lion's Share (Coffee House Press, 1991) and sixteen poetry books, including House and Home (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003) and Beggars at the Wall (Ikon, October 2005). More information and links to her writing on the Internet can be found on her homepage: