Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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, August 16, 2006


by Aaron Schneider

On the national, morning radio show
Thousands crowd onto ships,
tourists and dual citizens together,
frantic together in terror and Beirut
the foreign minister says
we are concerned about certain individuals
people who hold Canadian passports
but do not live in Canada.
Certain individuals. Of course, they have a right...
Do we judge them by the dust on their boots?
Driven into the pleats of their skin?
It is the dust of Lebanon.
But Canadian residents
must be our first priority.

He does not say, must not say,
No! he cannot think

A woman calls in. She is Canadian.
She does not say. The host does not ask.
It's understood. Eh!
Fear has its own accents.
tearing vowels and sharp, sputtering consonants.
Horror is the only universal language.
She says, I think those people
who have homes there,
who have lived there,
over there, for years.
How do we assign them origins?
How do we take the measure of their hearts?
They belong to what they long for.
These people should not expect
our government to spend
our hard earned dollars
saving them.

She does not say, must not say,
No! she cannot think

A roving reporter interviews
the customers eating breakfast at Tim Hortons.
She does not ask them where they're from.
They are from Tim Hortons.
Trauma tastes of bile,
adrenaline is murder on the stomach
and food does not go well with flight.
The customers agree,
we have limited resources.
We are a small country.
We have to make hard choices.
We can only do so much.
How much for salvation, for safety?
How much for his life? For hers? How much for yours?
How do you put a price on shame?
The customers agree,
someone, not them--they are humble,
they defer to higher authorities--
someone should decide.

They do not say, must not say,
No! they cannot think

The prime minister addresses the nation.
He is sober and comforting.
He has made hard choices.
The bombs do not stop for speeches.
The diplomats are drowned out by explosions,
the runways are broken, the roads are out and bridges down.
He says, we must
help those in need,
help those we can.
To do otherwise
would be unCanadian.
What are we, each and every one of us,
born here or elsewhere, at home or abroad,
if not citizens of the human country of suffering?
But we must be on guard
against those who try
to take advantage of our hospitality,
exploit our generosity.

He does not say.
No! He does not have to say.
We are comforted and confident that

Aaron Schneider is a graduate student and good for nothing. He is Canadian for the moment.