Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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

Sunday, October 29, 2006


by Paul Belz

Our faces, half lit by candles-
did they seem to dangle and bounce
in the dry evening light?
Our chins glowed like our noses,
the lower halves of our eyes,
our hands that clutched candles
by our chests. Upper eyes and hair
stayed dark, like our lower torsos.
Did we look disembodied, spooky
like decorations by some trick and treat house?
Maybe we reminded you of nightmares,
eight year old girl, face pressed against a window
in a car that rolled down the avenue
between two lines of us. Your dad drove
and gave you no comment. Windows closed,
you couldn't hear our song - where have
all the flowers gone - or our soft chant
for the 2000th American dead in Iraq.
If we scared you, we ghosts, sad jack'o'lanterns,
no terror you can imagine can equal
the real pain our presence here meant.
I know children fear more than the boogey man,
think of deeper things than candy. Maybe you'll hear
whispers about us. Night borne rumors
from the TV news and grownups' whispered thoughts.
Maybe you'll learn why we stood shivering,
witnesses for the war dead. Sleep comfortably,
find some comfort in blankets and pillows
that cover your ears. One day perhaps you'll make a change
that will banish our songs' words and themes
so specters like us won't come here again.

Paul Belz is an environmental educator based in Oakland, California. His work has appeared in Just Like Cabbage Only Different, Poetalk Quarterly, Gypsy Magazine, Olive Oyl, and Oral Recall. Notes and Niches, the newsletter for the Environmental Studies department at Antioch New England Graduate School has also published a number of his poems. Belz has coordinated two reading series in the Bay Area during the past five years, and he edits WHO? a small magazine that appears sporadically. He calls it "An Earth Based Newsletter for Progressive Poets."