Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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, September 16, 2007


by George Held

And I brought you into a plentiful country, to eat the fruit thereof
and goodness thereof; but when ye entered ye defiled my land
and made mine heritage an abomination —Jeremiah 2.7

And verily I say unto you that a nation
Brings a curse upon itself
That allows an outlaw leader
To waste its treasure and its warriors’ lives
And limbs on distant wars spawned of lies
And negligence and that visits death
And destruction on innocents; a nation
Whose merchants hawk sugary food and drink
So its people suffer the plagues of obesity
And diabetes; that fails to offer medical care
To its citizens so that they suffer the plague
Of rotting teeth and all manner of disease;
That lets its citizens fall homeless to live
In cars and on streets and suffer soaking rain
In fall and spring, bitter cold in winter,
And broiling sun in summer; that turns its mad
Out of asylums and into the streets,
That curses its poor, its deviant, its non-
Believers; that fails to rebuild where its negligence
Has caused devastation; that expects its courts
To uphold government fiats, and that violates
Treaties signed with allies; a nation that turns
A blind eye on abuses by polluters of air
And water, that lets its leader undermine
Fair elections and invite malfeasance
By cronies with no qualifications
But closeness to the leader. And verily I say
That the plagues the gods heaped on the House
Of Atreus for its hubris and that God unleashed
Upon the Israelites for breaking the covenant
Shall be no strangers to the land that has favored
Personal pleasure and gain over the health
Of the commonweal, shredding the social contract:
That nation not only will suffer such plagues
And worse but will suffer that which it has caused
Its victims—a return to life
That is violent, nasty, brutish, and short.

George Held has previously contributed to The New Verse News. His new collection of poems, The Art of Writing and Others, is available at