Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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

Monday, December 10, 2007


by Rochelle Ratner

Of course she smells the smoke. But it's taken over an hour for what should have been a twenty minute drive, another ten minutes to park the car, and she's just found some cashmere sweaters that would be nice for her two nieces and her sister. Her eyes start to tear. She wanted to find this beige one in medium. If she takes from the bottom of the stack they have no ashes on them yet. And she can always get them cleaned, but she has to hurry. She grabs a tissue from her purse and wipes her eyes with it, then turns and offers a tissue to a woman next to her. People have started to pushing toward the exits. They've turned the lights off. Between that and the smoke, she can barely see. The cash registers probably won't work either, not to mention the credit card terminals. All the clerks have left by now. She grabs as many sweaters as she can carry, not bothering to look at size or color. Maybe she'll give one to the woman who cleans for her. Probably she'll keep a few for herself.

Rochelle Ratner's latest poetry books include Leads (Otoliths Press, 2007), Balancing Acts (Marsh Hawk Press, 2006), Beggars at the Wall (Ikon, 2006) and House and Home (Marsh Hawk Press, 2003). She is the author of fifteen previous poetry collections and two novels (Bobby’s Girl and The Lion’s Share) both published by Coffee House Press). More information and links to her writing on the Internet can be found on her homepage.