Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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, June 08, 2008


by Steve Hellyard Swartz

I loved my father
The warrior
I loved my father, the sailor, the aviator
I loved that my father was big and strong, my
Who had been to war
My father who never saw the arrow
Shot from my bow
Never saw it coming
Until it hit him in the back
My father who laid on the floor
The arrow in his hands, the arrow now somehow, magically, piercing his front
My father who cried when I came out from behind my painted tree
My father who cried: You got me!
You got me good
As he tickled me and kissed me and messed up my hair
Much later
When we fought about Vietnam
And I no longer would accompany him to stand on Central Avenue to watch the marchers in the Veterans’ Day Parade
With their little capes and smaller waves
When I stood in the bar
And saw him out there, singing God Bless America
With his hand over his heart
And said to my friend John
My father’s as bad as Westmoreland, Johnson, all of them
With blood on their hands
Much later that day
When my father and I fought at the kitchen table
And I muttered under my breath that he was a bastard
He brought out the arrow
The one that I’d long since forgotten
The one that he’d held against his heart
The one that had laid him out on the floor
When I was probably no more than four
The one that he laid on the table
Which is now in my heart
Sharp as the kiss
From his lips
Before he walked out the door

Steve Hellyard Swartz's poetry has appeared in New Verse News, Best Poem, The Kennesaw Review, and Haggard and Halloo. He has won Honorable Mention in The Allen Ginsberg Poetry Awards and The Mary C. Mohr Poetry Awards. In 2008, his poetry will appear in The Paterson Review and The Southern Indiana Review. In 1990, his film "Never Leave Nevada", opened in Dramatic Competition in the U.S. Sundance Film Festival.