Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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

Thursday, October 08, 2009


by Nickolas Butler

We leave our liquor at the door when we see
               the neighbors and dancers are indians
the band is all white beards
               the shoes are bare feet
the punch bowl is filled with virgin punch
               the child with down’s syndrome is smiling
and reaching for my strange hand
               which is reaching for his little hand and too far-away eyes.

Long underwear will cook me
               if this dance does not
tell me where the cold water is hidden
               show me a snowbank to dive in
i am embarrassed of my hands which leak so much salt and sweat
               i am enamored with your breasts which bead so much salt and
we have a quorum
               that is raising its hands in a democratic way
but my lungs are too tired to dissent.

America was once like this assembled hall
               a place for farmers to feed with gourds and pork
behind the church in the lee of the lake’s wind
               an eddy for cigarettes and the politics of seed and milk
and here is your hand in mine
               promenading through the night
one-two, one-two, one-two go our dirty feet
               on those ancient beams and planks
and when no one is looking
               we can shoot spitballs at the moon
and kiss like we were beneath the bleachers of this old town.

Nickolas Butler's writings have appeared in: The Progressive, Wisconsin State Journal, Wisconsin People & Ideas, Madison Magazine, Roast, and Fresh Cup. He lives in Madison, Wisconsin with his family.