Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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

Tuesday, February 23, 2010


by Mary Krane Derr

My dream of the third night, over orange sodium-lamped Chicago snow, with brick buildings unjarred by pushes of wind off the Lake, with taxi drivers out in raw cold still desperately running up against busy signals on cellphones to Port au Prince, twisting crosses around their necks. My third eye curved around hundreds of thousands of Haitians, dark skins chalkily white and thick with concrete dust. Sprawled and half-smashed beneath unidentifiable miles of mad stonish chunks with no rebar jutting out of it: all just tumbles of fissure, collapsed or ready to at a sneeze or a groundripple of aftershock. Lit-up winged beings came and went, went and came, freely and quickly through the wreckage, not grazing a thing. Encircled in soft firm feathers the nowhere-else-to-go, helped them keep themselves together, as they babbled or whispered their bloody-toothed, dry-tongued pleas. Accompanied their souls forward whenever the rupture could finally not be held in and embraced away. No human, the staying or the leaving, exempt from this singular, enfolding purpose. No one. All swaddled in it as if for burial or birth, to whatever end or start. Even as the humans and the angels together sang or spoke or feebly bubbled or simply thought weakly within almost stilled voice boxes, shiversome African hymns of prayer. For the human angels to arrive en masse with their hands full of pickaxes, cranes, bandages, splints, surgical knives, medical ointments, bread rations, bottles of water, news and faces of home. For nothing and no one else to ever break so again with the tree-shorn, sliding red poverty of earth. Out in orange sodium lamped Chicago snow, in pushes of raw wind off the Lake, the cab drivers prayprayprayed this, too, their litany the dialing of 011+country code 509...011+ country code 509…011+country code 509….

Mary Krane Derr is a writer, musician, multi-issue nonviolence activist, and fourth generation South Side Chicagoan. Most recently her poetry has appeared in a collection for International Day of Climate Action; Canary: Literary Journal of the Environmental Crisis, and Kritya's tribute to Polish Diaspora poets. Her disability rights, anti-militarization of youth poem "At This Address" appeared in the November 17, 2009 New Verse News. Her family's donations for Haiti have gone to WorldVision, UNFPA's aid to mothers and babies, and INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence's longterm development plan.