Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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

Friday, September 17, 2010


by Terry Wright

Debt is like the death of someone you don’t miss.  You feel an absence without the clutter of remorse.  CEOs ask rhetorical not ethical questions.  Just good management sense to cut up workers like a chain pizza.  Hold boardroom discourse on pushing burgers in Red Square.  Cry over dropping the bomb on paper homes.  Slap tariffs on even more expensive imports     then downsize everyone and get mad at ads extolling the impact of falling prices.  But life almost goes on.  Vodka consumption skyrockets.  You move your lips with treaty sincerity while singing karaoke.  Missiles are cheap and common as pencils     and you are easily erasable.  Fire in the hole barks a dog-soldier human-shield before smothering a ticking remote.  Take in a change of scene after one decisive click.  Reboot     until another perfect business major daydreams of tax cuts during a sociology class.  The future looks sculpted and atomic-flash bright.  The shameless New Right invites lobbyists to scribble pet projects.  This practice is called “seeking expert advice.”  The Constitution unravels like a bag lady’s sweater. Your vote is a flashlight in fog.  You have no skybox.  You own no Acura.  You see no evil as the Enola Gay shadow passes over you like an oil slick.  Someone you don’t miss might rehire you to clean up their mess.

Author’s Note: “Corporate Graph” is from a prose poem series entitled “Graphs.”  I once described the series as follows: “In the physical or digital world, graphs display data using a pictorial device.  In mathematics, graphs abstractly represent a set of objects, some of which are linked and shown with abstractions called vertices, while the links that tie pairs of vertices are known as edges.  Graphs often take the form of diagrams that show a relationship, sometimes functional, between two sets.  Generally, these sets take the form of points or numbers, but, here, in these diagrams, other relationships are displayed as the vertices become abstract forms of the heart and mind, and the edges tie together context, whether social, political, cultural, or personal.”
Author’s Glosses: clutter of remorse: The YourFuneralGuy blog, 8-10-09, claims: “The National Funeral Directors Association has declared the average cost of a funeral to be $7,622.00 per year…This figure does not include cemetery costs but does include a casket and a vault. Most Industry experts put the average cost of a funeral in the United States at $10,000 in 2009.”  CEOs ask rhetorical: The Center for American Progress in “Supersize This” reports that “in 2004, the average CEO received 240 times more than the compensation earned by the average worker.  In 2002, the ratio was 145 to 1.” like a chain pizza: I’m thinking of Tom Monaghan, Domino’s Pizza founder and right-wing philanthropist, to whom pizza was a sacrament.  From Mariah Blake’s “Pie in the Sky,” 10-09, in Washington Monthly: “The key to Domino’s growth was a tightly controlled franchise system. When a new store opened, headquarters would send a truck stocked with everything from pizza ovens to forks and aprons. Store managers worked from a thick operations manual, known as ‘the Bible,’ which dictated every aspect of operations, down to the smallest detail.” burgers in Red Square: Ann Blackman, writing in Time, 2-5-90: “Because Soviets are unaccustomed to eating finger food, many of those invited to a preview disassembled the Big Mak and ate it layer by layer.”  bomb on paper homes: John Hershey, dead March 24, 1993, in Hiroshima, writes: “Many people who did not die right away came down with nausea, headache, diarrhea, malaise, and fever, which lasted several days. Doctors could not be certain whether some of these symptoms were the result of radiation or nervous shock.” get mad at ads: From the Mr. Brooks Knocked Up Nancy Drew blog, 5-14-908: “Anyone sitting near me might suffer collateral damage when I throw stuff at TV and yell things that'll ensure my place in hell.” life almost goes on: At least until Azreal shows up. Vodka consumption:  According to a Reuters’ report seen on, 8-12-09, Russian president  Dmitry Medvedev said he “was shocked by official data showing the average Russian drank 18 litres (38 pints) of pure alcohol each year. ‘When you convert that into vodka bottles, it is simply mind-boggling,’ Medvedev said.” treaty sincerity: Red Cloud, Ogala Sioux chief: “I am poor and naked, but I am the chief of a nation. We do not want riches, but we do want to train our children right. Riches would do us no good. We could not take them with us to the other world. We do not want riches. We want peace and love.” easily erasable: From on the 50th anniversary of the “Bravo” atomic test in the Marshall Islands: “Bruno Lat was 13 and his dad was working with the Navy as a laborer on Kwajalein. For days after the blast, ‘all kinds of beautiful colors,’ filled the sky.  Bruno also saw the refugees from downwind of the blast at Bikini Atoll, miserable and burned and belatedly evacuated to Kwajalein.  He recalled that the skin on their heads ‘you could peel it like fried chicken skin.’” Fire in the hole: A real-life interviewee in Jason Reitman’s Up in the Air says: “On the stress level, I've heard that losing your job is like a death in the family, but personally I feel more like the people I worked with were my family, and I died."  ticking remote: A finger-on-the-trigger deal -- or a chore for St. Bernards.  Donald Melonson, writes on Engadget, 2-4-05, about an electronic whistle tag device that “helps you find your lost remote simply by whistling.” daydreams of tax cuts: Just a refresher.  According to the Urban Institute, 1-15-08, “making the 2001 and 2003 [Bush] tax cuts permanent would add $3.5 trillion to the national debt over 10 years.  By 2017, the annual revenue loss would be almost $500 billion.” atomic-flash bright: Georgia Green, blind, 18, was on her way to a music lesson in Albuquerque and fifty miles from the Trinity test when she allegedly saw the light from the blast. is skeptical: “The atomic bomb may still have mysteries to it, but producing the kind of light even the blind can see isn’t one of them.” lobbyists to scribble: Anne C. Mulkern in the Denver Post, 5-23-04, writes: “President Bush has installed more than 100 top officials who were once lobbyists, attorneys or spokespeople for the industries they oversee.”  The Constitution: Like cell phones, this document sometimes has a limited coverage area.  own no Acura: Or do you drive an SUV -- or, as they are known in the United Kingdom, a “Chelsea Tractor,” an offroad vehicle that never goes offroad?  Enola Gay shadow: The B-29 Superfortress bomber that dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on August 6th, 1945.  According to ghost writers at Wikipedia, the aircraft, currently on display in Texas, is “shielded by various means to prevent a repetition of the vandalism which was attempted against it when it was first placed on display, which was the throwing of a jar of red paint onto the Enola Gay's wing.”
Terry Wright teaches creative writing at the University of Central Arkansas and serves as Associate Editor of the Exquisite Corpse Annual.  Terry believes his sunrise can beat up yours.