Guidelines



Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at]gmail.com.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

Saturday, July 31, 2010

NOTES ON BEING AN IMMIGRANT

by Kim Doyle


First, you don't exist.
(Geographically, where exactly is Mali?)
Second, you are invisible.
(Read Ralph Ellison on this one.)
Third, you're funny.
(Ref., Polish and Irish Jokes.)
Fourth, you are disgusting.
(Turkish tobacco makes Germans vomit.)
Fifth, you are a citizen.
(Learn to spell McDonald's.)
Sixth, you live in Arizona.
(Just what papers should I have?)

Give me your tired and your poor.
wait a minute, we're not so sure.


Maybe Kim Doyle is an "illegal."  He only carries a drivers permit, and that's so easy to get.
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Friday, July 30, 2010

JUST A NOTE TO OBAMA

by Rob Spiegel


You said you were going to change things,
presumably for the better, and that we could
count on it. We agreed, almost wholeheartedly.

Soon we were busy with our own lives, which became
more difficult when Larry left Amy and her kids
and my hours were cut. We figured you would

get back to us about the changes, and you did.
But we have a hard time understanding what
you’re saying now, except you seem so earnest. We

almost feel sorry for you. No, we’re not quite satisfied.
But we didn’t expect you to solve our problems. Yet you
could have helped us feel a little better about everything.

We love you and we always will. But maybe you need
to start shouting about all this crap that’s pulling us down.


Rob Spiegel is a freelance writer in New Mexico whose work has appeared in Rolling Stone and True Confessions. He loves the hell out of this administration. He wishes more of us did. Like Bob Dole, Rob can talk about himself in the third person.
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Wednesday, July 28, 2010

THE MORE THINGS CHANGE . . .

by George Held


Julian Assange of WikiLeaks
Is the new Daniel Ellsberg

The leaked War Logs
Are the new Pentagon Papers

The U.S. troops fighting in Afghanistan
Are the new U.S. troops fighting in Vietnam

The mountains of Afghanistan
Are the new forests of Vietnam

The indigenous Taliban
Are the new Viet Cong

General David Petraeus
Is the new William Westmoreland

The official hope that we can win this war
Is the new “light at the end of the tunnel”

And the old Richard Milhous Nixon
Is Barack Hussein Obama


George Held has collected many of his New Verse News poems in The News Today.
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Tuesday, July 27, 2010

ESSAY IN A TIME OF WAR

by George Eklund


Dear, I have driven to town and pulled
Money from my back pocket.
The nation is still at war.
The solitary walkers still wobble
At the edge of the highway gathering cans.
I want to know my own difficulty.
You rise from the tub in the pastels of the candle;
How can I tell you a story of death?
Perhaps there are things we should not think about.
But who can stop the brain.
You and your viable warmth could save the world.
Now I know a river does not divide anything.
As soon as words serve our will, they seem to die.
Our poor army is in flight though no one can see it.
I pulled money from my back pocket
In a haze of what we know.
I drove to town without a motive, just an obligation.
I saw it all burning
And the drums kept coming into my head.
I thought I would explode in a rainy ditch.
The price of gas across the river is cheaper.
No one can explain why.


George Eklund received his M.F.A from the Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa and has taught at Morehead State University since 1989.  His work has appeared in The American Poetry Review, Beloit Poetry Journal, Cimarron Review, Crazyhorse, Epoch, The Laurel Review, The Massachusetts Review, Mid-American Review, The North American Review, Quarterly West, Sycamore Review, and Willow Springs, among other publications.  He has been awarded the Al Smith Fellowship in Poetry by the Kentucky Arts Council. Eklund's new book is forthcoming from ABZ Press in 2011.
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Monday, July 26, 2010

A TERRIBLE BEAUTY

by Linda Lerner


There was no mistaking the similarity
between his cypresses  or sunflowers and
what I saw in that first photo flaming up from the ocean
that same thickly layered intensity;
I thought of the artist who
could have painted it, what madness
drove his mind, what madness to have
let what I looked at in awe happen...
death still unseen being washing up
on the shores of that photo
while I, struck by something so
utterly beautiful and terrible

as if it had nothing to do with that
sea bird I later saw dripping with oil
whose one visible  eye  filled with
such depthless sadness, as he sat immobilized
looking out helplessly at me from my computer.

What took my breath away
lingered independently of it
like smoke from a cigarette that brings back
the familiar warmth and excitement of  first times . . .
same cigarette that kills.
And it doesn’t matter.  As soon as
someone lights up . . .

Do you smoke they kept asking me in the hospital.
No I said.  Not now.  When?
If I’d said when everything was then
would they have understood anymore than
I can, who could see an explosion of beauty and art
in what destroys it . . . chokes the life out
of what’s alive



Author's Note: The title is taken from the poem “Easter 1916” by W. B. Yeats.
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Linda Lerner's Something is Burning In Brooklyn was published by Iniquity Press in 2009. Her next collection will be published by New York Quarterly Press.

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Sunday, July 25, 2010

SOMETHING FOR HARVEY

by Jen Hinton

Harvey Pekar: 10/8/39 - 7/12/10 

The file clerk at the VA hospital didn’t
lower his head and disappear as expected
of the "Small People" in the lesser paygrades.
He knew that Supermen and Wonder Women
rose at 3 a.m. and took desolate
public transportation, thinking about
the wrong turns in life. He raised his head
and saw the poetry and courage
in those who put plastic bags inside
their wintertime boots to stop the leaking.
Overnight cleaning people, unionized bus drivers, intellectuals
sang melancholy jazz standards, played the bebop of their lives
– this was before they became the Enemy.
Those Ripoff Chicks, B.S. politicians, sell-out hippies
annoyed him to his fillings; and the little old ladies
in grocery store lines fiddling through scores of coupons,
haggling over 10-cent discounts making the line take all day
made him rage – the absurdity in how we rage about
our cumbersome daily errands, our friends and coworkers,
and how in our worst dreams
we have nowhere to go, no one expecting us.

The file clerk at the VA hospital, Harvey Pekar,
didn’t lower his head and disappear
as expected of those in the lesser paygrades.
If we respect and accept our lives,
wherever we might reside,
we can even change the Earth’s rotation.


Jen Hinton lives in Schaumburg, IL and has participated in performance poetry and literary readings in the Chicago area. She has three previously published poems in The NewVerseNews and is working on a collection of poetry and short stories.
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Saturday, July 24, 2010

FOLLOW THE MONEY

by Steve Hellyard Swartz


and you’ll soon discover
that there’s an eye on you
money just has this way
of chasing itself
a tiger with a tiger by the tail
money never fails
money always floats
like the dead we cast out to sea
see the money inside the bubbles
black and bubbling
on the surface of every river, lake, ocean
this is what happens, what occurs
naturally
if you’re so inclined, it’s there for you to see:
presidents, kings, queens
rabbits and loons
the trillions of frail caskets
bobbing on the waves
the eyes of all
wet inside their graves


Steve Hellyard Swartz is Poet Laureate of Schenectady, NY. He is a frequent contributor to New Verse News. Swartz is a 2011 Pushcart Prize nominee for Poetry. His poems have appeared in The Patterson Review, The Southern Indiana Review, The Kennesaw Review, and online at Best Poem and switched-on gutenberg. He is the winner of a First Place Award given by the Society of Professional Journalists for Excellence in Broadcasting. In 1990, Never Leave Nevada, a movie he wrote and directed, opened at the US Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.
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Friday, July 23, 2010

DEEP WATER HORIZON AS GUERNICA

by Alan Catlin


What the earth knows,
the sky accepts as fire,
an abstract in oil
thousands of fathoms deep.
After the blowout, those
not incinerated, dive from
the burning rig as birds do,
suicides, any fate, even death,
is better than being smothered
in crude.  Once all the broken
pieces of the disaster are
assembled into a whole,
the message to be understood
is clear; no one survives unscathed.


Alan Catlin's latest chapbook is a long poem, Thou Shalt Not Kill, an updating of Rexroth's seminal poem of the same name. Whereas Rexroth riffs on the abuses of the Eisenhower adminstration, the update observes abuses of power in the previous administration with particular attention to the cynical, criminal behavior towards the Katrina hurricane victims.
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Thursday, July 22, 2010

ECHO OF A SCREAM

by  James B. Rosenberg


I don’t keep my cell phone on
If I can help it.
I don’t want to stay connected with this world,
At least not all the time.

I want to celebrate myself, like old Walt,
I want to sing my old body electric,
To nurture my inner space by keeping away from My Space,
To perfect the song of myself by refusing to twitter on Twitter.

I have no friends on Face Book
Because I prefer to face my own books,
To be resolutely un-friended,
To be free to drink at my chosen times
From those who have come before me,
Who have fought hard, who have thought hard
In the deep and silent waters of their own souls,
Who even in death continue to breathe fresh air
Unsmogged  by the falsehood of their thousand closest friends.


James B. Rosenberg is rabbi emeritus of Temple Habonim in Barrington, R.I., having served the community for 33 years.  In the fall of 2007 Rabbi Rosenberg completed a ten-year term as Poetry Editor of the CCAR Journal of Reform Judaism.
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Wednesday, July 21, 2010

WHAT WILL WE EAT NOW?

by Lillian Baker Kennedy


In my front yard grows a lone thistle
spared the mower in remembrance

of Irish souls, deep in desperation,
bent, clutching their middles,
having partaken of the thistle’s
benevolence, too poor for purchase
in Trevelyan’s market of dreamt competition,
collapsing by the side of the road.
Trevelyan, who knew it all, refused to feed them
for feeding them would make them less free.

Will these streets of South Portland,
without sidewalks, one day run
to ruin?  Will our Senate be so certain
about the nature of liberties? Will our captains
of industry, our bankers abandon
the ones who saved them, who
bailed them out, who
ate their losses?


Lillian Baker Kennedy, instructor in the core curriculum at USM L-A, teaches “Thinking About the Arts; Thinking Through the Arts.”  A volunteer poet curator for the Atrium Gallery’s past poetry/art exhibits, Kennedy has co-edited a number of poetry anthologies, and her poetry has been nominated for a Pushcart, anthologized, exhibited and published in numerous small presses.  An interview, critical essay on poetics and numerous poems are available online.   Kennedy practices family law in Southern Maine and lives in an old cape near the sea. 
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Tuesday, July 20, 2010

DEFEAT

by George Held

We are in this to win. 
--General David Petraeus, on assuming command in Afghanistan

The general says we will win in Afghanistan
The president says we will plug the leak in the Gulf
The governor says we will close the budget deficit

Senators say we must reduce Social Security
Al Gore says we must reduce CO2 emissions
And switch to renewable energy

And in every case we know in our hearts
That we are headed for defeat—in the war,
In the Gulf, in the economy, in the environment . . .


George Held has collected many of his New Verse News poems in The News Today.
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Monday, July 19, 2010

AMERICA

by Elizabeth Swados


America,
You present yourself in a
wide doublebreasted suit
portly like Alec Baldwin
playing a self-important role
(is he playing?)
and you’ve been at this a long time.
At the video games
eating instant foods
sending naked babies over
all too secret internet sites.
America you present yourself
as sure of yourself with your
arms held out, “Who me?”
I see the sweat around your collar
I see where your left sock has a hole. You
smell of too many colognes
and deodorants
they’ve mashed into a
rank sweet combination
of blood and rust.
America you present yourself
with a clean young smile of hope
and I do pray it is real
but the center of your brain is programmed
into repeated patterns
of electric betrayal and crime
and who can break the repetition?
The brain of you moves smoothly
like a European train and it runs
over the limbs of Arabic children,
African boys and women,
men hold machine guns out windows
and fire blindly into
the shattered windows of tenements
and schools and hospitals.
America, you present yourself in
acquiescence, you beg forgiveness
but you are twofaced. I am terrified
none of this exists
not the sorrow nor the wish
to turn around and actually see the
devastation you’ve left behind you.


Elizabeth Swados is an award winning author and composer; she is a Tony nominated, Obie award winning theater artist, Guggenheim and Ford Foundation recipient, as well as a Pen/Faulkner citation. Her latest book, At Play – Teaching Teenagers Theater, was published by Faber and Faber. Her other recent publications include: My Depression (Hyperion), and The Animal Rescue Store (Scholastic).  Her theatrical credits span from Broadway, to off-Broadway, to around the world including Runaways, Missionaries, and Jabu.  Her poetry has appeared in magazines such as Meridian Anthology, New American Writing, New York Quarterly, Emory's Journal, Confrontation, Paterson Literary Review, Speakeasy, Barrow Street, Runes and Home Planet. Her first book of poetry, The One and Only Human Galaxy, was released in April 2009.
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Sunday, July 18, 2010

SOMETHING TO DO ON THIS SUNDAY IN JULY

by Earl J. Wilcox


      While night owls still nap,
minutes after today’s news arrives
     in my paper box,
mini-vans, sedans, clunkers cruise quietly
     into a queue
up the street where a neighbor will hold
     a moving sale today.

     Three hours before the sale starts,
wannabe buyers swig on adult sippy-cups,
     gawk at each other,
anxious to slip inside the seller’s house
     to size up a bargain
--- despite a yard sign: no sales before seven.

The Gulf oil spill still takes all headlines,
The yard sale groupies have no work,
Mama’s arthritis pains her these cool mornings
But nobody passes up a chance to walk through
A banker’s house---see how the other half lives.


Earl J. Wilcox writes about aging, baseball, literary icons, politics, and southern culture. His work appears in more than two dozen journals; he is a regular contributor to The New Verse News. More of Earl's poetry appears at his blog, Writing by Earl.
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Saturday, July 17, 2010

NATURE POEM DICK CHENEY MAYBE DIDN’T SAY ALOUD BUT COULD HAVE BEEN THINKING LAST WEEK BEFORE HEART SURGERY

by Scot Siegel


First they’ll tell you how altruism squares with evolution
Then they’ll insist that you give to their cause

I don’t give a shit about the swans
alighting on a pond in Central Park

Or young lovers admiring their plumage
and occasionally glancing at the swans

Don’t tell me there’s no hunting in this city
and that the peregrines are on the mend

Don’t send me tweets or blogs on their eggs
Just beat them and serve them up raw

The pediment of Saint Mary’s is plastered with shit
The sidewalks are pleated with more of it. Pigeons!––

I have no interest in avian statistics
or the decrease in rodent-borne disease

Let the trout streams of the Catskills go rancid
Let the windmills grind off the cape

I’m not responsible for oil in the loop current
or the pelicans’ uncertain fate

And I certainly don’t believe in de-oiling
anywhere in the United States!

Lets just agree to disagree
and plug that god damned gusher


Scot Siegel lives in Oregon with his wife and two daughters. He is the author of three volumes of poetry: Some Weather (Plain View Press, 2008), Untitled Country (Pudding House Publications, 2009), and Skeleton Says (just out from Finishing Line Press). Another  full-length collection is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry in early 2012. Siegel serves on the board of trustees of the Friends of William Stafford and edits the online poetry journal Untitled Country Review. 
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Friday, July 16, 2010

IN THE DESERT - JULY 16, 1945

by Phyllis Wax


the sun rose in the west
an awesome glow
trepidation
in the hearts of the scientists
who turned nature inside out

nervously imagining it would—                    
naively hoping it would not—
be used, would not blaze
and rise in the Far East
belching a fungal cloud

the toxic breath of a new beast
changing forever the odds
in favor of extinction


Phyllis Wax lives in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she seeks to make sense of history and the world.  Her poetry shows up in The New Verse News now and then, as well as in numerous other online and print journals and anthologies.
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Thursday, July 15, 2010

SEE IT, SMELL IT, FEEL IT

by George Held


I went down to the Gulf shore
To see the oil and smell the oil
From the BP leak

I saw the oil in the marsh grass
And smelled the oil in the water
From the BP leak

I saw the oil-coated remains
Of a gull and smelled its carcass
From the BP leak

I saw the forlorn local folks
And smelled the stink of loss
From the BP leak

And what I saw and what I smelled
Made me feel the deepest rage
From the BP leak

That I have ever felt and I cursed
The company and the government
For the BP leak

And I cursed myself and all of us
Who let deep-water drilling result
In the BP leak

And I saw the oil come to Cape Cod
And I smelled it off Martha’s Vineyard
From the BP leak

Just in time for Christmas.


George Held has collected many of his New Verse News poems in The News Today.
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FUTURE CAREERS

by Barbara A. Taylor


future careers –           
skimmers
abut florida shores


Barbara A. Taylor lives in Northern NSW, Australia. Her poems appear in many international journals and anthologies including Landfall, Atlas Poetica, Presence, Sketchbook, Frogpond,  The Heron's Nest, Ginyu, Asahi Haikuist Network, Mainichi, 3lightsgallery, Shamrock, Tiny Words, and Simply Haiku.
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Wednesday, July 14, 2010

WHEN AKKADIAN EARTHWORMS DIE

by Robert M. Chute

a footnote on climate change

We began with the cuneiform tablets
     from the dig's lowest level
but it took longest to decipher
     the last, the uppermost.
The tablet was clear and unbroken but
     we found the meaning obscure —
until the soil's chemistry confirmed
     what had been speculation:
it recorded the year the earthworms died
     as the long drought continued.
In older tablets we'd learned how yields
     of wheat and barley declined,
how the prices of grain and beer
     had continued to rise
as emigration turned to evacuation, policy
     born of necessity.
We admired this historic example of
     bureaucracy's resilience,
envisioning the chief scribe
     turning back to say:
Will the last one out of the city please
     vitrify that tablet.



Robert M. Chute's book of poetry based on scientific articles, Reading Nature, is available from Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
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Tuesday, July 13, 2010

BEATEN BUT NOT BRUISED

by Vivek Sharma

For Black Stars in 2010

I am here to say what score-lines, statistics will not  show, not say
on July 2, 2010, the Black Stars played as a pack of tigers on attack,
like disciplined Ashanti warriors, covered the battleground with shots
not one of which was let out without a soaring roar from a spirit
that will not cower, that will not submit. With the honor

that swells and raises every supporter's fist,
I declare you Ghana, the beloved at the tryst,
with your sweeping runs, you earned inch
after inch, and your rousing extra-time play
was almost like a masterpiece from an artist.

Almost!

But greatness, when it begins in men and women, transcends
the moment when they acquire it. Enlightenment stays with us,
the dream and its expense remains in us, and Black stars, that ability,
that gift you claimed in your veins, will win you the moon if you aspire it.

When the men take the ground, run around, like children chasing
a ball, many pen-paper-men ask, is it a worthy task
for the best built bodies? How will the empty stomach celebrate,
or the living conditions change, if the poorest nations win
in a match of kicks and tricks this season?

The gambit of hope, of advancing no inheritance, just skill,
with team-play, by action, and sheer faith to fight:
the excellence on field parallels the best of human qualities...
In the houses where cooking produces just ashes of despair,
healing hymns and rhymes of sport show you if you have the flair,
you can be a famed gladiator in the rich-man's dreamlands.  

Chinua says, things fall apart, yes, they do, but like autumn
sheds leaves, seed to start afresh in spring, the bruised
will heal. Gyan! Why you missed one you mustn't ask,
the bar of expectation was too low for your task,
but there won't be such a surprise again,
when the Black Stars will strike again.

Gita says: "You control only actions, but not the results,
even if the results are adverse, continue your actions."
Since the victory is in action, irrespective of the result,
Fold your jerseys bathed in your golden sweat, kiss your boots
and accept a bow from fans who cheer across the world for you.

There will a day Ghana when no hand, no bells and whistle,
no intervention, human or divine, will stand to stop you.


Vivek Sharma's first book of verse The Saga of a Crumpled Piece of Paper (Writers Workshop, Calcutta) appeared in 2009. His work in English appears in Atlanta Review, Bateau, Poetry, The Cortland Review while his Hindi articles and verses appear in Divya Himachal (Hindi newspaper, India), Himachal Mitra, Argala. Vivek grew up in Himachal Pradesh (Himalayas, India), and moved to the United States in 2001. Vivek is a Pushcart nominated poet, is published as a scientist and is currently a post-doctoral research associate in Mechanical Engineering at MIT.
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Monday, July 12, 2010

PRESIDENT OBAMA SPEAKS TO CANDIDATE OBAMA

by Rob Spiegel


Can I have your fervor back,
your wisdom? Can I have your
hotel room with its view overlooking
the white fields of Iowa?
Your soporific nights.

Can I have your adversaries, so clear,
so weak? Can I have the simplicity
of planning for a debate, the leisure
of writing a speech about race, your
long and lonesome Midwest bus rides?

I can’t find myself any longer, not
even in the glint of a daughter’s eyes.
I have dissipated among my
fervent staff. I am weary of the projections
that can’t be stripped from my skin.

You were dreamlike on a thousand
airplane rides, the two-hour cell-phone
calls home. The coffee and television at dawn,
alone, the tiny thoughts of strategy,
the deep camaraderie of competition.

The world grinds now, hour by hour,
and every step is a misinterpretation.
I am tired of my own voice not being
my own voice; it echoes across the screen
in lies no truth can penetrate.

Michelle is distant now in her utter helpfulness.
My daughters have stopped reaching to their dad.
The doors close with the weight of thick
water. The air here is re-circulated
across decades and it blurs the mind.

Remind me, please, of the simple music
of trees. They sang to me from Hawaii
to Maine. You were the fine cloth,
my hand-woven best. Now my skin
is metallic and the brutal welds won’t give.


Rob Spiegel is a journalist, poet and fiction writer living in New Mexico.
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Sunday, July 11, 2010

FOCUS GROUP OF ONE

by Scot Siegel


“Pledging to 'make BP pay,' President Barack Obama accused the oil giant of 'recklessness' in his first address to the nation from the Oval Office on Tuesday night, eight weeks to the day after the catastrophic oil spill began destroying waterways, wildlife and a prized Gulf Coast way of life.” -Jennifer Loven, Associated Press, June 16, 2010



Change is in the news again
though the dimmer
is stuck on high
& it is dark here

The room is full
of the smartest
people in the room,
yet the keynote
keeps repeating himself
& the lettuce begins
to wilt

Like a kid he fingers
chocolate frosting
from an unclaimed place
setting next to him
It seems no one
can reach the right switch
He feels an irritating
itch to run

In situations like this
his mother would say, son,
you must toggle-on
a different kind of light:
an alpenglow to dissolve
your colleagues into walls,
or to lift them like angels,
depending…

Then the wait staff will
prop the side doors open…
Let them

At first you’ll catch just
a whiff of it, she’d say––
This is how the world
slowly begins to change.


Scot Siegel lives in Oregon with his wife and two daughters. He is the author of three volumes of poetry: Some Weather (Plain View Press, 2008), Untitled Country (Pudding House Publications, 2009), and Skeleton Says (just out from Finishing Line Press). Another  full-length collection is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry in early 2012. Siegel serves on the board of trustees of the Friends of William Stafford and edits the online poetry journal Untitled Country Review. 
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Saturday, July 10, 2010

THE WORD GULF

by Kerol Harrod


Spill, they say, spilling,

a child’s absent hand tipping milk at the table,
urine dribbling from an incontinent bladder,
a drunkard’s whiskey glass, sloshing neat,
the nauseous stomach hurling mephitic release,

things wipe-able, to be sopped, utterly, by the soppers;
these things are our spills, and even now fall away

on earth, but not waste.


Kerol Harrod lives in Denton, Texas with his wife and two daughters. He has published news and opinion articles in a variety of forgettable publications, and has also published previously with The New Verse News.
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Friday, July 09, 2010

LEEWARD

by Elizabeth Swados


Obama you will not be able to untie
these knots so fast
You haven’t been on a ship like this before
with a multitude of yellowing sails
and ropes hard as rocks grabbing onto each other,
sails too too heavy to fly, too
grounded to take off with the crows.
Take your time, mister, as we all must
take our time.

You can’t use a scissors—if you
cut the wrong rope the whole architecture
of this rocking vessel could crack one plank
at a time until we are nothing
but splinters.
Take your time. No machetes.
No hacking away
at blackened twine
pulled so tight
you could pluck it and
the note would come out as
dirty music.

Find the softer spot. Push it oh so gently
back and forth back and forth
pull oh so gently at the loop that has suddenly come free
but pull oh so gently so you don’t disturb the
balance of the mast. Go slowly. Go with caution.

You haven’t been on a ship like this before.
No one has.


Elizabeth Swados is an award winning author and composer; she is a Tony nominated, Obie award winning theater artist, Guggenheim and Ford Foundation recipient, as well as a Pen/Faulkner citation. Her latest book, At Play – Teaching Teenagers Theater, was published by Faber and Faber. Her other recent publications include: My Depression (Hyperion), and The Animal Rescue Store (Scholastic).  Her theatrical credits span from Broadway, to off-Broadway, to around the world including Runaways, Missionaries, and Jabu.  Her poetry has appeared in magazines such as Meridian Anthology, New American Writing, New York Quarterly, Emory's Journal, Confrontation, Paterson Literary Review, Speakeasy, Barrow Street, Runes and Home Planet. Her first book of poetry, The One and Only Human Galaxy, was released in April 2009.
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Thursday, July 08, 2010

TU FU'S LAMENT

by Buff Whitman-Bradley

Tu fu was a great poet of the Tang Dynasty in 8th century China.

Summer night
I sit on my front porch
A jug of wine my only companion
The distant stars indifferent
To whether I live or die
Far from here
Young soldiers kill and die
For rich men's pornographic dreams
Just across the street
My frugal neighbor's
Twenty-year-old Toyota
Rests at the curb
Like an aged horse
Asleep in the pasture
How many bombs will fall tonight
As I sit here drinking wine?
How many houses collapse
On their occupants?
How many children of the poor
Turned to ash and dust?
When the jug is empty
I will be good and drunk
And I will take off my clothes
And stand in the middle of the street
Reviling the powerful
At the top of my voice
Alas no one will listen
The woman next door
Will call me an ancient crackpot
And threaten to summon the police
All the neighbors will close their windows
The old jalopy will continue
Sleeping soundly
Under the streetlight
And using the jug for a pillow
I will lie down among the leeks
In my vegetable garden
Alone and lost
An exile in my own country


Buff Whitman-Bradley is a peace and social justice activist in Northern California. In addition to writing, he produces documentary videos and audios. With his wife Cynthia, he is co-producer/director of the award winning video Outside In, about people who visit prisoners on San Quentin's death row.
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Wednesday, July 07, 2010

A SONNET FROM THE ECONOMY'S NEWEST DOGS

by Juleigh Howard Hobson

A bone to the dog is not charity. Charity is the bone shared with the dog,
when you are just as hungry as the dog.—Jack London

You take your tins of sardines in water,
Your cans of hominy and your expired
Salad dressing that you think we ought to
Be thanking you for, kneeling on our tired
Poverty striken knees in gratitude
For; slavishly happy to get a cut
Price store-brand soup mix pack--take the food
You would never want to eat yourself but
You think is fine to 'donate to the poor';
Take your sanctimony and your jars of
Charity tidbits in juice--take all your
Cheap fillers--load them back in your One Love
And your PETA bumper stickered Prius
Then shove them up where the sun don't see us.


Juleigh Howard Hobson is a formalist poet, essayist and short fiction writer. Former finalist for The Morton Marr Prize, and winner of the ANZAC Day Award (Australia), she has had poems nominated for both the Pushcart and the Best of the Net Award. Her poetry has appeared or shall appear in Able Muse, Mobius, The Lyric, The Raintown Review, Candelabrum, Soundzine, The Barefoot Muse, Hip Mama Magazine, Poem Revised (Marion Street Press), Return of The Raven  (HorrorBound) and scores of other venues. She lives in the Pacific North West with three children, an artist/editor husband and 6 backyard chickens.
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Tuesday, July 06, 2010

STUCK INSIDE OF MAIN ST. WITH THE WALL ST. BLUES AGAIN

by Jon Wesick


Oh, the bank man draws zeroes
and gives us double-talk.
I’d ask him who’s responsible
but I know that he’d just balk.
Sarah Palin treats me angrily
and furnishes me with tea
served with heaping cups of hatred
and spoons of hypocrisy.
Obama, can this really be the end
to be stuck inside of Main Street
with the Wall Street blues again.

Well, Greenspan he’s in the alley
with his skinny tie and hard sell
speaking to some senators
who know the budget well.
And I would send a message
‘cause I’m feeling quite distraught
but the capital has been stolen
all our congressmen bought.
Obama, can this really be the end
to be stuck inside of Main Street
with the Wall Street blues again.

Ralph Nader tried to warn me
stay away from hedge funds.
He said all those con men
rob you and then just run.
And I said, “Oh, I’ve heard that
but then again there’s only one I know.
He evicted my checkbook
and drained my bungalow.”
Obama, can this really be the end
to be stuck inside of Main Street
with the Wall Street blues again.

Unions died last week.
Now they’re buried in the past.
Everyone still talks about
how those slackers couldn’t last.
But me, I regret it happened
‘cause when bosses misbehave,
with no one there to protect us
we might as well be slaves.
Obama, can this really be the end
to be stuck inside of Main Street
with the Wall Street blues again.

Now the senator came down here
and faced a psycho mob
angry about fair healthcare
and the prospect of their jobs.
And me and Billy got flustered
‘cause wouldn’t it really suck
if after two years free of the GOP
voters reelect those ducks?
Obama, can this really be the end
to be stuck inside of Main Street
with the Wall Street blues again.

Now the teen preacher looked so cocky
when he told us why he’s pissed
with twenty pounds of dogma
wrapped around his fist.
He cursed me when I questioned him
and called me an infidel.
“Anyone who backs the common man
is going straight to hell.”
Obama, can this really be the end
to be stuck inside of Main Street
with the Wall Street blues again.

Greenspan gave us two cures.
Then he said, “Jump right in.”
One was stimulus medicine;
the other fiscal discipline.
And like a fool Geithner mixed them
and hastened our decline.
Now Congress just gets uglier.
Their debates seem asinine.
Obama, can this really be the end
to be stuck inside of Main Street
with the Wall Street blues again.

Rush Limbaugh says come see him
in his backwoods studio
where he can gas on endlessly
on the AM radio.
And I say, “Aw come on now
you must know about my views.”
He says, “Your views don’t bother me
but the coup is overdue.”
Obama, can this really be the end
to be stuck inside of Main Street
with the Wall Street blues again.

Now the lights go out on Grand Street
while the fat cats’ profits climb.
With five months ‘til the election
it all seems so well timed.
And you who forget history
will have to pay the price.
Vote for another Bush clone
and live through this mess twice.
Obama, can this really be the end
to be stuck inside of Main Street
with the Wall Street blues again.


Jon Wesick has a Ph.D. in physics, has practiced Buddhism for over twenty years, and has published over a hundred poems in small press journals such as American Tanka, Anthology Magazine, The Blind Man’s Rainbow, Edgz, The Kaleidoscope Review, Limestone Circle, The Magee Park Anthology, The Publication, Pudding, Sacred Journey, San Diego Writer’s Monthly, Slipstream, Tidepools, Vortex of the Macabre, Zillah, and others. His chapbooks have won honorable mentions twice in the San Diego Book Awards.
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Monday, July 05, 2010

ONE IN TEN FIREWORKS IS A DUD

by David Feela
 

I arrived long before the crowd of July 4th
enthusiasts could spread itself out over the
prime viewing real estate.  After three trips
to the truck, I unloaded my folding chair, blanket,
picnic basket, shade umbrella, cooler full of
iced beverages, and the spool of electric
fence wire, insulators, battery, and stakes
necessary to enclose my spot.  Instead of
a single strand along the top of the stakes,
which is sufficient for horses and cattle, I
decided on three separate bands -- top, middle,
and low, the lowest strand at shin level in case
any crawling infants or small dogs invaded.
The sound of insects or butterflies catching a
few volts is almost imperceptible, but
humans tend to yelp, more out of surprise than pain.
Stretched out on my blanket with my eyes closed, I could
hear people say “Look at that!” or “I dare you” or
“Weirdo” -- that kind of running commentary, but
I felt secure, not threatened by the masses.
Then what I thought might be birdsong turned out to be
a voice I recognized.  “Bob?” it chirped.  I opened
my eyes.  “Well Marjorie, yes, it’s me.”  I sat up,
took off my sunglasses out of courtesy and
for a better look at this gorgeous woman who
often sunbathed in the backyard adjacent to
mine.  She approached the wire to give me her
usual hug.  “Watch out” I shouted, “you’ll be shocked.”
Marjorie froze, puzzled by my alarm.  I turned
off the power, then stood to reach across the top
wire.  We superficially embraced, she
standing on her tiptoes, still avoiding the wire
I’d turned off.  “What is this, some kind of prison camp?”
she asked.  “No,” I laughed.  “It’s more like a panic room.
Want to come in?”  I could see her bikini
under the gauzy shirt she wore, a large towel
draped over one arm.  “Nah” she replied,  “That makes me
a little nervous, and besides, I want that big
open piece of sky right over there.”  She turned and
pointed.  “But if you want to grab your stuff and join
me, well, that would be real nice.”  She walked off,
waving, looking real nice.  I watched her go,
sat back down, reconnected the battery, and
reached out to touch a wire with my bare finger.
“Ouch” I said aloud, then touched it again
and again, “Ooh...ahh...yipes...” and it was still hours
before the fireworks were scheduled to begin.  


David Feela's work has appeared in regional and national publications. He is a contributing editor and columnist for Inside/Outside Southwest and for The Four Corners Free Press. His first full length poetry book, The Home Atlas, is now available.
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AMERICA / AFGHANISTAN

by George Held


Lucky America , independent since 1776
Unlucky Afghanistan , ever dependent

America , land of the brave and free
Afghanistan , land of the brave and captive

America , from Atlantic to Pacific,
A bridge between Mexico and Canada

Afghanistan , landlocked,
A bridge between Iran and China

America , home of Joseph Smith,
Mary Baker Eddy, and Pat Robertson

Afghanistan , home of Zoroaster
And bulwark of the Caliphate

America , land of the Tea Party
Afghanistan , land of the Taliban

Contradistinctions and contradictions
Mark these four-syllable words that start with “A”

Yet Americans fight and die
For President Hamid Karzai
On another Fourth of July
And who’s to answer why?


George Held has collected many of his New Verse News poems in The News Today.
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Saturday, July 03, 2010

CONFESSION

by Colleen S. Harris


I rolled him a little to the left,
to shield my flank.
I put his mangled tags
in my right boot against my ankle
so if I made it, they’d know who he was.
If I didn’t, they’d find him with me,
and us a big pile of meat.
But we would have names.
We would not be unknown.
Our mothers would have something to bury.


Editor’s Note: “Confession” comes from the poet’s’s These Terrible Sacraments, forthcoming from Bellowing Ark Press in 2011. The collection moves through stories her younger brother has told her of his time as a US Marine in Afghanistan and Iraq.
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Colleen S. Harris works as an academic librarian at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. A 2010 Pushcart Prize nominee, her first book of poems, God in my Throat: The Lilith Poems, was published by Bellowing Ark Press in 2009. Her second and third books of poetry, These Terrible Sacraments and Gonesongs, are forthcoming in 2011. Her work has appeared in Adirondack Review, Wisconsin Review, Sow’s Ear Poetry Review, Tipton Poetry Journal, Third Wednesday, Appalachian Heritage and many others. She holds an MFA in Writing from Spalding University and an MS in Library & Information Science from the University of Kentucky.

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Friday, July 02, 2010

YESTERDAY, TODAY, TOMORROW

by Earl J. Wilcox


I say to him
I think he’d be a good
Poet Laureate
don’t you

He says
yes I think so
even though
we could name
others
who also write
with as much
clarity
simplicity
authenticity
audacity

Yes I say
but who will
be brave enough
in our time
to write
and write
and write

and skip
all the
punctuation?


Earl J. Wilcox writes about aging, baseball, literary icons, politics, and southern culture. His work appears in more than two dozen journals; he is a regular contributor to The New Verse News. More of Earl's poetry appears at his blog, Writing by Earl.
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Thursday, July 01, 2010

SNAKE OIL

by Miliann Kang                      


Soft corals turned into blackened sponges
pelican beaks dripping slick crude

BP’s CEO grins that the spill is relatively tiny in the very big ocean
propaganda to disperse and contain the hubris of no backup plan

Tea partiers blast Obama while driving SUVs at 12 miles/gallon
the president responds that he can’t just suck it up with a straw

No heads roll, no carbon is taxed, no crisis turns into opportunity
meanwhile we drain the blood of soldiers and citizens in another gulf

My child asks on day 3, day 11, day 39, day 64 what can we do?
we collect coins and send Dawn dishwashing detergent

The planet threatens to deport our whole lot
but we thirst only for more snake oil

60,000 barrels of it a day
an Exxon Valdez every four days

A heart with a burst aorta will gush, shrivel then die,
and so the earth, unless we stop spilling blood and oil

and plug the whole


Miliann Kang is an Associate Professor of Women, Gender, Sexuality Studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.  Her poems have been published in Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism.  Her book The Managed Hand: Race, Gender and the Body in Beauty Service Work was published in 2010 by the University of California Press.

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