Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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

Monday, January 31, 2011


by Richard Ilnicki

Mohamed Bouazizi/Dec. 17th, 2010/Tunisia

Spontaneous human combustion, that evacuating scream,
erupts suddenly without a trace of fire.
The necessary conditions for combustion don't exist.
This metaphysical phenomenon is a mysterious conflagration of exhausted flesh,
dry bones, and an unholy spirit in search of an exorcist.
No scientific explanation supports the conclusion.
Something must have happened from the inside out
which the heart can not contain. In other words,
some silent deaf and dumb ischemic attack without a voice
is about to scream at the top of its congested lungs,

Taken to hell by absolute zero (-459.67),
frigid, naked and unbearably hot,
the determinate counsel of thermogenesis backs lonely introspection
into a dry tinderbox corner.
This pyromaniac is a bulimic soul
that can not keep the taste of love down.
Exasperated, it becomes engaged in a wave of silent protest;
something malignant within is rebelling.

Hail, fire and brimstone don't help; they produce unquenchable guilt.
The last protective nerve ending is unsheathed
exposing the squirming convoluted subconscious.
This raw familial exposure sends you through the roof
of your mouth, and you must obey the voice inside your swollen head,
a clear directive that says,
“Emerge! Touch the sky or die!”

Red sky, red flag, red herring, red badge of courage
bring you to a new high, and your veins begin to smoke
with the smell of an undetected electrical fire.
The pain shifts back and forth across the international dateline
until you have no idea what day it is.
Frustration gift-wrapped as uncertainty takes root as bitterness
beneath the shameful tree of abuse.
In this jealous garden
tentacles fertilized with anger produce the lush fruit of hatred.
Finally, after all is said and done, swallowed alive and whole,
desperation engenders a sense of hopelessness.
You've spent your last emotional dime, and you can only watch
psychologically motivated memories arise
like a gaggle of gestalt geese gagging.
They are inviting you to join them south of the border.

Your hyper introspection irradiates flammable despair.
It burns your X-Ray to the nth degree,
smokes bonfire flames of vanity and peppers the clear blue sky
with imploding black holes.
You are now caught red-handed,
an incendiary who is immolating his carcinogenic self.
And vengeance is yours,
until the definitive intransigence of your meditative posture
brings you to a new high
just one degree above the highest.

Richard Ilnicki is husband, father, grandfather, health club manager/personal trainer whose best friend, besides his wife, is his dog Jimmy.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


by Jacob Oet

First the settlers’ dream
to build a home.

Later the immigrants dreamed
of two-bedroom apartments
and fantasized
about the availability of showers.

Some came naked.
Some came with clothing but sold their clothing
for a bag of seeds
from trees back home.

And they planted their children in the new way,
showering them with allowances
and enlisting them in public education.

Some joined the army.
They planted
only their own gravestones.
In spring they bore a name etched into rock.

My name is Jacob.
I am the grandchild of second-hand dreams.

Jacob Oet lives in Solon, Ohio and is currently a junior at University School. He has loved writing stories and poems since he was little. His favorite poets include e.e cummings, Mary Oliver, and Pablo Neruda. Jacob was a finalist in Playhouse Square's 2010 SlamU! program and looks forward to participating again this year. His poem, "Metamorphosis," was recently named a winner of the Poetry in the Garden competition, co-sponsored by Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Botanical Garden. Jacob is also a champion chess player, taking first place three years running at the Ohio Grade Level Chess Championships.


Friday, January 28, 2011


by John Paul Davis

1. The Invention Of The Internet

Dear Al Gore: I learned about your marriage ending
on Twitter. I Googled it. I watched a Flash slideshow
of photos from your 40 years together. I read about the email
you used to inform your friends on Wikipedia. I went
& watched the trailer for An Inconvenient Truth
again on YouTube. Melissa Ethridge wrote a song
for your movie but I didn't even want to steal that.
You're starting to look more & more like a grandfather every day.

2. Photographs of Natural Disasters

New Orleans under water. Hazmat suits in Love Canal.
Cars & dressers & bedsheets
pimpling a beach in Chennai after a tsunami scraped
its great slap of a paw over India. The heart
is a clear-cut forest. The heart, strip-mined.
The heart, little red beast cooked out of its habitat,
wandering a sickly planet. The heart, petroluem-clotted,
its feathers matted under the wet weight of history
gone dark from millennia of pressure.

3. May 19, 1970

My anniversary, when I was still married, was May 27. We lined
the hallway leading to the sanctuary with thousands of sticks
so it looked like we were walking through a tunnel
deep in a forest. Alecia & I decided the theme
of the wedding was Narnia. Because it felt like magic.
The invitations said Welcome To Our Country. We made
promises. The church's red doors laughed open & it felt real, like destiny,
like I was finally doing something right. It was real, wasn't it?

4. Carbon Dioxide

You breathe out a greenhouse gas. Trees inhale
it & return it as oxygen to me. If trapped
in a sealed chamber I will suffocate myself
with what my body makes. We have built machines
which are very efficient at making more carbon dioxide.
We have machines which are very good at cutting down trees. I have trapped
myself before. Al, you seem much calmer
about your marriage dying than I was about mine
but somewhere hidden from tv cameras,
your heartbreak slowly fills an impenetrable room.

5. Retreat Of The Glaciers

Any complex system, polar ice caps
or marriage, can repair & recover from damage
unless pushed over entropy's threshold. To kill a giant hornet,
Japanese honeybees will swarm around it in a seething
ball until it dies of heat stroke. One degree hotter
than the combined heat their wiggling produces
& they'd die too. I don't know why my wife
& I got seven years, & you got 40. I don't
know why anyone gets any time at all.

6. A Love Story

For a month before I moved out, we made public
appearances - her parents' house, potlucks, the local
coffee shop. We went on dates. Silence began
to feel like a third person. One afternoon
in the library I excused myself to the bathroom
to cry. The entire planet pressed against my eyelids.
Everyone was so surprised. Us, of all people. We were
who the other couples admired & wished they were.
Today, on the news I keep hearing the phrase 40 years
in voices of amazement, over & over.

7. Gusher

The news is saying you & Tipper sent out a polite email
letting everyone know about the separation. I remember the weeks
of calculation, of comfort in reason, the cold weighing of options,
pretending I knew what was doing, what was coming,
that I knew at all what love was. There should be a law
against the phrase its for the best. I should mention
the afternoon I fell apart in Hannah's living room,
months after I thought I'd put it all behind me,
it shredded me open like a ruptured oil line
roaring & roaring, a pillar of smoke beneath the ocean
& 47 days later still roaring & roaring more.

8. Permafrost

I sing of what is dormant below the surface
of things. What is solid can melt. The universe
builds fires that can liquefy anything. Permanent
is a word meaning "lasting for a time period
longer that I care to imagine. But everything
falls to pieces. We are gods to mayflies.
To them, Al & Tipper were wed long ago as Zeus
& Hera. Or Alecia & me. To the mortal,
whatever outlives it goes on for eternity.

9. Atari Democrat

In the 80s they called you that because they found
your preoccupation with computers for business
laughable. You believed in a network with no center,
machines that could nurture democracy. Where you saw freedom
some of us saw the wild west & the boys in marketing
saw newer, better ways of being evil. In 1983, my friend Mark
had a theory: since Pac-Man's enemies are ghosts
he's really in a contest with his own dreams
Like us, he's all mouth, doomed to swallow & swallow.

10. I Used to Be the Next President of the United States

On December 12, 2000 the day the Supreme Court ordered
that Florida's votes should not be counted, I was working
my job as a bike messenger in San Francisco. From the top
of Nob Hill I could see everything, Oakland, the Golden Gate,
the fog rushing in to fill the cupped hands of the Bay.
The night before someone had pasted stickers
over all the signs for Bush St that read Puppet. The sun
was useless in the smudge of a sky, & there were the useless
streets, the useless skyscrapers. I called the woman I'd
just married to tell her. On hold I watched the useless trolleys
going where they were told, chuckling their useless useless bells.

11. An Oil Spill The Size Of Manhattan

From space, the coalgray slick swallowing the Gulf of Mexico
is a dark eagle smoothing its wings apart, opening
& closing its talons, beak pointed at New Orleans.
From the edge of the solar system, our planet
looks like a pixel against a forever night. From the next
galaxy over, we do not formally exist. Radio waves
with news of your divorce will reach beings living
there in 2.5 million years. They will never know
anything about mine. I think that makes me lucky.

12. Antarctic Ice From 650,000 Years Ago

With a drill that pierces the planet
like a mosquito's stylet scientists bring up cylinders
of ice from before humans could talk. Air
pockets of history wait there. If we each breathed
air preserved from our wedding days
would we fall in love all over again? Would we
taste our vows? Would they still be sweet
or would they have fermented?

13. The Decay of the Nuclear Family

In 1985 Tipper & my stepmom agreed that Prince's lyrics
were something terrible, although both seemed to enjoy
the Beatles. I was 10 when I heard Tipper worry
for everyone about families falling apart. I have clear memories
of  my parents divorce, the two of them yelling
at each other in front of our Christmas tree,
only there's no sound. I can see their mouths moving,
but no voices, no soundtrack of terrible unbinding
music, just the heart's deep anger disfiguring their faces.

14. The Keeling Curve

The air's hotter now than it was in 1970. I married
 when I was 25, divorced when I was 32. I don't stop
using paper so they don't stop winnowing
forests so the planet finds it difficult
to breathe. I gave up my car. I want to visit New York
this summer. I want to visit New Orleans. Al & Tipper
married when they were 23. I ride my bicycle
everywhere. I miss being in love. The air is hotter now.

15. Photographs of Al & Tipper Kissing

I've seen the two of you kiss more often than my own parents.
During the 1988 campaign. Inauguration Day, 1993. 1997.
Armed with Starbucks coffee on a sidewalk in 2000. Standing
on a platform underneath premature fireworks & balloons
Election Day 2000. The live studio audience
whooped like teenagers when you bent her back
on Saturday Night Live in 2004. And here's what I want
to know, Al: how do I tell when love is real?

16. Subsea Blowout

Something started a fire. Something else was ready to burn.
With the right equipment & preparation
things usually go according to plan. But look, all it takes,
even after decades of gears dancing together
perfectly is one spark, one shudder of the ocean
floor. So used to life & the living we're shocked
by disease, breakdown, dying, as if these were abnormal,
as if the ink of danger that careens inside us
were something other than our own blood.
We're surprised when our own darkness fills up the sea.

17. The Tipper Sticker

Ice-T famously said that Tipper is the only woman
he ever called a bitch in his lyrics, and that he meant
it in the worst way possible. She doesn't deserve
it but three years ago I'd have paid a handsome sum to hear Ice-T
spit a dis track about my ex-wife. Now, look, Al,
I know right now you're playing
the "this is a mutual decision" card but when Tipper
calls you in the middle of the night to push the knife
in deeper, maybe with some I thought I married
a president shit, the album is called
The Iceberg. The song is called Freedom of Speech.

18. Earth Tones

They said you should not be president
because your shirts were the color of deserts
& the nippled skin of mountains. The Lorax dressed
in tropical colors & got no further so ignore
them. I know you do. You kneel to the earth,
fill your mouth with soil. When you speak,
it is with the authority of those centuries,
what grew from the land & ate of it & returned to it again.

19. 1965 St. Albans School Senior Prom

You and Tipper met at your high school prom.
I never went to prom. For the record I asked,
and was turned down by four girls, two of whom
also didn't go at all. For my wedding reception,
I hired a 20-piece swing orchestra. I designed
lanterns with beeswax candles that hung from the ceiling.
I handmade the place cards. I took dancing lessons.
I still believe in magic, even today, even if I have to lean
into the work of it, even if I have to make it my damn self.

20. Deepwater Horizon

On the ocean floor there is a dirty mouth
that won't stop swearing. There's a greedy heart
that won't stop vomiting. The total planet,
diseased, sags with humans & all their tiny
wants & burping machines. You leave Tipper
one night for the last time, walk on the surface
of the Mississippi down to the delta, then on the waves
of the Gulf to Macando Prospect, to the slumped
rig & you sink a mile down to the angry flume
of oil. You step in. This may be what heals
the earth & all of us. You offer yourself to the fury.
The raging stops. The earth, your love,
she takes you. She takes. She takes. She takes.

John Paul Davis’s poems have been published in print and online journals such as RATTLE, The Columbia Poetry Review, WordRiot, Apparatus, The Cordite Poetry Review. He was a 2009-2010 writer in residence with Vox Ferus. Currently he is the video curator and projection designer for The Encyclopedia Show in Chicago, a founding member of Real Talk Avenue, a regular contributor to The Paper Machete. He is editor and designer of Bestiary Magazine.


Thursday, January 27, 2011


by Rob Spiegel

You size it up first in economics, and not
how the decision leaves a trail of damage.
The Chinese, of course, are the beneficiaries.

You tried to justify it as your contribution
to the rise of the Asian middle class, but you
know how everybody feels in Cleveland, and

you’ll never get the chance to see the Chinese
peasant tell his wife how things are gonna change.
For the company, it’s a shareholder’s bonanza.

But you don’t know the shareholders or the
Chinese peasant. You know Cleveland and
mortgages that won’t get paid and friends of thirty years.

When the employees gathered in the plant you told the
truth, their jobs gone, no elaboration, nothing more to say.

Rob Spiegel is a journalist living in New Mexico. His work has appeared in a ton of magazines, including Milk Money and True Confessions.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


by Lori Desrosiers

MIAMI (AP) -- A grand piano recently showed up on a sandbar in
Miami's Biscayne Bay, about 200 yards from condominiums on the shore.

Perhaps jellyfish
will learn to play
Bach Cantatas,
or old Diver Dan’s composition:
Seaweed Suite in C minor,
for squid trumpet, piano
and four octopus orchestra.

Lori Desrosiers lives in a big house with a front porch in Westfield, MA and likes to sit and observe the world, then write about it. Her poems have appeared in many reputable publications, including The New Verse News.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


by Roxanne Hoffman

To combat the sticky problem of fat
many have taken the matter to the mat,
pumping and pressing to get back in shape,
while others take refuge in black and drape.

Some with the latest diet plan still embraced
have failed every fad to whittle their waist.
Others with tummies stapled, teeth wired shut,
will undergo the knife to narrow their gut.

               BUT NOT JACK.

Jack had this uniquely freaky technique
and within weeks redesigned his physique:
He pasted the chiseled image of a torso divine
to the mirror beneath his own capacious chin line.

Each morning with a wave to his grafted hybrid
and a clearer vision of the new man ahead,
Jack chanted his mantra: Make it happen.
And found the power to heal from within.

At the breakfast table to his delight
Jack was incapable of more than a bite.
Later as he raced to catch a fleeting bus
Jack slowed down thinking what’s all the fuss?

With a bounce in his stride, he walked all the way,
Arriving refreshed recharged to start his workday.
Chanting his mantra: Make it happen.
Exercise is my discipline.

You see mind over matter is the only way.
Set your mind’s sights so your body can obey.
Forget all the diets, think good nutrition!
Power Juice your way into condition!

I think about this moment in life and what I am going to do.
Remember: your body is your slave; it works for you.

Jack pranced through his daily exercise routines,
on the forerunners of today’s exercise machines.

Without fear of the tape measure or of the scale
Jack’s body was no longer his master to rail.
He realized his vision of washboard abs,
had battled the bulge and conquered his flab

Everything depends on circulation!
Make it happen! Exercise is my discipline.

Roxanne Hoffman worked on Wall Street, now answers a patient hotline for a New York home healthcare provider. Her words can be found on and off the net in such journals as Amaze: The Cinquain Journal, Clockwise Cat, Danse Macabre, The Fib Review, Hospital Drive, Lucid Rhythms, Mobius: The Poetry Magazine, The Pedestal Magazine, and Shaking Like A Mountain; the indie flick Love And The Vampire; and the anthologies The Bandana Republic: A Literary Anthology by Gang Members and their Affiliates (Soft Skull Press), Love After 70 (Wising Up Press), and  It All Changed In An Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure (Harper Perennial). She and her husband own the small press, Poets Wear Prada

Monday, January 24, 2011


by Steve Hellyard Swartz

The man who gave me a quarter at the intersection of Central and the highway exit ramp told me to speak. I smiled and said thank you. He told me to say some more. Cars were honking. I walked away but he drove alongside me. I began to run. He drove faster. I ran into the parking lot of a fast food restaurant. He drove up next to me. I begged him to leave me alone. He took out a phone and said he was videotaping me. I asked him what did he want from me. He said he just wanted me to speak. Say something. Say anything. Let me hear your voice. I saw a bottle near the dumpster. He said I should be sure to smile when I spoke. He said that's how it's done. He said that I should pull my hair back. And try not to show my teeth. He said that he should ask for his quarter back. I picked up the bottle. It would have gotten me a nickel. Unbroken.

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.

Friday, January 21, 2011


by David Chorlton

This could be any Walgreens store
eager to please at any hour
with a discounted smile
valid coast to coast; in Ohio, Florida,
Oregon, or here in the desert,
to which a young man
brings a roll of film at eleven
expecting to have photographs
while frost still coats the stars.
After he stops at the Circle K
identical to those in New Orleans
or Los Angeles, where the same
double cheeseburger
is offered at two for three dollars
behind the same illuminated plastic façade
he spends two hours
in the Motel 6 across the tracks
just like one in Fargo or Bismark
but distinguished by its location
so close to trains that whistle all night
the patrons who want to sleep
can’t. When he fills up at a gas station
he could be stopping in Huntsville, Alabama,
on the way to Austin, where
the Chevron logo blazes
above another row of restless cars.
The Walmart he shops
for ammunition at dawn
might be any one of twenty
around Charlotte, North Carolina,
or the only one in Pullman, Washington,
where the aisles have the same relentless
perspective as those in Tucson. When he arrives
at one of one thousand seven hundred
and forty three Safeway stores
the light that fills his human body
assures him that he
has finally become unique.

David Chorlton's poems have appeared recently online at Stride Magazine (UK), The Blue Guitar (Arizona), and Pemmican. Chiron Review, Poem, and Pembroke Review will feature more in print soon.

Thursday, January 20, 2011


by Glen Stephens

great black clouds
rise here far above
the fruitless wars

shake loose their snow
to float down on rocky
peaks and wide canyons

to settle on the rusty remains
of blown up trucks
and mounds of broken houses

to sizzle on the oil-can fires
surrounded by the beards and turbans
of young men with guns

young men who cannot read
but pass their time reciting poems
in endless streams

written by poets who
lived through fruitless wars
eight hundred years ago

Glen Stephens lives part of the time, when it's cold elsewhere, in Riverside, California and part of the time, when it's hot in Riverside, on Orcas Island, about ninety miles north of Seattle.  He has been writing poetry since his retirement as a practicing attorney. His poems have appeared on line in Shark Reef and The Huffington Post

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


by Jo Barbara Taylor


of the Female Engagement Team
beams her American smile. Pied piper
with a rifle, she patrols a garden
of black haired, dark eyed boys.
They speak thumbs up, join the disciples
in her growing entourage.

A rock star in the bazaar, Eve greets
merchants and shoppers in Pashto
hello, how are you, how is your family?
Local men are rapt, enlightened
by this soldier-woman, uncovered
except for body armor.

Afghani women, burqa’d in blue
and red, like garden flowers
growing in ancient dust, stand
apart from this foreign version
of woman wearing a different
kind of camouflage.

Jo Barbara Taylor has recently published her first book One Or Two Feathers with Plan B Press.


Tuesday, January 18, 2011


by Andrew Hilbert

they were all wrong
the well wishers of humanity
those that bowed at the altar
of scientific progress

we will all be leisurely beings

computers will drive the trash trucks
computers will sort the mail
computers will prepare the meals
computers will distill the liquor

and only those that own the computers
will vacation in exotic spots
and drink martinis and smoke cigars
and have their feet up as they read
their ipad newspapers
and only those who own the computers
will buy stocks in the computers
and the gap will grow

we will all be leisurely beings

the freeways are loud
but they are shelter.

Andrew Hilbert lives and works in Orange County. He also edits Beggars & Cheeseburgers magazine.

Monday, January 17, 2011


by Earl J. Wilcox

Snow closes schools;
Schools make-up the day;
Day is MLK holiday;
Holiday versus education;
Education a key to freedom;
Freedom from ignorance;
Ignorance says observe holiday;
Ignorance feeds on itself.

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.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


by Roxanne Hoffman

“A mind is terrible thing to waste.” 
The United Negro College Fund motto created in 1972.


Author's note: In the words of Dr. King and the old Negro spiritual, "Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!"

Roxanne Hoffman worked on Wall Street, now answers a patient hotline for a New York home healthcare provider. Her words can be found on and off the net in such journals as Amaze: The Cinquain Journal, Clockwise Cat, Danse Macabre, The Fib Review, Hospital Drive, Lucid Rhythms, Mobius: The Poetry Magazine, The Pedestal Magazine, and Shaking Like A Mountain; the indie flick Love And The Vampire; and the anthologies The Bandana Republic: A Literary Anthology by Gang Members and their Affiliates (Soft Skull Press), Love After 70 (Wising Up Press), and  It All Changed In An Instant: More Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous & Obscure (Harper Perennial). She and her husband own the small press, Poets Wear Prada

Saturday, January 15, 2011


by Iris Litt

Elaine Kaufman’s will:
“I direct that my ashes be spread over Second Avenue.”

Feel that drop?
You think it’s rain.
No, it’s just
a bit of Elaine.

Would Elaine have let you in
to her prestigious boite?
Now she’s sending her ashes
to land on you.  Not!

Second Ave. is not “a designated area to scatter”.
Unless you’re one of the people who matter.

Iris Litt’s most recent book of poetry is What I Wanted to Say from Shivastan Publishing. An earlier book of poetry, Word Love,  was published by Cosmic Trend Publications.  She has had poems in many literary magazines including Onthebus, Confrontation, Hiram Poetry Review, The  New Renaissance, Asphodel, Poetry Now, Central Park, Icarus, The Rambunctious Review, Pearl, The Ledge, Earth's Daughters, Poet Lore, Scholastic, and Atlantic Monthly (special college edition).  She has had short stories in Travellers Tales, Prima Materia, Out Of The Catskills,  and The Second Word Thursdays Anthology; and articles in Pacific Coast Journal, Writer's Digest, and The Writer.  She teaches writing workshops in Woodstock, NY, and has taught creative writing at Bard College,  SUNY/Ulster, Arts Society of Kingston, Writers in the Mountains, Educational Alliance, New York Public Library, and Marble Collegiate Church. She lives in Woodstock and in New York City’s Greenwich Village.

Friday, January 14, 2011


by Michael Monroe

A light grey sky
hangs over Baltimore
like a harbinger of snow,
perhaps another white apocalypse

as I read the online news:
Was the killer a left-wing nutjob
impatient with the progress
of promised progress?
Or was he a right-wing tea-bagger
exercising his second amendment rights
to overthrow government?
Or was he just a lone wacko,
a lonely man lost in his
self-created world
of drug-induced delusion?

He didn’t know
that no matter who’s in charge,
the poor stay poor
and the rich stay rich,
the sun still rises in the morning
and falls in the evening,
and nothing can stop the snow.

Michael Monroe is a Baltimore poet whose work has been or will be published in Gargoyle Magazine, the Lyric, Struggle, the Blue Collar Review, Manorborn, the Loch Raven Review, Floiate Oak, and various other publications.  His poems have also previously appeared in New Verse News. Two of his poems were recorded on the Words on War CD produced by Birdhouse Studios and he often does poetry readings with Gimme Shelter Productions to raise money for the homeless in Baltimore.

Thursday, January 13, 2011


by Tony Brown

We all know where this is going

Right down to the contentious opening volley
and the tensing of sword hands
Right down to the bloodied noses
and the swing and miss journalism
What do they want to sell us
between the stage shows
and the sham of battle

We know they've sold us out
but we won't even mind all that much

as long as we get ours
Oh we're watching the news
and shaking our heads at them
Deep down we know marketing when we see it

and though it's nothing we care for that much
it's a hell of a lot better than no country at all
Speaker gavels the chamber to order
This is gonna be good

They're going to read sacred texts
and unicorns are gonna appear

And they love to sell unicorns
and jabberwocks a-burbling near nonsense

Anything mythic, really
and boy do we love to shop

Tony Brown, of Worcester, MA, has been writing for over 40 years.  He recently released his third CD with his poetry and music ensemble, The Duende Project, and is currently completing a full length manuscript.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011


by David Chorlton

A mountain turns its face away from Mexico
in the morning mist
and the border disappears.
Silence in English
cannot be distinguished
from silence in Spanish. Jaguars return
to occupy lost territory,
the map cracks along a seam of frost
and snowflakes fall
like shreds of torn visa applications.
The only written language
is that of deer tracks on the softly dusted
ground. Any word
becomes a cloud as soon
as it is spoken, footsteps are the sound of shoes
breathing, crystals over the heart
are a guard’s badge, and woodsmoke
rises like grey flags
above lonely houses where all night
fire keeps watch. A few branches
are scratched into the atmosphere; otherwise
white is layered over white, page
upon page of blank paper
granting free passage until peace melts.

David Chorlton travels when he can to his favourite landscapes in the south of Arizona where he and his wife enjoy the wildlife and trails.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


by Steve Hellyard Swartz

On the side of the bottle it reads
Twist hair
Watch the news
Scream for an hour on and off
Get keys
Drive to Sportsman's Paradise
Buy gun
Drive to Wal-Mart
Drive to second Wal-Mart
Buy bullets
Don't sleep
All part of the conspiracy
Glenn is right, Glenn is right, Glenn is right
Drive to rally
Walk with purpose

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.

Monday, January 10, 2011


by Howie Good

Bullets would always miss. We’d screw
on the green couch even though

it’s not Scotch-guarded. Hobos would
become Republicans – or, better yet,

Republicans would become hobos.
It’d snow every night, but only just enough

that it’s never really completely dark.

Howie Good is the author of the full-length poetry collections Lovesick (Press Americana, 2009), Heart With a Dirty Windshield (BeWrite Books, 2010), and Everything Reminds Me of Me (Desperanto, 2011).


Sunday, January 09, 2011


by Nickolas Butler

I tell you now that on the teevee yesterday there was a woman
talking about america being ripe for a revolution and she was
talking to a group of people call themselves the tea party.  But
the truth of the matter is that most people don’t have no notion
of revolution.  The word, it conjures up in them good feelings
about george washington and samuel adams and paul revere,
but you go ask people in guatemala what revolution looks like.
ask someone in chechnya.  It aint just talk.  It is people getting
killed.  People losing their homes and their land and their farms.
Land mines and bombs and automatic weapons.  I shook my
fist at the teevee, because I don’t need america getting torn apart
like that in my lifetime.  I can point a finger to a gravestone in
gettysburg and show you my distant kin.  America saved the world
seventy years ago, and now we got people saying that things are
so bad we need a revolution.  I tell you what it is, plain and simple.
A bunch of goddamn greedy people who don’t want to pay their
taxes.  We ain’t talking about a king or an emperor.  We talking
about sidewalks and atomic bombs.  We talking about highways
and bridges.  School-houses and hospitals.

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.

Saturday, January 08, 2011


by Alan Catlin

Now that the Wild West
bang bang shoot 'em ups

are a way of life
and packing heat
to political rallies
is thought of as:

fashion accessories

"They Shoot
Don't They?"

is not a movie
script pitch but
a real life event

the moral of which
is when you target
people for political
extinction real folks
get shot

Alan Catlin has published numerous chapbooks and full length books of poetry and prose. Pygmy Forest Press is publishing the collected "Deep Water Horizon" poems.


by Earl J. Wilcox

They do tours like rock stars, divas
belting out one final aria, fading baseball
players trotting the bases one more time.
Political hacks take farewell tours as if
they have brought peace in our time,
fed the hungry, clothed the sick, secured
justice for all, found cures for cancer,
HIV, diabetes, dyslexia, bulimia, herpes—
or heartbreak. Backslappers gather round,
give a rousing sendoff to the governor
who discovered his soul mate in Argentina ,
dumped his wife and four sons, abandoned
the people who elected him. Oh ancient Homer,
Virgil, Dante, Shakespeare where are you now
that we need you to remind us once more
of the frailty of man, the duplicity of those
in high places, the gullibility of all who work
for progress, hope in vain for leaders we seek.

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.

Friday, January 07, 2011


by Rochelle Owens

 When as an incarnation
mother of the milky way
in the triumphant twenty-first century
O monster of harmonies
flying descending
into this world
O Gila monster O virgin queen
imperial reptile
hatched from the egg of the sky
flying Gila
descending into this world
around her a spreading hibiscus
O philosopher with lidless eyes
eternal wunderkind
devoid of dread and shame
O head and fatty tail
majestically formed with yellow
and black beadlike tubercles
pure as alabaster shining gold
mother of the milky way
of metamorphosis
her gift of spit
her healing reptile spit
spit of power spit of cure
vulnerable flesh eater
spiritual carnivore
wafting incense sanctifying
the four directions
slowly slowly slowly slowly
scuttling over the sand
a cold blooded messenger
a monster of rapture
in harmony
with the rays of the sun 

Rochelle Owens is the author of eighteen books of poetry and plays, the most recent of which are Plays by Rochelle Owens (Broadway Play Publishing, 2000) and Luca, Discourse on Life and Death (Junction Press, 2001). A pioneer in the experimental off-Broadway theatre movement and an internationally known innovative poet, she has received Village Voice Obie awards and honors from the New York Drama Critics Circle. Her plays have been presented worldwide and in festivals in Edinburgh, Avignon, Paris, and Berlin. Her play Futz, which is considered a classic of the American avant-garde theatre, was produced by Ellen Stewart at LaMama, directed by Tom O’Horgan and performed by the LaMama Troupe in 1967, and was made into a film in 1969. A French language production of Three Front was produced by France-Culture and broadcast on Radio France. She has been a participant in the Festival Franco-Anglais de Poésie, and has translated Liliane Atlan’s novel Les passants, The Passersby (Henry Holt, 1989). She has held fellowships from the NEA, Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and numerous other foundations. She has taught at the University of California, San Diego and the University of Oklahoma and held residencies at Brown and Southwestern Louisiana State. This section of "Ode to a Gila Monster" is Rochelle Owens' seventeenth New Verse News poem.

Thursday, January 06, 2011


by Carmen Tafolla

Birds fall from the sky
Fish drown in the river
Citizens sweep up the trash,
discard, forget

Scientists pronounce the deaths
(five thousand  birds,
eighty-five thousand fish)
totally unrelated
Ignoring what
we do not fear,
we pack the shopping bags and debit cards,
 put the car in gear,

vote to fight more enemies
of faith or color
or immigrants to a Lady Statue
whose promise is forgotten

Dirty – Discard.
Dirty – Discard.
Dirty – Discard.

Perhaps there is another
 continent less polluted
than the one these brown illegals
were once proud owners of

If not, perhaps we white elite can
buy a ticket to a cleaner planet
whose native sons
can then be dispossessed

and centuries later
declared illegal,
 as the messengers
fall from the sky

Carmen Tafolla is the author of more than twenty books, including Sonnets to Human Beings, The Holy Tortilla and a Pot of Beans, and Tamales, Comadres & The Meaning of Civilization. She is the recipient of many awards, including the Américas Award, the Charlotte Zolotow Children’s Book Award, the Tomas Rivera Book Award, and the Art of Peace Award.  Her family has lived in San Antonio since before it was the United States, the Republic of Texas, and the Republic of Mexico, but they still struggle to pay the rent.


Wednesday, January 05, 2011


by Margaret S. Mullins

mamacita, mamacita
grab those babies
and run for the border
swim across the river
walk through the desert
hold tight the babies
take the first job
cleaning the toilets
and then the second
vacuuming offices
sleep with the babies
work on the weekends
washing dishes
at the tex-mex place
where they let you eat
take in others' kids
whose mamas work nights
tuck them in bed with you
snuggle them tight
take them to free clinics
feed them tortillas
send them to school
to learn how to read
shop at the thrift store
go to the library
play at the green park
watch them grow strong
watch them grow smart
watch them start college
call their grandma at home
but don't cross back over
your babies are here
and they need you now
to hug them tight
as they fill out the papers
that make them point blame
at you who brought them
and taught them to love
the nation that says
they should never have come

Margaret S. Mullins splits her time between the quiet of rural Maryland and the rumpus of downtown Baltimore. Her work has appeared or is upcoming in Alehouse, Creekwalker, Sun, Borderlands: Texas Poetry Review, Loch Raven Review, New Verse News, Chesapeake Reader, and Magnapoets, among others.  She is a Pushcart Prize nominee and the editor of Manorborn 2009:  The Water Issue (Abecedarian Press.)

Tuesday, January 04, 2011


by David Feela

    “There is forty square feet of retail space
      for each living person in America.”
            -- a news item

What I want to know is
when did things go on sale
in my forty square feet?

And who are these strangers
milling around, carrying bags,
touching my stuff?

Will someone tell me why
the windows look out on a parking lot
instead of a breathtaking view?

And if I decide to homestead,
where are the keys,
and does it have clean bathrooms?

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.

Monday, January 03, 2011


by Anne Davies

2010 had little to recommend it
And not many partisans to defend it,
Except Speaker John and cheeky Mitch
Who thought it went without a hitch.

Even God felt less than matey,
Fire and brimstone pounded Haiti
Pakistan, in its aftermath,
Bore the brunt of Allah¹s wrath

Down south Big Oil earned the blame
When BP¹s rig went up in flame
Though many miners died entombed.
Coal mine profits cheerily zoomed.

Afghanistan stayed an open wound
Parties bickered, the debt ballooned
Democrats took a dreadful shellacking
Which finally got the President cracking.

Lame-duck session machination
Brought forth vital legislation
But with the Republicans ascendant
Obama, alas, must be dependent

On bipartisanship and good will
Currently absent from Capital Hill.
Does the Tea Party really want to nix
All progress since 1776?

Despite grim evidence empirical
I¹m hoping for a political miracle.

Anne Davies is a fund-raising writer by profession and a writer and versifier by avocation. Her work has been published in local and regional papers. She lives in Lexington, Massachusetts.

Saturday, January 01, 2011


by Patricia Carragon

Bloomberg’s blizzard
municipal Ice Age
buries the outer boroughs

Bloomberg’s snowplows
only work
in Manhattan

Abominable Snowmen
at Gracie Mansion

Frosty the Snowman
gets ugly
slushballs at Bloomberg

Patricia Carragon is a New York City writer and poet. Her work can be found online and in anthologies.  She hosts the Brooklyn-based Brownstone Poets and is the editor of its annual anthology. She is the author of Journey to the Center of My Mind (Rogue Scholars Press, 2005). Her latest book is Urban Haiku and More (Fierce Grace Press, 2010).  She is a member of Brevitas, a group dedicated to short poems.