Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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