Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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

Saturday, May 05, 2012


by Jesse Millner

for the honorable Rick Scott, Governor of Florida

It would be nice if writing a sonnet
could help you learn how to build a jet engine,
and nicer still if reading a poem
could help you find a cure for metastasized cancer.

It would be nice if your future salary
gave you bonuses for good metaphors and similes
and guaranteed a rosy retirement income
if you filled your lines with vivid images and flowers.

But these days, all the images are dour
like our bald governor’s face.  Last night
I had a nightmare where his head had become
the moon that lurked outside my window

and he spoke to me about making my dreams
contribute to the Florida economy,
how even in sleep, I needed  to transparently
assess what I was thinking and how

it might create new jobs
for waking people.  It’s really
bad when Rick Scott becomes the moon at night,
and worse when that bald luminosity

speaks through crooked lips about productivity
and honest labor.  At this point it might
be better for me to take the Fifth, to remain
silent about the lack of dinero that comes

from writing poems, and from
trying to teach others to write poems. It is an industry, I fear,
of sorrow and regret because Capitalism is collapsing,
but in its dying moments, it reaches

out to strangle any thing beautiful
that cannot be sold at the mall,
that cannot be assessed and quantified
in the way that the music of the lathe and drill bit

spell out meaning in hard woods and metals
that become shelves and muscle cars.
Yes, it would be nice if writing poems produced
factory goods, and if a poetry class

had the same result as a medical technician’s apprenticeship
at a vocational school. But it doesn’t
so I’d like to take a spaceship to a distant galaxy
where liberal isn’t a bad word,

and art is capitalized and imbued with zany importance
that is in proportion to the beauty it brings,
to the meaning it makes in the spirits of the living,
which, unfortunately, cannot be tangibly measured

or assessed via supervisorial review. Can I tell you
all I really wanted to do when I started this poem
was to call Rick a stupidhead?  Instead I’ve versified
about productivity and capitalism, even commented

on the possibility of bringing the free market system
into my dreams. If I were more productive,
in my dreams I could somehow summon bread for the hungry
and wine for the thirsty and a few dollars extra

an hour for the nice greeter at Wal-Mart. Maybe I could
summon poems whose pages stretched into magic carpets
that in daylight businessmen could ride to Tulsa.  Maybe Rick
Scott would love me then and value my liberal art

of not fabricating bits of forlorn reality
from shiny pieces of shimmering night.

Jesse Millner's work has appeared in numerous literary journals, including River Styx, Willow Springs, and Pearl. His most recent poetry collection, Dispatches from the Department of Supernatural Explanation, was released by Kitsune Books in April 2012. Jesse teaches writing courses at Florida Gulf Coast University in Fort Myers.