Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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 07, 2013


by Stefanie Pickett Buckner

Image source: Weather Whys, TAMU

Heat lightning awakens me and fragments of sky
at midnight—
a brief but rapid winking through the bedroom
window— then surrenders again to dark
night air. Thick thunder soon accompanies this
momentary light. My husband sleeps, his hand snug
in the curve of my waist, each finger pressing into my flesh
deeply at different times. He is reliving scenes from Iraq
in another “dream.” I pretend he is playing one of Mozart’s Sonatas,
perhaps in C. I close my eyes, but hear the sky groan. Tired
or not, we sense violence when it’s there.

In the morning, we sit by the bay window, drink coffee, and read
news about a movie theater massacre—a deranged man who shot
Batman fans with a grin on his face
at midnight—
where 12 people are dead and 58 injured.
We watch cell phone footage, hear the screams, listen
to victims’ stories, gasp and sigh, swallow hard, shake our heads.

Thunder still fumbles heavy and clumsy through
the house as the sun tries to rise. The lonely orchid in the corner
vase quavers at the sound, but stands erect and delicate despite it
all. It shares news too—of looking up while landing
inside a major chord—of every note, light, petal, and touch ending
in resolution—of hearing storm but believing
in sonata—

I grab my husband’s hand, pull it towards my waist,
and ask him to play Mozart again. He smiles but doesn’t
know what I mean.

Stefanie Pickett Buckner’s poetry has appeared in Byline Magazine, Time of Singing, Sacred Journey, The Penwood Review, SP Quill Quarterly Magazine, Ruah, and Lyric.