Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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

Thursday, June 13, 2013


by Rick Gray

I don't know who I'm betraying, my TV doesn't work, 
but I must confess I saw Ed Snowden yesterday
on Chicken Street in Kabul.

It was only a glimpse
from the cracked, glaring window of a coughing taxi
near a dangling, pine-scented Quranic quote

but I'm certain it was him.
He was clutching a naked chicken over a laptop
and had the hunted look of a refugee

sort of like everyone in town
sort of like me
maybe that's why I couldn't help waving

and maybe that's why he nodded back
in the secretive, American way of those
gone to ground

and searching for a cheap hotel room
to spend the rest of your life
not going crazy in.

You've been a bad boy, Ed.
Me too, though in a less Boozy way.
So when all this toxic dust settles

which you will soon learn the UN calls "fecal matter"
let's get together at an undisclosed location and
shoot the shit.

I encourage you to let the postmodern goatee grow primitive,
and ditch those glasses. They are as deadly here as a square Humvee.
I'll teach you everything like a big brother

though you probably don't like Big Brother
call me whatever you want
I'm just another one who fell

between the new, prismatic cracks
and am searching for the old rainbow of
friendship untapped.

Rick Gray served in the Peace Corps in Kenya and currently teaches at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul. He was a finalist for the Editor's Award at Margie, and has an essay that will be appearing in the forthcoming book, Neither Here Nor There: An Anthology of Reverse Culture Shock. When not in Kabul, he lives with his wife Ghizlane and twin daughters Rania and Maria in Florida.