Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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, July 01, 2013


by Rick Gray

Archbishop Tutu ordered pumpernickel from the 9th Avenue deli
near the Anglican Rectory of Chelsea.

Still hot, he blessed the bread, his eyes going sly as he
broke the black loaf into little white bites.

I kept my eyes down, relieved for once to have
Ritual to contain my modern fear of miracle

As when, two years earlier, I stepped into Mandela’s empty prison cell,
Now a museum, and was boxed with a presence so enduring

I crossed myself defensively, and fled the ring.
Raising my eyes, I saw Tutu offering a cup of blood
To wash down the dark flesh,
His eyes belly laughing at my little trembling.

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.