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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

YEAR’S END: 2013

by Frederick L. Shiels

                  to Richard Wilbur, with appreciation

December ends with thoughts of where we’ve been,
this year of typhoons, popes, dead heroes, Chelyabinsk

Chelyabinsk? you say, mark February’s sky-burst meteor attack
showering space rocks on Siberians fourteen miles below,

Nine thousand miles southwest, nine- months, three- weeks on,
they lay to rest man meteor Mandela in rose Transkei earth,

And from sublime to otherwise, our laptop screens parade
cool images of chemical-dead Syrian children, kids twerking—pick the best,

Lessing, Thatcher, Dear Abby leave the stage,
Hugo, Seamus, Ed Koch, to name a few, Adieu,

Fifteen year old Malala inspires her World in Pakistan,
Old Benedict resigns in Rome, New World Francis takes the papal helm

Liberation theology? gays "OK!", Abortion—wait and see,
Images not quite frozen: Nature flattens houses, people-- Oklahoma, Tacloban,

Late August, Voyager  streaks beyond the heliosphere’s dark edge
thirty six years, twelve billion miles past roaring over/out of earth,

And so much more, we “fray into the future” then,
But wait-- what was the year for You, my friend?

Frederick L. Shiels is a historian, professor and poet living and writing just north of New York City. Recently he has published poems in The New Verse News and will appear in the Winter Edition of Sixfold. He has a political blog, and his most recent book is Preventable Disasters: Why Governments Fail.

Monday, December 30, 2013


by Gil Fagiani

Around one hundred and seventy migrants who had been kept on the Italian territory of Lampedusa have been evacuated. The island’s centre had been designed to house up to 850 people for around 48 hours. However it has been steadily transformed into a long-term refugee camp, leading to accusations of crowded, unsanitary conditions. Most of the migrants are now being taken to the Italian mainland by air. Giusi Nicolini, the Mayor of Lampedusa says the system needs changing. “I believe nothing can be the same as before. The parliament, all governments and especially the Italian government must realise that we must work seriously to totally reform how we treat asylum seekers in our country,” he said. Last week video footage emerged appearing to show the refugees, some of them naked, in the freezing cold being being sprayed with disinfectant. This led to a storm of criticism. --Euronews, December 25, 2013

At the Lampedusa Welcome Center
workers are ordered to stop the scabies
epidemic among the North African detainees,
survivors of a boat capsizing that drowned
366 people off the coast of Sicily.

Cell phone footage shows workers
using a high-pressure compressor to blast
the migrants with a formula of cold water
and disinfectant. Men, women, children
huddle naked in an open-air courtyard,
rubbing their eyes, mouths gaping.

Lampedusa’s mayor sees the images,
reacts with horror, condemns the treatment
as la practica da lager—something from
a concentration camp. The workers tell
journalists who stalk them, Attenzione!
We’re just the picccoli pesci—the little fish.

Gil Fagiani is a translator, essayist, short story writer and poet. His most recent book of poetry is Serfs of Psychiatry (Finishing Line Press, 2012).  In 2014, his poetry collection Logos, set in a Bronx drug program in the 1970s, is due to be published by Guernica Editions. Gil co-curates the Italian American Writers’ Association’s monthly reading series, and is a founding member of the Vito Marcantonio Forum.

Sunday, December 29, 2013


by Mark Danowsky

On a dog walk the night before Xmas
the sound of Public Radio begins to double
so I halt, unplug an earbud 
and take in my surroundings

Unseen inhabitants occupying a Subaru 
are having a fabled "Driveway Moment" 
so I pause a little longer
in this record December weather
sweating through a sweatshirt
while us strangers listen up

Two filmmakers explain the joy
of filling out their first joint federal tax return
despite living in a state that still fails
to recognize their union

Mark Danowsky’s poetry has appeared in Alba: A Journal of Short Poetry, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, Red River Review, Right Hand Pointing, Snow Monkey and The New Verse News.  His poem "5am Summer Stormwon Imitation Fruit’s “Animals and Their Humans” Contest, in 2013. He resides in Northwest Philadelphia and works for a private detective agency.

Saturday, December 28, 2013


by Richard O'Connell

Queen Elizabeth II granted a rare "mercy pardon" Monday to Alan Turing, the computing and mathematics pioneer whose chemical castration for being gay drove him to suicide almost 60 years ago. --NBC News, December 24, 2013

Breaking the Enigma code seemed simple stuff
compared to interrogation by police
of whether he was loyal or masculine enough,
desperate for details of illicit loves.

He knew his death must look an accident
to spare his family scandal and abuse,
knowing his persecutors would not relent
and ambiguity was always the best ruse.

He knew Snow White must triumph in the end
but he would not; the witches everywhere
were gathered well beyond the final reel
to flay his flesh and feast on his despair.

He held the lethal apple in his hand
devoid of vacillation or chagrin,
knowing he had constructed a new land
and smiling to himself bit deeply in.

Richard O'Connell lives in Deerfield Beach, Florida. Collections of his poetry include RetroWorlds, Simulations, Voyages, and The Bright Tower, all published by the University of Salzburg Press (now Poetry Salzburg). His poems have appeared in The New YorkerThe Atlantic MonthlyNational Review, The Paris Review, Margie, Measure, Southern Humanities Reviw, AcumenThe Formalist.

Thursday, December 26, 2013


by Mary Sexson

She had eviscerated herself
before the plane landed, bled
a job and reputation out through
her social links.  The birds sang
and sang, and word went round
the world, like giant drums, beaten
to a pulp, the skins bloodied
with the tainted viscous fluids
of her birth country.  And she,
silenced for an eleven hour flight
as the plane cut its arc across
the blankness of space, where
not even a tweet can be heard.
By the time she landed
her demoralization was set,
her name sung into infamy,
this white girl without a country, lost
in her own version of what went down.

Mary Sexson is the author of the book 103 in the Light, Selected Poems 1996-2000 (Restoration Press, 2004), which was nominated for a Best Books of Indiana award in 2005.  She is the co-author of the recently released Company of Women, New and Selected Poems (Chatter House Press, 2013).  Her work has been included in projects such as Arts Kaleidoscope, Shared Spaces/Shared Voices, and Poetry in Paint.  Her poems have appeared in various literary publications, including Flying Island, Tipton Poetry Journal, Grasslands Review, and a special Kurt Vonnegut edition, One City, One Prompt.  Her newer work has been included in several anthologies, including The Globetrotter’s Companion (Lion Lounge Press, London 2011), Trip of a Lifetime (Sleeping Cat Books 2012), and A Few Good Words (Cincinnati Writer’s Project 2013), and the online site, The New Verse News (2013).  She has forthcoming work in the Reckless Writing Anthology (Chatter House Press).  She was recently nominated for two Pushcart Prizes for work published in 2013.


by Judith Terzi

                    after the obituary for Mikhail Kalashnikov, Los Angeles Times, 12-24-13

He was born hearty without
a heart in 1947, weighed eight
pounds but had few moving parts.
He screamed six hundred bursts
of fire blood that ricocheted
from his banana-shaped clip-crib
through jungles and steppes and
tunnels and flesh and now. He is
the Lego for child soldiers who
crave him, caress him with agile,
wide-eyed fingers. He is their
playmate; they deconstruct him,
then rebuild him for pleasure.
They drag him into sandboxes,
into the silt of rivers and creeks,
through grasses of marshes,
the grime of exile, crime of
hunger. Drug lords fondle him
during drive-bys and executions.
The chouchou of the Hutu,
Saddam, Bin Laden, the Afghan
mujahideen, he became a Russian
icon for creative genius. He is
the most lethal firearm in human
combat. Yet, with so few moving
parts, without a heart, he can be
bought for the cost of a live chicken.

Judith Terzi holds an M.A. in French Literature. Recent poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in a number of journals and anthologies including Forgetting Home: Poems about Alzheimer's (Barefoot Muse Press), Myrrh, Mothwing, Smoke: Erotic Poems (Tupelo Press), The Raintown Review, and Times They Were A-Changing: Women Remember the 60s & 70s (She Writes Press). Her fourth chapbook, Ghazal for a Chambermaid, was just published by Finishing Line.


by Martha Landman 

                  ". . . the world has moved a little." --Phil Kafcaloudes

Peace-time peasants are born ignorant of
the Pill, the Apple Mac and breast implants

Looking like ordinary men they coin money
from vodka, umbrellas and pocket knives. In

honesty, they work for the good of the people.
Iconic, as Gatling and Colt, their Siberian son

receives the Order of Saint Andrew, wrapped in
a Mozambique flag, a hero of socialist labour.

There are no regrets in his photograph or
in poetic dreams buried in shallow graves

where the counterfeit child soldiers of Africa
pray that their crayon boxes be filled with

enough bullets and Big Macs to crack all the
cocaine plants of the world during short break.

If Russia had a Bill Gates they would patent
him Kalashnikov and be proud as a mother

They would let him battle Bryansk and Brody
and decorate him with more than a lawnmower.

Martha Landman lives and writes in tropical North Queensland, Australia. Her most recent work appeared in Poetry 24, Every Day Poets.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013


Poem by Charles Frederickson
Graphic by Saknarin Chinayote 

Yo-ho-ho-hoping Yule N-joy
Sheepish Fleece Navidad ho-ho-hokum humbug
Hot & Spicy zesty seasoned 1% greedings
Volunteering help to (s)ain’t nickeless needy

Human jelly beings suffering tinsilitis
Jingle bellyache noggin migraine bon-bon
Noel nutty crunchy cheery cherry fruitcakes
Nutcracker God Jul sweet Swede crumbs

I scream for eyes crème-dela-crème
Popsicles fudgesicles creamsicles dreamsicles multiversity
Unisex frosted ginger-bred tinkering boy-toys
Sno-man is a dessert island

Web-addicted Generation-Xmas XS Yes Icon
Computer wonderland wreck the malls
Oh .com all ye faithful
Freeze a jolly good Facebook fella

Santamental Journey X-rated Xmas fave pet
Santa-paws point-setter yellow snow frost bite
Dependent clauses vertically challenged low elf-esteem
Gnome sweet gnome workshop

Sleigh traded for Holly Davidson
Modem icicle built for 8
Comet Cupid Donner Blitzen Vixen
Dasher Dancer Prancer naughty Rudeolph

Gluelicke Wienachen Germs speaking North Polish
Ooh-la-la-de-dah dandruff flakes o-o-o tan N-bomb
Uncaged turtle doves eco-friendly green peace
Happy ever laughter miles of smiles

No Holds Bard Dr. Charles Frederickson and Mr. Saknarin Chinayote proudly present YouTube mini-movies @ YouTube – CharlesThai1 .

Tuesday, December 24, 2013


by Kristina England

Yesterday I woke to people talking about ducks,
a dynasty, some man that believes in the bible,
says homosexuality is not what God proclaimed.
I don’t have Cable, stumble through the news,
piecing it together like a young child
does with puberty, hormones, identity.
Today I woke to Uganda passing a law:
life in jail for those who partake in same sex love.
How does the dynasty man feel about this news?
He says he’s a love thy neighbor kind of guy,
does not promote hate or discrimination.
He just sticks to interpretation of the written page.
But what does he think of Uganda?
How does it make him feel inside?
I’ve been around long enough to know
that the human word means little
compared to the judgements of the mind.
Perhaps the duck man will squirm,
hold himself back from quacking
at how hard it is to love yourself,
to realize we are all fallible men.
Or he’ll skim over the headline,
say Uganda is not his problem.
He has nothing to do with Uganda.
He’s just an average, God-fearing man.
Then, he’ll grab his gun, hunt duck for dinner,
So what if he’d rather hunt a moose today.
Ducks are what he knows and understands.

Kristina England resides in Worcester, Massachusetts.  Her writing is published or forthcoming at Extract(s), The New Verse News, The Story Shack, Tipton Poetry Journal, and other magazines.

Monday, December 23, 2013


by Patricia Smith Ranzoni

This morning’s bread is a recipe and a half to make full use
of yesterday’s ricotta whey. I mix and think, the drop leaf
of my old oak work table crying in rhythm with my kneading,
Mandela’s death on the radio turning into a living ingredient.

It comes to me, making this week’s oatmeal-molasses
this enriched way, that I need to look up Soweto Bread
and invent an outback Maine version, in honor, the way
our Obama Bread rose from the joy we elders earned.

Wondering at my work, I knead. And drizzle Nebali tree olive oil 
all the way from the Canaan Fair Trade route from Palestinian
farmers to brother Schaibles’ caravan downeast, its bittersweet
anointing a clear film consecrating the overcoming of apartheid
in South Africa and how, once we knew, we wrote, petitioned,
and marched, the way, after television made it this far north,
showing us, we did over our own country’s shame.

Wondering at my work, I gaze into this dough lifting
by this fire here in this north, for hope, asking, if, as we
keep hearing, people who plant trees in whose shade they know 
they will not live to sit have begun to know the meaning of life,
what can be said of those who uproot, ax, chainsaw, burn,
rip out by thousands ancient trees of others, the ancestral
food and means trees of others? The very identifying
and sacramental trees of others? The olive trees of neighbors?

Do separation barriers make them not neighbors anymore
or neighbors held apart in a less than human way? Wondering
at my work.

     Do not the Mandelas of the world foretell
     that the writing on the walls of the oppressed
     proves other Freedom Days are rising?
     That making bread with Palestinian oil in Maine,
     we must make up our own minds and, like Soweto,
                                        say so?

Health troubles keep Patricia Smith Ranzoni from public participation so she relies on joining her voice this way. Her unschooled work documenting the Canadian-American, mixed-blood Yankee cultures of her people has been published across the country and abroad, including past issues of The New Verse News and most recently in Parallel Uni-Verse, Tuesday Anthology of the Oregon Coast, and Bedding Vows, Love Poems from Outback Maine (North Country Press), her 9th collection. She participates electronically with the Blue Hill Peninsula Peace & Justice group.

Sunday, December 22, 2013


by Jim Bartruff

My grandfather's panel, from his decadence,
signed by the ghost who dreamed the three,
Buck Rogers, Wilma, Ming the Merciless,
the terrorist, the victim and the steel,
eternal metaphors of Snow and Spring
and her fertility between the two,
he kept for the imaginary stress
depicted on the three-dot color pane
of Sunday luxury, his time abroad
recanted with the War, because the line
was like the line cartographers had drawn
with politicians sleeker than my uncle,
another yellowed relic we displayed
in stills from slightly overhead to show
his hair in disarray, already dead
the man beneath the bare place on his head,
walked down the aisle with white gloves on each arm
like ice on maples, and the tree a bride
defiled and veiled in black instead of white,
and so disposed of as her village would,
dissected from the revolution's arms,
assassination as the mark of Cain
on every generation of his line.

With famine as the rigor of our faith,
and falling in the withered field as belief
no longer potent proofs or martyrdom,
and truth a cartoon inked, re-inked, erased,
we see the ray-gun at Buck's side,
and see it through a holocaust of snow,
as solid you see me while the old
impediments and those they raised go down,
so we in freedom may proceed in strength
developing a ray-gun that will work,
and hold Buck bayed, while Ming moves toward the girl.

Jim Bartruff's work has appeared in Canto, Westwind, Barney, Marilyn, Drastic Measures.  He is a past winner of the William Carlos Williams and Academy of American Poets prizes.  A third-generation native of Los Angeles, he was previously a print journalist and screenwriter, now living in Portland, Oregon.

Saturday, December 21, 2013


by Daniel Bosch

Chinese doctors have saved a man's severed hand by grafting it to his ankle, it is reported. --BBC News, December 16, 2013

Among the amazing inventions
Of the Chinese: pulp paper,
A musical four-line stanza,
A tiny hand carved at the end

Of a bamboo shaft—each
In its way an acknowledgement
Of how often and how painfully
One’s reach exceeds one’s grasp.

Who has not scratched furiously
At a blank sheet, leaving faint scars
When one desired only words
Through which lifeblood flows?

Who has not punched and kicked
At the bounds of thought, only
To find oneself beyond them,
Seeking not a way out, but a way in?

Who has not felt some small thing
Make its glorious revolution
At the top of one’s sock or
Under the cuff of one’s pants?

No hand without extremity.
No mind that will not fold
Like paper. No stanza that will not cut
The breath to shape what one sees.

Every measure taken is temporary.
At the end of any given line
One believes each mute twist of the stick:
This tourniquet’s tight enough.   

Daniel Bosch is Senior Editor @ .

Friday, December 20, 2013


by Tricia Knoll

Image source: HDRcreme

You have to pass it to get out of the bowl we live in,
to get to the abandoned school yard we’ve claimed as a dog park.
The hill is steep. Most walkers slow down by the showy red brick mailbox,
except for that woman who pushes a three-wheeled baby carriage.

The house is empty. First the fan in the third floor window disappeared.
Two bright yellow rent-a-trucks parked outside for three hot days.
The dainty Japanese maple in the cedar planter withered.
Leaves clog the front gutter. No one has raked the backyard.
They left a garden hose coiled like a brown snake
in a ceramic pot. The pump is turned off so the waterfall
water in the pond is green frozen slime. (I hope the cattails survive.)
Someone mowed the lawn in late November and pulled up wilted hostas.
I picked up a sodden newspaper months ago. Unlit Christmas lights
drape from the deck supports. The lady with the golden retriever
said it’s a foreclosure.

Nothing posted from the bank or a realtor. It’s the largest house
around. Not easy to sell, I guess. I thought someone ran a mail order business
on the first floor.  They put out flags for every holiday,
even St. Patrick’s Day. The house reminds me of an old green truck
that died on a back road so the disgusted farmer walked away wondering
how long it would take it to become a rusted-out derelict.
The man with the rescue boxer named Bridget says it’s a bankruptcy.
Vacant window-eyes stare down on us, not in judgment,
more like disbelief. The silence disturbs me.
Three teenage boys in hoodies used to shoot hoops out back.

What does a house that big sound like without people?
Does the furnace ever rumble to keep pipes from freezing?
Does wind tom-tom the picture windows? Pierce of tinnitus, a low whistle
in forlorn solitude? The next-door-neighbor heard one coyote howl
beyond the slatted fence, three answered back. Maybe mice moved in.
It would take a big family to fill that house.

I wish someone would put up a sign.

Tricia Knoll is a Portland, Oregon poet -- who passes by this house several times a  day. She runs up the hill but slows down at the mailbox. Her chapbook Urban Wild will be published by Finishing Line Press in 2014.

Thursday, December 19, 2013


by Penelope Scambly Schott

Syrian children take shelter against the cold in Zaatari refugee camp, Jordan. © UNHCR/B. Sokol

Our town has lit the star on Dufur hill,
its heavy orange extension cord draping
across snow crust.  Below, in lit houses,
we cook supper.  Even the poor will eat.
I’m glad they won’t turn on their radios
to hear about one family in Syria
beyond the reach of refugee agencies
who cluster by a stove kluged together
from galvanized scrap. There is no wood.
This family is burning their leather shoes.
The shoes of children offer little heat.

Penelope Scambly Schott lives in Portland and Dufur, Oregon, and donates to the food bank.  Her most recent books are Lovesong for Dufur and Lillie Was a Goddess, Lillie Was a Whore.  She is a regular reader of The New Verse News (and a fan of Tricia Knoll’s frequent contributions).

Wednesday, December 18, 2013


by Earl J. Wilcox

 Cartoon by Jeff Stahler.

For Christmas, I want my own Ted Cruz
bobble-head, stolid from the neck down,

feet planted firmly toward the right ventricle
of our hemisphere---slicked down, cropped

hair flat atop a head jerking up and down—
erratic rhythm, so wobbly my Cruz doll

makes me dizzy watching it teeter and totter
smirking its fake, fixed smile, the way all

bobble-head dolls carry on. Aloof, my doll
hunkers on a top shelf in a store with metal bats,

acrid-smelling leather gloves, bobble-heads
Rush and Rand and Sarah and Michele. Bob on.

Earl J. Wilcox writes about aging, baseball, literary icons, politics, and southern culture. His work appears in more than two dozen journals; he is a regular contributor to TheNew Verse News. More of Earl's poetry appears at his blog, Writing by Earl.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013


by Kit Zak

Here in this world apart
from Syria’s shoeless kids freezing in Lebanon’s snow
we recheck our Santa’s list
detailed requests from our children
who track every advance in I-phones.

Here in this world apart
from tent cities not just in Bekaa Valley
but in our own hometowns
we push the thermostat up two degrees
then rush to our waiting car.

Here is this world apart
from the country and cities of Syria
where the slaughter does not cease
one hundred and ten thousand and counting
we plan our holiday entertainment.

Here in this world apart
eyes shut to our hungry and sick
and the sixty thousand vets searching shelter
we close our minds to thoughts of oligarchy
believing still in a country with justice for all.

Kit Zak lives with her husband in Lewes,  DE. She has most recently had poems published in an anthology about motherhood as well as in the following journals: Avocet: A Nature Journal, The Blue Collar  Review,  and A Time of Singing.

Monday, December 16, 2013


by Kristina England

Artists have been painting themselves for ages,
a narcissistic undertone in their strokes.
We are all painters,
prone to staring in the mirror,
tweezers, razors, makeup
tasked with refining our complexions.
We are beasts of beauty,
so why not capture ourselves
in the best and worst of lights?
A face will only last a lifetime (or less).
We should each grab a camera,
smile into the lens,
introduce self-love into our daily routine,
a much needed moment of clarity
that's been absent for too long.

Kristina England resides in Worcester, Massachusetts.  Her writing is published or forthcoming at Extract(s), Gargoyle, New Verse News, The Story Shack, and other magazines.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


by George Held

Children killed by gun violence since the Newtown shooting.
From top: Alton and Ashton Perry, Leonard J. Smith Jr., Aaron Vu; Middle: Trashawn Jaylen Macklin, Tiana Ricks, Mia Lopez; Bottom: Antonio Santiago, Jaiden Dixon, Madison Dolford.
Image source: NBC News

That’s the number of once-living
Innocent persons killed by gunshots
In the year since Adam Lanza

Slaughtered 20 lambs and 6 shepherds
At Sandy Hook School one year ago.
Hard, and maybe futile, to make that

Number poetic. Say it: “11,460”
And by the time anyone might read
This piece, the number will be bigger.

That’s over 31 gun deaths per day,
114,600 per decade, or 10,000
More than the population of Green Bay, WI.

Adam Lanza’s name is immortal,
His victims will soon be anonymous.

An occasional contributor to The New Verse News, George Held occasionally blogs at

Saturday, December 14, 2013


by Shirley J. Brewer

In remembrance of December 14, 2012

Make the manual severe
in appearance: the cover dark,
a title deeply engraved.

Select paper that weighs
down the hand, every page
suffering between its peers

clothed in black type. Allow
an abundance of question marks,
the agony of white space.

Words confound. Include
birdsong, tulips in bloom,
strawberries, vanilla mist.

Call this book Newtown.
Say it softly. Families still weep.
Craters pock their hearts.

Wait, start over. Change the cover.
Choose pinks, blues, soft greens, yellows
for the children, their teachers.

Add pictures of the dead,
each in a favorite shirt or dress—
not the ones with bullet holes.

Let sweet memories repeat. Let grief
bleed into ink. Write one chapter at a time.
You will never reach the end.

Shirley J. Brewer is a poet, educator, and workshop facilitator. In addition to previous poems in The New Verse News, her poetry has appeared in The Cortland Review, Comstock Review, Passager, Innisfree Poetry Journal, and other publications. Her poetry chapbook, A Little Breast Music, was published in 2008 by Passager Books. A second book of poems, After Words, was published in 2013 by Apprentice House/Loyola University.

Friday, December 13, 2013


by Tricia Knoll

     Both chambers of the Michigan legislature have passed a measure banning insurance coverage for abortion in private health plans unless women purchase a separate rider. In a charged hearing Wednesday, Michigan Senate Minority Leader Gretchen Whitmer told the story of her own rape and called the legislation “one of the most misogynistic proposals I’ve ever seen in the Michigan Legislature,” according to the Detroit Free Press. The fact that women are required to plan in advance to have an abortion, Whitmer said, “tells women who are raped … that they should have thought ahead and bought special insurance for it.”
     “The fact that rape insurance is even being discussed by this body is repulsive,” she added.”
      --MSNBC, December 11, 2013

I avoid dark places, those parks where willows
hang over the sluggish river, you know the ones, where
many a young couple has hung out in the summer
time listening to the river flow

but in winter, fall, even hot summer nights there’s
sometimes anger afoot and maybe bad men too. I don’t
open the door to my house unless I can see the person
on the stoop, but then sometimes I do if he is in
uniform or a man with a clipboard who may want
my signature to end war.

I’m old so maybe I don’t need
rape insurance. Oh, that’s right I had a hysterectomy
twenty years ago so even if I were raped, I wouldn’t
need an abortion. Just kindness. The insurance
wouldn't pay for pain and suffering.

Daughters, nieces. The girl next door. I don’t know
what deductibles they carry for theft,
collision, fire. What is the rape deductible?
Self-confidence? Trust? Esteem?
The premium?

Would they sign up for rape insurance
or assume that avoiding lonely places
under overhangs, locking car doors,
looking backwards over cloaked shoulders,
was enough?

Tricia Knoll is a Portland, Oregon poet.

Thursday, December 12, 2013


by Laura Rodley

Image source: “StarLink Corn: What Happened

It was only a kernel of corn
that dropped from a bag
that someone bought at the market
but the kernel of corn
grew and kissed the rest
of the corn silks rustling
on stalks to its right, its left
so they become the genetically
engineered corn just like
the seed that was dropped
changing the 10,000 year old
Mexican corn, changing what
they thought was pure
into a genetically modified crop,
and not just one plot
it was all of them,
the cast of the wind
the kiss of a bee,
the hop of a katydid,
all them bringing pollen
from across the boundary
that corn cannot see,
it only bears the fruit;
three ears of corn on one leaf,
dried out stalks, the corn
that the farmer’s wife
pats into tortillas
something he did not bargain for
or even want.

Laura Rodley’s New Verse News poem “Resurrection” appears in The Pushcart Prlze XXXVII: Best of the Small Presses (2013 edition). She was nominated twice before for the Prize as well as for Best of the Net. Her chapbook Rappelling Blue Light, a Mass Book Award nominee,  won honorable mention for the New England Poetry Society Jean Pedrick Award. Her second chapbook Your Left Front Wheel is Coming Loose was also nominated for a Mass Book Award and a L.L.Winship/Penn New England Award. Both were published by Finishing Line Press.  Co-curator of the Collected Poets Series, she teaches creative writing and works as contributing writer and photographer for the Daily Hampshire Gazette.  She edited As You Write It, A Franklin County Anthology, Volume I and Volume II.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013


by Chris O’Carroll 

Editorial cartoon by Richard Crowson, The Wichita Eagle, December 8, 2013

We do not wish you happy holidays.
O’Reilly warns against that  liberal plot.
How dare you celebrate in diverse ways?
Just one gets our OK; the rest do not.

Our “Merry Christmas!” is not a benign
Warm wish.  It is an icy battle cry.
Inclusive salutations we decline
To utter.  Limbaugh we have heard on high.

A manger scene at every City Hall
Is ours by right.  And children of the poor
Deserve no government food aid at all.
Tax funds for welfare?  No!  For holy war!

All non-sectarian good will we shun.
God bless us.  But just some, not every one.

Chris O’Carroll is a writer and an actor.  In addition to his previous New Verse News appearances, he has published poems in BigCityLit, the Kansas City Star, Lighten Up Online, Umbrella, and the Washington Post, among other print and online journals, and also in the anthologies The Best of the Barefoot Muse and 20 Years at the Cantab Lounge.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013


by David Chorlton

Image source: still from The End of Violence by Wim Wenders

The neighbor who wants to know everything
has a way of asking, even though
it’s none of his business. But he seems harmless
so you tell him where you’re going, why
the next house along has been empty for a week,
and put it down to friendly conversation.
You’re aware that he’s watching

you leave and come home, not that it matters
any more than being recorded
wherever you go, by a camera that sees
each withdrawal and deposit, by one
placed in the stairway where you work
and one above the swing
in the playground at the park.
Why should you care?
If you’ve done nothing wrong
there’s no need to worry.
It’s all to keep you safe,

even if safety is a state of mind
when the camera doesn’t stop
bad things from happening
but just records them when they do.
Where can you go to snuggle in peace,

let alone have a discreet affair?
How wrong is wrong enough for consequences?
The cameras never sleep. Do you? Do you know
who the four thousand in Lower Manhattan
are focused on? You get facial recognition
thrown in for no charge.
How far apart are your eyes?
How broad is your nose?
Who does the measuring?
If you need to feel secure

install your own system
with a dummy for only fifteen bucks
positioned to intimidate.
If you’ve done nothing wrong
there’s no need to worry.

China installed ten million cameras in a single year.
London has one for every thirty-two people.
Chicago has ten thousand recording
the income gap between the rich and the poor.
These cameras announce a place is safe for investment,
a nice place to shop
and buy more than you need.
Even if someone is watching, keeping count,

nobody will stop you
before you spend too much
and when the man next door asks
how much your purchase cost
you can never be sure whether he knows already.

David Chorlton has lived in Phoenix since 1978, and still sees his surroundings with an outsider's eye. This helps his writing projects, which include a new poetry collection,"The Devil's Sonata," from FutureCycle Press.

Monday, December 09, 2013


by Michael Brockley

Cartoon by Paul Szep

I think I speak for my colleagues when I say we’ve profited from today’s session. Most of us have friends, even family members, who are proud Vagina-Americans. So let’s agree to put the finer points about consensual and legitimate rape in the round file cabinet. Let’s pledge to redouble our efforts to create a society where our feminist friends and other unattractive women can access the mainstream success stories we take for granted. By starting small businesses, for instance, making gingerbread cookies or doilies and then expanding until they’re competing with Famous Amos and Walmart. I foresee a time when dozens of our members have mommy parts. Free market women with empty nests and a knack for memorizing the Good Book will stand beside us against minimum wage socialism, interspecies marriage and bans on the private ownership of drones. No doubt Code Pink has neutered American men, so we’re going to have to mothball bills requiring rape insurance until the deep pockets put our fat boy in the White House. And let’s not muddy the waters with any off-the-cuff remarks about rape being a gift from God. We can mend some fences by giving teachers merit pay. A hundred bucks. My better half always warns me against bringing gifts that come with electrical cords and surprises that run on batteries. Maybe the NRA can discount those pink snub noses I saw advertised last Christmas. I don’t think a dollop of estrogen poses any danger to our objectives. But I was surprised to discover 54% of voters prefer to leave the toilet seat down so they don’t fall in. Almost half. Who knew?

Michael Brockley works as a school psychologist in rural northeast Indiana. Several of his poems have previously appeared in The New Verse News. In 2013, he had poems accepted by the Indiana Humanities' tribute to National Poetry Month, the Borderlands Project: Eastern Poems and the Vonnegut Library Literary Magazine.

Sunday, December 08, 2013


by Beth McKim

The double-story mansion on a tree-lined boulevard still holds our secret:  I drove you, that sunny autumn afternoon, to its fortressed walls, then hid on the floorboard of the '67 Mustang floorboard to pretend you had come alone.

Don't talk, just drive, you said, returning, before your soft moans turned to shrieks, and you leaked bright red, bled for days. Your boyfriend Joe would not answer calls.

When we meet these days, forty years later, we fondly chat---the old days, college drama classes, dancing, beaches, family, friends--but never mention the scary white house, the pseudo doctor inside, who for five hundred dollars, butchered your body, your soul, and any future chance for children you would have loved.

Beth McKim is a freelance writer and actress living in Houston, Texas.  Her eclectic poems, essays, and short stories appear in anthologies and diverse publications.

Saturday, December 07, 2013


by Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer

Image source: Q99FM

Snow and deeper snow,
all day it snows. Over sixteen
inches. On the news, I hear about a mystery man

dining across America leaving $5,000 tips
for $500 meals. It is, he reportedly says,
the work of the Lord, one tip at a time.

So much snow I cannot walk
across the street. The median
is a wall of white.

Of course I could walk
across the street. But
it would be wet. And deep. And cold.

Suzan tells me about the other news,
how all around the country young men
have taken to approaching strangers

and punching them to make them drop.
They don’t steal or mock. The point
is to make the stranger fall and run away.

Five inches of new snow falls on my car
while I speak to my teacher this morning.
She tells me, “Say yes to every experience.”

I wonder what I would do if someone
punched me. Or my husband. Or my dad.
I wonder what Jesus or Rumi would do.

There is no way to know what we might do.
It is all just perhaps until it actually happens,
like a weather report that calls for 16 inches of snow.

Today it is easy to say yes to the weather.
Yes as I scrape it from the windshield.
Yes as I trundle across the street through

the paths made by other trundlers. Yes
as I slip and bring myself down. Yes
as the snow itself makes the fall so soft. And cold.

Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer lives in Southwest Colorado with her husband and two children. She is a parent educator for Parents as Teachers. Favorite four-word mantra: I am still learning. Favorite one-word mantra: Adjust.

Friday, December 06, 2013


by David Feela

Shadows of the first days lengthen
like steel bars across the floor.
Parallel lines take the mind

down its railroad track,
a freight train that won’t stop
for more than 10,000 days.

It doesn’t matter
if you stand or sit.
Life.  You stop counting.

David Feela writes a monthly column for The Four Corners Free Press and for The Durango Telegraph. A poetry chapbook, Thought Experiments, won the Southwest Poet Series. His first full length poetry book, The Home Atlas appeared in 2009. His new book of essays, How Delicate These Arches  , released through Raven's Eye Press, has been chosen as a finalist for the Colorado Book Award.

Thursday, December 05, 2013


by Rick Gray

Kabul sunrise. Image source: Panoramio

In a locked-down house of disconnection,
this is the hidden room of yellow exclamation.
Outside its mirrored windows dawn explodes the targeted capital
And strikes a starving boy on the corner waving a smoking tin can
Begging for a fragment of fresh luck.

Deserting an endless war of circling thought
I walk away from the blue face of my frozen screen
and step AWOL passed dreaming guards cuddling Kalashnikovs.
Digging down into the animal heat of my thigh
I grip metal jangling against a shriveled coma on antidepressants.

Oh, it’s so nice to stroll in the Kabul Sunrise!
“Give me muddy!” the boy on the corner orders me,
his English broken as my abandoned laptop.
I release my fist and watch Afghan coins drop 
Flaming into the yellow cracks of a hungry human hand.

Rick Gray teaches in Kabul. He has work forthcoming in Salamander and the book, Neither Here Nor There: An Anthology of Reverse Culture Shock.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013


by Earl J. Wilcox

Is it bigger than a bread box?
Animal, mineral, or vegetable?
Does it leap over tall buildings?
Will rain or sleet or gloom of night stop it?
Can I get two with egg rolls?
Is there an extra shipping charge?
Does it know I live in Mom’s basement?
Can I still have my copy of Playboy delivered here?
Will it bring me ice cream in July?
Can it find me in North Dakota—or Timbuktu?
How much should I tip it?
Where will it sleep at night after a hard day?
Can it ring my door bell?
Will a flock of birds threaten it?
Will it scare my cat?
Can I kill it with my BB gun?
What will happen to my UPS guy?
Does it have gender?
Will there be a graveyard for defunct drones?
Is this the way the world ends?

Earl J. Wilcox writes about aging, baseball, literary icons, politics, and southern culture. His work appears in more than two dozen journals; he is a regular contributor to TheNew Verse News. More of Earl's poetry appears at his blog, Writing by Earl.

Tuesday, December 03, 2013


by Lauren Schmidt

Photo by James Mollison, via NPR,  from his book Where Children Sleep: Portraits From Around The World. Alyssa, an only child, lives with her parents in Kentucky, in Appalachia — a beautiful, mountainous region that is also one of the poorest parts of America. Their small, shabby house, heated only by a wooden stove, is falling apart. Alyssa's grandmother, uncle and orphaned cousin live close by.

At the start of [November 2013], low income recipients of SNAP throughout the country experienced a reduction in their SNAP benefits due to the expiration of a temporary increase provided through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to help families through a difficult economic period. A family of four saw their SNAP benefits fall by $36 a month, or 5 percent, as a result of this change. All SNAP recipients were affected, including nearly 22 million children (10 million of whom live in “deep poverty,” with family incomes below half of the poverty line) and 9 million people who are elderly or have a disability. Additionally, nearly 900,000 veterans and 5,000 active duty service members experienced benefit reductions, according to estimates by the Center on Budget and Policy
Priorities. --- White House Report, November 2013

Without the Recovery Act’s boost, SNAP benefits will average less than $1.40 per person per meal in 2014.”

                                                —Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, August 2, 2013

The sound a whip makes on the hide of a steed—SNAP!—
to keep the needy in need, enough to believe: SNAP.

They just changed the name, “Food Stamps” to “Assistance.”
An Act renamed to stay the same. The “reconceived” SNAP.

Not Recover as in restore, but cover again.
Not Act as in action, but as in make-believe: SNAP.

To remove all the shame, the stigma of need.
To say no blood in bleeding when skin has been cleaved: SNAP.

Instead of stamps, plastic cards, what the public sees,
but separate bundles at the checkout, the public is peeved: SNAP.

Because EBTs don’t cover diapers or cleaners,
or soaps or toilet paper or Christmas Eve: SNAP.

In 2014, only $1.40 per mouth per meal.
A heavy burden for young mothers to heave: SNAP.

This is a poet’s plea to Senator Reid.
Benefits will bleed.  It’s time we all grieve the SNAP.

Lauren Schmidt is the author of three collections of poetry: Two Black Eyes and a Patch of Hair Missing; The Voodoo Doll Parade, selected for the Main Street Rag Author’s Choice Chapbook Series; and Psalms of The Dining Room, a sequence of poems about her volunteer experience at a soup kitchen in Eugene, Oregon. Her work has appeared or is forthcoming in journals such as North American Review, Alaska Quarterly Review, Rattle, Nimrod, Fifth Wednesday Journal, New York Quarterly, Bellevue Literary Review and The Progressive.  Her awards include the So to Speak Poetry Prize, the Neil Postman Prize for Metaphor, and the Bellevue Literary Review’s Vilcek Prize for Poetry. Schmidt is an Instructor of Development Reading and Writing at Passaic County Community College and she volunteer teaches creative writing at a transitional house for homeless mothers.

Monday, December 02, 2013


by Kristina England

            Headline: "Actor Paul Walker dies in car crash,"
            the blaze making his beautiful face unidentifiable.

All I can think is "I hope he died on impact"
because that wasn't the case for you -
no seatbelt, ejected at high speeds,
thrown under your own wheels,
those once vibrant eyes dulling
under the red and white flash of disaster,
your son, stuck in the backseat,
begging for "momma" to soothe
his temporary and long-term boo-boos
as you shuddered out the last breaths
of mother, wife, friend on your graveled grave.

Maybe the driving laws were never meant for the driver.
Maybe they are there for the ones left behind
with the gut-wrenching task of identifying
a once beautiful face.

Kristina England resides in Worcester, Massachusetts.  Her fiction and poetry is published or forthcoming at Extract(s), Gargoyle, The Story Shack, Tipton Poetry Journal.

Sunday, December 01, 2013


by Kit Zak 

Since our first report, the massive campaign against climate science – and action on climate, funded by oil barons the Koch Brothers has come to light. And while fossil fuel companies like ExxonMobil, whose very products are causing global warming, continue to fund think tanks driving the campaigns, much of the foundation funding has now been driven underground, masked by a funding front-group called the Donors Trust – and its associate Donors Capital Fund, two “donor-advised” funds created to hide the real givers and thus shield them from negative exposure of their support for these campaigns. Funding to the organizations that comprise the denial machine has risen during the Obama presidency, just as the urgency of climate solutions and promise of policy advances also rose. --Greenpeace, September, 2013

three falls later
traces of Sandy's wrath linger
losses top 50 billion
in a swath from Norfolk to Maine

Tacloban's cyclone
bodies line roadsides
the unnamed dumped in mass graves
thirst  hunger  disease stalk
the half-dead search for Mom and Son
among shack-splintered debris

tornadoes blight Illinois
tearing through twelve states
the highest winds ever
telephone poles stuck in trees
cars flipped upside down, found two lots away
500 homes in one town rubbled

fossil fuel moguls sigh
calculate their rising costs.

Kit Zak lives with her husband in Lewes,  DE. She has most recently had poems published in an anthology about motherhood as well as in the following journals: Avocet: A Nature Journal, The Blue Collar  Review,  and A Time of Singing.