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Wednesday, April 30, 2014


by Ann Malaspina

50 Years Into the War on Poverty, Hardship Hits Back --NY Times, April 20, 2014

The yard is mud
with a rug on the grass
and playset without swings.
There is a stove on the porch,
a bike on the steps,
twin satellite dishes on the tin roof.
I wear my granddad's slippers
and my own jeans
and I tell the dog to jump
for his biscuit
but the cat's hungry, too,
and everyone else
is still asleep.
My long hair swings
when I turn.
The dog barks again.
The sky in the trees
is white like
this is the beginning
or is this the end.
I don't know which.

Ann Malaspina’s "Counting" was published in The New Verse News in 2009.  She is a poet and children's author living in New Jersey.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014


by Kristin LaTour

South Sudanese rebels seized a strategic oil town last week, separating terrified residents by ethnicity before killing hundreds, the United Nations said. "We believe that at least 400 people were killed in Bentiu in the past week," said Toby Lanzer, the top United Nations official in South Sudan. Before the attacks, some rebel commanders broadcast messages on local radio warning certain groups to leave town. "Others broadcast hate messages declaring that certain ethnic groups should not stay in Bentiu and even calling on men from one community to commit vengeful sexual violence against women from another community," the U.N. Mission in South Sudan said. At one hospital, Nuer men, women and children who refused to cheer the rebels were killed, according to the United Nations. --CNN, April 23, 2014

We killed them because it seemed the best thing
at that time, that time being one where both sides
were firing guns, in the context of having guns
that can shoot fast and accurately, bullets traveling
through walls and doors like jets puncturing clouds.

We killed so many because they were not stopping
not even to reload, just hurling fire and metal at us. Or
they were running away and we gave chase, falling on
their necks with our teeth. It wasn't until after we saw
they had no shoes, no weapons, but the blood was sweet.

We killed the women and children for aesthetic reasons.
Their genes were not the same as ours, not entirely, and
our skin is fairer than theirs. Their skin reminded us of stones
and the sky during a storm. Falling rocks and lightning
are dangers. The land seems brighter now without them.

We killed even the crops and livestock because it was a drought
and the fields were dusty, the leaves curling. No one would eat
such miserable gleanings. The chickens and pigs left foul
odors we could not stomach, and the rare cow was bloated
and called for milking. We didn't like the sound, so mournful.

We killed the songs and dances, the ceremonies and paintings
because they reminded us too much of our own when we were
far from our homes, sleeping in abandoned factories and keeping
watch over the night with just a small fire burning. We remembered
our wives and mothers voices and steps, how the priest blessed us.

Kristin LaTour's poems have appeared on The New Verse News and in journals like Witness, Fifth Wednesday, Adanna, dirtcakes, and Rock and Sling. She has three chapbooks, the most recent being Agoraphobia from Dancing Girl Press, 2013. She teaches at Joliet Jr. College and lives in Aurora, IL.

Monday, April 28, 2014


by Louise Robertson

Putin by Bush

This is what we artists and open mic 
worshipers have hoped for
all this time with our journals
and rants and sketches, to see
someone so Republican at the altar of
art. One sees the scratchings, 
like our own attempts at the cave wall.
Hands stained red. The trick
of dimension is like a whole extra grade
level. The trick of expression--
however easy to start--
so much harder to get exactly right.
I want to take him to workshop,
talk to him about getting the bones
of it down first. What could this man know of bone
and muscle and ligament
having ignored so much gore in his path:
the scraped and scalloped wartime bodies,
the skulls looking like so many bladders
emptied of their gray and red and black,
the rubble made out of parlors and
kitchens? If that introspection
can come from making art,
if that is one of life's most elusive gifts, if that
is the divine in the human coming out,
I have to say, George: finally.

Louise Robertson has earned degrees (BA Oberlin, MFA George Mason University), poetry publications (Pudding Magazine, New Verse News, Parting Gifts) and poetry awards (Mary Roberts Rinehart, Columbus Arts Festival Poetry Competition -- twice). She is active as a poet and organizer in her local Columbus, Ohio poetry.

Sunday, April 27, 2014


by Darrell Petska

The bodies of a man and woman as they embrace in their last moments from the collapse of a garment factory in Rana Plaza building.
Photo by Taslima Akhter   |   Savar, Bangladesh   |   April 25, 2013
Image source: Raw Journalism

Rana Plaza a year on: did fast-fashion brands learn any lessons at all? Some 1,133 garment workers died yet profits from cheap clothes have soared.
--The Observer, April 20, 2014
A year after Rana Plaza: What hasn’t changed since the Bangladesh factory collapse.
--The Washington Post, April 18, 2014

If spirits ascending outworn bodies
sing life's value

then what a chorus a thousand raised
though Rana Plaza crumbled
to the indifferent click of dice
and money's soulless shuffle!

One year on, millions of hands
operating millions of sewing machines
in thousands of Rana Plaza lookalikes
make hand-to-rack clothes fast,
cheap, and disposable--apparel
and their makers mere commodities
valued a day then shed
for the next fashionable thing

cherished dreams and personal lives
of laboring souls be damned.
Torn from families and home,
Rana's dead remind us still

life and love abide in our hearts,
not our closets.

Darrell Petska, writing from Madison, Wisconsin, is a freelance editor in adult education who previously worked as a mental health caseworker, nursing home evaluator, and university editor. Past publications include Modern Haiku, Verse Wisconsin, and others.

Saturday, April 26, 2014


by Steven Alvarez

Image source: Mexington, Kentucky

favors busy fifty-two distraction
doing everything i have to get--
they don’t have to figure out what it feels like--
stands for—but don’t want--
fits that their face prison expansions--
let their dreams . . .
partly  . . . bc
analogy for
a march to downtown mexington is going to be forty miles on saturday . . .
over & see
how we can be in getting media--
tonight—say yes on its own supporters--
symbol that it takes to get the treatment that
hand unwilling to respect—i
united it--
carports please or abt this
last two days but we don’t know
in the coming days--
incident did
just as much support as we’ve seen so far . . .
arms up--
to what it takes--
responses voted for that matter--
going to be a response—is that
the thing that’s been going on--
word for word deportations over
the king & finding the . . . here . . .
happy here at the back--
it’s so much easier to go on phone . . .
out . . . these . . . deportables . . .  in mind

Steven Alvarez is an Assistant Professor of Writing, Rhetoric, and Digital Studies at the University of Kentucky. He is the author of the novels in verse The Pocho Codex and The Xicano Genome, both published by Editorial Paroxismo. His chapbook Six Poems from the Codex Mojaodicus won the 2013 Rane Arroyo Prize sponsored by Seven Kitchens Press. 

Friday, April 25, 2014


by William Roland Rozar

Image source: Indian Children's Program

                                 April is Child Abuse Prevention Month 
                                        --Navajo-Hopi Observer, April 22, 2014

  This is my poem
                              This is my song
    I beat it on my drum
    My father beats me everyday
    He says it will make me strong
    And that someday I will pass my strength
    On to my children
    Who I will make strong.
                              But I just hurt,
    All the time,
                              And want to run away
    To leave and never return,
                              That also hurts,
    I must find a place
                                Where no one
    Can touch me.
                                This is my song
    I beat it on my drum.

William Roland Rozar is a poet who lives and writes in Eugene, Oregon.

Thursday, April 24, 2014


by Anne Graue

Scaling the fence in San Jose
he smiled at himself,
proud to have not taken
that first drag in the seventh
grade when his friend Gavin
held out the pack of Marlboros.
His breathing was easy now,
and he felt his sneakers
hit the tarmac with some give.
He smiled again
circling the phrase "Homeland Security."
His comb in his back pocket,

he jumped inside the well
of the landing gear, finding
a place to roll his adolescence
into a position that might
outlast the flight, his unconsciousness,
his conscious act of defiance--his parents'
frantic search for their son gone
missing, who was a good kid, didn't smoke
or do drugs, who was smart enough,
who knew that hitching a ride inside
the outside of a 767 was a possibility.
His body folded up easily above the wheels--

he woke in paradise, combed his hair,
remembered how the noise was so great
and the cold was so numbing.

Anne Graue writes poetry and teaches online from her home in New York's Hudson Valley. Her poems have appeared in Paradigm, Compass Rose, Sixfold Journal, and The 5-2 Crime Poetry Weekly, and she was a finalist in the Patricia Dobler Poetry Award competition for 2013. She has written reviews of literary magazines for

Wednesday, April 23, 2014


by Earl J. Wilcox

Image source: Elephant

. . . Alexander died, Alexander was buried,
Alexander returneth into dust; the dust is earth; of
earth we make loam; and why of that loam, whereto he
was converted, might they not stop a beer-barrel?
Imperious Caesar, dead and turn'd to clay,
Might stop a hole to keep the wind away.
O, that that earth, which kept the world in awe,
Should patch a wall to expel the winter flaw!
But soft! but soft! aside: here comes the king.
                                            --Hamlet 5.1

Rapper from Avon:
Yo, you stun our souls, our mate.
Sing on, man, sing 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 The New Verse News. More of Earl's poetry appears at his blog, Writing by Earl.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


by David Chorlton

Tucson, AZ  -- The Arizona Department of Water Resources has approved a massive groundwater pumping project that will drain the Upper San Pedro River in Southern Arizona. This decision comes despite opposition from the property owners along the river and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and ignores the project’s impact on the birds, wildlife, and local residents and businesses that are dependent on a healthy river. --Earth Justice, April 16, 2013

A river soaks slowly into statutes
piled upon it by way
of the arguments
that a hundred year supply
of illusions is guaranteed.

By paragraph and case law
the current is diverted
while promises are laid
instead of foundations
for houses for whom

the weather forecast is running
dry. With cufflinks shining
like spring runoff
a developer listens closely
to his counsel say

that taking away the water
will have no adverse impact
on the river, begging
the question whether language
can outlast meaning.

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.


by James Grabill

Amniotic drops of prehistoric dew on the canyon rim walls luminesce with light in the brain.

Complex otherness floats in womb-pulse swaths crossing the Pacific in adaptations of bodily cells.

Under blinding stars, electrical ancestral stories pour down through the small houses of losses and gain, where future scarcity looms and a dark-violet eyelash carries more weight than we know.

As the road goes out on its own, the root in a seed will decide. Where daylight drives the atmosphere, a shirtless boy swims in the sea of air. The cradle collides with shadow and magnetic lineage in current encircling turns.

As overflow sleep expands and contacts in the spectrum, the unfinished complex mind has an eye for complexity in the world.

Isn’t this where separation from the whole grew opposable thumbs and set off on the road coming back?

What part of the whole would being exclude? What animals haven’t loved and feared this air?

James Grabill’s poems have appeared in numerous periodicals such as Stand (UK), Magma (UK), Toronto Quarterly (CAN), Harvard Review (US), Terrain (US), Seneca Review (US), Urthona (UK), kayak (US), Plumwood Mountain (AUS), Caliban (US), Spittoon (US), Weber: The Contemporary West (US), The Common Review (US), and The Buddhist Poetry Review (US). His books of poems include Poem Rising Out of the Earth and Standing Up in Someone and An Indigo Scent after the Rain. He lives in Oregon, where he teaches 'systems thinking' relative to sustainability.


by The Bangkok Bards Saknarin Chinayote & Charles Frederickson

Let reality be reality spontaneously
Flowing wherever it so chooses
Find bliss stay a while
Pause to reflect harmless pleasures

Accept what is desiring less
Achieving more relax trusting reanquility
Feeling oneness with natural quietude
No whistles horns sirens alarms

Good humor helps lighten burdens
Genuine smile soothing calming influence
Cheerfully attracting keeping devoted friends
Disposition antidote for depressing angst

Inhale exhale it does help
Breathe in deep hold it
Silencing overactive imagination which never
Knows when to shut up

The quieter you become the
More you’re able to hear
Filter out noisy stressful static
Concentrate on inner consciousness tranquility

Filling emptiness with overflowing nature
Commit energies to environmental awareness
Planet balancing equilibrium passed on
Future generations spoiled brat legacy

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

Monday, April 21, 2014


by Gil Hoy

The drawn-out execution of Dennis McGuire has prompted many to question lethal injection in Ohio. McGuire's execution took about 25 minutes; a state expert said he expected it to happen in a matter of minutes. --The Associated Press via The Plain Dealer, January 26, 2014.

Can’t get Ohio out of my
head, damn.

Took 26 minutes to kill
him, some new-fangled
poison not the usual,
a half-baked horror show.

Sour drugs flowed through
blue veins, the prisoner
strapped to a gurney gasped
vacant eyes staring,

nose snorting,
choking almost guttural--
like food stuck in your
on and on, convulsions.

By all accounts, he was
a horrible savage man

25 years ago,
raped, tortured and killed
a young woman with child,

just married, still to live
and be enjoyed.

So nothing cruel or unusual
here, an eye for an eye,
a tooth for a tooth,
Lex talionis, as prophesied.

But this death more
like a Macabre blunder
at a public square picnic
hangin’ from days old,
when the man’s head
in the too-tight hemp noose
might come clean off,

Minute after lingering
minutes, following terrible
60 second minutes
Strangling from the inside,
a mammal gasps for breath.

Heard that his blood in the
crowd had to cover their ears
and wipe their tears from
soaked ashen faces,
I say listen up, after what he did.

If you agree, show the
video play-back to your son,
so he can see what we do,
though slow suffocation
is not for the squeamish,
something to Hide?

Murder: premeditation
and unlawful killing,
the state does you one better,
premeditation and ceremony,
and who are we
to tell the state what to do,
sounds AOK to me.

Much ado about nothing.
Throw to hungry lions
crush ‘em with fat elephants,
devoured by wild sweaty-toothed beasts
does the trick
tear them apart by Galloping horses,
burn him like an over-cooked
headless turkey for your Thanksgiving roast,
crucifixion, decapitation, boil until cooked.

Firing squad? Pass the loaded Gun
please, stoning? A duplicitous
contest to see who casts the first
stone. Disembowelment, OK,
dismemberment, tie him to a
cannon and set the charge, so cool

your mouth just drips with blood
like a stale English Pudding,
gas, hangings, electric chair,
That covers it.

But somewhere I read and
believed to the marrow, now
shaking terrified: turn to him
the other cheek also, or we
will all be Toothless and Blind.

No one’s listening or caring

Blood red Hearts disgorged on a
winding cobblestone trail that leads
to a distant dream
That our eyes don’t hear anymore
and that tastes forgotten anyway.

Gil Hoy is a trial lawyer in Boston, and grew up in Brookline, MA. He received a B.A in Philosophy from Boston University, an M.A. degree in Government from Georgetown University, and a law degree from the University of Virginia. Gil is an elected member of the Brookline Democratic Town Committee, and served as a Brookline Selectman, the Town's highest elected office, for 12 years. Gil is married, with three children, and lives in Brookline, MA.

Sunday, April 20, 2014


by Antony Johae

Image source: City-Data

It was Orthodox Easter and the church was full.
The chanting of prayers stretched into the night.
The celebrants sat, then rose to sing
Crossing themselves in three-fold Love.
They awaited the glorious hour of twelve
When Christ would rise in saving Grace
And all would cry that He was risen.

Next to me a man with a phone
placed between us on the pew
he looking down at it constantly
and when his hand stretched out to it
it lit as though at his command,
then out when he withdrew his hand
as though its charge had gone – and slept.

He turned to me when the mass was done,
shook my hand with a friendly grip.
“Emad’s my name, I’m Syrian born.
And you, I think, from London – right?”
I told him I came from Colchester town
but he’d heard only of the Manchester team.
We chatted for a while about this and that
the church emptying as we sat.
Then he made to go. “Your phone,”
I said, it lying silent still.
Aghast at his forgetting
he picked it up and it at once
lit up, he whispering keenly,
“I’m waiting for a call from God.”

Antony Johae is a freelance writer and divides his time between Lebanon and England.

Saturday, April 19, 2014


by Laura Rodley

28th Annual Alma Spinach Festival, April 19, 2014

Migrant worker’s hands stained green
from picking spinach, green leaves
full of iron he cannot eat, washes
his hands in a bowl in his room
sleeps on a bare mattress on the floor
window glass broken, curtains frayed
their once brilliant yellows whitened
with sun that only tans his face
deeper, squints his eyes when
he walks back out to the rows of spinach
washing his hands in the sprinkler
set for the plants, not allocated
for him, the chuckwagon rolls in, sells
warm bagels and cream cheese, hot coffee
but not Columbian like he drank at home,
the drops of mercy that carried him through
the morning, saving money for his daughter’s
communion, the priest's drops of mercy,
holy water touched to her forehead
to protect her, keep her from a future
like this where he bends his back to the hot soil
the green leaves he cannot eat;
they are for sale, not for him.
Maybe at home the corn he planted
has come up, maybe his conchita
has already picked them, or his son,
what he would give to go back home,
only drops of mercy now
the sweat that rolls down his face
ten o’clock sun and it’s already eighty degrees,
and the spinach needs picking before it wilts.

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.

Friday, April 18, 2014


by Jonel Abellanosa

“On Tuesday, we saw the aftermath of the mortar round which crashed into the schoolyard where children were assembling for the start of classes. Torn trainers and little black shoes ripped in two were stuck in dark pools of congealed blood. One boy, Sinar Matanious, died instantly that day. Sixty children and teachers are being treated for injuries, including a young girl whose two legs had to be amputated. On Wednesday, we heard a loud blast when we were inside a school used as a shelter for displaced families in the city of Homs. Children who had recently escaped the painful siege of the rebel-held Old Quarter were in the midst of describing their frightening ordeal there of living under constant bombardment and gunfire.”            --Lyse Doucet, BBC News, April 17, 2014

Image source: A Mis Behaved Woman

Forced to memorize
The bullet’s alphabet, study
Arguments of machine guns,
Grenades, mortars.  We’ll
Have our day, or pay.

Streets couldn’t keep secrets.
Death machines in the sky
Bombarding our holes.
When we found weapons without
Their warriors, we convened like men.

Favored with the will to leave,
Saddled with sacks of uncertainty,
Others swarm like ants past borders
To whatever morsels surprise hopes.
They might return one day.

Fate doesn’t choose the fallen:
Some look peacefully asleep,
Woundless, without bruises,
No hints of fear in their faces
But they’re dead.

We who live among ruins
Learn to survive unparented,
Conflicts claiming adults faster,
Grownups succumbing
To freedom’s lies easier.

In our games we pretend
To be soldiers.  In lulls some
Stoke comfort round found
Fires, too afraid to fall asleep,
Too young to be storytellers.

Jonel Abellanosa resides in Cebu City, the Philippines.  His poetry is forthcoming in Anglican Theological Review, Pyrokinection, Ancient Paths, Inkscrawl, and has appeared in Windhover, The Lyric, PEN Peace Mindanao anthology, Star*Line, Liquid Imagination, Mobius Journal of Social Change, Inwood Indiana Press, Jellyfish Whispers, Golden Lantern, Poetry Quarterly, New Verse News, Qarrtsiluni, Anak Sastra: Stories for Southeast Asia, Fox Chase Review, Burning Word, Barefoot Review, Red River Review, Philippines Free Press, Philippine Graphic.  He is working on his first poetry collection, Multiverse.

Thursday, April 17, 2014


by James O. Ferrugia

Image source:

The New York Police Department has abandoned a secretive program that dispatched plainclothes detectives into Muslim neighborhoods to eavesdrop on conversations and built detailed files on where people ate, prayed and shopped, the department said. --NY Times, April 15, 2014

I board an early bird Southwest flight late ― non-stop
LA to Chicago ― scuffle down the aisle dragging
my carry-on to the last empty seat where my determination
to stifle a claustrophobic cattle car feeling is over-
whelmed by the presence of my two seat-mates.

Preconceived notions spread out uninvited before me
like a patchwork perfect quilt of midwest farmland
at thirty thousand feet, notions cultivated
in the rich bottomlands of fear and prejudice
by generations of family and friends and teachers and priests
and pearly-eyed strangers whispering dark-toned warnings
about those people:  japs and jews and niggers and spics
and gooks and guineas and queers and . . . I’m staring.

I excuse myself, shamefaced, and slide into the center
seat as they eye me uncomfortably, lips pursed
behind well-trimmed goatees, fidgeting and fingering
their colorful kaffiyehs with slender, tawny hands, looking for
all the world like strangers in a strange and dangerous land.

James O. Ferrugia lives in Columbia, MO.  His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Solo Novo and Big Muddy; his songs have been published and recorded on the 3-CD compilation, This is My America,  and the Rand Bishop CD, Big Emotions.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014


by Jim Gustafson

Reat Underwood, 14; his grandfather; and another innocent bystander were shot and killed when an anti-Semitic gunman opened fire in the parking lot of a Jewish Community Center in Kansas City on the eve of Passover. --Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America

"My wife has always been concerned about some loonies out there 
doing this type of stuff. You hear these things and it's really surreal. . . . 
We'll be back. You can't leave in fear."
--Jeff Nessel who had just dropped his 10-year-old son off 

Even on the clearest day
when the sky is dressed-up
in its best self
It might rain

Even after the storm
when the water gutters
down to mix the earth in mud
It might rain

Even in the night
when the airliners strobe
unclouded in the sky
it might rain

Even beyond the door
when breath comes
and goes home with ease
it might rain

Jim Gustafson’s most recent book, Driving Home, was published by Aldrich Press in 2013 and is a 2013 Pushcart Prize Nominee. He is an MFA candidate at the University of Tampa, teaches at Edison State  College and  lives in Fort Myers, Florida, where he reads, writes, and pulls weeds.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014


by Sarah Edwards

Image source: Boston University Facebook Page

We were a river of runners.
Each one, a drop of water
poured over the finish line.

We found no respite or reward,
but only waves of wounds
crashed red upon the pavement.

Now we run with bombs
to throw at the tears,
to make them stop
being blood.

Sarah Edwards is a retired clergyperson, former runner, remembering....

Monday, April 14, 2014


by Sharon Lask Munson

She doesn’t laugh when he proclaims
before their wedding
he will be the one
to bring in the money, dole it out.
All he expects in return—
three meals a day
and a lot of you know what.

If it were ten years later
she might have read
Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique
or Kate Millet’s Sexual Politics,
might have seriously questioned
her choice of a mate.

Eventually breakfasts of bacon and eggs
turn into cheerios and cold milk.
Still, she sets up, dishes out, pours.

In due course she finds a job
refuses to hand over her paycheck—
continues with meals, irons his shirts
empties ashtrays, plants roses, dahlias
deals with the plumber when the sink clogs,
the construction guy for the new thermal windows

until early one morning,
as the bleached sun
bursts through gray smoky clouds
she walks out of the house
leaving her key in the lock

ignores the morning paper
tossed on the porch,
takes no notice of
milk in the milk chute
beginning to sour.

No note is left on the mantle,
no witness driving by takes notice,
no neighbor glances
from behind lace curtains

and like Harry Houdini’s escape act—
she squares her shoulders,
tightens her grip on a small valise,
quickens her pace
and disappears into tomorrow.

Sharon Lask Munson is the author of the chapbook Stillness Settles Down the Lane (Uttered Chaos Press, 2010) and a full-length book of poems That Certain Blue (Blue Light Press, 2011).  She lives and writes in Eugene, Oregon.

Sunday, April 13, 2014


by Paula Schulz

(CBS News) — Norio Kimura knows he may never find his daughter’s body amid the radioactive rubble of Okuma, Japan, his deserted hometown near the Fukushima power plant. Still, he returns as often as authorities will allow, looking for Yuna, his dead daughter. It’s what keeps him sane. The survivors of Okuma, about 11,000, left the town after the earthquake on March 11, 2011, most never to return. Yuna was one of 111 – including Kimura’s wife and father — who perished in the earthquake; her body is the only one not recovered there. Kimura has so far found just one of her shoes.

                    Fukishima five years later: only one unaccounted for

For Yuna: a small deity to keep her company forever.
For her father: one pink tennis shoe.

He can visit only ten times a year, stay only five hours.
So he does, come hell or high water or blizzard, though

there’s not even a cold hope of finding her now.
But their connection not grey waves

nor cesium 137’s silver melt can sunder.
The blind hunt for anything of Yuna’s:

to keep sanity and soul together
from rising sun to rising sun, year after year--

this is the heart’s grind and gnaw,
this is the stone permanence of love.

Paula Schulz has taught for nearly twenty years.  She lives in Slinger, Wisconsin with her husband, Greg.

Saturday, April 12, 2014


by Laura Rodley

Image source: The Heart of New England

Low in the pasture slings a wide clear lake,
winds rippling its surface without a break.
Wide and wider still each day it grows
fed by the runoff of fast melting snow,
so wide today whole pasture is sheer green
from water with slivers of icy sheen,
tall white birch and pine reflected, the sky
and all its clouds, rippling, three feet high.
The Sometimes Lake stands, it legs quickly moving,
mallards land, peddle round, flick tails, grooving.
No herons yet, no tiny frogs, just ducks
and Canadian Geese  who press their luck
landing where other times they’d have to duck
no farmers treasure they, wings tightly tucked.

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. 

Friday, April 11, 2014


by Margaret Rozga

He squints through his narrow glasses, looking
above the shoulder and beyond the ear
of the journalist.

He takes the numerical part
of the question, ruminates,
Two, three.  Not so many.

He draws his lip in an upward
arch flat against his face.  His teeth edge
into the opening of what passes for a smile.

Death falls from the sky
Death marches on the capitol.
Truck bombs, IEDs, rocket propelled grenade launchers.
Death strikes back.

Put death in prison.  Abu Ghraib.  Guantanamo.
A black hole at Bagram.  Secret centers of interrogation.
Enhanced death.

Waterboard until the interrogated wish they were dead.
Construct your smile out of this vacuum.

Margaret Rozga has published two books, Two Hundred Nights and One Day and Though I Haven’t Been to Baghdad.  Her most recent poems and book reviews appear in the Spring 2014 issue of Verse Wisconsin online.

Thursday, April 10, 2014


by Sarah Edwards        

Image source: Policy Mic; Image credit: AP

Today on my azalea street
The church bells rang
“O God of peace
Make wars throughout the world
To cease
To cease”

I walk out to my sunny curb
Pick up folded daily news
In a photo coffin
There you are

No veil can hide
The shroud of fear
You wear into exploding streets
To brace against the fiery dust
And death
And death

You send your children off to school
Into a backpack bombed out world
That tears their limbs and scatters them
Like textbook pages left

To Allah and to God
I do not speak
They do not hear
To you
I know not
What to say

Our bells are raucous
Clanging wildly
Stop now
Stop now

Sarah Edwards is a retired clergyperson in the United Church of Christ, who now turns sermons into poems and poems into sermons.  NVN is a well-used resource. 

Wednesday, April 09, 2014


by Janet Leahy

LAS VEGAS (The Borowitz Report)—The casino billionaire and Republican kingmaker Sheldon Adelson met several 2016 G.O.P. candidates available for purchase over the weekend, but decided to buy none of them, Adelson confirmed today. --The New Yorker, March 31, 2014

An escape to Vegas, to bend
the ear

of a rich man, a foot
in the silver door

to dirty money, to hunger
that gnaws

for more, a psalm of himself
chips piled high to buy

someone plastic, the candidate
cannot wear a dark patina

Janet Leahy writes poetry in New Berlin, Wisconsin.  A member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, she has two collections of poetry, The Storm, Poems of War, Iraq and Not My Mother's Classroom.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014


by Raul Puzon

           for the painter and the singer

Iran hanged teenagers Ayaz Marhoni and Mahmoud Asgari in 2005 because they were gay.
Image source:

European parliament angers Iran with human rights resolution: Islamic republic dismisses MEP accusations of freedom of speech restrictions and call for executions moratorium.  --The Guardian, April 7, 2014

Why cannot I forget that August mud
gray in the rain, the old revered facade
harsh in the afternoon, the stubborn god?

I still remember your unsaid goodbye,
the orchard’s hush, the throatless bulbul’s sigh,
the sudden air, the angel’s phantom lie.

The pomegranates are crimson now but odd.
If I’ll go first, recall that tulip bud
I gave you when the crescent moon unclad.

With covered eyes and limbs untied, I’ll try
to wilt and sway— together you and I.
In autumn do the soft persimmons die?

Beside you I’ll engrave that earth with blood.
With you I’ll tell the world our last aubade.

Raul Puzon is a human rights and LGBT activist who writes poetry and short fiction.

Monday, April 07, 2014


by Tricia Knoll

Image credit: lukich / 123RF Stock Photo

                                      Nehalem Bay Spit, Oregon

Twenty years ago a snowy plover explored
the bay spit to nest -- I could have been there.
A June day when one palm-size trilling wader
scooted on stick-black legs on the scruff
of a minus tide poking for shore flies.
Perhaps I didn’t notice.

Were nester-plovers to show up now,
rules weigh down the bird books, heavy NO
horseback riding, kite flying, dogs,
bicycles, sand sails, beach volleyball,
kites above the tide line. Back ups
include poisoned eggs to kill
crows and ravens that gobble
plover eggs. Ropes
to keep birders out.

One commissioner complains
of  limiting family fun.
Another fears phone calls.

We’d notice the yellow signage
to save the tiny plover.
The betting at the bar
is the plover will be a no show.

So the waves have washed
across the tides of time.

Tricia Knoll is a Portland, Oregon poet.  Urban Wild, her poetry chapbook, is now available from Finishing Line Press.

Sunday, April 06, 2014


by William L. Alton

Image source: Tithing

You sleep beneath the pines, the new needles growing pale green. Your head cradled on a root. One hand lies on your chest, rising and falling.

I imagine you as a child, growing to this. There is no time for you. The day does not slip. You live with the sun. It is either light or dark.

William L. Alton was born November 5, 1969 and started writing in the Eighties while incarcerated in a psychiatric prison. Since then his work has appeared in Main Channel Voices, World Audience and Breadcrumb Scabs among others. In 2010, he was nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He has published one book titled Heroes of Silence. He earned both his BA and MFA in Creative Writing from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon where he continues to live.

Saturday, April 05, 2014


by The Bangkok Bards Saknarin Chinayote & Charles Frederickson

Gaze turned skyward illuminating darkness
Lunarocity casting spellbound enchanting aura
Craving purposeful radiant cosmic challenge
Seeking nobly valiant worthy goals

Vast tapestry of quilted nothingness
Tiny dusty speck barely visible
Hiding behind own shadowy existence
Gritty round pearl cultured quintessence

Ethereal overcast sky catching breath
Straightening uphill crooked winding path
Imposing windswept membrane floating rhythms
Horizon contour gracefully bent curve

Virtually uninhabitable planet killing off
Humanimal strays passing as friends
Looking beyond hostile uninviting vacuum
It’s okay to have flaws

Glistening astral pinpoints seeping through
Murky chaos fixed focus blurred
We’ve come long way to
Discover own vulnerable self-indulgent extremes

Firmament freely embracing world peace
Sunbeams impartially pouring forth hope
What we share far more
Valuable than what divides us

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

Friday, April 04, 2014


by Janice D. Soderling

Image source: Ann Telnaes Archive

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court on Wednesday continued its abolition of limits on election spending, striking down a decades-old cap on the total amount any individual can contribute to federal candidates in a two-year election cycle. --NY Times, April 2, 2014

Democracy is not for you.

She's for those who can buy

her wholesale. You can kiss good-bye,

your obsolete world view

that politicians' pas de deux,

adagio, is danced for you.


For businesses are people too.

Like other folks they like to screw

around. Now lift your glass on high

and toast King Cash. Mud in your eye,


Janice D. Soderling is a previous contributor to The New Verse News. Recent and forthcoming work at The Rotary Dial, Rattle, Hobart, Blink|Ink, B O D Y, Shot Glass Journal et al.

Thursday, April 03, 2014


by David Southward

PRETORIA, South Africa — Listening to the prosecution lay out its case against him at his murder trial over the past month, Oscar Pistorius could not keep silent, or still. He sobbed, prayed, threw up, buried his face in his hands and covered his ears, a response to the graphic and upsetting evidence, and, perhaps, to the grim reality of his own changed circumstances.
     But through all the testimony — about the lethally expanding bullets he kept in his gun; about the horrific wounds suffered by the victim, his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp; about his own mercurial temperament, obsession with firearms and irrationally jealous nature — Mr. Pistorius, the world’s most famous Paralympic athlete, has not spoken in his own defense.
     That will most likely change on Monday, when the case resumes after a weeklong recess and Mr. Pistorius is expected to take the stand. And though he has already provided the court with a written account of how, he says, he shot Ms. Steenkamp because he mistook her for an intruder, his testimony will be crucial as he tries to rebut the prosecution’s case: that he killed her in a violent rage as the two argued late into the night. --NY Times, April 2, 2014
Image source: M&G Live Blogs

Oscar Pistorius
bolts for the glorious
on his boomerang heels.
Crowds at the starting line
gasp as Pretoria's
gallantly kneels.

Off goes the pistol!
The crowd leaps, uproarious,
watching the sprinter
break free . . .
scarcely imagining
what a victorious
the sprinter could be.

Now that his haste
has occasioned the goriest
to a Valentine's Day,
and he's mustered the sorriest
look that a boyfriend
of any dead girl
could display,

will Oscar explain
how he found it uxorious—-
heeding a woman's
When the crowd stands aghast
at how feeble his story is,
Oscar may know
how she feels.

David Southward teaches in the Honors College at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee.  His partner Geoff and dog Sammy patiently await his discovery by a wider audience.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014


by Chris O’Carroll

Hi, we’re the Brothers Koch.
Our ads are full of lies.
Our massive bankroll bies
Big mirrors and big smoch
To con you low-class foch,
You losers we despies.

No tears flow from our ies
When you get sick and croch.
Obamacare’s a joch.
Your kid or grandma dies?
Who cares?  You’re little gies.
We’re loaded, you’re all broch.

Chris O’Carroll
is a writer and an actor.  In addition to his previous appearances in The New Verse News, he has published poems in the anthologies The Best of the Barefoot Muse and 20 Years at the Cantab Lounge, and in print and online journals including Angle, Big City Lit, Light, Measure, and The Rotary Dial.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014


by T.D. Peterson

Image source: The Project Gutenberg eBook, Connor Magan's Luck and Other Stories, by M. T. W.

Cruel, I should
not mention our nation's
big celebration
of pecans, welding, and poetry
is nearing, a punishment
I believe, friends, that would hurt me
lots more than you
at the annual convention
of benevolent shindigs again this year.
Pecan pie for dessert though
if able to steel your wits through
haiku roundtable, known in some circles as the yawn
from on and on ... and the PowerPoint presentation:
Metallurgy in the Dirges of Wallace Stevens.

T.D. Peterson lives with Karen, and  dogs Honu and Sherpa in Lincoln, Nebraska, nowhere near the Mississippi.