Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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

Sunday, August 24, 2014


by Keli Osborn

Image: “In the USA” (2014) by St. Louis artist Mary Engelbreit. You can purchase a print of the illustration for $49.99 at Mary Engelbreit’s Web site, with all proceeds going to the Michael Brown Jr. Memorial Fund, which supports the family of Michael Brown. Engelbreit writes on her FB page, “When situations turn horrible and I find it hard to move on, I usually draw my way through it. These drawing hardly ever see the light of day, since they're really just a form of therapy for me. But these events unfolding now in my hometown and across the country, shining a light on the ugly racism that still runs rampant in our country, made me think that maybe this drawing could help in some small way. While it's not a cheerful little picture you'd want to hang over the sofa, you might know of a school or an office or a police station that could use it”.

Every day, I do not tell my son to keep
his gaze down, cap on straight.  I do not
tell him to come home before a curtain
of darkness falls on our town. I do not
tell him to bear the right reason, speak
the right tone, make the right movement.
And, when my blue-eyed son tells me
another young, black man lies dead, shot
on the street, a sad, silent weight settles
once more in our parallel universe.

Keli Osborn is a poet and teacher living in Eugene, Oregon, with family, friends and garden. She's a member of Red Sofa Poets, Thursday Poets and the Lane Literary Guild, with poems previously published in Denali, multiple group chapbooks, and the 2006 collection, Dona Nobis Pacem.  Her sons are in their 20s; the conversations continue.