Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


by Buff Whitman-Bradley

Image source: United Posters

for Tony Robinson, Anthony Hill, and !Presente!

For a few months now
Six of us have stood on a busy corner
Once a week
Holding signs that read Black Lives Matter
In solidarity with the movement of that name
Protesting police murders
Of unarmed African Americans
And endemic racism in our country
We are in our ‘60s, 70s, 80s
And doing what we can
As our time grows short
To stand for the possible world
And not surrender to the despair
We increasingly feel
Not only about the tenacious cancer of racism
But also about the savaging of the poor and disempowered
And the plunder of Earth’s bounty
By the felonious elite

When we were young we thought
That revolutions were about to occur that
The tumult and turmoil we were part of
Would lead to a new more peaceful
And more just world
Any minute now
But over the decades we have watched our dreams
For that the new world
Go tumbling backwards down the stairs
And we find it increasingly difficult
To remain positive

Today as we stood with our signs
A man walked up to us and said
Fuck niggers fuck Jews
And the driver of a passing truck shouted
That we were nothing but a bunch of aging hippies
With meaningless lives
If he’d stuck around for a chat
We would have explained that
Standing on a street corner
Witnessing for justice and human decency
While enduring the blast and blare of traffic
The stinking miasma of exhaust fumes
And the scorn of foolish folks like him
Was meaning enough for us thank you
Whether on any particular day
We can muster up hope for the future
Or not

Just a few days ago
A nineteen-year-old unarmed black teenager
In Madison, Wisconsin
Was shot and killed in his own home by a white police officer
And yesterday
A twenty-seven-year-old black man in Georgia
Behaving erratically
Parading naked in public
Was also gunned down by a white cop
Maybe the long moral arc of the universe
Bends toward justice
And maybe it doesn’t
Maybe it isn’t optimism we need in order to persist
Maybe just the stubborn old notion
That to do nothing and remain silent
Is to give our consent
Which we cannot do

Buff Whitman-Bradley is the author of four books of poetry, b. eagle, poet; The Honey Philosophies; Realpolitik; and When Compasses Grow Old; and the chapbook, Everything Wakes Up! His poetry has appeared in many print and online journals. He is also co-editor, with Cynthia Whitman-Bradley and Sarah Lazare, of the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War.  He has co-produced/directed two documentary films, the award-winning Outside In (with Cynthia Whitman-Bradley) and Por Que Venimos (with the MIRC Film Collective).  He lives in northern California.