Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


by Dennis Mahagin

People walk past burning cars near the intersection of Pennsylvania Avenue and North Avenue Monday in Baltimore. Violence erupted following the funeral service for Freddie Gray, who died a week after being arrested by Baltimore police. (Drew Angerer / Getty Images) via the Baltimore Sun, April 28, 2015

That cop, you just knew he was
drawing a bead on the small of the
whatever, and I pointed my flicker
at a plasma screen, watched
as a black guy caught his slugs; that makes
fourteen this spring, what does it mean,
a word, a deed, if anything? That cop
who dropped him in his tracks,
you just knew he’s a freak, a dick, squeezed
off each, in his freshly-pressed pleats. Jesus
why not come back, Lord, diminishing
admonishing, return? I pointed my flicker
at a screen, guts burned with nausea,
too much acid, what we learned,
later, that they'd snapped his neck
like a pork rind, the Galaxy vibrated
for my location, and sirens knew:
they whined. So I booted up
Facebook instead, time
enough the little box said Sign In !
-- to hear a litany of audio malware
in the head, the come-ons, for Liberty
Mutual, left Twix, white Twix,
the matrix, that runs, so subliminal
while one tries to get away. I pointed
my flicker, only to see he’s about to be
gunned down today, again:
Oh Zimmerman, CNN cuts to the bad
ad for Goldfish, breakfast granola bricks;
And we know a cop can be Garanimal,
maleficent nitwit acting out the script,
Zzzzzzt, Zzzzzzzzzt, a script, embedded
schemata, and no volition, as civil war;
hate is seeded there, from before.
Stars you see at night, no different
from day, burned through,
fossilized, and mostly light lives
in the eyes officer
inevitable, as the suspect tumbled
down, I did not realize it was still
running, had in fact been placed there
without knowledge, no warning,
audio files assembled on a hard drive,
tracking code, and slogans: they said
“meanwhile in the nation ... fifteen minutes
can save you,” -- so I pointed that flicker,
and it shook, yet I could not stay away
from CNN, the Galaxy, or Facebook.
“Fuck your breath,” said a cop, freak
we all know, Jesus Christ, come back;
toss the clicker to the fishes, lie, in
time, say we have learned, return.
At the Korean store, that linchpin
(or suspect) bought a sack
of Oreos, Big Gulp,

Dennis Mahagin’s poems have appeared in magazines such as Juked, elimae, Evergreen Review, Everyday Genius, PANK, The Nervous Breakdown, and Night Train. His  latest book, Longshot & Ghazal, is available for purchase now, from Mojave River Media.