Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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

Monday, July 13, 2015


by Martha Deed

Image source: Tin House

To James Tate who died ‒ The New York Times and other places say
"after a long illness" at age 71, it is certain, Mr. Tate, that you are not dead
because the poet James Tate, the man this obit purports to bury
is a man wild with words and metaphors and would not "die after a long illness,"
but expire actually only after being hit by a meteor in broad daylight
while taking a break in a green, white, and yellow striped canvas covered, oak-
framed lawn chair purchased for a dollar at the very same tag sale where the coffee blender
was offered ‒ insultingly ‒ to anyone willing to take it off the crazy seller's hands
for free and now it appears that the coffee blender should have been accepted for the rotten
gift it seemed and no money should have changed hands over the lawn chair whose faded
cover harbored screws rusted at the core that sent the poet into oblivion just as he was
contemplating the next line in his next new poem the perfect nonsense of a next line replete
with toy guns and real ammunition unearthed by a small boy with dark skin and brown eyes
whose future would include 1600 on his college boards and admirable physics scores as well
who would grow up thinking a trip to Pluto was not out of the question whose inquisitive
nature matched James Tates' who cannot be dead at the premature age, barely biblical age,
of 71. We do not believe this, because we are great admirers of James Tate and we know
he does not have much truck with death and, in fact, he welcomes conversations with dead
men whom he meets at every opportunity and whom he challenges to live past their prime
even as they peer down his fevered throat and declare a person hopeless while extracting
every dime from their wallets and this in 1976 before the rest of us understood doctors
or invented Safe Patient Projects or petitioned Congress for relief which Tate already
knew ‒ before 1976 ‒ was at best a captious notion indeed, for Tate was a wise man
who understood it is every man for himself in this ungainly world and the women are smart
but the men are the drivers and often deaf to women who advise them to avoid the potholes
and bumps in the road and the men age and look gray and grumpy and finally the women
capitulate and love them anyhow because those silly old men remind them of Black-capped
Gnatcatchers rare in Arizona but cousins of a comfort commonplace Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
in the white birches in their front yard at home in North Tonawanda by the sea.

Martha Deed is the keeper of a tumblr blog Sporkworld and has published several poetry collections.  Her most recent is Climate Change (Foothills Publishing, 2014).