Guidelines



Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at]gmail.com. 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 31, 2015

SHOWING A DVD ON THE GALAPAGOS TO A NINTH GRADE CLASS

by Don Kingfisher Campbell




Some watch the projected video
of blue footed boobies
diving down like bombers
to feast on an unsuspecting school of fish

Others would rather stare
into their small lighted rectangles
to play a game, send messages
or simply check out their faces

The British narratress
twistedly intones the wonder
of sea lions snatching by the tail
swimming rock-colored iguanas

And what will become
of the fourteen-year-olds
who don’t care to take notes
on this predatory world

The gliding hawk seizes
the frantically running lizard
The bug-eyed orange crabs
pinch off pieces of wounded seagull

Are these students doomed
to be pushing paper, repairing roads
selling cars, hammering homes
stocking stores, serving plates

The volcanic islands themselves
are born in the ocean
live a few million years
sink slowly to die


Don Kingfisher Campbell’s poetry has recently been published in the anthologies Altadena Poetry Review, Like A Girl, Poems To F*ck To, San Pedro River Review, Attack of the Poems, Gutters & Alleyways, and Lummox #3; and in cyberspace on Toe Good Poetry, In-Flight Literary Magazine, Poetic Diversity, Where I Live-Silver Birch Press, One Sentence Poems, Cadence Collective, and Camel Saloon.

Monday, March 30, 2015

DESCANT ON OUR DEFORMITY

by Rachel Voss




Richard III's skeleton as found in the grave beneath a parking lot. The remains of the King who died in the Battle of Bosworth Field on August 22, 1485 were reburied in a tomb in Leicester's Anglican cathedral on March 26, 2015.



What’s more naked
than bones?  The whitewashing
of history, a ghostly rose

to honor the dead.  Which
dead?  “It doesn’t look like
the face of a tyrant,” a woman

said.  Hasn’t she heard
of Shakespeare (who couldn’t
have written a better ending),

or known any real sons of bitches?
It costs a lot of money
to look this immortal.

The onlookers point their thousand several phones,
and every phone takes several similar pictures,
and every picture condemns us all for vanity.

Now is the spring of our
reinterment.  Despite
the line of worshippers

and the royal craze, I, for one,
am determined to hate
the idle pleasures of these days.


Rachel Voss is a high school English teacher and lives in Queens, New York. She graduated with a degree in creative writing and literature from SUNY Purchase College. Her work has previously appeared in Hanging Loose Magazine, Borderline, WORK, Blast Furnace, and The Prompt Literary Magazine, and is forthcoming in Newtown Literary and the Silver Birch Press Great Gatsby Anthology.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

STRANGER

by George Held




1.

Warum? Por qué? Pourquoi?
Why-o-why-o-why-o?

The people want to know: Why
Did Andreas fly into the alp?

It would be OK if he’d killed
Only himself – suicide, while

Regrettable, is acceptable,
But murdering 149 innocents …

That’s beyond the pale,
The boundaries of civilized

Behavior.

O the pounding on the door
And the screams of terror


2.

Warum? Por qué? Pourquoi?
Why-o-why-o-why-o?

But what if the answer
Is “just because …”

Because Andreas could
And so he did,

Adding his name to those
Of Stavrogin, who killed

A child to prove his freedom
To do so, and Gide’s Lafcadio,

And Camus’ … is Lubitz
The new Meursault,

Author of an “acte gratuit”?

O the pounding on the door
And the screams of terror


3.

Warum? Por qué? Pourquoi?
Why-o-why-o-why-o?

But those men and their victims
Are literature, figments

Of great writers’ dreams,
While Lubitz’ victims

Left living survivors,
feeling loss, grief, despair.

Germanwings suffered
A cockpit intrusion

By the co-pilot, who locked
the door, dialed the numbers

in and then hit
“Execute.”

O the pounding on the door
And the screams of terror


George Held, a regular contributor to The New Verse News, has a new book out from Poets Wear Prada, Culling: New & Selected Nature Poems.

Saturday, March 28, 2015

KNOWING THE GREAT UNKNOWN

by Laura Rodley





Can I keep an Aborigine
alive in the desert
where he can draw up water
from under the sand
if I recycle my cans
can I keep the leaves green
there in the desert
where even the lizards are parched
if I use less gas, change my oil
can I hold out my hand
across this great distance
if I only use the dryer at night
when electricity use is less
easier to trundle along the wires?
And can I carry you in my arms
through the desert when you have given up
past the kangaroos, errant camels,
if I plant more trees, their leaves
giving oxygen to you, to seep
into the desert air, invisible
but still there for you to breathe?
And if I keep my heat down,
will it bring you more water
underneath the sand where you
dip your straw to sip
while I carry you to my house
so I can lay you down;
I’m carrying you to my house
so I can lay you down.      


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, March 27, 2015

SPRING PEEPERS

by Martin Elster



Spring Peeper. Image source: Virginia Herpetological Society



Spring peepers trill and whistle in between
the avenue (where drivers rush toward shops),
construction site, the woods, the putting green.
No one stops to listen to these drops

of sentience small as buttercups and shrill
as piccolos. They hide amid the stalks
that rise up from a liquid eye as still
as a spyglass pointed at the equinox,

Unblinking for eternity. The first
of April. The environs dance and ring
with notes from frogs who, though they’re unrehearsed,
belt out a song precisely tuned to spring.

These lusty soon-to-be inamoratos,
iconic crooning harbingers, will soon
be silent. You who ride inside your autos,
roll down the windows! Do not wait till June!


Martin Elster, author of There’s a Dog in the Heavens!, is also a composer and serves as percussionist for the Hartford Symphony Orchestra. His poems have appeared in such journals as Astropoetica, The Flea, The Martian Wave, The Rotary Dial, and in the anthologies Taking Turns: Sonnets from Eratosphere, The 2012 Rhysling Anthology, and New Sun Rising: Stories for Japan. Martin’s poem, “Walking With the Birds and the Bones Through Fairview Cemetery” received first prize in the Thomas Gray Anniversary Poetry Competition 2014.

Thursday, March 26, 2015

THAT WAS THE WINTER

by Peter Krass


The New York City blizzard of 1947 dropped 26.4 inches of snow in Central Park over two days (December 26-27). As moisture in the Gulf Stream fed the storm's energy, the City was paralyzed when the blizzard barreled its way through, stranding cars and buses in the streets, halting subway service, and claiming 77 lives. —Image Source: New York Public Library via New York City OEM.


That was the winter when snow fell three times
in one week, twelve times in one month,
fell even on the first day of spring
and no one mentioned it
or else looked surprised when it was mentioned,
as if eccentric blizzards, deep endless freezes
were perfectly normal
and no cause for worry.

That was the winter when a bicycle was buried
in a snowbank, only its handlebars
visible, poking out from the top
of a frozen mound
like a pair of chromed periscopes
hunting for clues.

That was the winter said to be the coldest
in years, in decades,
the snow freezing on sidewalks and streets,
then melting in rare rays of sunlight,
then freezing again,
then melting again and freezing yet again,
changing color, too, from pristine white
to urban grey, and then
to a disgusting speckled black
until the snow became something else, something
not-quite-snow, not-quite-ice,
but what, no one had a word for yet.

That was the winter lonely-hearted men
relied on porn and their exhausted imaginations,
for all outdoor female forms were bound and concealed
in boots, hats, scarves, shapeless coats, fleece vests, bulky
sweaters, lined gloves, even childish mittens,
and beneath it all, long underwear, turtleneck collars
and sad, thick grey wool socks.

That was the winter when walking to the store
was like walking on the moon,
the ground grey, frozen and crunching,
the air muffled, disconcertingly still,
when even a Friday night was strangely deserted,
neither a car nor a pedestrian on the move,
as if an entire city had been immobilized,
which in a way it had.

That was the winter so cold, no one dared speak
of global warming,
though some saw the weather
as a kind of warning
and they worried, worried
a great deal.
And now, decades later,
we who have known so much more,
so much worse, think back on that winter,
those long-ago worries,
and we smile.
Sadly, to be sure.
But still, we smile.


Peter Krass is a freelance writer and editor, and a creative-writing teacher at The Writers Studio, both in New York and online. His poetry has appeared in Rattle, Commonline Journal, The New Verse News, and elsewhere, and his poem "All Dressed in Green" recently received a Pushcart Prize special mention.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

THE PUPS

by Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco



Wildlife services in California are being pushed to their limits this year. Since January 2015, every month has set a record in sea lion "strandings," mostly sea lion pups, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. "There has been an unusually high number of sea lions stranded since January," said Justin Greenman, assistant stranding coordinator for NOAA on the West Coast. "Stranding does happen, but just to give you perspective, 1,800 [sea lion] pups have been responded to this year alone. We responded to 1,600 strandings total during the entire year in 2013," he said. Stranding is the official term to describe marine life that "swim or float into shore and become beached or stuck," according to NOAA. Greenman said California has had warmer weather than usual this year, and, while NOAA is still conducting studies on the Channel Islands to get a more proven explanation, warmer water drives the food source farther out or deeper into the ocean, where the colder water is. When food is farther away, the mothers are away from the pup too long in search of food, and return with little food or too few nutrients for a growing sea lion. —CNN, March 18, 2015


The pups
rise like shaking hands
out of the surf,

with their skin
held like bunched blankets
round their shoulders. They aren’t
yours.

Who should claim them?

From the road, they are the color of the sand –
easy to miss. Think

of them:
their wide steep eyes,
and their bones like broken sticks.


Elizabeth McMunn-Tetangco lives in California. Her poetry has appeared in The New Verse News, Word Riot, The Kentucky Review, Paper Nautilus, The Lake, and The Tule Review, among others.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

ALLAHU AKBAR, GOD IS GREAT

by Zeina Azzam



A group that said it was affiliated with Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attacks on the two mosques in San’a, where suicide bombers detonated explosives just after noon as people gathered for midday prayers, local security officials said. When survivors fled, a second pair of bombs exploded outside the mosques, killing more people. By evening, the official death toll had risen to 135. —WSJ, March 20, 2015




They've made it so there is no room for me,

she said defeatedly, like an old building
about to be torn down.



The spectrum of Greatness is now a narrow alleyway
in ancient San'a or Kabul. Few may pass.

Guns the price.



They've elbowed out the ones
whose crescent shines on the courts and libraries,

schools and shelters.



How do we make room in this crazy world.
How do we make the world believe that this is not

what we believe.


Zeina Azzam is a Palestinian-American educator and writer. She works as executive director of The Jerusalem Fund in Washington, DC.

Monday, March 23, 2015

MENTAL SLAVERY

by Abraham Adonduwa



Nigerians displaced by Boko Haram wait to get their villages back as new military alliance begins to make progress. Image source: The Independent, March 23, 2015


Politics is a dirty game
It involves grown up men abandoning decorum
For personal aggrandisement
Men in suits, Agbada, Babanriga
Taking off the inhibitors
To make it easier for them to roll in the dirt
It involves the death of conscience and the birth of pragmatism
So that when 219 girls are abducted you stay above the fray
score cheap political points against the opposition
Who are only breathing life to a figment of their imagination
go on a dance jamboree
When a bus park is blown to bits because
They are only trying to undermine your leadership
Indeed politics is meant for pigs
And rabid dogs that bark more than they bite
Covered in teak and filth
Because how can you claim to be a farmer
And have no grime under your fingernails
A surgeon and have no blood on your hands?
Politics is for men and women
ready to jettison their faith in God
For the only true religion: money, power and respect
Ready to increase their wealth by collecting bribes
And inflating contracts
And looking the other way when confronted with the harsh realities
Of the ever hungry streets
Grateful to finally belong to the cabal

Sometimes I detach myself from the daily Boko Haram attacks
Because after all, they are happening in the far North East
Where I have never visited
I clip my tongue from running loose
Grit my teeth and thank God
they aren’t extending to these parts of the country
but it is this sort of silence in the face of tyranny
this sort of lackadaisical aloofness
that is the onset of mental slavery.


Abraham Adonduwa is a Nigerian writer and poet who has been published in Origami, Ontherusk, Indiana Voice, Sentinel Quarterly amongst others. He is an emerging voice burning with passion for the written and spoken word and is currently hard at work on a collection of short stories.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

FINDING BEAUTY IN SEWERS

by Catherine Wald



A new photography exhibition featuring images taken by Paris’ homeless and most vulnerable citizens was inaugurated by Deputy Mayors Bruno Julliard and Dominique Versini this week. The photos are on display on the railings surrounding Paris City Hall. This new initiative is the outcome of a partnership developed between 'Deuxième Marche', a nonprofit association offering assistance and educational opportunities to vulnerable individuals in France, and the start-up Wipplay, which organizes amateur photography competitions online. After a short training period, the twelve homeless individuals selected spent 4 weeks capturing Parisian life from their perspectives. Accompanied if they wished by students from Paris’ art schools, the photographers set out to depict their daily lives and to provide an insight into a side of Paris that most people never experience. The exhibition aims to raise public awareness of homelessness, and to demonstrate photography's potential as a means of reinsertion and rehabilitation. A selection of the photos taken are on display outside the City Hall until March 19th, and will also be available for purchase online on Deuxième Marche’s website. The profits from these sales will be shared equally between the association and the photographer concerned. The hundreds of photographs submitted depict scenes of solitude, insecurity, exclusion, and public indifference, as well as moments of beauty. —Mairie de Paris, February 20, 2015



In the tradition of our patron saint, Baudelaire, we are exhorted
to find harmony in mud, trash and indifference; given cameras
and point-and-click lessons; sent in search of photo ops.

We have no hesitation in rising to the challenge – we, the
flowers of poverty and displacement, society’s poisonous vapors,
perambulating poets that trail nasty refrains after us wherever we go.

Our longing for beauty, actually, is more poignant than yours.
We have learned to conjure it from sewers, air vents, public
toilets and fountains, billboards, and tunnels that only
sometimes have light at the end of them.

We are the visionaries -- not you soft, you sheltered ones.  It’s easy
to embrace loveliness when it wraps a silken shawl about your
shoulders, when it looks like your kin and feels like your birthright.

It’s supremely possible to celebrate ugliness when it’s a choice, not
an obligation, not a brooding and inescapable horizon.

Do you doubt us?

How do you think we’ve survived thus far on nothing
but fumes and cold pavement?  We are not metaphors,
we are the living dead, and we have learned over and
over again how to inject beauty into our thinning veins,
decomposing clothing, the cracked and bleeding
soles of our feet.

We have been artists all our lives.


Catherine Wald's books include poetry (Distant, burned-out stars, Finishing Line Press, 2011), nonfiction (The Resilient Writer: Stories of Rejection and Triumph From 23 Top Authors, Persea Books, 2005) and a translation from French of Valery Larbaud’s Childish Things (Sun & Moon Press). Her poems have been published in American Journal of Nursing, Buddhist Poetry Review, Chronogram, Exit 13, Friends Journal, Jewish Literary Journal, The New Poet, Society of Classical Poets, The 5-2 Crime Poetry Weekly and Westchester Review.

INNER-CITY SLUM

by ayaz daryl nielsen 



Image source: Mairie de Paris



inner-city slum, the relaxed dive
consciences hibernate there
the fumes of cigarettes, booze and meth,
dried sweat-stink, grease-stained blankets
homeless misfits with measured oblivions
their hunger abiding in all dimensions
punctuated only by upheaval and
sometimes, you know, I miss it


ayaz daryl nielsen, x-roughneck (as on oil rigs)/hospice nurse, editor of bear creek haiku (25+ years/125+ issues), homes for poems include Lilliput Review, SCIFAIKUEST, The New Verse News, Shamrock, Kind of a Hurricane, and online at bear creek haiku.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

CONFESSIONS OF A POLITICAL POET

by Israel Wasserstein




“...artists who use their media of choice to advocate specific political agendas should always warrant our suspicion...” --Sam Lasman


I will confess I have little patience
for pastorals, for experiments, for post-
modern explorations, for poetry written
in circles to subvert patriarchy,

for lyrics that earnestly explore
how communication is impossible.
I confess such things seem a luxury,
and so I embrace unpoeticism,

and admit that I sometimes think
about those bankers who destroyed
millions’ pensions, profiting
on the misery of the soon-to-be

homeless, fantasize about lining up those bastards
and putting two bullets in their heads. I am not
a violent man, and I would rather write
about occult patterns the rain

creates, mixing with oil and garbage
on city streets. How can I write
of the squirrels in my backyard
who antagonize my dog

while Colorado burns, crops wither,
ice caps melt? These are ugly sentiments
for a poet. I can’t write small poems
about autumn with Trayvon Martin dead,

about subverting the paradigm of I
while the people of Syria are murdered,
while politicians label anyone killed by drones
enemy combatants, while polio and T.B.

return, while women die in back-alley
abortions and churches preach stay
with your abuser. While football coaches,
Archbishops, politicians cover for rapists,

while the children of the powerful
become the powerful, while wealth
piles in the hands of the rich
and the poor go without jobs, without

healthcare, without hope. I confess
if I knew how, I would rather be a poet
of revolution, to bend my words
against injustice. I confess

I am not that poet--too middle-
class, too white, too straight,
too soft-spoken. In my defense,
I can say only this: I

reject the sin of silence.


Israel Wasserstein, a Lecturer in English at Washburn University, was born and raised on the Great Plains. His first poetry collection, This Ecstasy They Call Damnation, is a 2013 Kansas Notable Book. His poetry and prose have appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Blue Mesa Review, Flint Hills Review, and elsewhere.

Friday, March 20, 2015

COURTING JUSTICE

by Sister Lou Ella Hickman


Middle school hasn't always been the kindest of places, and when a cheerleader with Down syndrome was bullied from the stands during a boys' basketball game, it seemed to be just another example of kids being cruel — until a few players stepped up to make it stop. It turns out that Desiree Andrews, an eighth grader from Kenosha, Wis., had some friends in her corner. "The kids in the audience were picking on D, so we all stepped forward," said Lincoln Middle School basketball player Chase Vasquez, who told TMJ4 in Milwaukee about the moment a teammate finally left the court to ask for the harassment to stop. NY Daily News, March 12, 2015


the cheering crowds provided anonymity
or so they thought . . .
for who would call them on their words
like a foul or an out of bounds
then came time out
for this time
in a world of monstrous bullies
grown from small ones like these . . .
three boys to men also grown
simply said

                stop

                                the

                                          game

losers, your game is over

                                now


Sister Lou Ella Hickman, I.W.B.S. has been a teacher and a librarian.  Her poems have appeared in America, Commonweal, Sojourners, and First Things among others.  Her first book of poetry entitled she: robed and wordless will be released in the fall of 2015 by Press 53.  She is presently a poet, freelance writer, and a spiritual director.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

DUNKING

by Richard Spilman





Back when you were fourteen, small
and new to that school, three toughs
cornered you in the boys’ john, shoved
your head into a bowl of yellow water,
and when they let you up you screamed
bloody murder, hit anything your arms
could reach. To shut you up, the big one
put his foot on your neck and told you
what they’d do. You believed and cried.
Hands in pockets they left one by one
Silently, as if they’d watched a man
betray his friends for a moment of breath.
You dried off, picked up your books,
and went to class. You didn’t tell, and
the teachers didn’t ask about you wet shirt,
and the kids already knew your disgrace.

That was the last time you ever cried.
Not when you were wounded in war,
not when your wife left telling you
she couldn’t love a man so closed off.
You make money trading commodities.
You don’t buy and sell goods, you buy
and sell futures—someone always wins,
someone loses, roulette with wheat and gold.
You trade in illusions, in rises and falls
on a screen created by phantom sales.
Investors like fish rise to your bait.
At the reunions you bring your latest,
her blonde youth a testament to your
prowess, but they laugh behind your back.
For them, your collar is forever yellowed
with piss, your eyes rimmed with tears.


Richard Spilman is the author of In the Night Speaking and Suspension. He lives in Hurricane WV where he is discovering that a bathroom above a garage makes for a frigid winter.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

POWWOW

by Charles Frederickson & Saknarin Chinayote




My tribe is my life
Personal identity comfortable cozy belonging
Recognition feeling desired wanted needed
Praying respect to magical totems

Born into clan without reservation
Uncivilized savage beast trapped within
Daily battle fighting nasty demons
Peacepipe powwow serene quiet calm

Primitive tribalism addictive conformist cult
Clan network security blanket family
Whatever you call it everybody
Needs one quest for belonging

Medieval Dark Ages unholy crusades
Inquisition wars of conquest extermination
Violent wild passionate rage misplaced
Unencumbered by compassion empathy pity

Clockwork universe surviving by ticks
Secondhand surpassing minute bonfire countdown
Timelessness experienced in counterclockwise regression
Digital era speeding fast-forward pulse

Second nature spirituality beyond cowardly
Massacres raping murders looting barbarism
Slaughter justified in name of
One hypocritical faith or another

Tribal mission recruiting chosen chief
Mesmerixed followers manipulated by cooperation
Not competition rusty sketleton key
Unlocking identity battle owning yourself


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

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

TO THE NEW REBELS

by Margery Parsons





Inspired by the young demonstrators in Madison, protesting the police killing of Tony Robinson.


Spartacus on a hill
dreaming up at a tapestry of stars
as slaves from a far flung empire
prepared to fight Rome.
What made the ragged minions
with nothing to call their own
except misery
dare to challenge Caesar's throne,
its fearsome weaponry,
legendary battles won,
and all the philosophical sophistry
used to justify its reign?
What gave them the temerity
to defy gods, to tear down
idols, to question
the exalted certainty of the known?
Look into the eyes
of a mother who has lost her son
to a centurion,
a father carrying the remains
of a child slain by drones.
Listen to the cries
of a generation doomed to oblivion
and you will know why you must rise
as they have done.


Margery Parsons is an activist and poet; she lives in Chicago, works for an arts organization, loves movies and music.

THE STUBBORN OLD NOTION

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.

Monday, March 16, 2015

IN EACH OF US

by J. D. Mackenzie


Moscow ralliers protesting the murder of Boris Nemtsov carry a banner reading "Heroes never die — these bullets are in each of us" | SERGEI GAPON/AFP/Getty March 1, 2015


The sting of each new murder
and the recoil of every new clue
points us back to the same source

We carry the burden of knowing how
these gruesome deaths inter-connect

We suffer the agony of wondering
when it all must end

Ballistic tests mean as much
as dust in ancient churches

We’ll march because we can
burn candles when the wind permits
and hope, because we can’t give in

The bullets are in each of us
sunk into those who remember better times
who cherish the power of free voices
and wistfully recall our rightful place
in the world


J. D. Mackenzie tried careers as a steelworker, sommelier and psychiatric aide before his current role as a college administrator.  A 2011 Pushcart nominee, his work has appeared in The New Verse News, The Ekphrasis Project, Four and Twenty, and Poets for Living Waters. He lives with his family in the foothills of Oregon’s Coast Range.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

END OF THE LINE

by Howard Winn



Chinese Communist Party leaders are afraid that the Dalai Lama will not have an afterlife. Worried enough that this week, officials repeatedly warned that he must reincarnate, and on their terms. Tensions over what will happen when the 14th Dalai Lama, who is 79, dies, and particularly over who decides who will succeed him as the most prominent leader in Tibetan Buddhism, have ignited at the annual gathering of China’s legislators in Beijing. . . . Party functionaries were incensed by the exiled Dalai Lama’s recent speculation that he might end his spiritual lineage and not reincarnate. That would confound the Chinese government’s plans to engineer a succession that would produce a putative 15th Dalai Lama who accepts China’s presence and policies in Tibet. --New York Times, March 11, 2015



The train has reached the
station and will be taken
out of further service.
All passengers please
proceed to the platform.
It is reported as possible
that the Dalia Lama may not
choose reincarnation bringing
to a close the ageless reign
of his timeless essence in order
to thwart the Red Capitalists
now milking crony connections
to make the nouveau riche of
the modern China connected
to the high end real estate
of London, Paris, and New York
and who desperately still need
their own dogma for the Tibetan
region the Chinese covet as
also prime real estate where
they can park the excess
Chinese now filling their
historical land and deposit their
young like money laundering
shady deals in the best Ivies
and yet they desire Shangri La
as their very own and this
is what the 14th Dalai Lama
will short circuit if his spirit
says no more and no return
in the new body of some
favored infant for number 15
no matter what the descendants
of Mao wish they can only pretend.


Howard Winn's poetry and fiction has been published recently in Dalhousie Review, Galway Review, Taj Mahal Review, Descant (Canada), Antigonish Review, Southern Humanities Review, Chaffin Review, Evansville Review, and Blueline. He has a B. A. from Vassar College and an M. A. from the Stanford University Writing Program.

COMPANY

by David Feela



Terry Pratchett, the immensely popular British fantasy novelist whose more than 70 books include the series known as Discworld, died on Thursday at his home near Salisbury, England. He was 66. --New York Times, March 12, 2015


As you can see
I am occupied with Death,
so there’s no time left
to answer you with a novel.

When I first arrived
in the world
I thought there would be
more time;

I was mistaken;
so are we all.


David Feela writes a monthly column for The Four Corners Free Press and for The Durango Telegraph. A poetry chapbook, Thought Experiments, won the Southwest Poet Series. His first full length poetry book, The Home Atlas appeared in 2009. His new book of essays, How Delicate These Arches  , released through Raven's Eye Press, has been chosen as a finalist for the Colorado Book Award.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

APPLESAUCE

by Gil Hoy


WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court . . . blocked the next three executions scheduled in Oklahoma pending its review of the state's controversial three-drug cocktail for lethal injections. The ruling was expected, since both lawyers for the convicted murderers and the state itself had urged the justices to intervene. But Oklahoma also wanted the court to allow executions to resume if it could find a replacement drug, and the court left open that possibility. --USA Today, January 28, 2015; Cartoon source: Penn Live


If the supreme court

Says 43 minutes
Writhing squirming
On death cot

Is cruel and unusual,
We have tried true

tested alternatives.

Shave head, part of leg
   To welcome flow of electrons,

Strap chest, legs to chair
Metal skullcap

electrodes on head
Moisten sponge---
   j-u-s-t   right

Hood over head
Flip switch---

Asphyxiation
   Cardiac arrest
nervous system Paralyzed

Defecation,  urination
Smoke steam Escape
  from body
Boiling Blood

“The body’s temperature
becomes so hot, the flesh
falls off
if touched”

Third fourth
degree burns
Body may catch
   Fire

The Sound of
Sizzling Bacon tickles
your ears

Eyeballs pop out,
  but rest comfortably
     on cheeks

Body bleeding
body Cooking, The

sweet smell
of broiled vulgar Flesh

permeates the chamber
into your nostrils.


Gil Hoy is a regular contributor to The New Verse News.  He is a Boston trial lawyer and studied poetry at Boston University, majoring in philosophy. Gil started writing his own poetry and fiction in February of last year.  Since then, his poems and fiction have been published in multiple journals, most recently in The Potomac, The Zodiac Review, Harbinger Asylum and Earl of Plaid Literary Journal.

OKKKLAHOMA

by Chris O’Carroll



The Daily Cartoon by Emily Flake, The New Yorker



Okkklahoma, where the white frat boys think hate is great,
And black guys swing in the songs they sing
’Cause their campus is a lynchpin of the state.
Okkklahoma, where the Klan was strong in ’21
When Tulsa burned, and no one learned,
So “hang ’em from a tree” still sounds like fun.

We know we’re the heirs of Jim Crow.
If it weren’t for that damn video
EN EYE GEE GEE
EE AR is something we’d feel free
To go on sayin’,
And we’d feel fine.  Okklahoma!
But just one K, OK?


Chris O’Carroll used to live in Kansas, and has performed at comedy clubs in Oklahoma.  He doesn’t expect to be invited back any time soon.

Friday, March 13, 2015

TRISKAIDEKAPHOBIA

by David James Olsen



Image source: Share



dedicated to Alan Turing


numbers hold more fear than words for some people haunted by sad notions,
especially that dreaded thirteen, surely evil by nature and dark to the core:
it has led men to doom due to gloomy superstition quoting Capitol maidens,
crumbled psyches with barren rage hinting at a horrific end to their pulse,
and crept into many tales of terror read by children with chattering teeth-
though braver brains have dared indulge the qualm of it and other integers,
oh so big: Euclid, Euler, Gauss, Newton, Leibniz, Abel, Weyl, Turing, and Fib-
all tangled with enigmatic math in ways we now must admire and learn,
so maybe we fools need to follow their lead, leaving baktun foreboding behind;
yet if you review closely, calculating the lines and words of each line
within this odd clumping of lexemes lurking in lyric patterns on a page,
you will find that often fears are founded in precessional and seemingly puerile
print which hides eery numeric code- and perhaps it never happens by chance.


Author's note: There are exactly 13 words in each of the 13 lines of the poem. The word "enigmatic" is used to reference the Nazi code "Enigma" cracked by Alan Turing; the phrase "barren rage" is from Shakespeare's Sonnet 13; the shortened surname "Fib" is for Fibonacci, who introduced to Western Europe in 1202 A.D. the brilliant sequence of numbers including 13, though it had been described earlier in Indian mathematics; in the Mayan calendar, each cycle of 13 baktuns encompassed an Age, making many people believe the final baktun was bound to be apocalyptic; each full "precessional" cycle on Earth takes 26,000 years, perfectly divisible by 13, and amazingly, as if our most ancient predecessors knew this, it is slyly interlaced into almost every culture's oldest architecture and creation story/legend such as the number of maidens painted around George Washington on the ceiling of the Capitol dome in D.C.


David James Olsen has been published by Instigatorzine, The South Townsville micro poetry journal, and here in The New Verse News. He is currently submitting much of his recent poetry and writing fresh verse every day. Also rehearsing a uniquely conceptualized production of Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, he looks forward to its New York run and subsequent tour to Milan, Italy. Though he enjoys the juggling involved in being an actor-singer-poet-researcher, he finds the most peace while gently gripping a pen.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

RIGHT TO WORK FOR LESS

by Paula Schulz



Gov. Scott Walker Monday signed so-called right-to-work legislation banning requirements that private-sector workers pay union fees, prompting one business to say it will add workers in Milwaukee and another to say it will expand in Minnesota instead. --Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal-Sentinel, March 9, 2015



Earliest morning, the moon a mirror,
the sky that deep, hopeful blue.  And for those
few moments all plans are possible.

You feel it--to walk into the world is
to walk into a fairy tale where the king
is a good man who loves the beautiful.

All the old witches grow backward into joy,
straighten up, fly right, drop glittering
educators in Wisconsin schools.

Every child is beautiful, strong, well-nourished:
factory and government jobs pay
a living wage.  Police and protesters

carry potato guns.   After they face
off, all gather ammo, take it to their
local soup kitchen, cook up a rich

chowder, pass warm bread, talk of family.
Governor Walker goes to Washington,
takes his dislike of the arts with him where,

despite his best efforts, a new WPA
is formed and funded and we learn again
each others stories, paint new portraits

of dignity, sculpt a strong citizenry,
paint with bright colors, polka to a new
American song.


Paula Schulz is a member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, a recent Pushcart nominee and an educator.  She is hopeful, blue.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

NO SINGULAR COUNTRY

by Alejandro Escudé



Harrison Ford was injured last Thursday afternoon when his vintage single-engine airplane crashed on a golf course shortly after taking off from Santa Monica Airport. Photo of the plane by Alejandro Escudé.



Oh furious desire for the present! That nose!
Like the botched schnoz of a prizefighter,
the splayed yellow wings, aluminum body,
the star, a model-slick Army Corps roundel.
Ford’s plane, whole, stark,  not the protracted
present, but the breakneck speed existence,
unafraid, the kind that wolfs one across time
despite failure. Have you risked it? The plane
asks, Or are you pulling back? Other cars
maneuver around me, stopped to cellphone
snap the pic. Say what you want, but the man
that took down that plane, that wasp-like,
double A battery-shaped plane, that metallic
cereal box, met the abounding void and tore
through it, no perturbation over loose ends
nor much hindsight, no babble or echoing
self-talk, just the return home with no home.
No singular country but the loosened sky and

there it sits, intact, on that cool green grass.


Alejandro Escudé published his first full-length collection of poems, My Earthbound Eye, in September 2013. He holds a master’s degree in creative writing from UC Davis and teaches high school English. Originally from Argentina, Alejandro lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

MEASLES

by Joan Colby



Anti-Vaxxer Kristin Cavallari



A darkened room. Venetian blinds
Slatted like a stern mouth.
No reading. No coloring books
Or paper dolls. I shut my eyes
Reddened like the polka dots
Of my fevered body.
The doctor with his satchel
Of uselessness. Two weeks
Or longer. It’s the hard
Measles.

Two infant boys born before my father
Died of it. They were both named
For their own father, an unlucky
Name as it turned out—he too would die
Young in a gunfight. They called my father
A different name. So names must
Matter. My own means Gift of God
According to my mother who never wanted
Such a daughter, one spotted
With original sin, who must be
Worried over, hot and sulky in the dark
Demanding one more chapter.
My father’s weary voice as Jim
Hides in the apple barrel
Listening for the thump of a peg leg.

Once a third of the tribes crawled
To the cooling waters where they expired.
I get better. A neighbor child
Loses smartness, burnt away in a conflagration
The way conifers on the mountain
Turned into ashy witches.

There’s such a thing as herd
Immunity. The few protected
By the many. How penguins huddle
Against weather, changing places constantly
For the good of all.

Age of enlightenment.
Lords of miracle: Lister, Pasteur,
Jenner, Finlay, Reed, Salk.

Yet in the forest where the children stray
The house of the witch still beckons,
People believe in angels, in green men from mars,
That evolution is a lie, that the moon is a hologram,
That science is a devil’s plot
Against the faith of conjecture.


Joan Colby has published widely in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, South Dakota Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, New York Quarterly, the new renaissance, Grand Street, Epoch, and Prairie Schooner. Awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards, Rhino Poetry Award, the new renaissance Award for Poetry, and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. She was a finalist in the GSU Poetry Contest (2007), Nimrod International Pablo Neruda Prize (2009, 2012), and received honorable mentions in the North American Review's James Hearst Poetry Contest (2008, 2010). She is the editor of Illinois Racing News, and lives on a small horse farm in Northern Illinois. She has published 11 books including The Lonely Hearts Killers and How the Sky Begins to Fall (Spoon River Press), The Atrocity Book (Lynx House Press) and Dead Horses and Selected Poems from FutureCycle Press. Selected Poems received the 2013 FutureCycle Prize.  Properties of Matter was published in spring of 2014 by Aldrich Press (Kelsay Books). Two chapbooks are forthcoming in 2014: Bittersweet (Main Street Rag Press) and Ah Clio (Kattywompus Press). Colby is also an associate editor of Kentucky Review and FutureCycle Press

Monday, March 09, 2015

ALABAMA ATTEMPTS TO STAND STILL

by Jay Sizemore



Alabama is also on the front lines of what some see as the modern-day successor to the civil rights movement. Although a federal court threw out the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, Alabama’s Supreme Court has tried to block the issuance of marriage certificates. Mr. Obama made several references to gay rights but did not directly address the fight over marriage in Alabama. --Peter Baker and Richard Fausset, The New York Times, March 7, 2015; photo by Doug Mills/The New York Times



in a hurricane of rose petals,
in a landslide, where every granule of dirt
is a body clamoring for air:
roll tide, roll.

There’s something holy about crimson,
the color of blood,
the color of a wound left open
like a gash between the ribs
where wind can be heard
whistling
through a punctured lung,
gasps of breath lost
out the knothole of a hollowed oak,
felled when the roots began to die.

Remember the F-5 that tore through Birmingham,
digging a trench a mile wide,
scrubbing houses clean of their foundations.
Remember the hopelessness of the sundogs,
shimmering in the wake
of Death’s coattails
like pearl buttons on a burial suit.
Remember the sounds of rubble
lifted from the cellar door,
the way the world smelled
like a dirty palm pressed over a mouth.

Whose hand reached down
through that rectangle of light,
that swirl of dust and dripping rain,
to pull you free of the cobwebs,
into cacophony and conflicted weather vanes?
If that hand had held
the penis of his lover
just hours before the storm,
would you have refused to be saved?
If Jesus Christ put on fishnet stockings
after the sermon on the mount,
and let Peter call him bitch,
would his words cease to inspire you?

Alabama attempts to stand still
with both feet on a fault line,
shaking its fists like gavels
to pound illumination
out of the stars,
insisting that every kiss
be given with the eyes closed,
no tongue. Leave the lamp on,
so you can see yourself
drowning in the gulf. .

Roll tide, roll.


Jay Sizemore brought the high-five out of retirement. He still sings Ryan Adams songs in the shower. Sometimes, he massages his wife's feet. His work has appeared online and in print with magazines such as Rattle, Prick of the Spindle, Revolution John, Menacing Hedge, and Still: The Journal. He's never won an award. Currently, he lives in Nashville, TN, home of the death of modern music. His chapbook Father Figures is available on Amazon.