Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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, August 08, 2016


by Neil Shepard

by grobles63

Johnson, Vermont

Big winds in the back pasture this morning.
Must have blown in from that dark bluster
in Ohio where the orange-haired dystopian
shouted himself red: a nation broken,
and only himself with enough narcissistic
moxie to fix it. What would be the fix? Short,
as always, on specifics. But the fix, so
far, fixates on anyone who crosses him.
In short, big winds blow from the little mind
of a schoolyard bully, a bull who charges
every flagging patch of red. And half
the nation’s ready to blow in his blowhard
direction. They’re small children who want
a power-daddy to fix what’s broke.
And the big winds in the back pasture
presage afternoon thunderstorms and
a dome of hot air crushing down on us
that feels like the beginning of intolerable
conditions. A whole summer and autumn
of unbearable heat, which will roast the air
to record highs. If there’s a weather god
today, he’s a strongman. All those grass-heads
below are dried-out, hollow, blown in one
direction: his. The one turkey wading
through them is the steadiest creature in the field,
flattening the unthinking reeds, feeding as it needs,
and popping out onto lawn, finally, like a reality
TV star to shake off its crown of fluff and seed,
and now I see he’s no turkey, he’s a red-faced turkey
vulture, perfect for the clean-up work to come.

Neil Shepard’s sixth and seventh books of poetry came out in 2015: Hominid Up (Salmon Poetry, Ireland) and Vermont Exit Ramps II (Green Writers Press, VT). His poems appear in many places, among them Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, and Poem-a-Day (Academy of American Poets), as well as in Harvard Review, New England Review, Paris Review, and Southern Review. Shepard taught for many years at Johnson State College in Vermont and edited for a quarter-century the Green Mountains Review