Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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 22, 2016


by Judith Terzi

Image source: Judith Terzi

after “What people are saying about ‘burkinis’ in France” 
L.A. Times, August 18, 2016

Zipporah. She is covered from head to toe 
with an apron & layers of cloth. 

There is the idea that . . . women are 
immodest, impure, that they
should therefore be completely 

covered. Wool scarves swirl around her 
hidden neck in the black & white 
photo. A headscarf, or a tichel, hides 
every strand of great-grandmother's 

hair. [This] is not compatible 
with the values of France and 

the republic. Zipporah––a bird in Hebrew.
She flew from Russia to a brownstone 
in Baltimore. She sits on a stoop. Even her 
hands are invisible; we see only her 

withered face. She is over a hundred. 
I issued this order . . . to ensure the safety 
of my city . . .  am only prohibiting 

a uniform that is the symbol of Islamist 
extremism. Zipporah––a bird who 
flew to the heavens before I was born. She 
sits next to my great-grandfather 
in the black & white photo. Hasidic white 
beard, a yarmulke between him and 

his God. It is the soul of France that is
in question . . . France does not hide half 
of its population under the . . . odious
pretext that the other half would be 

afraid of temptation. An oversized wool suit 
envelops his body & his fringes. 
In the 32mm film, he blesses my mother 
& her sisters. His body rocks. Back 
& forth, back & forth, as he recites prayer. 
Pious great-grandfather who gave me 
my name. The beaches, like any 
public space, must be  preserved 

from religious demands. Great-grandparents 
covered in faith & fabric.

Author’s Note: Italics indicate direct quotes from French governmental officials, including the Prime Minister, the Minister for women's rights, and the Mayor of Cannes.

Judith Terzi's poetry has appeared in a wide variety of journals and anthologies including Caesura, Malala: Poems for Malala Yousafzai, Raintown Review, Spillway, Unsplendid, and Wide Awake: The Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond. If You Spot Your Brother Floating By is her most recent chapbook from Kattywompus Press. Her poems have been nominated for Best of the Net and Web.