Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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

Thursday, November 17, 2016


by Ron Riekki

She recites a prayer, or perhaps it’s a curse,
that the souls of the unjust will also have years
to howl, that their revelation will shake their heart

until their cobweb racism awakens the spiders
of their hate and they’re forced to eat the insides
of their insides. She holds in her hand an iron pipe,

invisible, but visible, iron and air, and she sucks
deep on its end, telling me that she is taking away
their stupidity, gullibility, hegemonic ability,

and leaving them on vacation, meaning, etymologically
empty, vacated, so that something other than dumb
sexism can rest in their hollow bones. Her eyes

are fuses. Her skin reels. Her tears are middle
passages, saying we could have made history
but instead we made a bed to fuck the poor.

Behind her, there is no snow. We have assimilated
out of the Arctic, lost our language, bathed
in a drumless Michigan that has turned blood red

from apathy, tricked, pathetic, pricked to death
and not even realizing the rigor mortis. I watch
my mother open her mouth so wide that her lungs

are visible, iron and air, and I wonder if those
so easily swayed, so cinematographically fooled,
would even witness the protests of her body.

Ron Riekki's books include U.P.: a novel (Sewanee Writers Series and Great Michigan Read nominated), The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works (2014 Michigan Notable Book awarded by the Library of Michigan and finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award/shortlisted for the Grand Prize, Midwest Book Award, Foreword Book of the Year, and Next Generation Indie Book Award), and Here: Women Writing on Michigan's Upper Peninsula (2016 IPPY/Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal Great Lakes—Best Regional Fiction and Next Generation Indie Book Award—Short Story finalist).