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Sunday, April 30, 2017


by Marjorie Maddox

Cartoon by STEPeHEN

Ridiculous standards to hold me
to standards. Huuuge mistake
to mistake me for me.
Ridiculous. Standards can’t hold me;
I’ll flip-flop alternate news. Bigly
mistake by media to mistake
standards for ridiculous me. Hold me
to standards? Huuuge mistake!

Marjorie Maddox has published eleven collections of poetry—including True, False, None of the Above (Poiema Poetry Series and Illumination Book Award medalist), Local News from Someplace Elseand Wives' Tales as well as the short story collection What She Was Saying (Fomite Press) and over 500 stories, essays, and poems in journals and anthologies.

Saturday, April 29, 2017


by Buff Whitman-Bradley

Above the broad green expanse of the marsh
Dozens of swifts
Dart and veer and cavort with anarchic abandon
Like a corps de ballet gone slightly unhinged.
Red-shouldered piccolo birds
Ornament the air
With the bright clear notes of their piping
And a lone egret lopes past a pond
Just above the water.
Here on land
Countless pill bugs
Full of purpose and gravitas
Hump back and forth across the trail
Like law clerks bearing weighty briefs to court
While box elder bugs keep backing into each other
For anonymous sex.
The rumor making its way
Among the long bright green grasses
The clovers and the tiny pimpernels
Is that the massive winter storms
Inundating us this year
With triple the normal precipitation
Likely a result of human-caused climate change
Are at last headed out of town
And the spring weather that's on its way
Is certain to stick around for a while.
So we join with the birds and the bugs
In welcoming the new season
And calling for the carbon grubbing
Glassy-eyed lucre-addicted climate manglers
To rejoin life's great extended family
And keep the oil in the ground.

Buff Whitman-Bradley's poetry has appeared in many print and online journals, including Atlanta Review, Bryant Literary Review, Concho River Review, Crannog, december, Hawai'i Review, Pinyon, Rockhurst Review, Solstice, Third Wednesdayand others. He has published several collections of poems, most recently, To Get Our Bearings in this Wheeling World. His interviews with soldiers who refused to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan became the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. He lives in northern California with his wife Cynthia.

Thursday, April 27, 2017


by Richard Meyer

Thirty prominent climate scientists sent a letter to Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt on Monday, refuting his recent false statement that carbon dioxide is not a primary driver of climate change. —Inside Climate News, March 13, 2017. Image source: DonkeyHotey.

Their mental houses have a leaky roof
and cracked foundations built on shaky ground.
They squat inside, benighted and aloof,
imagining the Earth is safe and sound.                                

For them a fact is nothing but a spoof
devised by eggheads in a lab somewhere.
They blindly scoff at scientific proof
that points to threatened water, land, and air.

They sit in darkness, make-believe what’s true,
and bar the door so reason can’t get through.

Richard Meyer, a former English and humanities teacher, lives in the home his father built in Mankato, a city at the bend of the Minnesota River. His poems have appeared in various publications, including Able Muse, The Raintown Review, Think, Measure, Alabama Literary Review, Light, and The Evansville Review. He was awarded the 2012 Robert Frost Farm Prize for his poem “Fieldstone” and was the recipient of the 2014 String Poet Prize for his poem “The Autumn Way.” A book of his collected poems Orbital Paths was a silver medalist winner in the 2016 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards.

Wednesday, April 26, 2017


by Devon Balwit

An iceberg ran aground over Easter weekend just off the small Newfoundland town of Ferryland, population 465, drawing knots of tourists eager to catch a glimpse. Photo credit: Jody Martin/Reuters via The New York Times, April 20, 2017.

No more clinging. I calve from the motherland,
current captured, channeled to beach and the relentless

gaze of the curious, their selfies blind to my fissures.
Invisible salt fingers widen hidden cracks. Inertia

weighs heavily, bodes further fracture. When I go,
it will seem a bomb blast. As in life, I will fire my own

salute. You will flinch, and I will be glad of it, the
sound of me opening spillways in your secret places.

Devon Balwit is a teacher/poet from Portland, OR. Her work can be found in many places, most recently: Alyss, All the Sins, Poets Reading the News, Jenny, Dis-Articulations, and Lemon Quarterly.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017


by Elizabeth Johnston

Image source: DonkeyHotey

“[He] is being raked over the coals in the press right now. People are trying to destroy him”

“We will not be staked this time.” 

Myth smokes with the corpses we’ve inherited,
simpering seventy-times-seven girls:
Gretel, escaping the oven to wrap arms around her dead-beat Dad.
Persephone in a singed bikini boarding the bus for Spring Break.
Corn-woman begging for the stake so bellies might be fed.

We are the granddaughters of the witches you burned
and our tongues won’t, anymore,
wrap around the lie:
            Once, Long Ago, Far Away

Like fugitives of Pompeii
we’ve borne the blistering surge,
been arrested mid-joy, fixed
to the earth for centuries, lain airless,
buried under soot, cocooned
our voices like fingers
cast in their clawing.

But go ahead, storytellers.  Rewrite.

Return to the scene shouldering your excuses like shovels,
dismissive as a pickaxe.
Fill the void with your plaster white,
your sight-seer-safe.
Stake your claim. Charge your fees.

There’s profit in bigotry, big money in violence.

Stand over the volcano’s mouth piece,
sermonize, ejaculate,
make your pithy sacrifice.

Never mind the ghosts
who sneak up from behind,
palms facing forward.

Elizabeth Johnston teaches writing, literature, and gender studies in Rochester, NY. A past contributor at TheNewVerse.News, her most recent work appears in The Atlantic, Feminist Formations, and The Boiler.

Monday, April 24, 2017


by Richard Hacken

Image source: DonkeyHotey via Daily Kos

I, the Grand Chair of the House Committee on Oversight,
Enduring my own governmental and dental overbite,
I, Representative Jason Chaffetz,
Never go into raving fits
About being partisan.
No, I am just the leading artisan
Of ignoring with quiet ease
All conflicts of interest and improprieties
That might impinge on any fringe of my own party.
Using gymnastics of justification, quite smartly
I look the other way.

But ask about Hillary’s Benghazi: I’ve got plenty to say.

Still, I’ve decided not to take it anymore.
“Soon" I’m going to pack my beret,
My toothbrush, my blinders and cot,
And make good my getaway.
Why? Well, with T***p and his lot—
All of whom I secretly deplore,
But whose follies I feel I must simply ignore
(As a blandly mocked, land-locked ichthyosaur)—
This task of looking the other way
Causes a passive-aggressive pain in my neck.

Richard Hacken regrets to inform you that Brazen Jason is technically “his” representative while somehow not representing him.

Sunday, April 23, 2017


by George Held

Image source: The Innocence Project

The state machinery for murder
executed its steps coolly and efficiently
in the killing of Ledell Lee.

So what if the blood on his shoes
and the hairs found at the scene
received no test for DNA?

So what if the Innocence Project
and Sister Helen Prejean protest
Ledell Lee might be not guilty?

So what if Camus warned against
executions as mere state-approved
murder? How many have heard

of Camus, Prejean, even DNA? How
many have thought hard about
the idea of state-approved murder

or resisted the confection that
medazolam’s nearing expiration date
justified eight executions in eleven days?

So the executioners poured three drugs
Into Lee: medazolam, a sedative, then
a paralyzer called vecuronium bromide—

hear the falling meter?—and a heart-
stopper, potassium chloride.
Each flawlessly performed its part.

Thus did the wheels of Arkansas justice
turn exceedingly well on 4/20/17
in the killing of Ledell Lee.

George Held, a frequent contributor to TheNewVerse.Newshas received ten Pushcart nominations, including ones for both poetry and fiction in 2016. His new poetry chapbook is Phased II (Poets Wear Prada, 2016).

Saturday, April 22, 2017


by Cynthia Neely

The New York Times, July 22, 1962

To Rachel Carson, mother of the environmental movement, who died April 14, 1964

Was it a good day to die
when we were young,
when the earth was younger
than it is now?

Silent Spring had sprung
and we were bell-bottomed and braless,
flowers in our hair.

Today would have killed you
now that we’re old
and the world is older

but no wiser.
Our kids are tweeting,
the birds too for now.

Yes, I’d say it was good to die
before you could witness
the work you’d done undone,
Mother Earth again made “useful”
to us in useless ways.

And you aren't able to see
the undoing continue
as sea stars lose their limbs,
polar ice cools the sea,
oceans rise, our winters shorten
and our springs become silent.

Poet and painter, Cynthia Neely is the 2016 winner of the Bright Hill Press chapbook contest for Passing Through Blue Earth and the 2011 winner of the “Hazel Lipa Prize for Poetry” chapbook contest for Broken Water published by Flyway: Journal of Writing and Environment. Her essay work has appeared in The Writers’ Chronicle, and her poems have been included in numerous print and online journals, including Bellevue Literary Review, Crab Creek Review, Floating Bridge’s Pontoon, and She has been nominated for “Best of the Net” as well as had work included in several anthologies. Her full-length volume of poetry Flight Path was published in 2014 as a finalist in the Aldrich Press book contest.

Friday, April 21, 2017


by S.O.Fasrus

Image source:

There was Kim Jong-il
Kim Jong-un
turn up the telly
not much fun

Car on the road
masses of space
art on the wall
Kim Jong's face

Go to the shop
can't find one
There was Kim Jong-il
There was Kim Jong-un

Dear Leader Un
taking in the view
firing off a missile
fuse just blew

There was Kim Jong-il
Kim Jong-un
turn up the telly
but you can't turn it off

S.O.Fasrus has verses at LUPO and is currently writing a YA novel.

Thursday, April 20, 2017


by Frank De Canio

with the Godwin family whose father was murdered

God wins, indeed, with devotees like these
who show the hard way to a nobler realm
of love. No bending, supplicating knees
petitioning the world to overwhelm
the murderer of their beloved Dad.
Benevolence reigns godlike in their hearts
to help them walk beneath the cross they’ve had
to bear. No smug indulgence that imparts
a measured justice for their neighbor’s loss,
while their own griefs are fueled with kindling rage.
Instead, they selflessly pursue a course
that imitates the God-anointed sage
who, forced to drink death’s vinegary gall,
could still afford forgiveness for us all.

Born & bred in New Jersey, Frank De Canio works in New York. Shakespeare is his consolation, writing his hobby. He likes Dylan Thomas, Keats, Wallace Stevens, Frost, Ginsburg, and Sylvia Plath as poets.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017


by James Penha

live from the border at JFK

No photographs allowed
to see the visitors’ queue
at passport control full
of tumbleweed, tear
stains, dust, and bloody staples
picked from ready papers
and wrinked travel brochures.

James Penha edits TheNewVerse.News.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017


by Gil Fagiani 

To Chuck Berry, 1926-2017

I was a chronic bed wetter. My teachers mangled
my name, called me Fag-ee-annie, no matter how
many times I corrected them. I wore orthopedic
shoes and had stomach cramps in class. I couldn’t
sit still and Miss Harrison tied me to my seat with
jump rope. When I couldn’t recite my homework,
Miss Wilson shook me, leaving nail prints in my arms.

Then I learned how to turn on Chuck Berry
in my head. His voice jolted me out of my stupor,
his guitar chords, like a tommy gun, riddled
the blackboard, the bookshelves, the display
cases with prize-winning science projects,
the Stars and Stripes, the Pledge of Allegiance,
the portrait of the President of the United States.

Gil Fagiani is a translator, essayist, short story writer, and poet. His latest book is Logos (Guernica Editions, 2015). Gil co-hosts the Italian American Writers’ Association’s monthly readings in Manhattan. In 2014, he was the subject of a New York Times article by David Gonzalez, “A Poet Mines Memories of Drug Addiction.”

Monday, April 17, 2017


by Melissa Balmain

TV Guide: July 8, 1967 - Efrem Zimbalist Jr. of "The FBI" and J. Edgar Hoover of The FBI

"Comey green lights TV series to boost FBI's image"
The Hill, April 13, 2017

James crowed, "The way to raise our cred's
to show us working smart—
an altruistic team of Feds
with public needs at heart!
They'll see I'm not some fickle nut
Or floundering buffoon!"
"Okay," said the producers, "but
why jump the shark so soon?"

Melissa Balmain is Editor of Light, a journal of comic verse. Her poems have appeared in such places as American Arts Quarterly, American Life in Poetry, Lighten Up Online, and Poetry Daily; her prose in The New Yorker, The New York Times, McSweeney’s, and Success. Her poetry collection Walking In on People (winner of the Able Muse Book Award) is often assumed by online shoppers to be some kind of porn.

Sunday, April 16, 2017


by Mimi German

Marker Painting "PIETA-2" Black Pieta Ethnic Folk Art Black religious art African

The Mother

of all











of all

repeated chanted repeated chanted
sung liturgized canonized infantilized eroticized epitomized

into being

a mantra of man

the Mother
of All


the mother of ALL bombs

chants the news so many times
that it becomes a thing



of all


cloaked inside
my Grandmother’s blanket
my mother’s mother,
i write
with mourning sickness
under my fingernails

the taste of burnt skin
inhabits my tongue

my grandmother
had a scar
on her abdomen
a c-section.

my mother
to enter life
feet first

the Mother
of ALL



mother of all
mother of ALL
Mother of ALL


goes the chant

of dead child
on exploded soil
on Mother Earth
in the Mother Land
in Afghanistan

314,000,000 dollars worth
dead children
dead mothers

wrote a poem this morning
about shadows


the Mother
of All

was chanting itself
into being

there are

no Mothers




Mimi German is a Queer Poet, Free Radical and an Activist for human rights in Portland, OR.


by Katherine Smith

I do my best to ignore the news
vacuuming carpets, scrubbing goo
from microwave and screen.
I polish floors, un-tarnish green

copper tea kettles, pots that gleam.
I pay the bills, and bake a cake,
greet some evangelists, even take
a pamphlet from their little boy.

Though I’m a Jew and they are goy,
I wish the family Easter joy.
They spread across the neighborhood
this day that I devote to chores.

They preach good news from door to door
this Sunday the cable journalists
report to work, for T***p has pissed
off in a single week, the globe

from loving pope to xenophobe,
Syria, Russia, Britain, North Korea,
Christian, Jew, Sunni, Shia.
While North Korea serenades

an anniversary with grim parades
of weapons, and democracy devolves,
T***p relaxes with a game of golf.
I cook and clean with half my ego

adrift through Seoul, Aleppo, Mar-a-lago.

Katherine Smith’s previous publications include appearances in Poetry, Cincinnati Review, Missouri Review, Ploughshares, Southern Review and many other journals. Her first book Argument by Design (Washington Writers’ Publishing House) appeared in 2003. My second book Woman Alone on the Mountain (Iris Press), appeared in 2014.

Saturday, April 15, 2017


by Edmund Conti

Life was peaceful
on the Tiber.
No one feared
asbestos fiber.

Romans built the
Appian Way
without advice
from E. P. A.

No Ralph Nader
going on a
crusade for safety.
Pax Romana.

was quite a pain
but didn't have
an acid reign.

No immigrants,
advised the omens,
and no hyphen-
ated Romans.

Terrorists in
distant regions—
dealt with swiftly
by the Legions.

Rome eternal.
Why so great?
Was no welfare

Roman women
caused no strife.
Knew their place
like Caesar's wife

Let Nero fiddle,
Cicero strum.
as Romans dump in
Mare Nostrum.

Goths and Vandals
made their grim pact
without environ-
mental impact.

Do these verses
have  you stumped?
Let’s just say that
you’ve  been Trumped.

Edmund Conti is a reformed litterbug (excepting of the poetry landscape).

Friday, April 14, 2017


by Peggy Turnbull

Mountaintop Removal Site in Pickering Knob, West Virginia. Image source:

Coal sparkles
where the miner’s lamp hits  
plants wait in darkness
millions of years
transform into sequined shards
become electric

no more easy pillage
no more bolts of velvet
crammed into caverns

thin black ribbons
weave beneath
Appalachian forests
too small to mine underground
too precious to ignore

where clouds hang
between branches
where the mystery
of day unfolds
say good bye
to the tree frog’s song
clear cut these trunks
explode the earth’s crust
let machines like carnivorous insects
rip off the mountain’s head
eat its slender bituminous bed
toss leftovers
into rushing creeks

a higher intelligence
wills it
for jobs
for corporate wealth
become flatland
exists no more

Peggy Turnbull has been recently published in Eunoia Review, Rat's Ass Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, and is forthcoming in Muddy River Poetry Review. She made her home in West Virginia for 26 years, but now lives in Wisconsin, where she is a member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets.

Thursday, April 13, 2017


by Ron Riekki

When we saw the body being dragged down the aisle,
no one was concerned because it was only the fifth body
that day murdered by the flight crew.  The country was over-
booked, just too many people, and so a little genocide never hurt
anyone.  The blood smeared along the floor just meant jobs—
someone has to clean up all the lungs and livers and specks
of the underemployed from the thousand-dollar seat human pipeline
with no food, no movies, nothing but a seat, or part of a seat anyway,
the elbow of the person next to me in my lap, literally, the rest of the person
gone now; I suppose I should discard it, but there’s no garbage cans anymore.
I mean, not even on the ground.  We just litter, everywhere—there is no difference
between a junkyard and a national park.  Who needs difference?  We’re all the same.
We’re all basically from Africa, all of us, especially our President who is making

the American red hat great again.  When I think of our powerful and wise President,
I think of two words: hat & red.  It’s His symbol, our symbol.  Hat red.  The word
makes me feel proud.  I mean words.  Who cares about spelling or grammar anymore?
It’s all about moneymoneymoney.  A corpse these days can fetch you a hundred
To get on the flight, TSA rapes you.  It’s for your own safety.  I know that
when I was raped for my safety, I thanked the man with his perfect English.
He held my penis in his hand and I said thank you for making me not have to worry
about being abused on the flight.  He gave me a little hug, which caught my attention
and told me I had a thirteen-percent chance of living.  He gave me a little tiny package
of pretzels.  It was so small that I needed tweezers.  I just prayed that they didn’t know
I had Middle Eastern on my mother’s side of the family. I mean I prayed
I wouldn’t really pray.  I mean not unless I was doing it properly, patriotically, scared.
I mean sacred.  Sacred as hell.

Ron Riekki wrote U.P.: a novel (Sewanee Writers Series and Great Michigan Read nominated) and edited The Way North: Collected Upper Peninsula New Works (2014 Michigan Notable Book from the Library of Michigan and finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award/Grand Prize shortlist, Midwest Book Award, Foreword Book of the Year, and Next Generation Indie Book Award), 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), and And Here: 100 Years of Upper Peninsula Writing, 1917-2017 (Michigan State University Press, 2017).

Wednesday, April 12, 2017


by Zev Shanken

It's a chilly afternoon for Tel Aviv,
but we swim like we used to
and shiver and laugh,

because we’re not that old,
though I’m fat and bald,
but as soon as I visit you, you—

No!  You don’t turn me young and thin and hairy again.

Instead, you teach me the Hebrew
for loving a land
even when bad guys win,

for you've shown me the movements
for dancing on sand
with partners whom you pray to change.

Zev Shanken lived in Israel in the mid-1960s before, during and after the 1967 Six Day War.  His poems “Twilight of the Greatest Generation” and “High Noon” appeared in earlier issues of TheNewVerse.News.  Last year, Full Court Press released his selected poems Memory Tricks

Tuesday, April 11, 2017


by Ed Werstein

after Dylan Thomas

Do not go gentle off that overbooked flight;
You’ve a ticket just like the others, dig in, stay.
Rage, rage and put up a good fight.

An algorithm doesn’t make it fair or right,
No matter what United’s policies say.
Do not go gentle off that overbooked flight.

The friendly skies aren’t looking so bright;
Facebook and YouTube show us the way
He raged, raged and put up a good fight.

I’m telling you right now, they could just bite
Me. If that happened to me one day,
I’d not go gentle off that overbooked flight.

The CEOs, grave men, must be turning white.
I hope he sues them and makes them pay.
Rage, rage and put up a legal fight.

And you, traveler, searching Priceline or some such site
For tickets to some place far, far away,
Do not go gentle off that overbooked flight.

Rage, rage, and put up a good fight.

Ed Werstein spent years in manufacturing before his muse awoke and dragged herself out of bed. In addition to TheNewVerse.News, his poems have appeared in Stoneboat, Blue Collar Review, Gyroscope Review, and others. He is a regional VP of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets.  His chapbook Who Are We Then? was published by Partisan Press. 

Monday, April 10, 2017


by Jess Granger

I watch you from a noncommittal screen, you
with your arm outstretched in the gray mud, you
with your gaping maw that fumbles in the fresh

water for air, nerves searing deep beneath your
blood in convulsions of toxicity, raw rabid foam
enveloping your crooked teeth, the restless muscles

dancing like maggots devouring a fresh carcass,
the yellow vomit spilling from my lips as I watch
your children suffer in their colorful pajamas.

I hold my breath feeling the burn in my lungs as the
alveoli strain to breathe for you, eyes that try to
compensate for your fixed pupils and focus on

the heavy bodies on top of you, pressing you down
into a time where you once knew peace. I’m coming
to help you, I hear your call in the ozone that separates

us, separates you from me, the space I need to ready
my weapons, load the PBXN-109 in their casings
and post your pictures on the metal, the infliction

of my might, for I am civilized, will come in flashes
of light to exploit your torn flesh, modify it into
incendiary ash on the sand of Khan Sheikhoun.

Jess Granger is a U.S. Army veteran and an MFA student in the Creative Writing program at the University of Texas El Paso. 


by Akua Lezli Hope
Illustration by Tom Bachtell for “Trump’s Confusing Strike On Syria,” The New Yorker, April 17, 2017.

Who calls for walls and not for bridges
whose thoughts line his head in ridges
who calls for denial not acceptance
whose platform was a new intolerance
who launches air strikes and not aid
whose debts have often gone unpaid
whose employees are perforce, afraid
who creates chaos and alternate facts
who baits and switches at the drop of a hat
who denies sanctuary and bans entry
who sends bombs without strategy
who fuels fright and exploits uncertainty
who refuses immigrants and denies refugees
who despoils and blasts the citizenry
who defends perfidy and pretends to care
who launches Tomahawks over there
who keeps a bevy of madmen near
who slow dances with the cold Russian Bear
whose tax filings are still not shared
who starts war and exploits fear
who starts war and exploits fear

Akua Lezli Hope is a creator who uses sound, words, fiber, glass, metal, and wire to create poems, patterns, stories, music, ornaments, wearables, jewelry, adornments and peace whenever possible. Her work appears in many anthologies and magazines: most recently in Sexuality Anthology,  Revise the Psalm: Work Celebrating the Writing of Gwendolyn Brooks Dozen, the Best of Breath and Shadow, Faerie Magazine and Andromeda Spaceways #66.


by Megan Merchant 

High speed flash bird flight photo by R. W. Scott via Pinterest

How terrible it is to pretend
that god has a hand in it,

that he built windows into the river,

that the man I lay with is his image,
hums divine,

and that the smallest deaths
are trade-ups—

child-soldiers for his army,
collecting their milk-teeth in a jar.

I wake to the news of bombs,
and a flight of cardinals

from my window that sees
only miles into the world—

their red breasts choking the light.

I have to imagine that his hands
shook at the bomb’s final inspection,

frayed one of the wires, so that
it stunted, landing as an ache,

and not a shattering.

But also that he cursed the blessing
of foresight,

the all-knowing ruin
that no one saw coming,

soundless as a wintered sun.

Megan Merchant lives in the tall pines of Prescott, AZ.  She is the author of two full-length poetry collections: Gravel Ghosts (Glass Lyre Press, 2016 Best Book Award), The Dark’s Humming (2015 Lyrebird Prize, Glass Lyre Press, 2017), four chapbooks, and a forthcoming children’s book with Philomel Books. She was awarded the 2016-2017 COG Literary Award, judged by Juan Felipe Herrera, the Poet Laureate of the United States.


by Promise Li

USS Ross firing a Tomahawk missile towards the Shayrat Airbase base. —U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Robert S. Price/Released via Wikipedia.

As of March 28, 2017 [i.e. prior to the firing of 59 Tomahawks that reached Shayrat Airbase], the U.S. and coalition have conducted a total of 19,300 strikes (11,460 Iraq / 7,840 Syria). —US Department of Defense

While the attack [in Idlib Province on Tuesday] was among the deadliest uses of chemical weapons in Syria in years, it was far from an isolated case. During the war, the Assad government has been accused of regularly using chlorine gas, which is less deadly than the agent used on Tuesday and is legal in its commercial form. According to the Violations Documentation Center, an antigovernment watchdog, more than 1,100 Syrians have been killed in chemical weapons and gas attacks. —The New York Times, April 5, 2017

They say sarin flies high,
when it touches
turns lungs into deadlocks;
instead of death,
knots cough death into tedium.

Do you remember the last time—
No: only then knots were not yet familiar
only to think they know,
but the rhythms don't add up;
fit for numbers then,
now elegies unnumbered,
and where were the answers when
gory and mute drooling cool poison,
sirens unsounded, not songs but only
tuneless coughs unmourned.

Last time
remembering to triple-knot
those shoes
as not to trip bloody.

Promise Li studies early modern literature at Occidental College and is also a socialist activist in Los Angeles. 


by Antonia Clark

A man breathes through an oxygen mask as another one receives treatment, after what rescue workers described as a suspected gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhoun on Tuesday Reuters via The Independent, April 6, 2017.

The heart overflows,
a deluge of hard
salty rain that can’t
wash away

the yellow fog that rusts
the sheet-metal sky,
fills lungs with fluid
and foam

or obscure the naked
and torn, the rows
of pale corpses
in the streets.

Sorrow’s burnt offering
of smoke and dust
scorches the throat,
sears the tongue
of the world.

Antonia Clark has taught creative writing and co-administers an online poetry forum, The Waters. She is the author of the poetry chapbook Smoke and Mirrors and the full-length collection Chameleon Moon. Her poems and stories have appeared in numerous journals, including The Cortland Review, Eclectica, The Pedestal Magazine, and Rattle.


by Alejandro Escudé

Volunteers wear protective gear during a class of how to respond to a chemical attack, in the northern Syrian city of Aleppo on September 15, 2013.JM LOPEZ/AFP/GETTY IMAGES via Wired.

The mood is sarin and the light is sarin
there are sarin children dancing in the air
convulsing skyward, there are sarin trees
and sarin ships firing sarin missiles
at sarin airports where sarin helicopters
sit ready to traverse sarin lands, over sarin
rooftops, blanketing a country of sarin,
a language of sarin, the sarin of resorts
where the leaders of sarin meet to discuss
treaties over sarin and ice cream. But one
needs two chemicals to form sarin, and sarin
lasts a short time, sarin is short as life itself,
meaningless really, unless it is packaged
just right; still, a world without sarin is a world
flooded in sarin, with sarin dreams like those
of the sarin children who felt it rain down
on them and saw their fingers turn to roads,
their lungs become mountains, their hearts
pumping sarin into their sarin souls.

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.


by Alan Irid Fendi

Image source: CNN

I stare at my
phone while
a clutch of
laid-to-die children
gasps for air

Alan Irid Fendi is a Syrian poet of 24 years, and a refugee of 5 years. Since 2015 he has been living in a European country where light is slight, and rain loves to be around. Alan works currently as a secondary-school teacher of the language of that country, plus all the other subjects in the curriculum. This poet prefers not to disclose the list of publications under his sleeve because he doesn't have any.

Sunday, April 09, 2017


by Sister Lou Ella Hickman

EVERYTOWN For Gun Safety

this week   last week  next week
52 weeks of stories
wherever the culture of lead will surface
out the state of rights
out of the counties called bullets
out of the senseless sensibility
where children shoot children . . .
in the home or last week in a car
it is the cult of the wild west
with its worship and fear
that any moment
these precious metals will be taken
and then the altar will be stripped bare
the senseless sensibilities will continue
the shrill voices of rights will sing on
the worship and fear will last
in 52 weeks of stories
about a disease with no cure

Sister Lou Ella Hickman was an all-level teacher and a librarian. Presently she is a freelance writer and a spiritual director. Her poems and articles have been widely published in numerous magazines. One of her poems was published in the anthology After Shocks: Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events edited by Tom Lombardo. Her first book of poetry she: robed and wordless, published by Press 53, was released in the fall of 2015.

Saturday, April 08, 2017


by Bill Meissner

From a million miles away, it looks too blue:
perfectly rounded, haloed with graceful spirals of cumulus,
its continents drifting away from each other
like lovers that long to touch again.

But on its surface,
someone drives into a crowd, detonates a bomb, or lifts a weapon,
cradles it between a thumb and index finger,
contemplates the black hole
at the end of its long, sleek barrel.

The motive is always a little cloudy, yet the incidents repeat themselves:
in malls, in theaters, in schools, in dance clubs, on bridges.
No one can explain why. It’s something
to do with whatever it is that spins,
so red and angry, inside the skull.

There is no sound in outer space.
But here, some days, you can hear it, so close to you,
in the electronics aisle of a Wal-Mart.
Employees in the stock room look up, startled
by what sounds like a hollow box falling from a shelf.

From a million miles away, the earth looks blue as gunmetal—
it’s that same color we see from our back yards
when we tip our heads to the afternoon sky
and stare beyond those swirling clouds
that hide so much pain.

Bill Meissner is the author of eight books, including a novel and four books of poetry. His most recent poetry book is American Compass from the University of Notre Dame Press.  His 2008 novel Spirits In the Grass won the Midwest Book Award for Fiction/Novel.

Friday, April 07, 2017


by Patsy Asuncion

Image source: Aljazeera

One can be a brother only in something.
Where there is no tie that binds men,
men are not united but merely lined up.
-Antoine de Saint-Exupery 

no matter the tag, they’re Sunnis who hate  
Shiites who dominate the Iraqi state
since Hussein departed in ‘03
"helped" by US-defined democracy.

Concerns from Mid-East neighbors,
resistance a flop since US departure –
weapons seized from fleeing soldiers,
relics smashed in the promised land
oil fields reclaimed in beat-up Iran.

ISIS eyes Syria since Assad is Alawite,
a heretic because of his ties to Shiites.
Syrian Sunnis fight to oust him
with money from Saudi Arabia, Jordan,
Emirates, Egypt, even Bahrain.

Assad fights back with his mob of brothers,
Hezbollah – holy Shiite terrorists and others.
Yes, Lebanon’s faithful kill one Sunni, another.
Then Shiite Iran’s top weapons are given
for Iraq is seen as birthplace of religion.

Are you getting this straight? Do I need to conjugate?
And what’s official position of the United States?
Obama, now Trump, decries weapons of mass destruction
(seems we’ve heard this in yet another’s election).
He wants no nukes and stable oil production,

no threats to Jews or Christians with destruction
despite Republicans heating Israeli relations.
Netanyahu came to curse nuke negotiations
with Iran, much to Obama’s aggravation.
Is fight in our nation like Islamic coalitions?

Weighing terrorist bloodshed of innocents,
what can be done to prevent more incidents?
Seeing more inter-Muslim murders a day,
should we let Allah sort it out his way
as Palin retorted, and stay out of the fray?

Patsy Asuncion’s 2016 debut poetry collection Cut on the Bias depicts her world from the slant of a bi-racial child raised by an immigrant father and WWII vet. Indiana University’s Spirit this spring, The New York Times, Prevention Magazine, vox poetica, Cutthroat Journal, Snapdragon, Loyola’s The Truth About the Fact, Reckless Writing and others feature Patsy’s writings. The only local female emcee, Patsy promotes diversity through her open mic (6900+ YouTube views) and local initiatives, e.g., Women of Color, International Mother Language Day and International Women’s Day events.

Thursday, April 06, 2017


by Jo-Ella Sarich

A man carries the body of a child, after what rescue workers described as a suspected gas attack in the town of Khan Sheikhun. Photograph: Ammar Abdullah/Reuters via The Guardian, April 5, 2017

My daughters’ faces, quivering beneath Heavy
Water, their lips pucker and slide breath
from the inception of the word to the final release of the air.

And I all at once catch a flicker of them in the air,
their lungs grown bone-heavy.
I seize breath, before my own breath

is pressed, mouth-to-mouth to force breath
to form the word in them, air
becomes mercury in the glass and the heavy

air between us too much like one breath or word-clouds across our heavy sky.

Jo-Ella Sarich has practised as a lawyer for a number of years, recently returning to poetry after a long hiatus. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Quarterday Review, Cleaver Magazine, Blackmail Press, Barzakh Magazine, Poets Reading the News, The Galway Review, Anti-Heroin Chic, takahē magazine and the Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2017@jsarich_writer

Wednesday, April 05, 2017


by Michael Collins

It’s not a question
of knowing it
in your bones:
It’s a question
of knowing it
in their bones—
Rule the mind and all
the rest follows:
Bend ignorance like a bow.
Grow and grow, tower:
Machiavelli said it centuries ago:
Be the giant of hypocrites,
the titan liars; be the giant
of seeming: cut the tree
of knowledge down
and build a stage; bring
your fingers down on the crowd’s great hurts
and know there is no other knowing;
For giants grow larger
in contradiction; they
multiply in lies.

Michael Collins has published one book of poems, one intellectual biography and many uncollected essays and poems.

Tuesday, April 04, 2017


by Lori Desrosiers

I look out my window
and it is not raining acid
my street is not flooded from erosion
the air is not filled with smog
the herons who fish from the nearby river
are alive and the trout are plentiful
honeybees drink from backyard honeysuckle
gardens grow rich with flowers and new grass
an hour away the ocean is swimmable
the astounding thing is
with one signature
the rain, the air, the soil, the fish
the birds, the flowers, the bees,
the water, and we humans,
not slowly, but quickly

Lori Desrosiers’ poetry books are The Philosopher’s Daughter, Salmon Poetry, 2013, and Sometimes I Hear the Clock Speak, Salmon Poetry, 2016. A chapbook Inner Sky is from Glass Lyre Press, 2015. Her poems have appeared in New Millenium Review, Contemporary American Voices, Best Indie Lit New England, String Poet, Blue Fifth Review, Pirene's Fountain, TheNewVerse.News, Mom Egg Review, The Bloomsbury Anthology of Contemporary Jewish-American Poetry and many other journals and anthologies. She holds an MFA in Poetry from New England College. Her work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She edits Naugatuck River Review, a journal of narrative poetry and WORDPEACE, an online journal dedicated to social justice. She teaches Literature and Composition at Westfield State University and Holyoke Community College, and Poetry in the Interdisciplinary Studies program for the Lesley University M.F.A. graduate program.

Monday, April 03, 2017


by Melissa Fite Johnson

Tweet by Quinn Sutherland‏ @ReelQuinn, March 30, 2017:  “Yes, I’m here for my meeting with Mike Pence.”

No need to pluck the napkin from your lap,
Mike, I’ll only stay a moment. I have
a table already, over there by that window.
See my husband, speaking with the waitress
in a way that doesn’t make me uncomfortable?
Yes, I agree—the waitress is beautiful!
There’s something about a natural redhead,
you’re so right. It looks like he’s ordered us
a bottle of wine. That’s nice. Anyway,
Mike, if you could put down your fork
for a moment, I wanted to talk to you about
Planned Parenthood. Oh, stop, I understand
this is a fancy place, but surely some people
are talking shop. What about that booth?
Four white men, all in suits. You don’t think
that’s a business meeting? Please.
I’ve seen photos of your business meetings.
As I was saying—hey, could I sit for a minute?
I feel a bit awkward hovering over you
like some genie. Wait, are you blushing?
Do you have a thing for I Dream of Jeannie?
Heh, should I call you Major? No need to
flag down a waiter, Mike, I’m kidding.
So my friend went to Planned Parenthood
two years ago, and it ended up saving her—
Hello? Mike? Oh, is that your wife over there?
Talking to my husband? He probably
called out to her as she left the restroom.
She looks fine to me, Mike. Oh, my God,
did you really just ask about my intentions?
I intend to tell you how Planned Parenthood—
Jesus, I’ll explain my intentions as soon as
she comes over here. For now, she’s laughing
pretty hard. Yeah, my husband’s hilarious.
You know, it wouldn’t kill you to crack a joke
now and then. You’ve got one?  Let’s hear it!
Christ, Mike, a blonde joke? That’s the kind of
sexist thinking I’m concerned about. Sure,
take a moment, try again. Yes, I can see
your wife’s still laughing. Mike, seriously.
I’m not worried; you don’t need to be worried.

Melissa Fite Johnson’s first collection While the Kettle’s On (Little Balkans Press, 2015),won the Nelson Poetry Book Award and is a Kansas Notable Book. Her poems have appeared in Valparaiso Poetry Review, Rust + Moth, Broadsided Press, velvet-tail, and elsewhere. Melissa teaches English and lives with her husband in Kansas. 

Sunday, April 02, 2017


Sarah E. Colona lives and teaches in her home state of New Jersey. She is the author of three poetry collections: Hibernaculum (Gold Wake Press, 2013), Thimbles (dancing girl press, 2012) and That Sister (dancing girl press, 2016).

Saturday, April 01, 2017


by Martin Ott

Coeur d'Alene resident Mark Sales told KBOI 2News that he and his father spotted the floating object on Saturday near the boardwalk. (Photo courtesy Mark Sales) —KOMONEWS (Seattle), March 22, 2017

Perhaps Paul Bunyan was rolling bones to stake Babe
against enough food to last the winter, the errant throw

skidding over the Rockies and into the soup. Theories
on how lake monsters could transform into any object

hung on rearview mirrors don’t account for this die
castaway forever tumbling toward its opposite or twin.

Alien vessels were round until the Borg sucked us in,
this camouflage of games and chance rolling in waves,

an invasion of our psyche, lust for numbers, and desire
to be on the last square. Dice, after all, are about turns

and seizing the next piece of land, inexorable steps
in an American game where there is just one winner.

Sometimes the die would disappear in evening mist,
the makeshift worlds we build ephemeral and slick,

until that last passage onto shore, final roll stuck,
the deity of odds nowhere to be seen in the picture.

A previous contributor to TheNewVerse.NewsMartin Ott’s most recent book is Spectrum, C&R Press, 2016. He is the author of seven books and won the De Novo and Sandeen prizes for his first two poetry collections. His work has appeared in more than two hundred magazines and a dozen anthologies. He tweets and blogs.