Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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

Wednesday, September 19, 2018


by Devon Balwit

Even for the home stretch of Kipchoge’s marathon
I wouldn’t be able to keep pace. All high-altitude sinew,
he would pull away toward the Brandenburg Gate
while I panted soft behind, years of chips and booze
dragging like a sea anchor. His pacers tired early,
just fifteen minutes in, leaving him alone
with his thoughts. What were they for that 2:01:39?
The years of training at dawn, outpacing Hicham El Guerrouj,
his next marathon? Breaking the tape, Kipchoge
hugged his trainer, held up by giddiness before falling.
He rested but a moment on his knees then rose
for the cameras, the adulation of the crowd.

Devon Balwit has six chapbooks and three collections out in the world. Her individual poems can be found here or are forthcoming in journals such as The Cincinnati Review, apt, Posit, Cultural Weekly, Triggerfish, Fifth Wednesday, The Free State Review, Rattle, Poets Reading the News, etc.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018


by George Held

Florence left a trail of flooded roads, broken trees and downed power lines across Leland, N.C. (Ken Blevins/The Star-News via AP via The Washington Post)

              As I walked down to Rotten Lake I remembered
              the wrecked season, haunted by plans of salvage…
                             —Muriel Rukeyser, “First Elegy. Rotten Lake”

Snow & cold in the Northeast
Show your breath on May Day;
This spring will be short –
A wrecked season.

Every rare warm day overwelcomed
As halcyon, a resurrection,
Citizens worshiping the sun
Bare legs & shoulders to welcome warmth.

No one mentions the global warming
Behind each wrecked season,
& few foresee the advent
Of a wrecked planet,

Its seawalls overtopped, lowlands swamped,
Sea wrack & sea foam decorating
Flooded floors & warped siding,
A civilization sliding by on mud.

Cry, the beloved Earth
& cry, the drenched citizens;
Leave your belongings behind:
Flee upland or drown.

George Held, a longtime contributor to TheNewVerse.News, writes from New York. His twentieth collection is Dog Hill Poems (Seattle, 2017). Under the Escalator, his dark fantasy for children, will be released later this month.

Monday, September 17, 2018


by Earl J. Wilcox

Parts of a neighborhood are flooded in Latta, S.C. (Ricky Carioti/The Washington Post)

And I will watch the spindly pine
trees shrug and quiver when the thrust
of wild wind one hundred miles per hour
slash across our back orchard and beyond.

And I will speak softly, calmly to you, hold
my heart, your hand if necessary when
the thunder rolls, the bolts of blue skies slice
across our soggy zoysia grass, greening.

And I will never let you go again until
the next hurricane, whether this year
or a century from now, when you and
I and all that’s ours takes us safely home.

Earl Wilcox lives in South Carolina, where Hurricane Florence arrived with gusto and ballyhoo.

Sunday, September 16, 2018


by George Salamon

". . . time lost even at the U.. studying poetry and French and subjects that never brought anybody a cent." —Babbitt in Sinclair Lewis's Babbitt (1922).

What links poetry to politics?

Once political poems eulogized
Rulers and heroes.
We can no longer celebrate our rulers.
For they are hucksters and hustlers.
We write poetry about them
On accepted topics
Of outrage and  opposition,
Banning nuance and grace.
Poetry deals with eternal values,
While wearing its social badge.
Americans expect poetry to deliver
Inspiration or consolation.
When poetry stripped authority
Of its mythical cloak, it danced
To an anarchist muse,
More criticism than inspiration,
Seeing the world as does a child
In a Grimm fairy tale.
We were told, not long ago,
"After Auschwitz, no more poetry."
This bad advice was ignored, as poets
Listened instead to poets before them.
Poets are good disciples, still today,
But what happened to their antennas
For sensing the future?

George Salamon lives and writes in St. Louis, MO, where the American Dream met the New Global Economy and lost Round One.

Saturday, September 15, 2018


Jerome Betts lives in Devon, England, and edits the verse quarterly Lighten Up Online. His work has appeared in a wide variety of British magazines and anthologies as well as UK, European, and North American web venues such as Amsterdam Quarterly, Angle, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily,  Light, The Asses of Parnassus, Better Than Starbucks, TheNewVerse.News,  Parody, Per Contra, The Rotary Dial, and Snakeskin.

Friday, September 14, 2018


by Julie Steiner

She’s hard to recognize within the crowd,
a mob that’s mostly masculinely loud.
She’s there, though. She inhabits every proud,
full-throated fool the autocrat has wowed.

She’s there at every rally, multituded,
repeating all the slogans he’s exuded:
“Us FIRST!” “We’re NUMBER ONE!” But she’s deluded
to think his royal “we” means she’s included.

He loves himself, and no one else. That’s clear
to all but her. He only keeps her near
because he craves the power that her fear—
Without him, I’d be voicelesslets him steer.

She stands behind him loyally (a stance
that guarantees she’ll never have a chance
to look at him directly—or askance)
and scans their shared reflection, in a trance.

“That image isn’t real,” his critics say,
while lobbing rocks to put this on display.
But overlapping rings of disarray
just help him help her see the world his way.

“We’re BEAUTIFUL,” he gushes. “Look at US!”
The water’s not a limpid looking-glass,
but dazzlingly distorted. So it’s less
the details Echo glimpses on its face—

more those she can’t—that make her a believer.
Her mind supplies what’s missing, to deceive her.
he cries. That vision sets them both a-quiver.

When she repeats his self-congratulation,
he calls it independent confirmation.
Addicted to each other’s validation,
they both keep swallowing exaggeration.

He’ll drown. She’ll waste away to just a song
of glory—We were SPECIAL! We were STRONG!

and grievance—Oh, those VILLAINS did us WRONG!—
until the next Narcissus comes along.

Author's caveat: Stanza 4 above is wrong. This week, 17-year-old Tyler Linfesty (a.k.a. Plaid Shirt Guy) demonstrated that it is, indeed, possible to look askance at someone while standing behind them. I believe that the rest of the poem is still accurate, though.

Julie Steiner lives and writes in San Diego. Besides the TheNewVerse.News, the venues in which her poetry has appeared include the Able Muse Review, American Arts Quarterly, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, First Things, Rattle, and the Rat's Ass Review.

Thursday, September 13, 2018


by Carol Parris Krauss

The kitchen is disorderly.
The small camping stove, cooler,
And bottles of water whisper
Pine trees, honeysuckle, and rustic cabins
Nestled near the George Washington National Forest.
But this is no weekend excursion,
but instead
Hurricane readiness at its best.

We thought we left the lengthy gas station lines,
Empty grocery shelves, and
Sandbags sentries behind
When we moved from
Florida to Virginia.
Hurricane Flo. She said no. The old folks
Say a hurricane is a do-over, a chance at a second chance.
A clean slate.

I need to see Florence to explain that
my move after
28 years
In Florida was my do-over. Scream in the wind,
Shake my fist. Look her in the eye.
She needs
To take her squat, spin, and spit,
Her erasure.

Carol Parris Krauss is a teacher, mother, and poet who is fond of college football and cats. She lives in the Tidewater Region of Virginia. Her work can be found in Blue Collar Review, TheNewVerse.News, The Amsterdam Quarterly, Fall Lines, The South Carolina Review, Storysouth, and other online and print magazines.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018


by Judith Terzi

Cartoon by Rob Rogers.

I didn't leave the fridge door open all night.
I didn't leave the front door ajar all day.
I didn't leave the water boiling. Fire fright.

I didn't leave the bathroom light on. Energy blight.
I didn't leave the water running in the sink, btw.
I didn't leave the fridge door open all night.

Pas moi, pas moi. Must have been Mike.
I didn't leave the toothpaste top off in the mêlée.
I didn't leave the water boiling. Fire fright.

I didn't take the papers off the desk. No sleight
of hand in dawn's early light. No fingerprints, eh?
I didn't leave the fridge door open all night.

Yes you, you ate the apple pie. We have to indict.
I didn't, I didn't steal the cap, the coke, the hearsay.
I didn't leave the water boiling. Fire fright.

I didn't eat the last Twinkie. Pas moi, alright?
Then who stole the cookies from the cookie tray?
I didn't leave the fridge door open all night.
I didn't leave the water boiling. Fire fright.

Author of Museum of Rearranged Objects (Kelsay Books, 2018) and five chapbooks, Judith Terzi's poems appear widely in literary journals and anthologies. Her poetry has been read on the BBC, nominated for Best of the Net and Web, and included in a study guide for the artist-in-residence program for State Theater New Jersey. She holds an M.A. in French Literature.


by Alejandro Escudé

North Star Time Lapse from Indiana Public Media

Could there be a kind of moral astigmatism?
The misshapen soul, perhaps? An oval moon,
a flat Earth, lightning horizontal like a miser’s
chicken scratch? The identity of this person,
a missing profile on a dating search. Pundits,
linguists, pouring out to decipher the op-ed’s
content, the newly discovered wall in the tomb
of a pharaoh. How much can be spilled forth?
What secrets can be unearthed? A facile ghost,
the remnants of a Southern rebel. One sheet
to hide a thousand sheets, cataracts, so that
one is a bed of trees on which an infant lies.
We shall prepare to say our tender goodbyes
to the land that was. Red, green, white, blue.

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, September 11, 2018


by Rick Mullin

Trinity Church steeple in silhouette on 9-11-2001.

Trinity Church Cemetery, Manhattan

At lunch, they ask me where to find the grave
of Alexander Hamilton. “The other
side,” I tell them, pointing to the nave
and tower-shadowed trees. “I hate to bother
you...." Don’t tell me... Hamilton. The same.
Tomorrow I should think to bring a sign:
The Other Side of Trinity [an arrow
pointing right], and sit back from the line
of tourists searching wide-eyed on the narrow
paths between the headstones for a name
that Broadway brought to light outside the oldest
steeple on a precipice and port
of no return, September at its coldest
in a New York City of another sort,
more human-scale and redolent of flame.

Rick Mullin's newest poetry collection is Transom.

Monday, September 10, 2018


by Sister Lou Ella Hickman

Image source: Makom Shalom

you    dark improbable Mystery
would have us trust impossibility
called miracles by some
and the incredible to be sure
is that  life goes on and there is grace among the violences
for it does
among the bloodied, looted, burning streets that scream       
is also the scream of a child’s first breath
then, if we had eyes to see
out of rubble and the fire called hate
passion burns in giving itself way
for no other reason than to give
now as during a thousand always
impossibility is being born
is being lived in the never answered why
we have not despaired in our trying

Sister Lou Ella Hickman is a former teacher and librarian. She is a certified spiritual director as well as a poet and writer.  Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines such as America, First Things, Emmanuel, Third Wednesday, and TheNewVerse.News as well as in several anthologies: The Night’s Magician: Poems about the Moon, edited by Philip Kolin and Sue Brannnan Walker, Down to the Dark River edited by Philip Kolin, Secrets edited by Sue Brannan Walker and After Shocks: The Poetry of Recover for Life-Shattering Events edited by Tom Lombardo. Last year she was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. Her first book of poetry entitled she: robed and wordless was published in 2015. (Press 53.)

Sunday, September 09, 2018


by J. D. Smith

Yemeni children vent anger against Riyadh and Washington as they take part in a mass funeral for the 40 children killed in an air strike by the Saudi-led coalition last week. Photograph: STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images via The Guardian

“US supplied bomb that killed 40 children on Yemen school bus” 
The Guardian, August 19, 2018

At this late date I have accepted
how the rain falls on the just and the unjust,
as does the air-dropped ordnance.

The downpours’ frequency still eludes me.

Another front, another deluge
far from page one, that is,
far from its readers, and we
might ask “What in the actual hell?”
except that it is already on display
by way of a blasted bus and limbs distanced
from their shattered frames.

What’s left of the means is marked
as coming from my country,
yet I don’t remember being asked
if I wanted to contribute, as if many would
outside of an alternate universe
where a collection might be taken up
as for flowers to send a co-worker
in the hospital, such as can no longer aid
those counted in the story.
Instead of “Best wishes” or “Get well soon”
the card might read “Thinking of you”.

J. D. Smith's fourth collection, The Killing Tree, was published in 2016, and he has received a Fellowship in Poetry from the National Endowment for the Arts. His other books include the essay collection Dowsing and Science and the children's picture book The Best Mariachi in the World. Smith lives and works in Washington, DC.

Saturday, September 08, 2018


by Anne Graue

Werner Jaisli constructed the 'ovniport' after claiming to have received a 'telepathic message' from aliens. Consisting of a circle of white and brown rocks shaped like a star, the unusual 'landing pad' measures approximately 48 meters in diameter and is situated in the small town of Cachi in the province of Salta. Image Credit: CC BY 2.0 nraliessi / Flickr via Unexplained Mysteries, August 28, 2017

Lights in the forest spun, burned the grass. The buzzing sound has never left my ears.
I wake up every morning exhausted, smell sulfurous fog, and know that a ship is in the distance,

maybe on another continent; could be here any minute, take me away, bring me
back. No one would be the wiser.

My mother listened to a radio
program that shared  earth's mysteries

I have always known that the Loch Ness Monster was real; I yearned to witness the head
and neck rising out of the water, a scaly throwback to ancient times. Now I watch Nessie

CAM,  find documentaries about aliens, giant sea monsters swimming in the waters
off  many coasts, and I believe those who claim to have seen these things so obscure and yet

so prevalent, even with a beer and bad camera in hand.

How can so many claim to see what does not exist?
Where are the giant squid?

Scientists create documentaries, separate fact from fiction, the wheat from the chaff, searching
for the monster under the bed, the Yeti in the Himalayas; Sasquatch, and the Zone

of Silence; the Chupacabra, in Mexico and parts of Texas, kills livestock, drinks blood, leaves
nothing but empty shells, carcasses. We seem to have faith in existence without evidence.

She said that someone in Russia found Hell, could hear the screams and suffering
with a device lowered to the depths of, well, Hell, under the earth's crust,
where it ought to be, where they said it was. 

So we believe that Sasquatch roams the Oregon forests, the Mothman climbed a bridge
in West Virginia, people have been abducted by extraterrestrials, returned naked to their homes.

Another day she told me Bigfoot traveled through dimensions so would never
be found; that is why he is elusive to capture. When he reappears he may be
a Yeti or he may be the man who claims that he was in the famous Sasquatch film
shown in every documentary. So there it is.

UFOs hover over Phoenix, housewives on Bravo are real, and women are always
the ones who snap.


I know what I know.

The ovniport in Argentina lays in wait for the ship to return, and a Nebraska farmer
drives at dusk from fields of hay neatly bailed, sees lights streak across the sky

as if they foretold a story, his story and how he came from a sky of meteors
and constellations, where Pluto was always a planet, and the Big Bang was mute. 

Anne Graue is the author of a chapbook, Fig Tree in Winter (Dancing Girl Press), and has published poems in literary journals and anthologies, includingThe Book of Donuts (Terrapin Books), Blood and Roses: A Devotional for Aphrodite and Venus (Bibliotheca Alexandrina), Gluttony (Pure Slush Books),The Plath Poetry Project, One Sentence Poems, Random Sample Review, Into the Void Magazine, Allegro Poetry Magazine, The 5-2 Crime Poetry Weekly, New Verse News, and Rivet Journal. Originally from Kansas, she lives in New York where she reviews poetry for the Saturday Poetry Series and literary magazines and chapbooks for

Friday, September 07, 2018


by Anne Myles

On the boulevard, strange markings have appeared:
white dots in the corner of some sidewalk segments.
The mystery intrudes on us, unsettling.
A neighbor stands looking but she doesn’t know either.
Later, a letter from the city informs us
they show each section that’s heaved up, sunken,
cracked, uneven; we must replace them or the city will.

The segments lie in earthen beds
that breathe and toss across the seasons.
Why can’t they just remain, I wonder,
bearing their own flawed histories?
The dying ashes were cut down in December;
now in July we hear the roar of stump-grinders.
Beside the bare dirt circles left behind,
saplings of different species stand between their guys
like shy children in an unfamiliar class.

On TV I watch the skycam pan
over the mountains and lavish fields of France,
roads winding, dazed with so much past,
while the peloton grinds upwards. A rider falls back,
grimacing; the announcer cries out, oh, he’s cracked!

Outside, my neighbor Roger walks by slowly with his dog;
I’ve been watching them for years.
Now both will die soon, only one of them from age.
He relates his sentence calmly.
Whenever he appears, I can’t stop wondering
what he sees in the evening sky now, in the trees.
An artist, he has painted the fields of Iowa
and over them a plot of faint ruled lines,
as if seeing left a trace on what is seen.

This is a time of seeing, isn’t it.
This is a season of waiting for what comes.
The plot laid bare at last, and then what happens?
As the child asks her mother reading a story.
And this is not simply a thing that happened once.
This is a thing that is still happening
and will continue to happen.
This is an incredible, unprecedented moment—
that’s what I read in the news today.

The crickets have begun to sing at dusk,
reminding me of every summer I have lived—
that smell in the breeze as the leaves lift—
and everything that won’t happen any more.
I want it back if only to look at and remember.
I want my country back. I want to step
on every sidewalk crack and tilt as if
there were no question, as if it all were just what is.

Author's Note: The italicized lines in the penultimate stanza are from the opinion piece "Trump, Treasonous Traitor" by Charles M. Blow, New York Times, July 15, 2018.

Originally from New York, Anne Myles is associate professor of English at the University of Northern Iowa. A specialist in early American literature, she has recently rediscovered her poetic voice, one effect of the present troubles she is thankful for. Her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Ghost City Review, Ink and Nebula, Friends Journal, Lavender Review, and Thimble.

Thursday, September 06, 2018


by Devon Balwit

Believe in something even if it means sacrificing
everything. We read the words, and that part of us
suckled on tales of heroes rallies as behind a pennant
on the battlefield or before splintering city gates
                                                            —and yet
we are reading ad copy, a sly way to light a match
beneath our purchasing power. Fight the machine,
we’re prompted by the machine itself, so vast
as to be almost invisible.
                                                            —a galaxy
of nodes. This time, proceeds go to charity,
yet still we wouldn’t trade places with a worker
in this corporation’s factories, live off their wage,
raise children by their dumps. How deep does good go?
                                                            —How deep
is deep enough? Better than nothing,
some insist. With eyes keen enough to see
such a fraction, we must trace the whole web,
alert to its snag, the hypnotic vibration as the spider

Devon Balwit has six chapbooks and three collections out in the world. Her individual poems can be found here or are forthcoming in journals such as The Cincinnati Review, apt, Posit, Cultural Weekly, Triggerfish, Fifth Wednesday, The Free State Review, Rattle, Poets Reading the News, etc.

Wednesday, September 05, 2018


by David Rosier

“But perhaps what’s most scary about this scorching summer is how little concerned Americans seem to be. So far, climate change has barely registered as an issue in the midterm elections, and, where it has, the optics couldn’t be worse: 'Trump Digs Coal' was a slogan that appeared on placards at a West Virginia rally with the President, staged on the day that the new power-plant rules were published. As a country, we remain committed to denial and delay, even as the world, in an ever more literal sense, goes up in flames.” —Elizabeth Kolbert, The New Yorker, September 10, 2018 issue

There was a time when summer wasn't hell.
The way to know is simply to remember
before our avarice had grown so well,

before the weather changed, when snowflakes fell
just as they should and did in deep December.
There was a time when summer wasn't hell.

Recall the April rain when you could tell
that day was spring.  Recall a cool September
before our avarice had grown so well,

before self-serving progress spread pell-mell,
exchanging peace for strife for all Earth's members.
There was a time when summer wasn't hell.

The season did not pass as sentinel
on watch for flames and smoke and end in embers
before our avarice had grown so well.

For wealth and ease appeal to us, but sell
out Earth, which sends us August in November.
There was a time when summer wasn't hell
before our avarice had grown so well.

David Rosier lives in a small town in the American West, which has suffered through the worst drought and worst fire season on record. This poem hopes to put blame where it belongs.

Tuesday, September 04, 2018


by Alejandro Escudé

A garden of lawyers planted with the utmost care,
            petunia lawyers, and rose lawyers, daisy and sunflower lawyers,
as the sun sprinkles its salty light over the plots; at night,
            the moon rises like a white crow flying in eternal circles,
the stars spit old blue mucus—lawyers blooming among lawyers,
            suited in pink, lilacs, oranges, the soil healthy, dark, biblical
beneath their lawyer root-feet. They dig deep down into the earth,
            so far down their defenses are solid as stone. The judge
presides over the seasons. He of the morning cloth, he of the pit
            and tractor. Green and motorized. His honor the plough,
his honor the keeper of the books. One lawyer reflects more
            expressions than ripples in a water trough. His head a skull,
his mind an exactitude of inexactitudes. “Truth isn’t truth,”
            he would often be heard whispering to the beetles that punctuated
the documents of creation. Indeed, the rain excised no tax
            on him, this silly, ill-begotten snake who swore only to protect
the politicians politicking from stump to stump like magpies.
            When the day comes pure, cold against the volcanic solitude,
think of the low road that sinks beneath the river. No flies
            near the dead-spaces. Let’s not forget, justice isn’t human.

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.

Monday, September 03, 2018


by George Salamon

"Of all the days celebrated for one cause or another, there is not one which stands so conspicuously for the social advancement of the common people as the first Monday in September," Samuel Gompers, President of the American Federation of Labor, The New York Times, September 4, 1910

"While you're planning that Labor Day weekend family cookout or a last minute getaway to one of the world's best food cities, we're gearing up for some serious savings in the form of Labor Day 2018 sales," in "All Of the Labor Day 2018 Sales You Need To Know About," The Huffington PostAugust 24, 2018

Who still loves ya, underpaid
Working stiffs of America?
Laboring on  assembly lines,
In the streets and sewers of cities,
In fields on farms, scrubbing
Hospital floors and cleaning
Offices in the towers of wealth.
You've been abandoned and deceived,
Promises were broken, leaving your
Hopes and expectations unrealized.
Sweat is no longer the coin of the land.
Fat cats who control the price at which
Your labor is bought and sold
Turned you into losers in
The marketplace they own.
Once celebrated as the backbone of
America, as heirs to Rosie the Riveter
And Joe Lunchpail, you've been
Dehumanized and deplored.
The bargain you made for that
Shot at the American Dream
Was shredded, equal opportunity for all
Became an unmentionable in the
Corridors of power and at the
Spectacle theater of the ballot box.
Things could be different, but you
Struggle to imagine a future that is
Different from what is.
Let's enlist in the task of
Building a people's democracy,
Inspired by a many-splendored Dream
Bigger than the one for the self and the few.

George Salamon lives and writes in St. Louis, MO. once a strong union city.

Sunday, September 02, 2018


by Phyllis Wax

Side        to        side                     
he     bounces
a shiny pinball
bumper        to        bumper

We can’t take our eyes away

Around him they frantically
work the flippers                     
try to discreetly jiggle the table             
nudge      bump       nudge
but in the end he glances off
one surface        angles
onto another   I’m the best,
believe me   as he bounces from                 
a red bumper           the best
              as he hits a wall                                         
not in control, but neither is                           
anyone else

They keep trying                                       

hoping not to set off                         
a flashing TILT  TILT                                                   
with yet another insider                   
so sad

Phyllis Wax writes in Milwaukee on a bluff overlooking Lake Michigan. Among the anthologies and journals in which her poetry has appeared are: The Widows’ Handbook, Birdsong, Spillway, Peacock Journal, Surreal Poetics, Naugatuck River Review, TheNewVerse.News, Portside, Star 82 Review. A Best of the Net and Pushcart Prize nominee, she has read in coffee houses, bars, libraries and on the radio. Her work has been exhibited with art quilts and weavings in a variety of venues around the state of Wisconsin as part of four poet/fiber artist collaborations. 

Saturday, September 01, 2018


by Crystal Stone

like my summer school algebra students in the delta told me
I remind them of a brunette white girl in a Lifetime movie
that gets murdered. But she—the movie character—is dead
and I’m still in the classroom being somebody’s teacher
and ArethaPatti lives on if Patti inherits Aretha’s soul.
And that’s what everyone wants—like the ex-boyfriend
I literally forgot I fucked, or maybe loved, until he showed up
at my roller derby game a year after we stopped talking—
he learned Tracy Chapman’s “Fast Car,” daydreamed I’d remember him
when I looked in the face of someone new. Fox News wanted that, too.
ArethaPatti isn’t dead. ArethaPatti can sing the National Anthem
at the next superbowl. ArethaPatti can Memphis the country
blues. ArethaPatti can steal the banjo from my tone-deaf dad and union
the coal miners fans. The drunk man who played checkers with me
on the corner of Main and Kellogg won’t ask if I’d like to stop
the game because I’m losing. Of course I don’t. We’re all losing,
even the winners. The ex-boyfriend is gone. I never notice
his face in the new faces. I just see the new man, his blue eyes, always
equally memorable when he leaves. And we don’t see young Aretha
in the corner, but Patti, and the subject of the headline is not about either of them,
anyway, like this poem isn’t about Fox News, or Aretha, or ArethaPatti,
or the summer school students in the delta, or the ex-boyfriends I forgot
despite how much I thought I loved them, or Tracy Chapman’s fast car,
or the man I played checkers with, or the fact that I lost to a man
who believed in love, but isn’t it funny how much they all have in common?

Crystal Stone writes most of her poetry roller skating at the park. Her favorite tea is jasmine or medicinal throat-coat; she's unsure. Her poetry has appeared in many journals, but she's most proud of her TEDx talk, "The Transformative Power of Poetry." Her first collection of poetry Knock-off Monarch is forthcoming from Dawn Valley Press this fall.

Friday, August 31, 2018


by Linda Lerner

what the politicians & others don’t who
haven’t heard them scratching at their doors,
                         screamed when they looked out and
kept screaming after the bears, who’ve
come to warn them, are gone. 
And  isn’t it pretty to think so?

The bears don’t mean us harm when they come
into our backyards, dig in trash cans,
peer into open car windows looking for food,
the bears aren’t thinking about us at all;

If they 🐻 could create emojis we’d see
the sun filtered through dust particles,
small fires 🔥 starting up, 😰 teary eyed
bewilderment at the browning grass, lack of berries,
and bugs, a hotter, dryer climate

We’d see a human face through a bear’s,
now one, then the other

Source: EarthJustice

Linda Lerner's A Dance Around the Cauldron, Lummox Press, 2017 is her most recent collection. She is the author of Yes, the Ducks Were Real and Takes Guts and Years Sometimes (NYQ Books) and a chapbook of poems inspired by nursery rhymes, Ding Dong the Bell Pussy in the Well. She previously published thirteen collections of poetry and twice been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Her next collection, tentatively called, Taking the F Train, will be published by NYQ books in late 2018 or early 2019.

Thursday, August 30, 2018


by David Chorlton

Andrus Nichols in The Saintliness of Margery Kempe directed by Austin Pendleton at The Duke on 42nd Street. Photo by Carol Rosegg.

A hawk against the dawning clouds
moves high and dark
as the city underneath him
awakens. On this day the news
breaks with a louder
crack than usual, and even
the quail who spill out
from the neighbor’s bougainvillea
walk a nervous line.
The television screen lights up
with happiness and Earthly delights
before names
start to be named
and analysts dissect the crimes
they are suspected of. But it’s early
and the shadows of the palm trees
lie wet across the ground. It’s hard to believe
in such joy as advertisements show
while subterfuge and scheming are the order
of the day: also a day
in which lizards flash
across the back yard wall, hummingbirds
fly constantly
from bush to bush, and a Funereal Duskywing
trembles at  the Coral Bells
that silently ring the hours
rolling along the wash and up
the mountain to the ridge
where they rub their cheeks against
the timeless moon.

Another day: another cog
clicks in the universe. The sun rolls
into place. It’s hard to tell so early
whether that’s a Cabbage White or Southern
Dogface, but the nascent flowers on the milkweed
are a marker on the winged way
to truth.

The jasmine draws its power from the rain
recently fallen
and the air feels as though
it were smiling as we breathe it,
even in this tainted world
where sin remains popular
centuries past the age when heretics
were burned, although
defining it depends on which
side you’re on, and being accused
just generates more mystics
like Margery Kempe, who the more she was mocked
the more she believed she was right.
Some people believe
the sulfur floating on the scents just now
is someone’s soul; a proposition
kind enough to merit acceptance.
When in doubt
take beauty’s side, even
when the hawk marks its path
with a talon drawn across the midday sky.

David Chorlton is a transplanted European, who has lived in Phoenix since 1978. His poems have appeared in many publications online and in print, and often reflect his affection for the natural world, as well as occasional bewilderment at aspects of human behavior. A recent collection of poems is Bird on a Wire from Presa Press. The Bitter Oleander Press published Shatter the Bell in my Ear, his translations of poems by Austrian poet Christine Lavant. A new book Reading T. S. Eliot to a Bird is due from Hoot ‘n Waddle, based in Phoenix.

Wednesday, August 29, 2018


by Mary K O'Melveny

“Nabisco announced this week that it had redesigned  its Animal Crackers box. Responding to demands by PETA and other activists, the company’s new design features an uncaged, unbarred zebra, elephant, lion, giraffe and gorilla. PETA’s 2016 letter to the company stated, in part, ‘Circuses tear baby animals away from their mothers, lock animals in cages and chains and cart them from city to city.’ Nabisco’s CEO announced the design change as part of the company’s effort ‘to make the brand relevant for years to come.’”  The New York Times, August 22, 2018.

More than 2,000 children were separated from their parents at the border. After a judge ordered the U.S. government to promptly reunite the families, the government claimed it would be nearly impossible to do so. —“The Chaos of Reunification,” a podcast from “The Daily” at The New York Times, August 24, 2018. A month after a court-mandated deadline, 528 families are still separated. —Boston Mail, August 24, 2018.

At last, the bars are gone.
We can step out, the world
waiting to greet us.  Long
frowns turned to smiles, tears hurled
back to where they belong –
some other’s countenance swirled
with sadness.  We go headlong,
no longer imperiled,

toward open spaces,
no longer on display,
shoved into cramped spaces
waiting for someone to say
we have rights too!  Our faces
fill with joy, no longer prey
for bigots who disgrace us,
who would keep us away

from happier lives, freed
of anguish, hatreds, pain
of separations, filled with need
for kindness.  A campaign
of outraged voices agreed,
pursuit of justice was plain
(though not all would concede).
We are no more detained!

So, congratulations all
who fought for us so long.
Victories can come, large or small,
to those who remain strong,
fists raised, knees down.  Recall
each one who fought along
with us for enlightened protocols.
At last, the bars are gone!

Mary K O'Melveny is a recently retired labor rights attorney who lives in Washington DC and Woodstock NY.  Her work has appeared in various print and on-line journals.  Her first poetry chapbook A Woman of a Certain Age will be published by Finishing Line Press in September, 2018.