Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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, July 02, 2018


by Paul Hostovsky

Being white and having attended a few
racial justice meetings where the talk
is of cultivating authentic relationships

with people of color, I ask a black co-worker
if he’d like to come over for dinner. He answers
my question with a question of his own: “Why?

I mean, it’s not like we’re friends or anything.”
“Well, I’m trying to cultivate,” I sort of recite,
“more authentic relationships with people

of color.”  He makes a face. “Cultivate?
As in, your garden? As in, you want some more
purple eggplants, some more token negritude

in the pale, pathetic, privileged patch that is
your life?” Ouch. He isn’t going to make this
easy for me. Lean into the discomfort, I remember

them saying at the racial justice meetings
in the suburb where I live, where a person of color
is as rare as a white eggplant among the aubergines.

“Not token,” I say, smiling and wincing
at the same time. “For real.” And it feels a little like
asking someone out on a date, someone

a little out of my league. “Well the real question,”
he says, stroking his chin in a pensive attitude, twirling
his imaginary mustache, sizing up my imaginary

chef’s hat, “is what’s for dinner? Something
toothsome, I hope.” And he gives me his white teeth.

Paul Hostovsky's ninth book of poetry, Is That What That Is, was published by FutureCycle Press in 2017.