Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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