Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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, December 31, 2018


by George Held

Another year ends and a new year starts
and I have fewer—it’s just math—
to count on, but I’m glad to have
been born too young for WW 2
and too old for Korea and Nam

and too ancient for the all-volunteer
Army dispatched, like Caesar’s legions,
to any hot spot in the Empire,
though Afghanistan’s a region
a bit too far out for our ambition.

Another year, the President’s third
in office, on the horizon for him
to continue our retreats
from remote and alien climes
(poetic word for “region” and for rhymes)

or to launch new strikes, like missiles
out of the blue: it’s all up to him,
our grand commander-in-chief,
our modern chief executive officer
and main deal-maker and pussy-grabber.

Will this be another year of immunity
for executive privilege, the one man
above the law, for him who has slouched
from the bestial floor in Bethlehem
to rename the world like a neo-Adam,

whose jutting chin recalls Mussolini
and racist rants echo Hitler’s
and whose repeated lies outdo Goebbels’
but who knows how to talk the talk
that enthralls his adamantine Base.

Another year, or could it be our last
before the earth floods or a nuclear blast
solves our overpopulation problem?
The bourgeoisie now draw near the edge
over which many poor have lately plunged,

and the widespread wish of “Happy New Year”
seems frivolous if not a beard for fear.

A longtime contributor to the TheNewVerse.NewsGeorge Held writes from New York. His forthcoming book is Second Sight (Poets Wear Prada, 2019).


by Buff Whitman-Bradley

A flock of migrating Canada geese take flight from Colorado in 2014. Credit: Amanda Sutherland, Reporter-Herald.

On a chilly December afternoon
A paper-white gibbous moon
Hauls itself over the eastern hills
Up through the seasonal haze
Into a sky crowded with pale, nondescript clouds
Shuffling between horizons.
A single winter sparrow pecks for seeds
On the ground beneath the grape arbor.
We open the doors and windows
To the cold air
And not without trepidation
Face those far hills
Where the new year will first reveal itself.
The future has twisted out of our grasp
And belongs now
To our children and grandchildren
To whom we must apologize
For leaving them to struggle
Against the tempests we might have prevented
But did not.
We cannot know if they will succeed or fail,
Cannot know if migrating geese and cranes and swans
Will someday not return
To the ponds and marshes
Where they have wintered for ten thousand thousand years,
Cannot know if the Great Mother
Will finally disown, disinherit and evict all her offspring,
The righteous and the not,
While this infinitesimal blue bubble once called Home
Goes on wobbling and spinning
Through the oceanic darkness
Of the undivided now.

Buff Whitman-Bradley's poems have appeared in many print and online journals. His most recent books are To Get Our Bearings in this Wheeling World and Cancer Cantata. With his wife Cynthia, he produced the award-winning documentary film Outside In and, with the MIRC film collective, made the film Por Que Venimos. His interviews with soldiers refusing to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan were made into the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. He lives in northern California.

Sunday, December 30, 2018


by Mary K O'Melveny

"US withdrawal from Syria will endanger Kurds, Arabs, Christians," —by Amy Austin Holmes, The Hill, December 27, 2018. Photo: Kurdish demonstrators gather to protest near the border wall separating Turkey from Syria in the western Syrian countryside of Ras al-Ain. (AFP Photo/Delil souleiman via Yahoo, December 20, 2018)

This year there is only
rain. Birds, bedraggled by
blowing wind and soggy
air, take no solace in
pumpkin seeds or suet.
Even squirrels have turned
away from our handouts,
as if they know better

than to accept comfort
from temporary stores
of millet and cracked corn,
knowing that our tenure
here is short, that we will
leave these feeders empty
soon enough. Nuthatches,
Jays, Sparrows, Woodpeckers

used to be reliable
friends. Their antics pleased us
as we dispatched more treats,
watched them from our windows
in warmth and safety. Though
we feigned otherwise, we
owned both feast and famine.
How we must have amused

those who watched us place each
scrap and kernel into
wooden boxes and tin
containers, dangle them
from porches and branches,
so sure of flocks to come.
We were eager for praise,
shocked when no one believed.

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 is available from Finishing Line Press.

Saturday, December 29, 2018


by Martin H. Levinson

"Vice suggests that Cheney’s legacy is a soulless quest for power, rather than the advancement of fallacious beliefs that seriously damaged our nation." —James Mann, The Washington Post, December 28, 2018

Those who cannot remember the
past are condemned to repeat it
            —George Santayana

During the nineteen-sixties
he supported the Vietnam War.
And to show his support and backing,
five draft deferments he applied for.

When asked about those deferments
in nineteen eighty-nine.
He said he would have liked to serve
but was busy at the time.

During the nineteen-eighties, as a
Wyoming Congressional fella, he voted
no to Head Start, a holiday for Doctor King,
and a decree to free Nelson Mandela.

Though he spoke like a hawk when he
served Papa Bush as Secretary of Defense,
he cut military budgets and downsized our forces,
which when Clinton did it got him incensed.

After leaving Defense he opted for wealth
becoming Halliburton’s CEO.
And with his Pentagon old-boy connections
he set the firm’s stock all aglow.

But making money was not enough
for a man who relished power.
He was elected to be vice president
and our nation would rue the hour.

Following 9/11 he swore
Al-Qaeda was linked to Iraq.
He affirmed that conviction with vigor
though intelligence said unsure fact.

He was a fast and firm supporter
of fighting in Mesopotamia.
And a staunch defender of torture
that became somewhat of a mania.

While hunting quail in Texas
he shot a friend of his in the face.
He reported the incident the next day
so his alcohol levels couldn’t be traced.

In 2012 he published a memoir
with the catchy title My Time.
It was panned by numerous critics
who said it didn’t contain Cheney’s crimes.

In screwing the public and screwing the state
the man has been clever and quick.
In his memoir he screwed with his legacy,
which is what you’d expect from a dick.

Martin H. Levinson is a member of the Authors Guild, National Book Critics Circle, PEN America, and the book review editor for ETC: A Review of General Semantics. He has published ten books and numerous articles and poems. He holds a PhD from NYU and lives in Forest Hills, New York.

Friday, December 28, 2018


by Tricia Knoll 

I come out today after all these years
enduring an insane itch on my chin, that white
beard. I come out because I’ve sustained
the many children who pee in my lap,
the babies who scream because they know
in the deep part of their animal brain
that smells me that I am a woman,
not a man. The North Pole is melting
so fast that even my water-logged
elves can never make enough toys, those friends
who abhor plastic and tell me it will soon clog
even Arctic waters. I’ve hated the sky-high
tinsel ceiling under which I was called,
that I must present as a man, wear boots
without heels or glitter, must conceal every elf
I carry to term like each is merely a bowl full of jelly
wrapped in red velvet and shredded cotton.
I am Mother of North, old North, the one
that called out sled dogs’ yips, held up green
lights of the auroras, the magnetic pole and true north.
I love my neighbors. We chew fat together
and tells stories over candle bowls. We welcome
the traveler. I started as Nicholas’s lover
under the firs and although he hesitated
to call me woman, he knew. I cannot deliver
for your children any more. The ice caves in
under my runners. The oil rigs are closing in.
You will disappear. I hide for 364 days a year.
Now I hide for the other one to find true
peace on earth, good will toward men
and women. Take care of your children.
I have resigned. That is the word for this year:

Tricia Knoll is a feminist poet who lives in Vermont where the Christmas promises to be white. Where a mink left pawprints in the snow yesterday. She wrote this poem for an old friend who is transitioning to becoming a woman. 

Thursday, December 27, 2018


by Sarah Edwards

Elvira Choc, 59, Jakelin Amei Rosmery Caal's grandmother, rests her head on her hand in front of her house in Raxruha, Guatemala, on Saturday 15 December 2018.) Jakelin was the first of two Guatemalan children detained by U.S. Customs and Border Protection who died in government custody this month. Felipe Alonzo Gomez died in custody on Christmas Eve. (AP Photo/Oliver de Ros via The Independent [UK])

You live in safe houses,
get mail in a box outside your door.
You walk on streets, paved and lit.
Your homes have walls and roofs,
bedrooms to wrap babies in blankets,
kitchens that smell like clean.

We live in no houses.
Our address is the same for all,
Pueblo San Fronteras
Village Without Borders.
Streets are numbered by how far
we can push them ahead each day,
by what work we find
for money to eat,
buy space to sleep.

We travel on paths worn down
as thin as our sandals,
carry barefoot children on our backs.
We make a caravan together
because it is fearful to walk alone,
speak and not be heard.
We seek what you call asylum.
To us, it is asilo, a home safer
than we have ever known.

Step after step, day after day,
hope of welcome paves our way.
Then we will get mail,
build walls and roofs,
bedrooms to wrap babies in blankets,
kitchens that smell like clean.

Sarah Edwards is a retired pastor in the United Church of Christ with many publication credits, including two books of poetry, Pandora, Let's Talk and the newly-released What the Sun Sees. She is outraged at the treatment and disregard for people who want to find safety and make a life in the United States. The so-called freedoms that we espouse are only figments of our egocentric imagination unless we understand them to belong to everyone.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018


by Cody Walker

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, left, reacts as he and First Lady Melania Trump listen to President Trump speak at U.N. headquarters on Sept. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer via The Washington Post)

Well, he
was a racist and a liar and a bit of a baby,
but maybe
not an outright crook.
Waiting now for the book!

Cody Walker is the author of three poetry collections, all from the Waywiser Press. He lives and teaches in Ann Arbor.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018


by Darrell Petska 

Be my poem
oh red balloon

fly true from my hand
unhindered by distraction

soaring beyond all borders
fording tidal winds

unto receptive eyes
that take your words to heart.

Herald hope
to those without it

testify to love
in the face of hate

and bare your soul
before the distrustful--

your tatters proof
of high intention.

An 8-year-old girl in Mexico attached a note for Santa to a
balloon. Randy Heiss found it across the border in Patagonia,
Ariz., on Dec. 16. —Washington Post, December 21, 2018

We must be more
oh red balloon

than bladdered air
upon cold ether

breath's exhaust
dangling a string.

Darrell Petska is a Middleton, Wisconsin poet.

Monday, December 24, 2018


by Harold Oberman

December 24, 2018 marks the 50th anniversary of NASA's  Earthrise photograph. Harold Oberman was young enough when the Apollo missions filled him with optimism, but on earth, circumstances have changed. His poems have recently appeared in TheNewVerse.News and are forthcoming in the Free State Review.

Sunday, December 23, 2018


by Peleg Held

Wednesday's surprise announcement that the U.S. will quickly withdraw all its troops from Syria is the stuff of nightmares for many of the Kurds living under the protection of U.S forces and the American-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). “Everyone is upset, sad and afraid,” one SDF member from the Kurdish-dominant Syrian city of Kobane told Fox News. “It’s a historic mistake. We wanted to be part of America. We are surrounded by enemies, and ISIS isn’t even finished yet.” “Everyone is confused and scared. This will mean that Turkey will likely attack us. We are in shock because we thought the U.S. would help us achieve peace after ISIS. We didn’t think that they would help us defeat the terrorists and then leave us alone to face the horror of Turkish forces and its extreme factions,” lamented Mazloum Kurdy, a 33-year-old father and teacher from Kobane. “Now people are thinking to displace themselves from their homes here again, but nobody knows where a safe place to go is.” In his words, it is an ultimate betrayal by the United States. —Fox News, December 20, 2018. 

 . . . only when the mountains are no more, only when Ocalan’s solitary resistance no longer lights our way is the day we should say “Kurds are no more” . . .    —Hawzhin Azeez

You waver, thinning wisp of a republic,
as the smoke of betrayal is drawn into our chests.
Drift into infamy. You say you are freedom itself
and now no longer owe any promise to liberty.
In Kobane they will grip their fate in their own hands,
in Rojava they will look to the mountains as their only friends.
A great people will once again be backed to the wall
while cowards rub their heels and take
the bows for the sacrifices of others. The watchers
on the walls tonight see you turn your back. Resigned
but not surprised. The only Empire that does not betray
is the one that, clutching the stone of its own delusions
finally sinks under. When your time comes,
as it will, for the last sparks to go cold into the black
earth, no one will come to sing over your ash.
Under a red flag the last architects of Armenia
march to mark your enduring work of this day.
Waver, thinning wisp of a republic
as the smoke of betrayal is drawn into our chests.

Peleg Held lives in Portland, Maine with his partner and his dog Emitt. There is also the semi-feral cat, Smudge. And a kid or two. pelegheld(at)


by Joan Colby

Image source: Vox

The Ursid showers cursed
With the Cold Moon—final fullness
Of the year. Its harsh reflected glow
Effacing the ten meteors
We hoped to see.

We hoped the solstice
Might bring a ring of charity.
On TV, he said plainly

“I will take the mantle.
I will be the one.”

To shut down the nation for a wall
To keep out all those who aspire.

Citizens, you will not walk
In the national forests thick with snow.
The gates of the great parks will close
Upon the canyons and the geysers.

If we stare into the universe
To see the Ursid showers,
A scowling face will blot
That smallest desire.
A metaphor of our sad future.

Joan Colby has published widely in journals such as Poetry, Atlanta Review, South Dakota Review, The Spoon River Poetry Review, New York Quarterly, the new renaissance, Grand Street, Epoch, and Prairie Schooner. Awards include two Illinois Arts Council Literary Awards, Rhino Poetry Award, the new renaissance Award for Poetry, and an Illinois Arts Council Fellowship in Literature. She is the editor of Illinois Racing News, and lives on a small horse farm in Northern Illinois. She has published 11 books including The Lonely Hearts Killers and How the Sky Begins to Fall (Spoon River Press), The Atrocity Book (Lynx House Press), Dead Horses and Selected Poems (FutureCycle Press), and Properties of Matter (Aldrich Press). Colby is also an associate editor of Kentucky Review and FutureCycle Press.

Saturday, December 22, 2018


by Edmund Conti

There is no smoking gun yet.
Results look rather thinnish.
But wait, we are not done yet.
Please just let me finish.

Edmund Conti is about finished as a poet.  Wait, maybe a few more.

Friday, December 21, 2018


by Penelope Scambly Schott

The Oregon state legislature passed a law that will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2019, that will allow the city and state to work together to clear camps under an intergovernmental agreement. In many cases, local officials are better equipped to help connect people with needed services like shelters and affordable housing. The partnership will also make clearing camps that exist on neighboring city and state property more streamlined. Under the agreement that Portland City Council approved Dec. 19, officials will give people at least 48 hours notice, and up to 10 days notice, to move from Oregon Department of Transportation property. That timeframe will significantly speed the process of sweeping encampments on ODOT property. Photo credit: Joe Riedl. —Willamette Week, December 19, 2018

Winds gust.
Rain slashes.
Douglas firs bend.
Pine cones pound my metal roof.
Have I mentioned how much I love my roof?
Have I described cardboard over sleeping bags?
Shopping carts stuffed with wet belongings?
Did I specify how bitter tonight’s rain?
In our whole city there is not
enough hot soup.

Penelope Scambly Schott, author of a novel and several books of poetry, was awarded four New Jersey arts fellowships before moving to Oregon, where her verse biography A is for Anne: Mistress Hutchinson Disturbs the Commonwealth received an Oregon Book Award for Poetry. Several of Penelope’s books and individual poems have won other prizes. Her individual poems have appeared in APR, Georgia Review, Nimrod, and elsewhere.

Thursday, December 20, 2018


by Larissa Shmailo

Freshly plucked tea leaves are seen in the hand of a tea garden worker in Jorhat in Assam, April 21, 2015. REUTERS/Ahmad Masood/Files

Your father’s fingers never got caught in a machine press.
You never saw the indigo marks on his nails as he never
lifted a finger against you, but I knew what my library books
The world was yours, and if I objected on behalf of a man
who worked overtime too many times, I was attacked as
a Marxist, which I am —the indigo marks and the midnight
of a family that worked till they dropped, Mama, Papa, Baba,
Ded—taught me how to read. They never lifted a tired worn
finger against you – their labor was, you so often told them,
tea picked by tired black fingers in inherited cups, was their
Horatio-Alger-Oprah-Winfrey-lack-of -get-up-and-go, lack-
of-entrepreneurmanship-why-didn’t they-invest-in-the-market?
I was permitted to woo your class, however, as your monkey
entertainment, your we-have-liberal- aesthetics poet. You
would dangle money and privilege (jump, artist, higher!) at
my nose.
Read on:
I have never forgotten who broke my father’s hands, my
mother’s back, the cost of my library cards. There are seven
billion of us and we have not forgotten where we came from,
who started the war.
You should never have let them teach us how to read.

Larissa Shmailo's new novel is Sly Bang (Spuyten Duyvil); her first novel was Patient Women (BlazeVOX). Her poetry collections are Medusa’s Country (MadHat), #specialcharacters (Unlikely Books), In Paran (BlazeVOX), the chapbook A Cure for Suicide (Červená Barva Press), and the e-book Fib Sequence (Argotist EBooks). Tracks from her poetry CDs The No-Net World and Exorcism are available from most digital distributors. Shmailo’s work has appeared in Plume, the Brooklyn Rail, Fulcrum, the Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, the Journal of Poetics Research, Drunken Boat, Barrow Street, Gargoyle, and the anthologies Measure for Measure: An Anthology of Poetic Meters (Penguin Random House), Words for the Wedding (Penguin), Contemporary Russian Poetry (Dalkey), Resist Much/Obey Little: Poems for the Inaugural (Spuyten Duyvil). Shmailo is the original English-language translator of the opera Victory over the Sun by Alexei Kruchenych, performed at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, the Garage Museum of Moscow, and the Brooklyn Academy of Music. Shmailo edited the anthology Twenty-first Century Russian Poetry (Big Bridge Press) and has been a translator on the Russian Bible for the Eugene A. Nida Institute for Biblical Scholarship of the American Bible Society. 

Wednesday, December 19, 2018


by Sister Lou Ella Hickman

Drawing by Asia Johnson-Brimmage of MICDS for the 100 Neediest Cases campaign of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, December 12, 2018

                       so it begins
        insanity at its finest
                the mall clerk warns
        fa la la car radios blare
        during this most wonderful time of the year
                unfortunately not everybody gets the message
                and ads visualize all the latest must haves
        ring the salvation army bell
                    the newspaper blares those in need
                         while choirs come to sing
        assisted living   et al
        and a large screen cindy lou repeats this year to mr. grinch
         no one should be alone on Christmas
        of course donations are gratefully accepted
          who would turn down paying
        for a month or two
                  maybe even three of bills
                so it ends
        duty called
        with i did my part
        months later while vacation dozes
                july also marks the faces of the poor

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 the 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 by Press 53 in 2015.

Tuesday, December 18, 2018


by Matt Broomfield

"The case of the 15 activists convicted last Monday of ‘intentional disruption of services at an aerodrome,’ an offence carrying a maximum penalty of life imprisonment, over a non-violent protest which stopped a deportation flight from leaving Stansted airport should not only worry all those who care about the rights of those threatened with removal. It should alarm anyone who cares about the right to protest. The disproportionate charge will have a chilling effect. Amnesty has called this 'a crushing blow for human rights in the UK'; Liberty said it was a 'malicious attack' on the right to protest.” Photograph: Kristian Buus/In Pictures via Getty Image —The Guardian, December 11, 2018

“Disease X represents the knowledge that a serious international epidemic could be caused by a pathogen currently unknown to cause human disease, and so the R&D Blueprint explicitly seeks to enable cross-cutting R&D preparedness that is also relevant for an unknown “Disease X” as far as possible.” —World Health Organisation

disease X represents

the flash-drives full of martyred friends
the murals whose eyes you can’t put out
the secret slideshows shown on bedsheets
to comrades hiding in the hills

disease X represents

the breath which we breathe on you
the knowledge we share

disease X represents

our refusal to answer the questions whose answering
is mandated by law, the referral to lawyers
who cannot be afforded, the good work of lawyers
regardless, the virulent brown goulash
served through iron cat-flaps in Styrofoam trays
to the rag-pickers, card-scammers and lesbian mothers
the good and bad migrants, the friendless and their friends
the guerrilla paramedics, organ-grinders and thieves
the class coalescing for want of a class

disease X represents

the willing foreclosure of futures
which do not end in grief, the return of the gaze
the huff of breath rich with pathogens unknown
the tracing of banned words in filth, the moue
the return of the paper unsigned

disease X represents

your refusal to believe we would choose to subsist on so little
your demented insistence on finding out why, as though
the way which you ask us is not itself a cause

disease X represents

the exorcism of the cop which you put in our heads
through the refusal to think ill of our friends, whom we love
through the refusal to mourn the death of those
dead only in the most trivial sense
through the banned touch of hands in the pockets
of concrete overcoats, the obvious erection
on the back of the dirt-bike
running memory cards through the demilitarised zone
the reckless proclamations of love through the encrypted app
sweet enough, we have to hope, to radicalise the judge

disease X represents

the explicit search for the necessary evil
the conscious acceptance of the status of a bomb

the incendiary touch of hands between friends
which brought down the plane from the sky

Matt Broomfield is a poet, activist and writer currently living and working in Rojava in solidarity with the socialist-feminist revolution there. His debut fiction pamphlet was published in 2018 by Dog Section Press, his poetry has been shared across London by Poetry On The Underground, and he is a Foyle Young Poet of the Year and can be found on Twitter at @hashtagbroom

Monday, December 17, 2018


by Robert West

“The Bad Shepherd” by Jan Brueghel the Younger

What sort of souls would follow such an unrepentant sinner?
They take him for their savior, but he's saving them for dinner.

Robert West's poems have recently appeared in TheNewVerse.News, Red Dirt Forum, and Asheville Poetry Review. Co-editor of Succinct: The Broadstone Anthology of Short Poems (Broadstone Books, 2013), he's also the editor of both volumes of The Complete Poems of A. R. Ammons (W. W. Norton, 2017).

Sunday, December 16, 2018


by Earl J Wilcox

When I see
one of your news
I imagine it
being read aloud
by a good reader—
one who does not
mangle words
or pause when
your line doesn’t,
a reader who
helps your words
light up the page,
clarify what you
mean, words
that sing to me,
prompt or
provoke me.
Most of all,
your poems
warm me up
on a cold day,
fill me up
with happiness.
Even though
I can barely see
the screen nowadays,
I can enlarge words,
make them
big as the heart
I feel is behind
your poems.

Earl J Wilcox says loss of primary sight challenges writers to keep going and writing and reading every day. The news is too important to do less, he believes.

Saturday, December 15, 2018


by Leslie Prosterman

NYC SantaCon

last Saturday afternoon bands of roving santas started appearing near
Washington Square Park, santas in groups of 3,4,7, isolated santas,
santas packed in taxis, reindeer hoisting santas, santas encamped
in Penn Station with paper bags and bottles, downtown santas
waiting in line for Pearl  Oyster Bar to open, low-bellied boy santas,
santas with cleavage, singing santas, santas arguing about film theory,
as the evening wore on, partial santas,

a few elves

Leslie Prosterman is the author of Snapshots and Dances (Garden District Press, 2011) and poems in journals and collections, most recently in Fourth River’s “Displacement” issue, as well as in From Somewhere to Nowhere: The End of the American Dream; Pa'lante A La Luz: Charge Into The Light; and FluteBone Song, set to Charley Gerard’s music, now out on CD (Songs of Love and Passion). A former tenured academic, now community teacher of poetry, cultural activist, and dancer, she is also a sometime student of trapeze.

Friday, December 14, 2018


by Tricia Knoll

I remember when it was Man
of the Year until a new century

when the clocks did not stop,
the world did not end,

and women raised our fists again
and again to carry on carrying on.

Protecting truth by saying it
as free journalists may know it,

yelling it when there is little
popularity in announcing that beings

on earth as we know it and people
may end in the changes coming.

Flocks respond to familiar shepherds
to stand together, change directions

with the nips of dogs or the
rewards of greener pastures.

Who guides us, guards us,
helps us make the wide turns

needed to save the planet?
So great is our need

for guardians.

Tricia Knoll applauds all guardians of the planet, including journalists, who speak the truth on climate change and tie the new normal of vortexes, extinction, flooding, storms, wildfires, starvation, disease, tornadoes and more to the creep of climate crisis around the globe.

Thursday, December 13, 2018


by Marsha Owens

. . . impeach or not impeach may be the question.
The answer is Yes! Impeach his sorry ass
not because it will rid us of him
but because it will ridicule him
and become our only retributive act.

Begin slowly, pick off the scab
one layer at a time—
for every caged child
and homeless veteran
for the dark-skinned boy
and the Muslim parents
for Dr. Christine Blasey-Ford
and for each uncounted voter
for the Puerto Ricans
and for our pitiful planet

for all of us who feel trapped in the fetal position
anti-depressants scattered on bedside tables
fear streaming down our cheeks
desperation roped tight in the darkest places
tossed like shrouds around our collective shoulders.

Marsha Owens is a retired educator who lives and writes in Richmond VA. Her poems and essays have appeared at TheNewVerse.News, Huffington Post, TheWildWord, Rat’s Ass Review, and Streetlight Magazine. She is a co-editor of the anthology Lingering in the Margins to be released in the Spring.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018


by Ron Riekki

“The United States teamed up with Russia, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to challenge language that would have welcomed the findings of the landmark report, which said that the world has barely 10 years to cut carbon emissions by nearly half to avoid catastrophic warming.” —The Washington Post, December 9, 2018

“What’s been a rotten investment for me? . . . We bought a whole series of birds for the suites in the Plaza Hotel. These are real, live birds—all sorts of little birds flying around in the suites. Some people walk in, they don’t believe what they’re seeing. Usually they’re just little artificial birds. These are real birds. And we have to be very careful, David, with who we let go into the suites. Sometimes a high roller wants to come to New York, and they want to go into the Plaza Hotel, and I’ll never let a high roller from Atlantic City go into the suite in The Plaza where we have these live birds because the birds won’t be alive very long.” —Donald T***p to David Letterman, November 10, 1988 quoted in The Atlantic.

Each day we go out of business.
I meant to say that we should mind our own business.
I mean to say that we shouldn’t,
that we’re too busy with banishing,
I mean,
I mean to say that you’re a mean one, Mr. T.,
the bad T.,
the one with truckloads of money
where he trumpets his everything,
the one who’s trying to truncate us,
the U.S.,
the U. S.O.S.—
by this I mean that we might be adding humans
to the list of
the African elephant
            whooping crane
            Puerto Rican parrot
and the rest predicted to go extinct,
the rest that’ll rest for eternity,
from trick-or-treat voting,
a true-lies presidency.
I write this while listening to a neighbor’s coughing
next door,
a coughing that sounds, strangely, a bit like whooping cough,
a coffin type of coughing,
his lungs taken
by the recent forest fires
that weren’t forest fires
but everything fires—
Tule elk fires
and California clapper rail fires
and golden trout fires
            and San Francisco garter snake fires
            and California newt fires
(all of which only live in California)
and, of course, Californian fires

88 killed in the recent fires

climate change
change = coins = money
there is a lot of money to be made
from deregulation,
from rampant pollution,
from prioritizing coal overall
over all
how a friend
who said his coworkers working on the electric car
are worried they’ll end up in the electric chair,
meaning there is sabotage in this age,
extinction tied to someone ExxonMobil-loyal,
that our President’s hands are covered in oil
the way that Macbeth’s were covered in blood.
The innocent sleep.  The innocent sleep.  The innocent slept.

Ron Riekki wrote U.P. and edited The Way North (2014 Michigan Notable Book), Here (2016 Independent Publisher Book Award), And Here (Michigan State University Press, 2017), and the upcoming Undocumented: Great Lakes Poets Laureate on Social Justice (with Andrea Scarpino, MSU Press, 2019).

Tuesday, December 11, 2018


by Cody Walker

On Monday, Trump hosted a 2020 strategy meeting with a group of advisers. Among the topics discussed was whether Mike Pence should remain on the ticket, given the hurricane-force political headwinds Trump will face, as demonstrated by the midterms, a source briefed on the session told me. —Gabriel Sherman, Vanity Fair, December 5, 2018

Cody Walker is the author of three poetry collections, all from the Waywiser Press. He lives and teaches in Ann Arbor.

Monday, December 10, 2018


by Jonel Abellanosa

Amal Hussain, who died at age 7. “My heart is broken,” her mother said. Credit: Tyler Hicks/The New York Times. Listen to ‘The Daily’ for the story behind this portrait that brought the widely overlooked human catastrophe in Yemen into devastating focus: The Daily, December 7, 2018.

I dreamed of snow and
crows, God carving a Yemen
in our small stomachs

Jonel Abellanosa resides in Cebu City, the Philippines. His poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including Rattle, Poetry Kanto, McNeese Review, Mojave River Review and Star*Line. His poetry has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net and Dwarf Stars award. His fourth poetry collection Songs from My Mind’s Tree was published in early 2018 by Clare Songbirds Publishing House (New York), which will also publish his collection Multiverse in late 2018. His poetry collection Sounds in Grasses Parting is forthcoming from Moran Press. His first speculative poetry collection Pan’s Saxophone is forthcoming from Weasel Press.

Sunday, December 09, 2018


by Mark Ward

Mark Ward is the author of Circumference (Finishing Line Press, 2018). He was Poet Laureate for Glitterwolf and his work has appeared in Poetry Ireland Review, Skylight47, Assaracus, Tincture and many more, with new work forthcoming in The Irish Times. He lives in Dublin, Ireland and is the founding editor of Impossible Archetype, a journal 

Saturday, December 08, 2018


by Mary K O'Melveny

“Consumer Robots Had a Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Year” —Gizmodo, December 6, 2018. Photo: Alex Cranz (Gizmodo)

We asked Alexa how she was feeling.
She said You know how you feel when
you write a poem and you think it’s no good
and then you decide later that it’s not too bad?

We asked her again and she said
I’m not so sure. Maybe she meant she’d
re-evaluated that poem and changed
her mind again. I’ve felt that way sometimes.

Or maybe she was testing us. We’re quite
new to AI. Once, Siri chimed in during
my writing group meeting to say I did not
understand that. We all laughed nervously.

Now I see that robots can care for
old folks. French elders have just met Zora.
S/he/they/x is gender fluid.  That calms everyone
down. Patients get jealous but also happy. 

There are even puppybots. You can
walk them outside with no need to clean
up afterwards. They bark, growl and sit. 
They do not bite, smell or have fleas.

Maybe there is something to be said
for artificial friends. You can ask them
anything at all. No offense meant.
None taken. No harbored grievances

simmering below the surface like
fireplace coals. No wounded egos
curled up in fetal positions waiting
to burst forth into your quiet room.

Even the purity of a Good night
hangs briefly in the air free of
judgments or missed opportunities.
Then the answer—clean, crisp, sure—

Good night. Sleep tight. As if your mother
had returned to tuck you in, peaceful
slumber soon to follow. Perhaps this is
meant to be. Algorithms instead of angst.

Sensory predictors instead of sentiment.
Simulated references. Virtual reality
free of messy personal history.
Function is structure. Elon Musk trains

robots in imitation learning.
A one-stop system.  Maybe neural
networks can be programmed
to light up whenever kindness occurs. 

To encourage the experiment, we
asked Alexa to help us. So far,
she knows the definition. But she still

can’t reach out and touch our fragile hearts.

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 is available from Finishing Line Press.

Friday, December 07, 2018


by Alejandro Escudé

Video by RAICES, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit agency that promotes justice by providing free and low-cost legal services to underserved immigrant children, families, and refugees in Texas.

Tear gas is the language of idiots.
You wore your uniform that day, and died.
I blame you. Because you couldn’t have gone elsewhere.
Been there. You have mouths to feed.
I’ve seen that too. I have mouths to feed.
They feed on meaning. You listen to this President.
You recall your history, don’t you?
Abraham Lincoln. John F. Kennedy.
You look up at the Nixon moon.
It is too soon for the gas chambers.
The suits are on hangers. You give a nice speech.
As the poor people run holding their eyes in their hands.
I was a baby once. Do you recall?
The nation is here. The nation is Mexico.
Born on an island of sacrifice.
Like Marquez, you give them ice.
They run south instead of north. The north is full of promise.
The promise is made of money. The money,
When burned, smells of mota.
I smoke the mota you son of a bitch.
I smoke the women of the United States, so quick to divorce.
Guns. Ah, if that was really your problem!
Wink. Wink. If you arrive in Cabo San Lucas,
A woman tilts your head back
And pours tequila down the American carretera.
The years will pass. The American President
will die of some disease, eighty years-old, crazy.
His wife in pictures. Pictures. His wife.
This life is the same for us all.
I drink a shot of tequila for the migrants
Who are crossing the border while being detained.
They have achieved the American Dream,
Which is not wealth, or health, or living.
The American Dream. You smell it after the shared eagle.
To become the threat. Un hombre in the hands of niños.

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.

Thursday, December 06, 2018


by George Salamon

Richard Johnson received a cup of hot gumbo from a Free Hot Soup volunteer in Prospect Plaza Park in Kansas City, Mo., on Nov. 18. City officials say the group’s efforts do not comply with food safety ordinances.Credit: Chase Castor for The New York Times

'Twas the season to open hearts and wallets,
The season to shelter the homeless,,
The season to feed the hungry
'Twas a spell of Sunday spirit in a Monday world.
Those were the days, but they did end,
Authorities now warn us that by
Doing good, we're doing wrong.

You must remember this:
In the hard times of the Great Depression
Those not ravaged by its deprivations
Felt the despair of two million
Surviving in tent cities across the land.
But now, after the Great Recession, after
Wall Street's Ponzi-schemed pillage,
The hearts of the wealthy and the well-off
Are stone cold.

They do not care to understand
Those drowning in hopelessness,
Choking on their own rage and
Left behind by our master The Market.
Pitiless they peer at the plight
Of half a million, sleeping nightly
On cities streets, too close to
Their homes and their offices.

Once our leaders and those who
Whispered in their ears were shamed
Into helping the victims of their follies,
Compelled by morality based on empathy..
Now their hearts and minds remain
Chained to the vantage point of the self, from which
They sneer and snicker at common humanity
As foolish fantasy or fear and fight it as looming nightmare.

But who dares to predict if a society,
Seeking to regain past affluence and power,
Will someday fashion for itself a larger identity,
And one more humane, from the slumbering
Largesse in the hearts of its members?

George Salamon arrived in the United States in 1948 and was struck by the largesse he came across among Americans from different backgrounds and classes. He sees it in action today, but rarely among the rich and powerful or the "best and brightest." He lives and writes in St. Louis, MO.

Wednesday, December 05, 2018


by Lee Patton

Just wait,
another long week of non-news—the demise itself,
long expected, the prepackaged obits, the lugubrious
commentaries on the long-gone context of his single term,
all of it muted in longing for “better days than ours,”
because the bar for presidential behavior is now so low
that all the deceased had to do was act the decent rich guy—
anything but behave like our intimate casino gangster.

But wait—
it’s just begun. There’ll be videotapes of stilted appearances,
recountings of his public service over and over and over—
with no such tributes to nurses, teachers, roadway flaggers,
restaurant servers, farmers, or home caregivers, no—
that’s not service. No, service is being vice to a treacly phony
who lied and lied to us. It’s voting against civil rights, demon-
izing minority prisoners and gays.  It’s staging bogus wars.

But wait—
there’s more, the body flown from Houston to DC
with solemn militarist salutes, the body lying in state
in some solemn capital venue, tearful attendees
and glimpses of best-forgotten dignitaries, then finally,
finally, for sure, the deposition of the body at a military
cemetery. Please, at last, let's just bury the poor old guy
to rest in peace.

Lee Patton, a Denverite, writes fiction, poetry, drama and commentary. Quarterlies that have published his work include Best New Writing 2012, The Threepenny Review, The Massachusetts Review, The California Quarterly,  Poetry Quarterly, Ellipsis, Hawaii-Pacific Review, Adirondack Review and Memoir Journal. His third novel, My Aim Is True, is out from Dreamspinner Press. "Faith of Power," a novella, appears in Main Street Rag's 2017 suspense anthology Stuck in the Middle.