Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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

Friday, January 18, 2019


by Karen Shepherd

“People love you and you win, and when your son looks at you and says, ‘Mama, look, you won. Bullies don’t win.’ I said, ‘Baby, they don’t, because we’re going to go in there and we’re going to impeach the motherfucker.'”

They’re outside in their blue shirts with patches and neckerchiefs.  Oh mama!
The Cub Scouts are out in the rain recycling the disrobed trees again. Look—
the little ones are struggling to lift and load those noble corpses! You
know I’m not going out there to help. No way-too cold. I think they’ve won
the War on Christmas, by the way, those little deconstructionist bullies
hauling away holiday cheer for a donation sealed in a Ziplock bag. I don’t
really care, though. I’m teasing, eating too much chocolate. And I can win
at other things. Like raising a glass before lunch, refreshing newsfeeds and
licking the rim of the eggnog carton. With the ornaments packed, I
can pour more vodka in my coffee, light my bowl and kick it. Someone said
Be Best and you know I’m being and doing my best now, baby.
No one is paying or being paid, toilets overflow, the zoo is shut and they
say maybe it's really a strike. National emergency. Yeah, okay, chill. Don’t
you know smooth voiced 44 hit the Billboard charts? Yeah, that’s because
there is some karma left. And it dances, sings and swears. Now as we’re
forced into gingerbread cookie detox programs, I ain’t gonna
lie (like the king). This won’t be some “but-I-posted-about it” easy go.
Things get uglier before they get prettier. I had to put all the nutcrackers in
boxes that looked like coffins, pack up the merry-making, stack them there
in the garage 'til next Thanksgiving. The scouts are dragged out there, and
really, they just want to shoot arrows at camp. Go ahead, please, impeach
the Grinch, the happily-ever-privileged, the liars, the pussy grabbers, the—
never mind. I’m off to take a nap, hoping to sleep off this motherfucker.

Editor's Note: The Golden Shovel is a poetic form devised  by Terrance Hayes in homage to Gwendolyn Brooks. ("Golden Shovel" is a reference to "Seven at the Golden Shovel" in the Brooks poem "We Real Cool" from which Hayes built the first Golden Shovel poem.) The last words of each line in a Golden Shovel poem are, in order, words from a line or lines taken often, but not invariably, from a Brooks poem.

Karen Shepherd lives with her husband and two teenagers in the Pacific Northwest of the United States where she enjoys walking in forests and listening to the rain. Her poetry and short fiction have been published in various journals including Constellate Literary Journal, The Literary Nest, Halfway Down the Stairs, Riddled With Arrows and Wales Haiku Journal