Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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

Sunday, February 10, 2019


by Kathy Conway

You could look for colors—black shirts for Mussolini, brown
ones for Hitler, red t-shirts and baseball caps for Chavez,
yellow stars on Polish children separated from mothers at railroad stations.

Listen for righteous us/them propaganda, use of simple words,
untruths to incite aggrieved followers, as Hitler did, repeating lies
until they were accepted as truth.

Listen for insults, bullying, ultimatums, rants—"huge, very dangerous"
to silence those who disagree—the press, media, cohorts, partners -
a la Mussolini.

Be suspicious of unbridled nationalism, separating families at borders.
False charges of being "Red" helped McCarthy to intimidate, create fear in
innocent people and muzzle Congress.

Be alert for a huge ego demanding loyalty, not to country
or constitution, but to him personally, who, with warped reality,
listens only to his own gut, ignoring experts and advisors.

Watch for leaders who declare a state of emergency
like Erdogan, try to build a border wall like Orban or promise to
"drenare la palude"—drain the swamp—like Mussolini.

Heed if they goad violence against perceived enemies with
pumped-up machismo, incite prejudice or seek to destroy faith
in an independent press, electoral process, courts, military.

Notice how he gets away with it. The public doubts he'd
do more—until he does, incrementally. His followers believe
he's working for them, against "others".

Be leery of copy cats who, like Peron, aspire to be Hitler.
Do they admire and cozy up to Kim Jong-un,
Mohammed bin Salman or Putin?

Kathy Conway splits her time between a cottage on the coast of Maine and her home outside Boston.  She has taught memoir poetry in Maine and Florida. Her chapbook Bacon Street is about growing up in a large family.