Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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

Tuesday, March 26, 2019


by Alan Catlin

The mother of a recent graduate told CBS Miami last week that her daughter, Sydney Aiello, had taken her own life. Aiello (pictured above), 19, was a senior at the school during the massacre. One of her friends, Meadow Pollack, was killed. In the year since the shooting, Aiello had struggled with survivor’s guilt and had recently been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, her mother said. During the weekend, word began to spread that another Parkland teenager had also died in what authorities called an “apparent suicide.” The student’s name and age were not released, and authorities said the death was under investigation. Broward Schools Superintendent Robert Runcie announced the student’s death Sunday on Twitter, saying that “a great young man” at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School had committed suicide.” The superintendent added late Sunday night: “In the wake of two suicides that shocked the community this past week, parents & representatives from organizations throughout Broward County came together today to discuss what we can do to help students at MSD and children throughout the county cope with trauma and depression.” —The Washington Post, March 22, 2019

Not all school shooting
victims are physically

Bear no visible scars
though everyone was
aware of what happened

That she had been there,
and, somehow,
she survived through no
fault of her own

Some watched as their
best friends died while they
were unscathed

All felt helpless and knew
they would never be
the same after-that day-

She fell into a deep depression

Felt despair

Not even daily Yoga helped

It is impossible to empty
your mind after something
like that

“No one knew how I felt.”
She said.

Her best friend’s father
insisted, “He did.”
Of course, he did

“Killing yourself is not the answer.”

All the parents understand

Her friends who survived knew
what she meant

But it wasn’t enough

Sydney Aiello was 19
when she died.

Alan Catlin has published dozens of chapbooks and full-length books, most recently the chapbook Three Farmers on the Way to a Dance (Presa Press), a series of ekphrastic poems responding to the work of German photographer August Sander who did portraits of Germans before, during, and after both World Wars.