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Sunday, April 21, 2019

UNBURIED ALLELUIA

by Jill Crainshaw


The devastating fire at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris led to an immediate outpouring of donations and an ambitious pledge by the French president to rebuild within five years. But a continent away, the blaze also spurred more than $1.8 million in donations to rebuild three historically black churches burned in suspected hate crimes in Louisiana. The fires at the three churches in St. Landry Parish occurred over 10 days beginning at the end of March. Authorities said they were deliberately set and have arrested a suspect. As of Sunday, a GoFundMe campaignseeking donations for the churches had raised only about $50,000. By Thursday morning, donations had soared to more than $1.8 million. The money is to be distributed equally among the three churches, which were all a century old. —NBC News, April 18, 2019. Photo: St. Mary's Church in Louisiana was the first to burn. Natalie Obregon / NBC News file. [Editor's Note: The GoFundMe campaign is no longer accepting donations. It has raised more than $2 million, exceeding its goal.] 


a weary sister walks among the ruins
sweeping up cold ashes into a dustbin
for next year’s lenten initiation, she says as she
scoops priceless residue into her cupped hand
some of it slipping away through shaky fingers
settling again onto the charred ground
        “remember that you are dust
         and to dust you shall return”
the preacher said just 40 days ago while pressing
ashy imprints of mortality on eager foreheads
nobody even saw it coming then—
unholy tongues of fire stripping altars bare
out of sync with high holy ritual processions
where hopeful worshipers catch sparks
from an easter vigil flame and carry them
into silent sacred good friday sanctuaries
she puts a hand on her tired back and
when she lifts her face toward the pinking sky
a wayward bit of wind stirs the ashes in her hand
she lets them go
and even with all other words
smothered by smoke and tears
she tastes alleluia on her cracked lips


Jill Crainshaw is a professor at Wake Forest University School of Divinity in Winston-Salem, NC.

OLD WOOD

by Karen Greenbaum-Maya


April 16, 2019 Fallen debris from the cathedral’s burned-out roof lies near the altar. Christophe Morin/Bloomberg News via The Washington Post.


Halfway through my last dinner, I saw the blaze,
unfathomable as the Grand Canyon creaking shut.
The owner confirmed:  Everyone on staff is following

as firefighters poured the river onto the flames.
When the spire lifted as it toppled, people gasped,
wailed as though a suicide had jumped.

The day before I’d walked the quais,
browsed the bookinistes, shot mood pics of the towers,
total cornball, through the mist of new leaves.

Arrow of God, the spire had fallen before the sun was down,
The fire turned the sky red, turned the cross white-hot.

Not all the water in the world, not even the river could help.
People stood and watched, sang and wept.
Rains came only the next morning.

Ash sifted down catching, reflecting coral light
I’d brought my husband’s ashes in a carved wooden box.
No need, no need.

After dinner, the owner walked me to the door. We sniffed the air.
Vieux bois, she shrugged, wincing. Old wood.


Karen Greenbaum-Maya’s third and weirdest chapbook Kafka's Cat will soon be available at Kattywompus Press.

EASTER 1958

by Alan Walowitz




To make me feel more welcome in their home,
the new neighbor, Mrs. Kelly, told me her doctor’s a Jew,
and she wouldn’t consider any other kind.
I was small and thought that friendly and fine,
till one of her sons—Fat Bob, I think,
asked me why I killed the baby Jesus
which sent me crying from their house.

The moms thought we could patch this up,
but first I made mine swear
that all this Easter-stuff—
not the pretty eggs in the basket,
nor the man in the Kelly’s entry way
asleep and hanging from the cross—
had anything to do with us.

Still, I felt uneasy Easter morning
when I went to pick a chocolate bunny
from their crèche of green excelsior,
where, Bobby assured me, the now-risen Jesus
had been laid to rest just yesterday,
and, he said, sort of kindly,
it was partly thanks to me.


Alan Walowitz has been published various places on the web and off.  His work has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize in 2017 and 2018 and is a Contributing Editor at Verse-Virtual, an Online Community Journal of Poetry.  His chapbook Exactly Like Love is available from Osedax Press, and his full-length book The Story of the Milkman and other poems will appear shortly from Truth Serum Press.

TRUMP'S TAKE ON THE MUELLER REPORT

by Anna M. Evans




I didn't say the things it says I said.
We didn't do the things it says we did,
and if it says we did, I say it's lying

because it also says it caught me lying
when there's no record of the things I said,
and no one witnessed anything we did.

I had my reasons for the things I did.
Everyone twists my words and says I'm lying.
You can't believe a single word that's said.

I didn't say I said I never lied.


Anna M. Evans’ poems have appeared in the Harvard Review, Atlanta Review, Rattle, American Arts Quarterly, and 32 Poems. She gained her MFA from Bennington College and is the Editor of the Raintown Review. Recipient of Fellowships from the MacDowell Artists' Colony and the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and winner of the 2012 Rattle Poetry Prize Readers' Choice Award, she currently teaches at West Windsor Art Center and Rowan College at Burlington County. Her new collection Under Dark Waters: Surviving the Titanic is out now from Able Muse Press, and her sonnet collection Sisters & Courtesans is available from White Violet Press.

Saturday, April 20, 2019

SPEECH SCROLL #69, #70

by David Chorlton


TUCSON, AZ (AZ FAMILY) Family members on Friday identified the woman killed in a shootout between federal agents and suspected human traffickers in Ahwatukee. Her name is Theresa Juan. —April 12, 2019


Beneath the unruffled blue
of Thursday’s sky, a helicopter
circles and circles. And circles
a vehicle bleeding
from each of its doors, and the truck
that broke a wall when it turned,
avoiding crossfire. Only the speed bumps
know what happened before
an ambulance carried
the victims away. Fifty shots,
a neighbor claims, on
such a pleasant day to sit
outside and listen to the starlings
chatter. It’s impossible
to tell whether the dead woman’s spirit
became a small white butterfly
or the drone over Forty-eighth Street
come to look back on her life.

A chorus of bees
leaves the hive in a rock
with the sun singing an accompaniment
of light. The authorities have left
the scene, one lifetime and
a half hour’s walk from the arroyo
where Rock wrens fly in peace.
The official story is
that good men chased the bad
and fire was met with fire. The doves
in the desert won’t say what ensued
and the tracks in the gravel
don’t lead to any truth but
what coyotes, who never
give anything away,
know about the bullet
that chose a woman without asking
whether she was guilty.


David Chorlton was born in Austria, grew up in Manchester, England, and lived in Vienna before moving to Phoenix in 1978. The Bitter Oleander Press published Shatter the Bell in My Ear, translations of poems by Austrian poet Christine Lavant. Reading T. S. Eliot to a Bird is from Hoot ‘n Waddle in Phoenix.

Friday, April 19, 2019

DOING THE LAUNDRY WITH WILLIAM BARR

by Mary K O'Melveny

Cartoon by Randall Enos for The Nation.


Today, our local laundromat
was very crowded.  Lots to do.
My clothes are filled with dirt, was what
she said.  This muck goes through
and through. But he was not
concerned at all. Rinse and repeat,
he counseled.  No matter what you’ve got,
my formula is hard to beat.
The worst stains vanish like magic.
At first, there’s slime, then none.
Even when it all looks tragic,
rinse and repeat.  Soon it’s all gone.
Out damned spot, said she.
There’s nothing there, said he.


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.

THE BILL OF RIGHTS: REDACTED VERSION

an erasure by Ed Werstein

"Redaction Distraction" by John McNamee posted at TheNib, February 10th, 2017


Article I: Congress shall make law prohibiting freedom of speech and petition of grievances.
Article II: Necessary to keep arms.
Article III: Consent of war to be prescribed by law.
Article IV: Searches and seizures shall issue. Persons, things, to be seized.
Article V: Persons held in jeopardy, compelled to witness against freedom without compensation.
Article VI: Criminal prosecutions by the State shall be compulsory.
Article VII: Suits shall exceed. Dollars shall be preserved. No fact shall be reexamined.
Article VIII: Excessive bail shall be required; punishments inflicted.
Article IX: The Constitution shall be construed to disparage the people.
Article X: Power to the United States!  


Ed Werstein, a regional VP of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, was awarded the 2018 Lorine Niedecker Prize for Poetry by the Council For Wisconsin Writers. His work has appeared in Stoneboat, Blue Collar Review, Gyroscope Review, among other publications, and is forthcoming in Rosebud. His 2018 book A Tar Pit To Dye In is available from Kelsay Books. His chapbook Who Are We Then? was published in 2013 by Partisan Press.

Thursday, April 18, 2019

45

by Gil Hoy


Members of a family reunite through the border wall between Mexico and United States, during the "Keep our dream alive" event, in Ciudad Juarez, Chihuahua state, Mexico on December 10, 2017. Families separated by the border were reunited for three minutes through the fence that separates Ciudad Juarez Park in Mexico and Sunland in New Mexico, United States, during an event called "Keep our dream alive", organized by the Border Network for Human Rights on the International Human Rights Day. HERIKA MARTINEZ/AFP/GETTY IMAGES via Texas Public Radio


In this poem, proper sentence 
structure will be followed.

For example, sentences will start
with a capital letter and end

with a proper punctuation mark.

Sentences will be grammatically correct.

Some may say that this will likely detract 
from the poem’s poetic quality,

but I’m not sure I can agree.

I’m also not sure real poems require words

I italicize for emphasis.

For example, is an image held 
in the mind of crying children—

of thousands of immigrant families

separated at the border—never
to be reunited, poetic?

Is the image symbolic and evokes
strong emotions? Is it repetitive 
and sick at heart?

Are the precise words of one’s 
internal dialogue describing the image 

what make it poetic or not?

Can a number be a poem, or at least poetic?
Such as the title of this poem?

I will never think of “45” in the same way again.


Gil Hoy is a Boston poet and semi-retired trial lawyer who studied poetry at Boston University through its Evergreen program. Hoy previously received a B.A. in Philosophy and Political Science from Boston University, an M.A. in Government from Georgetown University, and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. He served as a Brookline, Massachusetts Selectman for four terms. Hoy’s poetry has appeared most recently in Chiron Review, TheNewVerse.News, Ariel Chart, Social Justice Poetry, Poetry24, Right Hand Pointing/One Sentence Poems, I am not a silent poet, The Potomac, Clark Street Review, the penmen review and elsewhere.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

IN THE JUNGLE, LIANAS COVER WHOLE CITIES

by Devon Balwit




After 1,700 years, two vast Buddhas fell
to dynamite. 856, and Notre-Dame scorches
the Paris skyline, a spark from a restorer’s blowtorch,
or some other carelessness, small
to have such large consequences. Strangers tell
each other stories of the time they marched
up the narrow spiral staircase to perch
in the tower, uplifted by history, and marvel.
The Stoics warn that as long as we place
our highest good outside ourselves, we’re at the mercy
of caprice. Inside is our rose window, our flying
buttress. Inside, the thunderous bell and the space
for God. It’s hard. We trust what we can see.
But each loss invites us to keep trying.


Devon Balwit's most recent collection is titled A Brief Way to Identify a Body (Ursus Americanus Press). Her individual poems can be found here as well as in The Cincinnati Review, Tampa Review, Fifth Wednesday (on-line), Apt, Grist, and Oxidant Engine among others.

NOTRE-DAME DE PARIS

by David Southward





It took nothing—
a smoker’s match, a welder’s spark—
to start the blaze
in my ribs.

You will search
the smoldering grandeur
for some dire cause.
That is your rhythm.

But remember:
the one you blame
is small and frightened, like you.
Like you, my child.

Forgive him.


David Southward teaches in the Honors College at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. His chapbook Apocrypha was published by Wipf & Stock in 2018; a full collection, Bachelor’s Buttons, is forthcoming from Kelsay Books (April 2020).

EASTER PASSION AS NOTRE-DAME COLLAPSES

by Earl J Wilcox





In my town today, construction workers
digging in red clay clipped cable lines
to thousands of homes causing early
morning mayhem—no computer
access, cable news, email, stock market,
baseball scores, weekly NEW YORKER—
civilization as we know it. They say, I
learned many hours later, the fire began
in the spire while all morning I fumed
and fiddled the hours away by cleaning
listening to old CDs, feeding humming birds,
washed/dried/folded three loads of
laundry, walked for 35 minutes—all
before noon as the Cathedral burned.
Early afternoon, as the fire spread
and panic roared in Paris, I napped,
after eating a spare lunch of boiled
cabbage, lima beans and a small meat
patty, walked again, vacuumed,
angrily and with petty vengeance
sprayed carpet bees buzzing my
pergola, watered an Easter Lily,
began the first of several classic opera
CDs, strolled to the street to fetch junk
mail, texted family and friends,
(none mentioned a great fire!)
as Parisians panicked in peril, prayed
for God’s intervention here in Holy Week.
In my passion, I ignorantly enjoyed our
Magnificent Spring sunshine, took
Images of my majestic azaleas, wondering
how a pilgrim feels spending April in Paris.


Earl J Wilcox is regular contributor to TheNewVerse.News.

AU REVOIR, SAINTE EGLISE

by J. D. Mackenzie





The holy church does not believe
inanimate objects like buildings
have souls, but I know you do—
I saw into yours

I recall a summer term
fixated on gargoyles,
drinking in the art
and St. Julien
on Bastille Day

Wood on the inside,
stone on the outside
centuries of incense smoke
spilled wax and wine

This of all weeks
hours after Palm Sunday,
the Easter sermon
already written

Fire takes us
when nothing else can,
not even time


J. D. Mackenzie is an Oregon-based poet with an unnatural dependence on topics found in the news, including international and progressive news outlets.

WATCHING THE BURNING OF NOTRE-DAME CATHEDRAL ON MSNBC WORLD NEWS

by Alan Catlin





The day after
Palm Sunday

in Paris is now
Black Monday.

The flames
oddly beautiful
at night

like fire fight
mad minute
tracer rounds
in the jungle

or the rockets
Wilfred Owen
was transfixed by

in the trenches
of a no man’s land
during World War 1.

The Nazis were
supposed to burn
the city as they left

but disobeyed
high command
orders.

When asked
Is Paris Burning?

There was no
answer.

Paris is burning now.


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.

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

LEAK (OUT)

by Alejandro Escudé




Couldn’t he have moved to Ecuador? Surrounded by parrots and monkeys,
and colonial era churches? Instead, bearded, he was ushered

into a police van in London, and I pictured Sherlock Holmes standing off to one side,
a grin on his pointy face, pipe in hand, uttering something cheeky.

How else to process this 9/11 man? This walking man-virus
who somehow snatched the biggest governments on Earth
like a father might snatch his little son by the ear, dragging them to their perspective rooms.

White-haired wizard now, Assange protested his apprehension,
London traffic like a street scene in Thomas the Train;

because this time is…and was…a cave full of glittering fossils, mandibles of early hominids, skulls or skull fragments, roaring time signatures,
blue birds oozing from fissures in the once-dark ceilings.

Ecuadorians said Assange's residence was no longer tenable. A tree, alabaster white,
growing in his room, the roots digging deep, reaching for the planetary pole,
emailed enigmas, evil conspiracies,

a G-Man in Dealey Plaza, bullets screaming past, halting
mid-air, like satellites approaching the black hole of history,

and there, Assange, naked, albino, crucified on a hill outside the city’s firewalls.
I want to ask him what was the ultimate secret
he was searching for? I want to stroll over the glassy Thames
with him, like a heavenly correspondent
interviewing an implacable terrorist, the devil made flesh, a fiberoptic alien,

and just listen to the diatribe of his breathing,
and feast on what he sought, and probe as to what he’d embezzled
from the pressing otherness of our voiceless governments.


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.

Monday, April 15, 2019

THE STUMBLING STONES

by Mark Tarren


A candle and roses laid on a set of Stolpersteine in Berlin at a commemorative ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of Kristallnacht. Photograph: Eliza Apperly —The Guardian, February 18, 2019


So they walk.
This invisible procession of ghosts,
a march of mist.

Hidden amongst the alleyways
and cobblestones

of forgotten footprints
in stone and snow.

A fingerless glove
caresses a patch of brass.

Here I am

His words
shadows in the air.

Kristallnacht.

His home
the face of the past.


The girl recognises him.

The Boy with the Jasper Eyes.

They used to play and sing
in the alleyways of
snow and school satchels.

She could smell the scent
of leather between them.

His musty jacket.
The fragrance of childhood.

She could only see
the back of his head
as they walked.

An innocent almond
in its collared sheath.

She remembers his gentle hands.
His careful smile.

Please turn around.

The Boy with the Jasper Eyes.

His words fell to the floor
of stone and snow
in their quiet knowing.

Three pebbles rolled
off the tongue onto

The Stumbling Stone

Here I am

Then she was alone.


The girl suddenly felt tired.
It was as if the whole of history
was buried deep behind her eyes.

A Grave for the Jews.

It was then she noticed the fire.

A window. A fireplace.
Laughter. Papa’s arms.
The smell of pine.

The taste of boiled lollies.

There was no brass plate
beneath her feet.

No Stolpersteine.

My name is Anna

and I live here.


Mark Tarren is a poet and writer based in Queensland, Australia. His poems have appeared or are forthcoming in various literary journals including TheNewVerse.News, The Blue Nib, Poets Reading The News, Street Light Press, Spillwords Press and Tuck Magazine.

Saturday, April 13, 2019

SONNET: AMERICA IN 2019

by Robert Darling


Donald Trump — Riding the Wrecking Ball, by DonkeyHotey


A would-be tyrant and accomplished liar
as president, the courts deaf to the poor,
and Congress filled with dotards up for hire;
the churches silent on what they should deplore
with priests and pastors who serve their own desire,
and conscience quiet in communities at war
with common sense.  As once the drivers of slaves
claimed they were slaves themselves, is hypocrisy
the driver of our facts? We build on graves
of genocide and treat our history
as promised consummation, the end of days,
and claim our innocence has kept us free.
And if bare, battered Truth somehow appeared
would we have eyes to see or ears to hear? 


Robert Darling has published two full-length collections of poetry, So Far and Gleanings, three chapbooks of poems, Boundaries, The Craftsman’s Praise, and Breaking the Silence and a volume of criticism on the Australian poet A.D. Hope. He has contributed poems and reviews to over fifty magazines and articles in several reference books in the US, Great Britain, Canada, and Australia.  He is Professor in Humanities and Fine Arts at Keuka College. The above poem is a response/updating of Shelley's "Sonnet: England in 1819."

STEALTHY BOMBERS MIGRATING TO VERMONT IN FALL 2019

by Tricia Knoll


A federal report on the noise impact of F-35 jets on the area surrounding the Burlington International Airport is delayed again. Noise exposure information due from the Federal Aviation Administration regarding the F-35A Lightning II stealth fighter jets was due in December, then February. Now, according to airport officials, the information will be publicly available—tentatively—next month. —Burlington Free Press, March 14, 2019


The cemetery and the dairy face off against each other
on the winter-potholed two-lane road that runs
between two towns that aren’t really very big.

The F-35s are coming to the most populated part
of the state with the politicians’ blessings. On those wings
hang jobs, a possibly spotty safety record, and cost over-runs

that bring the war machine to where
the cemetery and the dairy face each other
on a first warm spring day.  The flags

in the cemetery reflect winter tatter
and the pasture grass for the cows
is brown. Someone on the radio

states that the new planes are four times
louder than the F-15s that left town
on Saturday, but whose brain can multiply

sound and decibels well enough to imagine that?
Suspicious why the FAA hasn’t issued
those sound maps, where the four times

as loud will be suffered. One man half-heartedly
blames the government shut down. The kids
in the school haven’t had their exercises yet

for when the noise terrifies them. They are
busy having their regular old active-shooter
drills. Even when the pasture grass is brown

and the flags on the cemetery are winter torn.


Tricia Knoll lives directly in the flight path of the F35s that will be stationed at the Vermont Air National Guard. She is a poet who is very tired of war machines, bellicose wall builders and those who seek to jail young children. 

Friday, April 12, 2019

PRESENCE IN THE ABSENCE

by Mary K O'Melveny


Illustration by Andy Gilmore for The New York Times, October 4, 2018. Stephen Hawking said that particles that fall into a black hole “can’t just emerge when the black hole disappears.” Instead, “the particles that come out of a black hole seem to be completely random and bear no relation to what fell in. It appears that the information about what fell in is lost, apart from the total amount of mass and the amount of rotation. If determinism breaks down, we can’t be sure of our past history either,”  Hawking said. “The history books and our memories could just be illusions. It is the past that tells us who we are. Without it, we lose our identity. Black holes are stranger than anything dreamed up by science fiction writers, but they are clearly matters of science fact.” —NWO Report, April 24, 2016


Black holes have our attention
once again. We still know little
or nothing. They are consummate
known unknowns, as Rumsfeld once said.

An image haunts us as we guess
at portraits of bending space, our
breath catches mid-inhale, as we
ruminate on combustion.

Or collapse. I had a lover
once who made me feel I could do
both at the same time—plummet from
heat to nothingness in seconds.

How I gravitated to flame
and then to black ice still amazes
all these light years later even
when my days now rotate with sun.

Perhaps we are obsessed with past
lives when they become places of
no return. Where memories curve
inward, leave us to read between lines.

That is why we hunger for things
we don’t know or can’t remember.
Why, even though ignorance may
devour us, shadows of faith adhere.


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.

BLACK HOLES

by Rick Mullin
The Quantum Black Hole by John Baez


I liked the way they looked in my imagination.
Huge aortas in the midnight sky
devouring time and space and light,
demolishing the errant satellite.

I like subjective characterization
and not forever asking why.

But here comes a received and peer-reviewed design,
a doughnut over-lit and over-glazed.
The hole’s too small for all that stuff
and overall not black enough.

I liked the black holes more when they were mine,
when I was curious, confused and dazed.


Rick Mullin's newest poetry collection is Lullaby and Wheel.

BLACK HOLE

by Sally Zakariya


Today (April 10), a global collaboration of more than 200 astronomers presented the first image of a directly-observed black hole. The picture of a glowing orange-yellow ring around a dark core, was compiled from observations by eight ground-based radio telescopes known collectively as the Event Horizon Telescope (EHT). —Live Science


Einstein dreamed them
far flung across the cosmos

Scientists to come had faith in them
believed in them, believed in the math
  that proved them

But until now only God could see them
their aura so bright a thousand suns blush
their pull so unimaginably great
their dark core so unfathomably deep
that to dare to submit to the immensity
to cross the impossible threshold
is to plunge to eternity


Sally Zakariya’s poetry has appeared in some 75 journals and been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net. Her most recent publication is the chapbook The Unknowable Mystery of Other People from The Poetry Box. She is also the author of Personal AstronomyWhen You EscapeInsectomania, and Arithmetic and other verses, as well as the editor of a poetry anthology, Joys of the Table.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

ASYLUM SONG

by M.H. Spicknall


Hundreds of migrants are being held under an El Paso, Texas bridge without clean water or proper shelter. —NowThis News, March 29, 2019


When all the dogs run into the wood
  When all the forests stiffen to stone
    When all the rocks dissolve into dust
When all the debris buries the thrones

When all good gods have fall’n to their knees
  When all the faithful have done what they could
    When all the deeds done do not hold the hounds
When all of us have forgotten the good

When all the pleas are lost silent screams
  When all the quiet has set loose a fate
    When all coming time reflects only us
When all our mirrors reflect only hate

When all our fears have walled off the world
  When all of this land is for just us alone
    When all of them crawl back to the wood
When all that’s left is to gnaw on their bones


Author’s Note: The poem can be sung to Dylan’s “Masters Of War,” and includes a sad nod to Woody Guthrie.


Mark Spicknall is a manufacturing and business consultant, who writes simply to help distill things to their essence for his own understanding.

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

THE TIN MAN

by Matthew McDermott


Coco Fusco: Twilight at The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art, Sarasota, FL. 


Beauty makes me long to build hotels.
Dorothy stood here once, her hands on her slaphappy hips.
She spoke glowingly of Kansas. I thought of her milky white tits.
She cast my advances aside, wanting true love from my heart.
I mimed my felonious advances, knowing of no other art.

The therapist sailed in confidently and tied three volunteers to me.
He rolled me down a mountain slope, trying to set a new side of me free.
We headed west, until, one day, we came to the great Muddy.
Surrounded by prairie dog dens, he sought to introduce America to me.

Off, off, off! I whispered, but we were tied together like a bundle of sticks.
The therapist flew above us in a balloon, watching to see if my mind was cleared.
My parents were killed in a car crash when I was twelve, said the man strapped
to my back. I cleared my throat as one is supposed to when sympathy is required.

I have breast cancer, said the woman on my front, but I couldn’t get a look
at her, no matter how I writhed. I gave up and threw my weight to each side.
Come on, I said. What’s your deal? I’m waiting. You better not be dead.
I can’t take the smell, the bugs, the worms! Just then, I heard the therapist’s voice.

This worked before on a man with a heart of coal, but here we only have an absence,
a tin chest acting as a relic of our forgotten humanity. I wash my hands of you,
there’ll be no rebirth; for here strides our grifter-in-chief, the Tin Man. To feed his ego
he would sell the earth, or your sister, your dog, your child: all are casino chips to him.

I shrugged at his pronouncements. And smiled. Why am I so lovable then?
There’s one thing, I, as a grifter, know. It’s not me, it’s you. I couldn’t do
any of this without you. I will remake this nation in my image: hollow men.



Matthew McDermott is a poet and nonprofit manager who lives in the Chicago area.

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

THE DAY THE CROWS CAME

by Susan Carlson


Crows by Mary Quite Сontrary

A crow floats past on level wings
noiselessly.
—D.H. Lawrence, "Winter-Lull"

You woke up dark.  Troubled by a murder
of crows, the ones that were circling our roof.

I was reading the New York Times, focused on words
flocked in columns, the orderly murmuration of print.

The world’s a scary place, sure, and worse
is today.  Of course I knew that, holding

as I was, so much of it right there in my hands.
But not enough for you.  You wanted to know

why we continue cruelly to evolve when there is enough
to eat.  Why does now have to be a harbinger flying

the foreboding flag of then?  I wanted you to leave me alone
in my Midwest nest where I am responsible and planned

to recycle the paper I was folding up, green citizen that I am, despite
refusing electronic notification of the state of our planet, its trees.

You refused your morning coffee, asked me to google what it means
when a place is centered in the silent swoop of level wings.

You made me watch them, those crows, made me wait for
their caw.  Look, you said, just look at the effort their occasional

intermittent conversation requires.  And when one came to rest
on a branch just long enough for me to see his brunette breast

compress with the quick bark of what he had to say that day –
I was compelled to hear it again.  And so we found ourselves

silence-bound beneath their somber wave.  All those crows folding above
ground, weighting our wait for what was to be a dire and dismal cry.


Susan Carlson lives, works, and writes in southeastern Michigan. She has attended workshops including Tin House, the Minnesota Northwoods Writers Conference, and the Djerassi Resident Artists Program. Her poems have appeared in Your Impossible Voice, Pretty Owl Poetry, The Literary Nest, The Other Journal, and Typishly, among other journals.

Monday, April 08, 2019

OUR COUNTRY IS FULL

by Philip C. Kolin


"Horton Hears a Hoax" posted by george_spiggott at TPM


The country is too full
of borders, ports of entry,
coasts, rivers, airports,
sanctuary cities.
We have too many huddled
masses, tired refuse.
Others are having trouble
being on top.
Too many immigrant babies
wearing brown skin
with no name tags, no parents.
The slats in our walls are too full
of peering eyes and restless hands
trying to squeeze in. Lather the posts
with strychnine. Send them home
in ICE body bags, R. I. P.
We have too many reporters
filing too  many fake news stories—
we need to manacle their tongues.
Too many fact checkers,
just too many facts.
We are too full of Democrats;
Nader, Schiff, and Pelozi
ought to be under house arrest.
We are too full of obstructions
to collusions. The courts are too full
of judges of Mexican descent.
We have too many states
on the coasts; ship them
to the middle of the country
to learn about making America great again.
We are too full of popular votes;
let the Electoral College prevail.
The country is just too full of wind.


Philip C. Kolin is the University Distinguished Professor at the University of Southern Mississippi where he also edits the Southern Quarterly. He has published more than 40 books on Shakespeare, Tennessee Williams, Edward Albee, African American playwrights as well as  seven collections of poems. His most recent book is Reaching Forever: Poems in the Poiema Series of Cascade Books.

Sunday, April 07, 2019

[muh-nip-yuh-ley-shuh n]

by Rémy Dambron



  oil pastel drawing manipulated in photoshop by u/monealiza


the art of manipulation
is not about making people
do what you want them to do
but rather getting them to
want to do what you want
them to do so if you tell a lie
that is big enough and tell it
often enough people will
believe it is true first identify
what it is those people like
then work backwards and
direct their desires toward the
goal you want to achieve then
empower yourself and people
who will help you stay in power
empathize with other abusers
and people whose actions
mirror or rival the severity of
yours embrace an opportunity
to profit from others welcome
an opportunity to disparage
anyone cherish an opportunity
to create chaos employ
psychological manipulation (a
form of social influence that
aims at advancing the goals of
the manipulator through the use
of underhanded indirect and
deceptive tactics) showcase
expert knowledge (you are an
expert if you insist that you are)
harness association bias (the
tendency to associate truth with
people you like rather than with
facts) engage in name calling
(anything goes) mockery (a must)
insults (the more outrageous the
better) imitation (of people who are
a threat to you) intimidation (of
people who are a threat to you)
threats (against people who might
expose you) bullying (people who
stand up to you) and gaslighting
(manipulative tactic used to gain
power and assert dominance over
a victim by forcing them to
question and challenge their own
sanity)


Rémy Dambron is an environmentalist and advocate for social justice. His works have appeared in Naturewriting.com, What Rough Beast, and Poets Reading the News. In a time when freedom of speech is being attacked by the very people sworn to protect it, he chooses to write poetry because he believes it is among the most democratic forms of literature, as it can be accessed by everyone and created by anyone.   

Saturday, April 06, 2019

THE WOMAN CARD

by Skaidrite Stelzer




Too hard to say the exact words,
the exacting words.
How a hand can be placed on a shoulder;
the sudden shudder of his breath in my hair.
Because I don’t know him really,
a stranger,
and I don’t like men creeping up behind me.
Because they can’t see my face,
they may feel they are gentlemen,
they may think me too sensitive,
easy to melt,
quietly.
Easy to melt with my mouth closed,
tongue removed,
unless his in my ear.
Such close whispering meant
only to reassure me
and the chorus arising,
overpowering.
What is the risk?
I remember the man
who followed me home one night
from the laundromat
and I did not mind it.
But another night
he came in accidentally.
My accident, not locking the door.
There is often something more
to the story.
If you want to touch me,
at least look me straight
in the face.


Skaidrite Stelzer lives and writes in Toledo, Ohio.  Growing up as a post-war refugee and displaced person, she feels connected to the world and other stray planets.  Her poetry has been published in Fourth River, Eclipse, Glass, Baltimore Review, and many other literary journals as well as TheNewVerse.News.

AN AWKWARD AGE

by Wayne Scheer




Hugs were rare where I grew up,
reserved for mother/son greetings
and father/daughter consoling.
I don't recall seeing
either of my parents hugging
a friend or each other, for that matter.
To the day he died,
my father and I shook hands.

My wife, on the other hand,
probably hugged the doctor at birth.
And after years of standoffishness,
she taught me to open up
and hug friends, male and female.

Yesterday, at an art museum.,
we met a friendly young couple
who live a couple houses down from us.
My wife went in for hugs
while I shook the man's hand
and proudly moved to hug the young woman.

As I opened my arms
I saw she had extended her right arm for a handshake,
a member of Pelosi's straight arm club, I presume,
but it was too late,
and it resulted in an awkward half hug.

Now that I finally learned to hug,
I have to relearn, like Joe Biden, that hugs
aren't always welcomed,
that I need to wait, momentarily,
for the woman to signal
how much of her personal space
she's willing to give up.

As Joe said, I get it.
But please forgive the awkwardness
while I adjust.


Wayne Scheer is an old codger trying to stay relevant. He has been nominated for four Pushcart Prizes and two Best of the Nets. He's published numerous stories, poems and essays in print and online, including Revealing Moments, a collection of flash stories. His short story, “Zen and the Art of House Painting” has been made into a short film.

Friday, April 05, 2019

THE WATCHERS

by Jonel Abellanosa


"Are we alone? Probably not. After all, astronomers have already found 4,001 confirmed exoplanets in our Milky Way galaxy, and expect there to be over 50 billion exoplanets out there. For scientists gathering in Paris today, the question is different: why haven’t we made contact with alien civilizations?" —Forbes, March 18, 2019. Image source: Hadrian’s Gate.


Not because we’re a threat to them.
Only a hundred years for the Wright
Brothers’ wooden plane to turn into
the F-22 stealth fighter. So if they
preexisted us for millions of years?
Common to know life terminated
at least twice: a giant space rock and
a flood. Our planet holds the living
principle. We’ve to be zooed in the
Fermi Paradox. Destroyers most of us,
the living vessel the object of concern.
In plain sight the variable they gave
us to exit the simulation’s looping
subroutine: love. But most choose
hate and greed, indifference. They’re
now preparing to restart the program.


A previous contributor to TheNewVerse.News, Jonel Abellanosa lives in Cebu City, the Philippines. His poetry has appeared in numerous journals, including Rattle, That Literary Review, McNeese Review, Mojave River Review and Star*Line, and been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net, and Dwarf Stars award. His recently-published books are Songs from My Mind’s Tree (NY: Clare Songbirds Publishing, 2018) and 50 Acrostic Poems (India: Cyberwit, 2019). Forthcoming are Multiverse, his full-length poetry collection from Clare Songbirds and Pan’s Saxophone, his speculative poetry collection from Weasel Press.

Thursday, April 04, 2019

IT'S A SIGN

by Jean Varda

It's a Sign!


It’s a sign, the black charred ground
the empty space where ponderosa,
cedar and oaks once stood tall and stately
It’s a sign, the sparseness of insects
and birds, the temperatures
unbearably hot or unbearably cold
It’s a sign, the school shootings
the police killings of unarmed men, the
families at the border being separated
from their children and turned away
as they flee violence and are only
faced with more. It’s a sign when more
people are pushing shopping carts
on the street then shopping carts in the
store or sleeping by the river in tents
and makeshift shelters.
It’s a sign when artificial intelligence
has taken over almost everything we do
and children stare into digital screens
every chance they get. It’s a sign when
the highest death rate is due to suicide
and drugs, when a nineteen year old
kills herself because she cannot bear
the guilt and pain of having watched
her best friend die in a massacre at
her school. It’s a sign when children
are the ones gathering by the millions
in the nation’s capital to ask the adults
to do something about the semi
automatic weapons that killed their
friends. And when children sit in offices
of politicians begging them to pass
legislation on the environmental
emergency so they have a future on
this shrinking planet when they
should be playing hopscotch
                                and eating jelly beans, it’s a sign.  


Jean Varda gave her first poetry reading at Stone Soup Gallery in Boston Mass. Presented by Poet Jack Powers. This was followed by performances on street corners, prisons and churches with her mentor story teller Brother Blue. Then to San Francisco to join Kush with Cloud House, and the largest collection of San Francisco Beat poets on film. She has published six chapbooks of poetry, establishing Sacred Feather Press. She started four open mics, taught poetry writing workshops, hosted a radio show, was nominated for a pushcart prize. All while raising two daughters and working as a Hospice nurse. She now resides Chico, CA where she works as a nurse and a collage artist. 

Wednesday, April 03, 2019

A GOLDEN SHOVEL FOR THE RESISTANCE

by Lynne Knight



Image source: Greenpeace


The Special Counsel states that “while this report does not conclude that the President committed a crime, it also does not exonerate him.”


All that weekend, checking our phones while
we waited, some of us praying, all of us thinking this
might be it, this might be the day the report

says what we want it to say, telling us what he does
is what he’s always done, he lied, he lies, sometimes not
even big lies, from which it’s easy to conclude

many things about his psyche, most of all that
he’s deeply insecure, so insecure it’s hard to see the—
the what?—extent of his neuroses? but a president,

carrying on like a child—maybe he should be committed,
we say, his rants are so wild, maybe he’s just totally a-
moral, and while that’s nothing approaching crime,

it does show how asleep we are, how numb, moreover it
shows how power corrupts, no one’s exempt, even us, and also
it exposes the deep fault in the national psyche, it does,

it does, we are split, fractured, broken, divided, there is not
much time for healing, and since nothing will ever exonerate
us for our silence, let us say what is, let us dig in against him.




Lynne Knight has published six full-length poetry collections and six chapbooks, along with I Know (Je sais), a translation, with the author Ito Naga, of his Je sais. Her awards include publication in Best American Poetry, a Poetry Society of America award, a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and a RATTLE Poetry Prize.

Tuesday, April 02, 2019

A CHANGE OF PLAN

by R.G. Jodah


Henley Homes, a property developer, markets Baylis Old School, their 149-home London development on the site of a former school, as “an education in living well.” It’s turning out to be an education in inequality in modern-day Britain. The development, completed in 2016, has a large green play space for children belonging to well-off families in the development. But kids who live in the “affordable” section of the development aren’t allowed to come play. (UK developments typically have to allot a certain portion of their projects to affordable housing because of a massive shortage in London.) —Quartz, March 27, 2019. Photo: Salvatora Rea looks out at the communal play area and garden his children are not allowed to use. Photograph: Graeme Robertson/The Guardian, March 25, 2019.


With a flourish
he produced a key.
     —“Ta-da!”—
Turned an open gate
to whips and walls:
secured their playground,
made a prison
of the whole wide world.


R.G. Jodah lives in London, enjoying metropolitan anonymity. Appeared in: The Lampeter Review, Typishly, Dream Catcher, Southlight, LightenUp Online. London Grip, Three Drops from a Cauldron (forthcoming).