Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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

Wednesday, July 17, 2019


by Laura Lee Washburn

This drawing is part of an exhibition in Tucson, AZ of original watercolors and other artworks by kids whose families have fled to the U.S. seeking asylum. Casa Alitas operates a refugee shelter in a former Benedictine Monastery and offers art-making classes to traumatized kids released from detention.

“It’s not what you look at that matters,
  it’s what you see.”
—Henry David Thoreau

In the blue pool with jogging women
every morning this month I’ve seen
in distant tree yellow busted balloon.

I have ridden the packed dirt
on a brown three-speed bike
almost into long black snake.

I have been to the marsh
where green leaves reflect
from brown tannin waters.
I will go there again.

I have felt unease, eaten
too much sugar, sagged
at the loneliness of bad friendships.

I’ve helped light one hundred and forty candles
after dark, listened to testimony, heard
the names of six dead migrant children:

Darlyn, Jakelin, Felipe, Juanito, Wilmer, Carlos.
I’ve read the judicial arguments on soap
and sleep, toothpaste, blankets.

When the green leaves blow,
I watch through bamboo blinds,
live action but dim impressions of bright.

I have driven in blind white
sun on the turnpike’s upward curve
and made it south enough to see again.

I have driven twenty in storm
shocking white water rains
when the pea-sized summer hail
begins to tap.
I have not turned
around at the lake in the road.
 —I have judged and been judged—

Stupid people    this local woman
hosted a vigil because of “images” she saw.
How does she know [How does she know?]
the images are really detention centers?
    people who serve the DARK!
    scum invading      disease and violence
our president taking down the evil
Stop believing or search for the truth
everything is really a lie!

Laura Lee Washburn has taught how to tell creditable sources from biased sources, has never been held in a cell, and donates her time to a Southeast Kansas organization that helps women in poverty resolve crises.