Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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, December 25, 2019


by Joan Mazza

I’m listening to non-stop holiday
songs between commercials for diamonds,
pet pajamas, end-of-year car closeouts.
While I chop vegetables or fold socks,
I sing along, unable to be quiet, even

for “Alvin and the Chipmunks.” Alvin!
I shout and laugh as if I were still ten
in the year of its release. Indelible,
unforgettable lyrics of Bing Crosby,
Karen Carpenter, Sinatra, Andy Williams.

My mother is frying meatballs and sausages
in that tiny Brooklyn kitchen. I hear her
swearing while making arancini
that resist holding together. At my desk,
I memorize geometry theorems

until mother comes to me with one
golden fried ball, triumphant. Cut it in half,
she says. Taste it! Inside, peas and meat
in tomato sauce. Perfect! I say, before
I return to my present in Virginia.

Past seventy, older than either of my parents
ever got to be, I wish my mom could see
me as I braid challah dough into wreaths
and sing, “Have a Holly Jolly Christmas”
with Burl Ives—the music of our lives.

Joan Mazza has worked as a medical microbiologist, psychotherapist, seminar leader, and she is the author of six self-help psychology books, including Dreaming Your Real Self (Penguin/Putnam). Her poetry has appeared in Crab Orchard Review, Rattle, Valparaiso Poetry Review, The MacGuffin, Prairie Schooner (forthcoming), and The Nation. She lives in rural central Virginia, where she writes a poem every day and is working on a memoir.