Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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, April 15, 2020


by Mark Ward

There’s that meme of James Franco ‘bout to be
hanged. He smiles, asks “First Time?” The text reads “Gays:”

as if they’re asking the straights now with them
(and of course it’s him, confused peacocking),

referring to both of the viruses
I’m scared of. Their first time to be ignored,

to feel helpless and, literally, alone.
First time kept out of the hospital room,

to be told they have died, second-hand.
It’s not the same though. The world didn’t stop

for us. The summer sun showed thinned-out prides,
detached eyes staring. Now, we’re all locked down,

look at how the world has come together,
look at all we could have achieved back then.

Mark Ward is the author of Circumference (Finishing Line Press, 2018) and Carcass (Seven Kitchens Press), as well as a full-length collection, Nightlight (Salmon Poetry, 2022). He is the founding editor of Impossible Archetype, an international journal of LGBTQ+ poetry, now in its fourth year.