Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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

Thursday, May 21, 2020


by Randy Brown

with language borrowed and adapted from the U.S. Army “Soldier’s Manual of Common Tasks” (Skill Level 2)

In this DOD photo from 2012, “Bushmaster” soldiers receive refresher training on the proper wear of the field protective mask and the Joint Service Lightweight Integrated Suit Technology protective garment, and gain confidence in their equipment by unmasking in a gas chamber at Fort Stewart, GA. Photo by Sgt. Mary Katzenberger

“Some reopening states are already claiming victory over the coronavirus. 
But the real consequences won’t be clear for weeks.” 
The Atlantic, May 15, 2020

Note: Before conducting unmasking procedures,
make every effort to otherwise confirm
the absence of contamination.

Note: The senior person present selects one or two
soldiers to unmask.

Note: It is best to disarm the people selected
prior to ordering them to unmask.

Conduct unmasking procedures in the shade.

Direct selected individuals to each take a deep breath,
to break the seals of their masks (keeping their eyes open)
for 15 seconds, and to then again seal and clear their masks.

Observe for 10 minutes.

If no symptoms appear, direct the individuals
to unmask for 5 minutes
and to then again don, seal, and clear their masks.

Observe for 10 minutes.

If no symptoms appear, direct everyone to unmask.

“All-clear.” Go back to work. “Re-open the economy.”
Shake hands. Get a haircut. Kiss.

Observe for delayed symptoms.

Note: You might have to wait a couple of weeks
just to be sure.

Randy Brown embedded with his former Iowa Army National Guard unit as a civilian journalist in Afghanistan, May-June 2011. A 20-year veteran with one overseas deployment, he subsequently authored the 2015 poetry collection Welcome to FOB Haiku: War Poems from Inside the Wire. He also co-edited the 2019 anthology Why We Write: Craft Essays on Writing War. As “Charlie Sherpa,” he blogs about war poetrycivil-military discourse, and military-themed writing.