Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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, June 17, 2020


by Lee Patton

The Harriet Tubman $20 was a redesign plan, advanced during the Obama administration, that was supposed to have rolled out in 2020 to mark the centennial anniversary of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote. That plan, like so many others for the year, has been shelved, and one of the reasons given for the delay was concerns over counterfeit security. The new Tubman $20 is now set at the earliest for 2028. Of course, Tubman enthusiasts and those supporting feminism and racial justice have been rightly suspicious that this is the actual reason for delaying the redesign, given the current administration’s lack of interest in race and gender equality, not to mention the president’s actions in hanging a portrait of Andrew Jackson—the seventh U.S. president, who currently fronts the $20—in the Oval Office while recently refusing to unveil a portrait of Obama, the first black U.S. president and his predecessor. Symbols and symbolic actions matter.Nonetheless, does a Tubman $20 matter as a symbol? There will be those who will say Harriet Tubman on the $20 would not have changed the circumstances leading to the death of George Floyd. But consider this. George Floyd was killed over an imagined counterfeit $20 in a country that can’t keep its promise to place Tubman on the $20, counterfeit security issues or otherwise. Which is the real counterfeit here? George Floyd’s $20, Harriet Tubman’s $20 redesign or a country that still pretends there is “liberty and justice for all”? —Janell Hobson, Ms., June 16, 2020

A genocidal maniac stares back at us
on our twenty dollar bill—native killer,
ethnic cleanser extraordinaire. Plans to put
a slave liberator in his place got erased—

Miss Tubman, ever poised for glory, will
not suffice. Our leader admires the killer,
even placed his portrait to grace his office.
Franklin and Hamilton, our currency’s

sole non-presidents, were at least fun guys—Ben,
teenaged runaway, Alex, Caribbean bastard—
but unlike civilized lands, we have no artists,
no philosophers, no scientists on our cash.

Our basic buck poses an honest slavemaster—
zealot of forced labor, profit, and the lash.

Lee Patton, a Denverite, writes fiction, poetry, drama and commentary.  His newest novel Every Summer Day is in pre-release from Bold Strokes Books.