Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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

Tuesday, August 11, 2020


by Devon Balwit

Lebanese security forces confronted protesters during clashes in downtown Beirut on Saturday, following a demonstration against political leaders blamed for a deadly explosion in the city. Credit: Agence France-Presse—Getty Images via The New York Times, August 9, 2020

The United States is becoming like Lebanon and other Middle East countries in two respects. First, our political differences are becoming so deep that our two parties now resemble religious sects in a zero-sum contest for power. They call theirs “Shiites and Sunnis and Maronites” or “Israelis and Palestinians.” We call ours “Democrats and Republicans,” but ours now behave just like rival tribes who believe they must rule or die. And second, as in the Middle East, so increasingly in America: Everything is now politics—even the climate, even energy, even face masks in a pandemic. 
—Thomas Friedman, The New York Times, August 9, 2020

How does a city fall, how does a nation?
A raft of catastrophe floats in & is lashed
to a bollard & then forgotten, pleas for attention
ignored or handed on, fears quashed

beneath derision. Those at the helm creep
away in the dark after pocketing what they can.
Those who cannot leave tremble at the seep
of decay & instability, hoping to withstand

the blast that finally comes. Many won’t.
Their names will be added to a list, misspelled,
the list lost, their ashes scattered amidst
a hundred thousand livelihoods propelled

into calamity. Then, blistering recrimination
& grim survivors doing what must be done.

Devon Balwit's most recent collection is titled A Brief Way to Identify a Body (Ursus Americanus Press). Her individual poems can be found in here as well as in Jet Fuel, The Worcester Review, The Cincinnati Review, Tampa Review, Apt (long-form issue), Tule Review, Grist, and Rattle among others.