Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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, September 22, 2020


by Annie Stenzel

The Bay Bridge and San Francisco skyline, seen from Treasure Island, are barely visible through Sept. 11’s hazy air because of smoke from the state’s wildfires.Photo: Nick Otto / Special to The San Francisco Chronicle, September 19, 2020

Avert your eyes. That window frames a post-apocalyptic sky. Standard issue.
Darkness at 9:00 a.m. Six months into one cataclysm; three-plus weeks into
another. Make no joke involving sword, famine, or beasts from the wild.

Solace is scarce. Mental shelves looted of stock a person needs for survival.
Inventory now includes next to no patience. Scant fortitude. Very little
good cheer. How to re-order, regenerate, when the supply-chain is depleted?

Impossible not to think the worst. You sketch a picture captioned, “The End Times
Loom.” Remembered images from other horror stories crush barriers hastily
built to keep reality out. Reptile brain advises flight, because

how could one even begin to fight such an enemy? We are the tiny creatures
around which ash swirls wildly in our inescapable globe. All those prior
chances to live and learn; to change the course of our headlong tumble

into climate chaos. Fifty-eight years since Silent Spring. Fourteen years beyond
An Inconvenient Truth. And us with two hands still over our eyes, two
over our ears and our merry mouths declaiming, “Move along! Nothing to see here.”

Annie Stenzel was born in Illinois, but has lived on both coasts of the U.S. and on other continents at various times in her life. Her book-length collection is The First Home Air After Absence (Big Table Publishing, 2017). Her poems appear in print and online journals in the U.S. and the U.K., from Ambit to Willawaw Journal with stops at Chestnut Review, Gargoyle, Gone Lawn, On the Seawall, Psaltery & Lyre, SWWIM, The Ekphrastic Review, and The Lake, among others. A poetry editor for the online journals Right Hand Pointing and West Trestle Review, she currently lives within sight of the San Francisco Bay.