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Monday, November 30, 2020


by Andrés Castro

For Julian Assange

Under a falling red sun, 
     in the stench of decomposing
leaves and muddy 
dark earth,
     He turns over a stone. See!

     Circling white centipede—
Dancing black spider—
     Tangle of worms

Andrés Castro, a PEN member, is listed in the Directory of Poets and Writers. His work appears in the recently released anthology We are Antifa: Expressions Against Fascism, Racism and Police Violence in The United States and Beyond and he keeps a personal blog, The Practicing Poet: Dialogue to Creativity, Poetry, and Liberation

Sunday, November 29, 2020


by Barbara Schweitzer

“Only Human,” painting by Judith Dawson.

We are such little twisty things
protoplasm and cell productions
who eat turkey in November
and hotdogs in July
who love intensely our neighbor-in-bed
then plot coups with the Deplorables.
We are unthinkable most times
and dumb the rest
yet we climb and hope
and endure so that we might
not cascade into the smarmy oceans
we have made. We pick our way
so that we might reach an alp
and spread our small intelligences
like faraway stars into a universe.
We are just enough bare-boned and starving
to go on and on and on though we remain
still closer to slime than to god.

Barbara Schweitzer is still writing poems and plays and Cyjoe Barker mysteries in upstate RI.

Saturday, November 28, 2020


by Gus Peterson

Credit: Tannen Maury/EPA, via Shutterstock in The New York Times.

after "Intimations of Immortality" by William Wordsworth

There was a time I glimpsed our declared decree
            and a people, its common block and seam
                        swam with visionary sight—
            e pluribus unum, the American dream.
It is not now as it was before.
            Scroll however I may, by night or day,
                        the might of eagle flight   
I once recalled I call upon no more.

Yes the red rose thorns and goes,
                        a blue wave ebbs and flows,
                        and the old man beams his light
as signs are pulled and lawns made bare,
            the tears that November night
            fell past our fellest despair.
Now with slow labor glorious rebirth,
and yet I know, whither this go,
the city upon a hill has passed from the earth.

  And as networks exalt their united song,
              and the hopeful young stream
                        inside insistent screens,
    I mourn alone that fleeting aberration—
                        once among the throng
   of certain inalienable nations.

Gus Peterson lives in Maine. 

Friday, November 27, 2020


by Ilene Millman

“Taking Stock” by Keith Knight at The Nib.

If I were collecting evidence
wouldn’t I look at the tire tracks
tracing broken distances
living to dead
in stock dividends and expense accounts—
who has the motive—they who look like citizens
changing the map
leaving no forwarding address?
If I were collecting evidence
wouldn’t I analyze photographs,
video recordings, tweets
brittle as promises
and autopsy the bones
cracked like hope
and stacked deep
in boxes of discord?
If I were the one collecting evidence
shouldn’t I unpack the fingerprints
floating fibers, strands of hair
from the briefcases of influence
brushing what’s there to see
and lay them end to end
across this current carnage—
a measure of the outstretched fingers of God
or the smallest fisted hand?
In addition to writing poetry, Ilene Millman is a speech/language therapist currently working with school aged children and volunteering as tutor, tutor trainer and assessor for her county Literacy Volunteers organization. Her poems have been published in a number of print journals including The Journal of New Jersey Poets, Nelle, Connecticut Review, Paterson Review, Passager and anthologized in several volumes including the recently published Show Me Your Papers. She is an associate editor of The Sow’s Ear. Her first book of poetry Adjust Speed to Weather was published in 2018. 

Thursday, November 26, 2020


by Catherine Gonick

If we are lucky this year, it reminds us of our people.
Of the things we can’t forget. Of things that others
never let us forget, like the year I read Julia Child
and made my sister peel fifty chestnuts with a paring knife
to go with the brussel sprouts. The year a boy
cousin and I each ate an entire drumstick
by ourselves, so much food we couldn’t get up
from the table after dessert. The year the gigantic
turkey, fresh from the oven, was left to rest  
on a side-table, and when everyone showed up
to eat, was almost gone, a carcass, with only
a little meat left on its bones. We thought
it had been devoured by another animal,
possibly a cat, a huge one that must have got in
through the open window,  a beast no one had seen
enter or leave but was known to exist
in the neighborhood.  Was that one of the years
where people got stoned? Like the time I lit up
with the straightest women I knew, my mother
and her favorite niece, who wore cashmere
and brought her own grass? I have forgotten,
but not my mother’s stuffing, the best
and most basic. Pieces torn from bread,
a lot of butter, just enough sage, celery
and onion. Giblets if you can get them.
Cooked inside the bird, without thermometer.
Serve and say prayers for the dead.
Raise a drumstick like a talking stick
and ask for blessings on your table
and our nation. Pass the potatoes
and give thanks for a democracy that, like
our turkey the year of the cat, was nearly
shredded, yet, by some miracle, still left
with enough meat to feed us.

Catherine Gonick’s poetry has appeared in literary magazines including Notre Dame Review, Beltway Poetry Quarterly,  Lightwood, Forge, Sukoon, and PoetsArtists, and in anthologies including in plein air and Grabbed. She was awarded the Ina Coolbrith Memorial Prize for Poetry and was a finalist in the National Ten-Minute Play Contest with the Actors Theatre of Louisville. She is part of a company that fights the effects of climate change.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020


by Jennifer Freed

Source: MIT Medical

For our kitchen,
for the sourdough starter we learned to make
when the stores were still out of yeast,
for my husband,
who tends and feeds the starter for days, who kneads
the dough, shapes two round loaves, waits.
For the neat white bags of flour in our cabinet,
for the grocery store, its night-cleaners, their night hours
spraying disinfectant sprays.
For the cashiers in their comfortable shoes
and the blue-haired woman bagging our food,
her purple gloves, her back brace,
the peace signs on the mask across her face.
For the long-distance truck drivers driving
past closed restaurants, closed restrooms.
For the farm, the farmer, the wheat.
For the soil, its dark depths
of invisible lives,
and the sky, answering its thirst, charming it
with sun and moon and stars.
For that same sky rounding my own yard, lighting
my window, and my daughters at the table
doing their schoolwork on-line. For their breath.
For the air
scented with bread.
For the butter, the knife, the four plates rimmed in green.
And the two round loaves, now cooled, now     
on the cutting board, now ready
for our tongues,
our bodies,
our praise.

Jennifer Freed lives  in Massachusetts. Her poetry appears/is forthcoming in various journals, including Atlanta Review, Comstock Review, Worcester Review, and Zone 3. Her chapbook These Hands Still Holding (Finishing Line Press) was a finalist in the 2013 New Women’s Voices contest. She was awarded the 2020 Samuel Washington Allen Prize from the New England Poetry Club.


by David Feela

The cars in cue twist between orange cones

Like a snake, drivers and passengers waiting.

It’s still early morning at the testing facility 

Which has not yet opened, but the day’s task  

stretches like a painted hopscotch pattern 

on a playground before recess begins.

Everybody is so tired of paying attention.

We all want to play, to stop being told what  

should—and especially should not—be done.

The swab up the nose is our final test 

before holiday begins with a road trip or flight, 

and a gathering where families give thanks 

at the table for the bounty they share, and 

dare we say it again, each precious life. 

David Feela writes columns for The Four Corners Free Press and The Durango Telegraph. Unsolicited Press released his newest chapbook Little Acres.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020


by Chris O’Carroll

News Site Mistakenly Publishes About 100 V.I.P. Obituaries —New York Times headline, November 17, 2020

Our Queen has died, sad British church bells toll,
Bardot, Loren, and Eastwood quit the stage,
Pelé has aimed a shot at one last goal,
And Jimmy Carter calmly acts his age.

Despite those stories, none of them were dead,
Although it’s clear now how much they’ll be missed.
For A-listers’ fake deaths, real tears got shed.
I’m Nobody. I wasn’t on the list.

Chris O’Carroll, author of The Joke’s on Me, is a Light magazine featured poet whose work has also appeared in The Asses of Parnassus, Better Than Starbucks, Lighten Up Online, Snakeskin, and The Spectator, among other journals, and in Love Affairs at the Villa Nelle, New York City Haiku, and The Great American Wise Ass Poetry Anthology.

Monday, November 23, 2020


by Richard Meyer
Follow the online bot that tweets the elapsed amount of the T***p presidency in 0.1% increments .

Deranged, incompetent, irate,
the loser won’t admit he lost.
Refusing to accept his fate,
he’ll lie and cheat at any cost
and even wreck the ship of state
while claiming he’s been double-crossed.

But he’s defeated, shamed, undone.
The unrelenting countdown clock
keeps dropping digits one by one.
He cannot stop the tick and tock.
He’s out of time. His end has come,
a failure there’s no hiding from.

He’s squeezed inside an hourglass,                 
dissipating grain by grain.
The dwindling moments come and pass,                    
and nothing of him will remain.
His legacy and final brand
will be a little mound of sand.

Richard Meyer’s poems have appeared in various publications, including Able Muse, The Raintown Review, Think, Measure, Light, TheNewVerse.News, Alabama Literary Review, and The Evansville Review. He was awarded the 2012 Robert Frost Farm Prize for his poem “Fieldstone” and was the recipient of the 2014 String Poet Prize for his poem “The Autumn Way.” A book of his collected poems, Orbital Paths, was a silver medalist winner in the 2016 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards.


by Mark Williams

Cartoon by Clay Jones

Dear Joe Biden,
My name is Austin Baggerly. I am eleven years old.
Today my social studies teacher Ms. Kornblum
chose me to be you and Donnie Capshaw 
to be the President since his name is Donnie.
She said she would teach us about the Democratic proceeds.
First me and Donnie should give speeches to our class
which meets on Zoom cause the virus
the President said would go away did not.
So I put on my mask and sunglasses like you
and said I would beat the virus and bring our class together 
and Donnie put on orangy makeup and his grandma’s blonde wig
and said he would make our class great again.
Next Ms. Kornblum asked everyone who liked me 
to raise their hand and 15 people did 
if you count Jacob Dickinson who raised his cat’s paw
which everyone but Ms. Kornblum thought was funny.
Joe Biden, there are 25 kids in our class
which means only 10 kids raised their hands for Donnie
but Ms. Kornblum said that even though I won
we had to count hands again if we want my and Donnie’s election
to be like yours and the other Donnie’s. This time 
Emma Peterson looked around the screen
and smiled and raised her hand for Donnie Capshaw
when last time she raised her hand for me. Anyways,
that means I still won 14 to 11. Right? But Ms. Kornblum
said that even though I won fair and square 
now if we want our class election to be like your election
we have to wait and let Donnie Capshaw 
whine about our votes like an eleven-year-old
before I can be class President. She said 
this is an example of frickin democracy.
What did Ms. Kornblum mean, Joe Biden? 
Do some votes count for more than one? 
Why did Ms. Kornblum start crying
before she Zoomed away? 
                                           Yours truly,
                                           Austin Baggerly

Mark Williams's poems have appeared in The Southern Review, Rattle, Nimrod, and The American Journal of Poetry. His poems in response to the current administration have appeared in The New Verse News, Writers Resist, Poets Reading the News, and Tuck Magazine. He raised his hand for Joe Biden in Evansville, Indiana.


by Margaret Rozga
Cartoon by Ann Telnaes, The Washington Post, November 20, 2020.

There once was a sycophant named Murphy
who claimed more than was her turf-y.
She refused to sign that the winner had won
and let the loser know his term was near done,
forsaking duty to go topsy turvy

Margaret Rozga’s latest work was to co-edit a newly released poetry anthology, Through This Door: Wisconsin in Poems.

Sunday, November 22, 2020


With deep appreciation for all our writers and readers, The New Verse News is excited to announce its six nominees for the Pushcart Prize for poems presented at our site this year. 

“Thirteen Ways Of Looking At Life Before The Virus” 
by Lesléa Newman 
“The Doctor Who Dies Of The Coronavirus After The Hospital Runs Out Of Gloves” 
by Terri Kirby Erickson
“Taking This In” 
by Jennifer Freed
“Descending: The endless origination of my Black son” 
by Jessica M Granger 
“A House On Fire Might Breathe A Phoenix To Life: A Protest Poem From the Homefront” by L. Rose Reed
“She Blew In On Lenten Wings” 
by Jill Crainshaw

Saturday, November 21, 2020


by Chris Reed

Sunday, November 15, 2020

My mother napped yesterday,
while I finished Swann’s Way.
Her water retention is down,
and we hear that someone
is unlocking the secrets of aging.
There are no words for the US 
reaching eleven million cases
of coronavirus this morning,
although the eucharistic minister 
wore a mask when she delivered
the host earlier.

The bird feeders were filled today
and promptly visited by a finch
and a red-bellied woodpecker.
Currently we are recording 
the Giants-Eagles game, in which
Daniel Jones and the Giants are
getting downfield, as constriction
threatens a transfer of power,
school reopenings and life itself.
I search for an artificial wreath. 

We have some breaking news—
a stag is walking past the window,
and we are making the call
that he is at least four years old. 
My mother sees him and reaches
for the word that means him,
although we still have no word
on reality out of the White House.
The Giants won this one.  Enjoy
what remains of your weekend.

Although relatively new to poetry writing, during the pandemic and sheltering in place with his post-stroke mother,  reading and writing poetry have become Chris Reed’s go-to survival activities.  Attending a zoom weekly poetry workshop has also been a gift and helped sustain sanity.

Friday, November 20, 2020


by Amy Barone

ESA via MIT Technology Review

A yellow ribbon of angst floats above.
During the lockdown, some spent days
baking bread, while a friend nearly starved
to death—driven to the ER by fear and seclusion.
A magnet for benign and wicked misfits,
I pull a mask over distress, pluck thorns
from my sides, and spend fitful nights
asleep with people still in my system.
Now that water’s been spotted there,
I think I’ll head to the moon for a swim,
embrace lunar life off the grid, get revived
on a smooth intergalactic ride, as I wave goodbye
to bugling elk, dazzles of zebras, and dozing cuttlefish.  

Amy Barone’s poetry collection, We Became Summer, from New York Quarterly Books, was released in early 2018. She wrote chapbooks Kamikaze Dance (Finishing Line Press) and Views from the Driveway (Foothills Publishing.) Barone’s poetry appears in Local Knowledge, Paterson Literary Review, Sensitive Skin, and Standpoint (UK). She lives in NYC.

Thursday, November 19, 2020


by George Salamon

"Something is dying, but we do not yet know what it is… Something is trying to be born, but we cannot say what it is either… The old is in a state of suspended animation; the new stands at a threshold it cannot yet cross,"  —Fintan O'Toole, "Democracy's Afterlife," The New York Review of Books, December 3, 2020.

I envy those who can
See the future coming.
It's easier to endure if
You are sure, or if you
Are needed, shepherd
Or sheep, but you must
Not get scared as the
Forces unfold, just old,
And if you're like me,
Left high and dry of just
What they'll sow or reap.

George Salamon writes a poem occasionally, but is worried much of the time about what his granddaughter's generation can expect. He has recently contributed to The Asses of Parnassus, One Sentence Poems, Dissident Voice, and The New Verse News from St. Louis, MO.


by Richard Kravitz

No one laughs at the orange 
monster, the clown 
outside the circus tent. 
In the open air he is frightening 
or pathetic. Clowns 
come and go. The enterprise, 
the circus itself, with its three-ring
allegories of the rugged individual,
the self-made man, southern hospitality,
the land of the free and the home of the brave,
the circus persists. The ringmaster
departs, barking his ugly song. We know
there is another, waiting, sprouting
from the sweat of armpit,
covered in greasepaint. 
The show must go on, does go on. 
If we so choose,
we will pay the price of readmission. 

Richard Kravitz is a psychiatrist in New Haven, Connecticut. He has published poems on medical themes in JAMA and other medical and psychiatric journals.  

Wednesday, November 18, 2020


by Joanne DeSimone Reynolds

We breathe to wake and,
Lying-in-wait, imagine... 
The ground
Buckling off the east coast of
The nation,
Enacting the rough ride we just faced, still
Face, out of the gate. Look
To January—cold, and colder still ahead here,
Yet offering a look
Forward—face it, like an ancient god
—The sudden down-home decency
Of purple-tipped crocuses, the wrinkled
Unfurling we long to call
Hope in the airborne scent of witch-hazel.
Joanne DeSimone Reynolds is the author of a chapbook, Comes A Blossom, published by Main Street Rag in 2014. Her latest work is a set of 14 poems exhibited as part of The Art Ramble 2020, an outdoor public art installation in Concord, Massachusetts, sponsored by The Umbrella Arts Center in collaboration with the Concord Natural Resources Division.


by Erin Murphy

Embed from Getty Images

November 2020  


The cloud bank is a mountain— 

no, a continent—in the gun metal                               


sky and beneath it a cavalry  

of trees, mostly oak, limbs rhyming  


in Vs. Look closer to see the anarchy  

of leaves—some refusing                                


to surrender even after three nights  

of frost. What will it take? 


Remember the film in which  

the boys were cloned from evil DNA. 


Remember half your neighbors 

voted for—and from—hate. 


Who has won? Who has lost? 

Zoom in to the tip of a twig  


where a caterpillar—backlit  

by sunlight—stakes its claim,  


chrysalis of history spooled tight  

as a movie plot. Inside: maybe  


a monarch. Maybe a tiger 


Erin Murphy’s eighth book of poems, Human Resources, is forthcoming from Salmon Poetry. Her work has appeared in such journals as The Georgia Review, Field, Southern Humanities Review, Glass, and Women’s Studies Quarterly. She is Professor of English at Penn State Altoona and serves as Poetry Editor of The Summerset Review


by Juditha Dowd

and I’m doubtful
that no experience goes to waste
if only we’re able to learn from it.
Deer have mangled our deer fence,
that fox is prowling the yard.
Where will we be next year
when these maples shed their gold?
You and I have lived enough
to pretend at wisdom,
take the long view,
but the angles are foreshortened
as our fields turn murky and cold.
Soon the Long Night Moon
and two-faced Janus.
Soon the weeks of ice,
the days of mending.

Juditha Dowd’s most recent book is Audubon’s Sparrow, a verse biography in the voice of Lucy Bakewell Audubon, wife of the naturalist.

Tuesday, November 17, 2020


by Esther Greenleaf Murer

Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called repairer of broken walls, restorer of streets with dwellings. —Isaiah 58:12

The repairer of breaches,
restorer of paths
has won by a handbreadth.
Now legions of leeches
and star-belly sneetches
drag out the aftermath.
Maintain the breaches!
Block all the paths!

Enough with the screeches
of stokers of wrath
indifferent to megadeaths.
Heed him who teaches
repairing of breaches,
restoring of paths!

Esther Greenleaf Murer is a longtime contributor to The New Verse News. She lives in Philadelphia.


 by Andrena Zawinski

The streets and playgrounds, the courts and fields are emptied. 
The string of row house swings emptied of coffee klatches 
across porch rails. Silence on cobbles glistening in morning dew, 
heady scent of honeysuckle wafting by windows we close. 

Framed by the limits of imagination, ears cocked to a sparrow’s song,
sun setting on pyramids, creek beds, ice floes, desert flowers 
past our views of the world, ghosts carousing night winds 
of our mourning, all the eyes on clear skies boasting stars above

moored cargo ships, snow capped peaks, the sweaty rainforests.
Our windows view the emptied harbors, farmlands and vineyards, 
fire escapes and stoops. All of it emptied of the large and small 
solitary pleasures of our fractured lives in this godawful air.

Andrena Zawinski’s poetry has received awards for lyricism, form, spirituality, social concern, many of them Pushcart Prize nominations. Her latest book is Landings (Kelsay Books); others are Something About (Blue Light Press PEN Oakland Award) and Traveling in Reflected Light (Pig Iron Press Kenneth Patchen Prize) along with several chapbooks. She founded and runs the San Francisco Bay Area Women’s Poetry Salon and is a previous contributor to The New Verse News.

Monday, November 16, 2020


by Mickey J. Corrigan

People are saying it’s the biggest
the greatest, the best crowd
this shithole has ever seen
sleek limos slide through, his face
at the bulletproof window 
mouth open, golf cap tight
on his oversize head

People are saying
the crowd's as big as Lincoln's
and everyone wept, even Jesus
the fans wild with joy
racecar thrilled to see him
to be seen by him
the man who would be king

People are not saying
he took an appalling strut
across the world stage
that ended in folly, farce
reflecting internal unrest
bubbling anger, belligerence
and distrust of everyone else

People aren't saying
he was a mad genius
skilled at detecting weakness
in a narrow human range
of emotions others feel
absent in his lurking bulk
under the ruby crown
the bloated expression
of abject fear

People aren't asking
why the devout followers
of this crazy cult
still willing to sicken 
maskless in the face
of scientific evidence, millions
of facts like corpses piling up
vowing to win at all costs
or die trying

Originally from Boston, Mickey J. Corrigan writes Florida noir with a dark humor. Novels include  Project XX about a school shooting (Salt Publishing, UK, 2017) and What I Did for Love a spoof of Lolita (Bloodhound Books, 2019). Kelsay Books recently published the poetry chapbook the disappearing self. Grandma Moses Press will publish the poetry chapbook Florida Man later this year. 


Robert West is the author of three chapbooks of poems, including Convalescent (Finishing Line Press, 2011); the co-editor of Succinct: The Broadstone Anthology of Short Poems (Broadstone Books, 2013); and the editor of both volumes of The Complete Poems of A. R. Ammons (W. W. Norton, 2017).

Sunday, November 15, 2020


by Imogen Arate

When the day comes

news anchors will 

imbibe on air

Doves will flock

to beat their wings

to the rhythm of bells

Clocks will spontaneously

chime to the relief

of nerves wound

too tight over fourteen-

sixty-one crawling days

caked to congeal in mud

slung by the barrel

Strangers will entangle

their gaze as momentary

lovers embrace compelled

by ecstasy that words 

from celebrated bards

will fail to capture

Imogen Arate is an award-winning Asian-American poet and writer and the Executive Producer and Host of the weekly poetry podcast Poets and Muses. She has written in four languages and published in two. Her work was most recently featured in dyst, The Haifa Girls, and KJZZ's (NPR's Arizona affiliate) Word podcast.


by Howie Good


Thousands of President Trump’s supporters converged on Washington, D.C., on Nov. 14 to falsely claim he won the election. (Video: Jorge Ribas, Joyce Koh/Photo: Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

The emperor’s model army marches on,
bringing with them the suffocating smell of smoke,
a darkness like mud, while tens of millions
of just plain folks artlessly demonstrate their devotion
by cheering threats of kidnapping and murder
and parading bright new flags that with each wave
in the lie-filled air grow duller and more tattered,  
and when the light dwindles to a final few hours,
there will be tweet storms and wild speeches
and the military music of boots stamping on faces.

Howie Good is the author of The Death Row Shuffle, forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.

Saturday, November 14, 2020


by Phyllis Wax

With a sharp knife he strips away all rules.   
Tosses self-control. Don’t need that. He pulls
bigotry and hatred from the back shelf of the pantry
where they’ve been boxed up, stirs them into a roux.
Lavishly seasons with resentment and fear.
Still, need some help here. And the kitchen staff 
leaps into action. They chop and dice, add more spice.
The chef continues stirring, turns up the heat
until a stench permeates the neighborhood, 
until the stew boils over. 

Social issues are a major focus of Milwaukee poet Phyllis Wax. Her work appears in numerous anthologies and journals, both on line and in print. Reach her at poetwax38(at) .