Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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, December 16, 2020


by Matt Witt

Photo by Matt Witt

It used to be
that if you walked along Bear Creek
that runs next to town
you could see the stream
only in a few moments
because the view was blocked
by brambles of highly flammable blackberries
and tangles of branches.
Then this summer’s inferno
burned everything to ash,
clearing out the old understory
and leaving only a sprinkling of
charred tree trunks,
like ghosts from the past.
Now you can walk freely
across cleared black ground
and see how the stream community works,
the side creeks feeding it,
the ducks and coots and geese
finding food and
shelter from predators.
It used to be
that if you walked through town
you could see the money stream
only in a few moments
because the view was blocked
by fairy tales about
rugged individuals and
the generosity of the rich
without ever asking
who all that wealth was
taken from.
Then the fire burned everything to ash,
leaving those who could least afford it
to scramble for survival
while developers and bankers met
to discuss how they might profit
by grabbing up the close-in valuable land
and moving “their” workers,
many with brown skin,
to the valley’s outskirts,
all in the name of charity.
Now you can see
how money and power flow
from bottom to top
filling giant pools for a few
with not much left to trickle down.
Along Bear Creek,
just weeks after the fire,
small sprouts of green
bring the possibility of
a new community
better than the old
with each plant and bird and animal
doing its part.
In town,
new sprouts of community
are taking root too
as people work together
to make sure everyone has
food and shelter and hope
and to ask what we can do
so what grows back
will be better for all of us,
now that we can see.

Matt Witt is a writer and photographer from Talent, Oregon.