Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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, December 15, 2020


by Bonnie Naradzay

The Great Conjunction of 2020 will brighten the darkest day of the year as the two giant planets of our solar system draw closer together in the night sky than they have been in centuries. By chance, the day that Jupiter and Saturn will appear closest for Earth-based stargazers is Dec. 21, the winter solstice, which is the longest night of the year in the northern hemisphere. Photo: The galactic core area of the Milky Way over Maskinonge Pond in Waterton Lakes National Park, Alberta on July 14, 2020. Jupiter is the bright object at left, with Saturn dimmer to the left (east) of Jupiter.Alan Dyer / Universal Images Group via Getty Images file via NBC, December 9, 2020.

What kind of times are they, when
A talk about trees is almost a crime
Because it implies silence about so many horrors?                       
—Bertolt Brecht, “To those Born Later”

Thin ice limned the pond early this morning
and a slick of frost dazzled the green fields
yet pink blossoms still drifted across a few limbs
of the lone ornamental cherry tree.
In the slant of sun, the great blue heron stood
knee deep in water, and ducks have returned
among reflected shapes of pondside trees – 
bare branches outstretched like hands of penitents.
I have been arguing all evening with my friend
via email about Odysseus. He says Odysseus 
could have built that raft any time he wanted 
to escape from Calypso’s island, but I say not until
Athena persuaded Zeus to send Hermes down.  
I see Odysseus down by the seashore, weeping there,
as the great hexameters roll out in the receding waves.
Then we spar about the Suitors. They must be killed, 
he says, for their conspiracy. I ask, what about diplomacy?  
(It is Advent. The people are armed for insurrections here, 
spouting obscenities. “Sir, have you no sense of decency,” 
someone finally asked McCarthy, not so long ago.)  
My friend mentions Thersites. He has me there.
Jesus healed the blind man and asked him what he saw.
He said, “I see men like trees walking.”
Tonight I see two planets grow closer in the night sky.
(I have grown numb about the latest attacks
on civility.) Priam came for Hector’s body 
in the dead of night. Achilles welcomed him
and stopped the war for Hector’s funeral rites.
Recently I read about the Christmas truce in World War I
for the burial of the dead. Someone brought lights.
Yes, there will also be singing. About the dark times.

Bonnie Naradzay's recent poems are in AGNI, the American Journal of Poetry, New Letters (Pushcart nomination), RHINO, Tar River Poetry, EPOCH, Tampa Review, Kenyon Review Online, Potomac Review, Xavier Review, and One Magazine. For many years she has led poetry workshops at a day shelter for the homeless and at a retirement center, both in Washington, DC.