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Sunday, January 31, 2021


by William Aarnes

Paying with cards 
            or phones, people  
now carry fewer  
and fewer coins  
yet here someone’s  
dropped a dime 
on the sidewalk. 
FDR’s profile  
recalls the time 
had dime stores 
(not dollar stores),              [ 
            a time when one 
of the luckless 
might beg, “Buddy,      
can you spare 
                        a dime.”            
Though the coin 
            contains no silver, 
                        it’s shiny enough 
to catch the eye 
            and still worth 
“One Dime.”  
And it’s embossed 
with the mottos 
Your choice: 
pick the dime up 
            or just let it lie. 

William Aarnes lives in South Carolina.


by Tricia Knoll

Image via Getty Images.

I watched that mob with confederate flags 
use their poles as stabbers. I thought we could never
get beyond this, never heal, and their coiled timbersnake
curled all too ready to deliver poison. Threat 
on glaucous yellow background. 
I thought we would never get beyond this.  
My stomach seized. Like when the towers fell. 
How tear gas billows as if the theater director
called for high-tone smoke and no going home
with a program in my pocket because warplay 
has no script apparent to the watchers 
even if the actors think it does, yell
bad dialogue in murder tones. 
I thought we would never get beyond that. 
The next morning’s coffee bittered as if exposed
to air too long and even the cream wasn’t enough
to settle me. Then sugar dumped from a big spoon,
and more sugar from the same spoon, same mug.
It was not the same as getting through this. 
One minute of sweetness at the bottom. After 
in the morning joe. One at a time. 

Tricia Knoll is busy writing letters to Republican Senators about why they should vote to impeach. The fear on insurrection day was built on lies.

Saturday, January 30, 2021


by Penelope Scambly Schott

Two boys racing bikes in tight circles
in the school parking lot.
The neighbor directly across the street
stepping into his shop.
My husband out in the yard mucking
with who-knows-what.
The dog fast asleep on the couch,
nose under one front foot.
Biden at his desk in the Oval Office
busily mending the past.
As if all our lives were now as simple
as what’s-for-dinner?

Penelope Scambly Schott is a past recipient of the Oregon Book Award for Poetry. Her newest book is On Dufur Hill, poems about the cycle of the year in a small wheat-growing town.

Friday, January 29, 2021


by Caitlin M.S. Buxbaum

Joe Biden and Major in 2018, at the Delaware Humane Association. Credit: Stephanie Gomez/Delaware Humane Association, via Associated Press and The New York Times.

the White House
its first-ever
pound puppy
and I
if this
is an
of more
changes to
that our
has himself
on America’s
‘we will
every kind
seeking a

Caitlin M.S. Buxbaum is a writer and teacher from Wasilla, Alaska. She has published several books through her company, Red Sweater Press, and has work featured in Alaska Women Speak, The Daily Drunk, The Ekphrastic Review, and Verse-Virtual, among others. She currently serves as the Mat-Su Vice President of Alaska Writers Guild.

Thursday, January 28, 2021


by Earl J. Wilcox

cozy papa bear

snug serene independent

patriot supreme

Earl J. Wilcox somehow stays snug and serene in South Carolina.

Editor's Note: Sen. Bernie Sanders has raised $1.8 million for charity through the sale of merchandise inspired by the viral photo of him and his mittens on Inauguration Day. —CNN


by Gil Hoy

A young boy 
was still growing. 
Still learning 
whether he’d be happy
or he’d be sad. 
Early one morning,
his mother was slowly 
backing the family car 
out of the driveway. 
She began chanting:
“I love life, 
I love people,
I love the earth.”
While tapping her foot
and gently honking 
the car horn.

Gil Hoy is a Boston poet, nominated for a Best of the Net award in 2020, who studied poetry at Boston University through its Evergreen program. Hoy's poetry has previously appeared in The New Verse News, Best Poetry Online, Muddy River Poetry Review, Tipton Poetry Journal, Rusty Truck, Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, The Penmen Review, Misfit Magazine, Rat’s Ass Review, Chiron Review, and elsewhere. Hoy previously received a B.A. in Philosophy and Political Science from Boston University, an M.A. in Government from Georgetown University, and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. He served as a Brookline, Massachusetts Selectman for four terms and is a semi-retired personal injury lawyer.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021


by George Salamon

"The first step is to understand that it's not just about exhaustion or tiredness or depleting a mental resource.” —David Badre, “How we can deal with 'pandemic fatigue,’”  Scientific American, January 24, 2021

Grief has made himself
at home inside of us, he
lives in our house, he
will depart eventually,
leaving behind a piece
of himself, the stuff of
future conversation.
Not everything can
be dealt with or gotten
over, no matter how
many steps the
the program has.

George Salamon contributes some of his Un-American attitudes to The Asses of Parnassus, One Sentence Poems, Dissident Voice and The New Verse News from America's heartland, St. Louis, MO.


by Gilbert Allen

The Arizona Republican Party on Saturday approved resolutions to censure Cindy McCain, widow of the late Senator John McCain, and former Senator Jeff Flake for endorsing President Joe Biden, and Governor Doug Ducey for enforcing the state's coronavirus restrictions. —Newsweek, January 23, 2021. Cartoon by Nick Anderson, January 26, 2021.

They Zoom from their refrigerated trucks: 
You are the slowest students on God’s earth. 
We’re sick of lecturing, you stupid fucks. 
They Zoom from their refrigerated trucks 
that, for the record, Purgatory sucks. 
And now their message buffers. For what it’s worth 
they won’t stop Zooming from their hopeless trucks. 
But we’re the slowest students on God’s earth. 

Gilbert Allen lives in upstate South Carolina, where he still encounters unmasked persons in indoor spaces. His most recent books are Believing in Two Bodies and The Beasts of Belladonna.


by Art Goodtimes

Illustration: Jonathon Rosen for Mother Jones, 2011.

One of the books Capt. Barefoot’s been reading
details how Freud’s entire legacy
constitutes a tissue of lies
Only 'tis you and yous who believe
who put the lie to lies, even
poorly disguised with political handstands
cheap shout-outs & calisthenic flash mobs
Truth is, truth can be torn
& so mangled it’s not just-us or justice
but tissue & nerve that compensate
for the loss of all muscle
Just one rip & a deep
unconditional dive into the bliss of belief
whether odi et amo, for, out of the fabric
to leap lizard bots & borgs
Aye, citizens. Let’s inaugurate our hills to climb
Unzip the science. Unmask the threats. Let’s be
born again believers in the freedom of choices—not so
much the answers, but the friends we make of the questions

Art Goodtimes was an Earth First! poetry editor before getting elected to five terms as a Green county commissioner in Southwestern Colorado, where U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Rifle) now represents the Third Congressional district in Congress. Art is co-director of Talking Gourds, a local and regional poetry program under the non-profit aegis of the Telluride Institute.

Tuesday, January 26, 2021


by Steven Croft

Plastic bottles, aluminium cans, clothes, sometimes spaghetti. When a tractor tows in new rubbish at a dump in northeast Syria, men, women and children rush to find the best pickings. Photo credit: Delil Souleiman/AFP via Aljazeera, January 20, 2021

In a land where dreams are invaded
by nightmare year after year,

houses broken,

families fled, 


this is the worst shadow
of living, amidst the slough
of better lives

May you patch together a world
in these heaps and spillways,
everything you can build

from this crumbling

find some reason, like a trash bag
of moldering fruit and meat pies,

for sudden joy

as we pinch our nose
and look away

Steven Croft lives on a barrier island off the coast of Georgia. He is the author of New World Poems (Alien Buddha Press, 2020).  His poems have appeared in Willawaw Journal, Canary, The New Verse News, The Dead Mule, Anti-Heroin Chic, and other places, and have been nominated for the Pushcart
Prize and Best of the Net.


by Mary Clurman

EL ANATSUI is a Ghanaian sculptor who has spent much of his achievement packed career living and working in Nigeria. El Anatsui currently runs a very robust studio in Nsukka, Enugu, Nigeria, where some of the most beautiful and touching works of art in the world today are created. He is one of the most highly acclaimed artists in African History and foremost contemporary artists in the world. El Anatsui uses resources typically discarded such as liquor bottle caps and cassava graters to create sculpture that defies categorisation. His use of these materials reflects his interest in reuse, transformation, and an intrinsic desire to connect to his continent while transcending the limitations of place. His work can interrogate the history of colonialism and draw connections between consumption, waste, and the environment, but at the core is his unique formal language that distinguishes his practice. Above: El Anatsui’s “New World Map,” aluminum bottle caps and copper wire, 2009–2010.

El Anatsui’s elegant creations— 
assembled bottle caps
glorious detritus from
a million billion bottles
reimagined as a map
in fabric 
but shiny 
weight enough 
to smother Mother Earth.

Let us all now drink to El
his wit and grace and hype.
He’s seen a value we have not
Until we learn to do without
he weaves with what we’ve got.

After two years in Art History at Bryn Mawr College, Mary Clurman transferred to Cooper Union Art School. Now a retired Montessori teacher, she lives in Princeton, NJ, summers in Barnard, VT. A jack-of-all media—woodworking, cooking, gardening, local issues—she is finally focused on poetry.

Monday, January 25, 2021


by Dick Westheimer

after the reading of "The Hill We Climb” 

Your sons and daughters shall prophesy; 
Your old shall dream dreams, 
And your youth shall see visions.
Joel 3:1

The poet shown like a nova, a new star rising from the dais, 
She spoke brilliance that rivaled the light that streamed through 
the parting clouds, but like any sun, could not see the shadows 
cast by her own bright light—only the glow on the faces 
of a nation reflected back to her as she rose fierce and lyrical.

Most of the elders gathered there—like lunar satellites 
in a sky of her making—were made luminous by her, 
reflected on her words, were dazzled by what she saw. 
Others, blind to her light, heard only 
the cawing of the crows nested in their heads. 

The wise ones there knew all about the casting of shadows. 
Some had even traded in darkness—had forged troubled unions 
of dark and light. But they knew this Black star before them 
was Antares to their lurking Ares. In that moment they felt  
that this night’s moon, bathed in her corona, could make them 
brave enough to face what lurks in the penumbral places.

Dick Westheimer writes poetry to makes sense of the world—which is made easier by the company of his wife of 40 years, and the plot of land they’ve worked together for all of those years. His poems have appeared in Pine Mountain Sand and Gravel, For a Better World, and Riparian.


by Alejandro Escudé

It isn’t power, but a podium levitating over a row of graves. You know you’ve heard the word, America. And you sense it, the birds circling over the dignitaries entering the Capitol, where the shadows played weeks before. Weakened, we bow before the ghosts of revolutionaries. It’s all cinema, really.

With the frigid heart of the laborer, I watch, sore yet awake, vowing to do this and that and to do it despite broken hopes. One can’t help the wicked who insist on wickedness, dopes who carry another skeleton body stuffed in their dirty Levis. I can’t help seeing the skull behind the sputtering speech,

lime-white, cracked, battle-bruised as an Apache warrior, porcelain daughters in little Puritan boots climbing steps, old senators making deathly eye contact, defiant smiles. Harrowing wind where Whitman once walked too, to aid the wounded with his round, poetic soul. I am aggrieved

by the last four years, shreds of history, the unholy present of mad insurrection. To see the Viking faces of blowhards storm mahogany chambers only to wander, stunned, hooting devilish battle cries, brandishing antebellum flags, vomiting half-baked theories, chanting croc-shit demands, whaling

creepy hide-seek queries up stairways, around sacred halls. Upward, democracy falls. We’ve been leaping sideways.

I mute the new President, turn to my laptop screen, mask laying on my teacher’s kitchen desk. My students are real; I’m not sure my country is. Even the sun needs a webpage

today and has to publicize the need for its warmth, its rising and setting. Devils wander the corridors having broken
the golden gates of heaven and beaten sword-wielding Michael with a simple, splintered stick. We step forward torn yet illumined. The exodus out of an exodus continued. 

Alejandro Escudé published his first full-length collection of poems My Earthbound Eye in September 2013. He holds a master’s degree in creative writing from UC Davis and teaches high school English. Originally from Argentina, Alejandro lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.


by Thomas R. Smith

January 20, 2021

The helicopter circling Washington
before the inauguration—what was it
really we were seeing in the sky over
the Capitol going farther away,
growing smaller in the eyes of the nation?

Almost pure archetype, the Unloved One
inflicting his unlovedness on the kingdom.
And perhaps nothing human could have changed that.
Too late, the damage done in the cradle
cemented, a secular damnation.

Everything ruined, everything fallen, and
worst of all nothing learned. I don’t want
to wallow in the pathos of that self-
inflicted doom. Far better to save our
tears for those four hundred thousand who

needn’t have died, and for the uncounted
number of injured he’s left in his wake.
Air Force One lifts off from Andrews
to the strains of “My Way,” a last bloody
handprint blazoned on the wall of ego.

It didn’t have to end this way.  Or more
terribly, maybe it did.  Do you
remember how Mary Shelley ended
Frankenstein? “He was soon borne away
by the waves and lost in distance and darkness.”

As the wind blows the clouds away from
the sun on a January day above
the Capitol, a helicopter like
a dark airborne wound grows smaller and
smaller until it can no longer be seen.

Thomas R. Smith is a poet and teacher living in River Falls, Wisconsin. He teaches at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. His most recent poetry collection is The Glory (Red Dragonfly Press).

Sunday, January 24, 2021


by George Held

Is this dream or nightmare
from which we awaken?
Do we live still in the age of Frost
or T***p? The answer is debatable,
But our destiny is unknown: do we have
the strength to preserve our ever-
challenged democracy, the republic
for which "Old Glory" stands?
The old, glorious words Hemingway
declared dead in The Great War
need renewal or replacement,
but how replace “honor,” “integrity,”
“truth”—just uttering that word
in the Senate after the Insurrection
earned Romney applause— when “disgrace,”
“fake,” and “disaster” still ring in our ears
and lesser poets fill Inauguration Day
with shibboleth and cliché?

“The Gift Outright,” while not the poet’s best,
still provides us food for thought—
“The land was ours before we were the land’s…”—
as we waken from the four-year dream
or nightmare.

George Held is a longtime contributor to TheNewVerse.News.

Saturday, January 23, 2021


by Buff Whitman-Bradley

Illustration by Matthew Laznicka for In These Times.

A day of soaking rains.
Crowds of sparrows
Foraging in garden mud
For seeds exposed by the downpour.
Gutters and storm drains
Clogged with great clumps of wet leaves.
Persimmon trees 
Stripped of their foliage
Their naked bodies ornamented
With glowing orange lanterns.
Shiny, water-slicked buckeyes 
And bay nuts 
Littering the ground.
We have waited and waited
And waited
For the rains to arrive
To drench the soil
To fill the creeks
To bathe the dry woods
That throughout the hot, dry, red-flag season
Whispered in our uneasy dreams
Threats to erupt in flames
That would come fee-fie-foe-fumming 
Down the mountain
Like a malevolent fairy tale giant
With a hunger for our homes,
For our neighborhoods,
For our bones.
Rest easy sing the little silver-footed fairies
Dancing on the roof,
For now.

Buff Whitman-Bradley’s poems have appeared in numerous print and only journals. His new book At the Driveway Guitars Sale is forthcoming from Main Street Rag Publishing Company. He podcasts poems of aging, memory, and mortality at and lives with his wife Cynthia in northern California.

Friday, January 22, 2021


by Felicia Sanzari Chernesky

          for B.A.

In the night snow fell
upon the bittersweet
and lined the land from stone
to sleeping limb with hope.
The waking sky reveals
it’s hardly deep enough
to cover the frozen leaves
of grass, but having fallen
far and wide, traces
each intention—tire tracks
down a road, fox footprints
fading into the woods
dividing neighborhoods.
Despite these separate paths
the snowfall wakes me up
again to the bracing truth
that we are joined to one
another and this place,
fragile icy pieces
formed in community—
We robe ourselves in frost
yet thrive in unity.

Felicia Sanzari Chernesky is a longtime editor and picture book author who tracks life’s footprints with poetry as her lens. Her microfiction has been nominated for a 2021 Pushcart and Best of Microfiction. She lives with her family in Flemington, New Jersey

Thursday, January 21, 2021


by Brooke Herter James


The cloud of fog
over the mountain
has shaped itself
into a jaunty cap—
the kind one might wear
to a party 
or a parade.

Brooke Herter James is a poet living in Vermont.


 by George Salamon

"Joe Biden must usher in a new era," —The Hill, January 20, 2021

"Not the least of the torments which plague our existence is the constant pressure of time, which never lets us so much as draw breath but pursues us all like a taskmaster with a whip." —Arthur Schopenhauer, On the Suffering of the World.

We can stop and draw our breath,
like we did as children, playing,
the flotsam of years is not gone,
the losses of just one year took
on such proportions that the days
grew dark, the stories in the papers
were too much to bear, we grew
hardened, now we can return to
the world of the visible, the world
of the reliable, return to hear the
rustle of the human and the animal,
see the reliable green of forests and
wilderness, touch the solid walls of
houses that did not crumble and be
touched by pictures of painters that
are art until we are ready for the  
journey inward to recover the light 
of logic we lost in a long and dark tunnel.

George Salamon not sure we are on the threshold of a "new era" yet, or are ready for it, but he hopes we will get there. In the meantime, he expects he'll keep contributing to The Asses of Parnassus, One Sentence Poems, Dissident Voice and The New Verse News from St.Louis.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021


by Ethan Thayumanavan

Born November 20, 1942.

Inaugurated on January 20, 2021.


Born June 14, 1946.

Inaugurated on January 20, 2017.


Ruby Bridges: Born September 8, 1954.

First day in a white classroom on November 14, 1960.


Angela Davis: Born January 26, 1944.

Became the third Woman on the fbi’s most wanted list on August 18, 1970.

Released on bail after 16 months of incarceration on February 23, 1972.

Acquitted of all charges by an all-white jury on June 4, 1972.


Marsha P. Johnson: Born August 24, 1945.

Stonewalled the nypd on June 28, 1969.

The nypd ruled Marsha’s death a suicide on July 6, 1992.


Martin Luther King Jr: Born January 15, 1929.

Had a dream on August 28, 1963.

Went to the mountaintop on April 3, 1968.

Assassinated by white supremacists on April 4, 1968.


Emmett Till: Born July 25, 1941.

Whistled at a white girl on August 28, 1955.

He was two years older than


Tamir Rice: Born June 25, 2002.

Murdered by a white man with a badge on November 22, 2014.


jim crow: Born Juneteenth, 1865.

just won’t fucking



I imagine that mista past president has sat

underneath palms in the Middle East

but has never tasted the warm sweetness

of a date


can’t bring himself to put his lips on

Worn Leather and Scar Tissue and Age Lines

and Exhaustion and Folk Music and Survival


classrooms shove dates down my throat

put their hands over my mouth

so I have to swallow

don’t even prepare ‘em right


leave pits in my stomach

forget the date came from the tree

came from the seed

came from the pit

came from the date


which is to say that linearity and

history are both constructed.

what is a date

without person and place?

time does not march forward

unless we do


I hold a date in the palm of my hand

sink my teeth into it

bite down into the gooey, sticky sweetness

savor the moment

write my own History

write my own poem

call this a radical act

Ethan Thayumanavan is an aspiring poet of Indian descent, from Amherst, Massachusetts. He is a full-time student at Columbia University. His exploration of poetry began when he joined a collegiate spoken word poetry team, but his love for the written word has influenced his transition from performance to writing.


by Jimmy Pappas

a red rose 
and a white lily 
Gaga and JLo 

Jimmy Pappas can be found on YouTube interviewed by Tim Green at Rattlecast #34. Jimmy is now writing at least one haiku a day for the rest of the year. Wish him luck with that one.


 by Paul Smith


Today I saw a guy on TV
about my age
a little older, white-haired
who put his hand on a Bible
and took an oath
to uphold democracy
build national trust & unity
etc., etc.
it was a nice speech
he also said something about us
being able to take whatever fate throws at us
I liked this part
it didn’t sound like
it was written by a speechwriter
and it made me think of what
fate has thrown at us
more at you than me
so, although you are not here today
you might smile a bit
that people like you
you know
skin the color of a lunch bag
who came from far away
who became citizens of this land
supposedly made for you and me
but also a land visited by a terrible plague
that took you away from me
maybe, after smiling that sly tropical smile
you’ll worry less about us
and enjoy whatever was prepared for you
by the One you’re with
on that other faraway shore
with the One we say
sheds His grace on us

Paul Smith is a civil engineer who has worked in the construction racket for many years. He has traveled all over the place and met lots of people. Some have enriched his life. Others made him wish he or they were all dead. He likes writing poetry and fiction. He also likes Newcastle Brown Ale. If you see him, buy him one. His poetry and fiction have been published in Convergence, Packingtown Review, Literary Orphans, TheNewVerse.News, and other lit mags.


by Amy Elizabeth Robinson

So much blood
on his lie-drenched tongue.
Too much
to explore
in a poem. This poem

to turn in a new direction. 
It hears 
the heavy gates
of justice 
on his reign of infancy 
and terror.
It applauds 
the sharp-shinned 
of empathy
who guard the precarious 
scales. This poem
will not forget, yet

it turns
the dawn. 
You know this dawn, this
tender filigree of
sun-soaked web. 
The spiders have been spinning
all through the night.
Their webs of diligence,
and promise, and 
shimmer of delight. This poem 

insists on making
a plea deal
with the moment. Guilty
of exhaustion, 
it ends its 
fractured sentences
with care. 

Amy Elizabeth Robinson is a poet, writer, historian, mother, and many other things. She did live in the eastern mountains of Sonoma County, California, but her collectively-owned community recently burned in the Glass Fire. She is a community leader at Flower Mountain Zen, and her work has appeared in Literary Hub, Literary Mama, West Marin Review, West Trestle Review, Vine Leaves, Rattle’s Poets Respond program, and elsewhere. She blogs at

Tuesday, January 19, 2021


by Dan Brook 

here we are
we must do
what is difficult
we must do
what is necessary
we must be

we must be
the bay
polluted & pissed in
used, abused
trying to support life
we must sustain

we must be
the rainforest
slashed & burned
choking, smoking
trying to breathe
we must regenerate

we must be
the ocean
jumped in & dumped in
crashing, thrashing
trying to wash
we must cleanse

we must be
the Earth
ridden roughshod
quaking, spinning
trying to survive
we must live

we must be
the worm
stepped over & on
wiggling, wriggling
trying to burrow
we must be humble

we must be
the other
feared & hated
mistaken, misunderstood
trying to communicate
we must be compassionate

we must be
inefficient & empowering
attacked, defended
trying to survive
we must act

we must be
proud & vibrant
scarred, scared
trying to be
we must be better

we must be
who we are
together & alone
all of us, together
trying to thrive
we must be the best us

Dan Brook teaches in the Department of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences at San Jose State University and is, most recently, the author of Sweet Nothings (Hekate Publishing).

Monday, January 18, 2021


by Jean L. Kreiling

Just down the street, outside a neighbor’s door, 
it reaches up and out, as if for hope 
or heaven, in an effort to restore 
its honor and resist the downward slope 
traversed by those who lied, who followed liars, 
who beat a man with those same stripes and stars, 
who lit and fanned and spread murderous fires 
that left some dead, the rest of us with scars. 
I see Old Glory fluttering in the breeze— 
but elsewhere, desecrated by a gang 
of thugs, it symbolized not liberties 
and laws, but rage, and justice by flash-bang. 
I miss the days when I was confident 
about what flags by neighbors’ front doors meant. 

Jean L. Kreiling is the author of two collections of poetry: Arts & Letters & Love (2018) and The Truth in Dissonance (2014).  Her work has been honored with the Able Muse Write Prize, the Great Lakes Commonwealth of Letters Sonnet Prize, the Kelsay Books Metrical Poetry Prize, a Laureates’ Prize in the Maria W. Faust Sonnet Contest, three New England Poetry Club prizes, the Plymouth Poetry Contest prize, and the String Poet Prize. 


by Dawn Corrigan

Officer Daniel Hodges gained notoriety after footage of him circulated being crushed by a door during the capitol riots. Photo: CNN via WCVB.

Dawn Corrigan has a crush on an American hero.

Sunday, January 17, 2021


by Susan Vespoli

I’ve been thinking about the Hopi Prophecy as told to me
by a friend, how we would find ourselves in a rushing river,
our body a soggy vessel careening toward the unknown. And the Hopi 
instruction was to notice who traveled beside us, not to flail 

or cling to the shore, but to trust the water. I’ve been thinking 
about the deep bass voice and compelling smell of an armpit, a man 
who sang lyrics into my ear, leaned around me as I washed a pan, 
crooned, I just can’t live without you, sister golden hair surprise, 

how he vanished with that torso he’d spooned around me, 
strapped into his own life vest, his SUV growing smaller 
as it exited the street in front of my house where I’ve stayed 
mostly alone since March, and how the ones who’ve held 

my hand and head above water have done so through Zoom
screens or contained in chiweenie fur or while flouncing 
around the living room in a size 6x little girl’s net skirt. How comfort 
has come via iPhones on speaker, text boxes, Words with Friends 

app chats, or from the masked employees at Jiffy Lube, 
a uniformed ballet of them who unscrew, drain, pour fluid, 
bow, you’re welcome, smile with eyes, say, you’re okay now,
reset the Need Maintenance light that flashed on my dash.

Susan Vespoli has been holed for almost a year in Phoenix, where she's written poetry, led writing circles on Zoom for, ridden her bike, and walked her dogs. Her work has been published in The New Verse News, Rattle, Nasty Women Poets Anthology, Mom Egg Review, Nailed Magazine, and others.

Saturday, January 16, 2021


by John Hodgen

Heading in to the Quickie Mart I can tell right away something’s wrong, 

the kid behind the counter with the plexi-glass wrap-around going at it  

with a customer, giving him a piece of her mind, or more. I think perhaps  

she caught him stealing, or worse, but he’s a business guy, gray suit, gray tie,  

and when I open the door it’s not anger at all, it’s passion I’m hearing,   

passion in a Quickie Mart. She’s just a kid, early 20’s or so, hair pulled back,  

masked, oversized glasses fogged up. She’s saying, …when even we can see  

what’s going on, us average people, people like us, then you know something’s wrong.  

And the man doesn’t speak, just nods and turns away, goes past me  

like a broken ghost, back to the world again. And I turn to her in this  

tiny temple where we all come and go for milk and tickets and cigarettes  

and gas, and ask her what it is that all of us should know, all us average people  

who gas and gulp and come and go. She says, …the Capitol, what those people did. 

And I tell her I agree, it’s a sacred place, that they call it the People’s House, 

that Lincoln ended slavery there with the 13th Amendment in the Capitol,  

that when you’re actually there it feels more like a church. And then I can’t stop.  

I tell her it’s good what you did, speaking up like that. I tell her Siddhartha  

says your birthday isn’t really the day that you’re born. It’s the first time  

you stand up to your parents, to anyone with power over you, and tell them  

the truth. That’s the day when you’re truly born, when you first come alive.  

I want to say she was smiling, gleaming like a newborn held up to the light,  

but she was wearing a mask. I gave her a twenty for pump number five. 

John Hodgen, Writer-in-Residence at Assumption University, won the AWP Prize for Grace (University of Pittsburgh Press). His new book is The Lord of Everywhere (Lynx House/University of Washington Press).


by Rémy Dambron

they said this man was just like them we said he doesn’t feel the same

they said he said that’s just fake news we said this is a dangerous game

they said he’s making us great again while we witnessed his power abuses

they diminished and deflected delivering his excuses

we called this pattern treacherous nefarious hateful nasty

they called him biblical 
patriotic bold and crafty

we said he’s promoting violence 
they said he doesn’t mean it

we showed them clips of footage 
they said we just don’t see it

we said hands up don’t shoot 
black lives matter me too

they said shut up and dribble 
all lives matter back the blue

we plead for justice 
but just us took a knee

so they beat us up with shields batons and false decrees

we said we have our rights 
they said well not today

we said these were our streets 
so they gassed us all away

we protested peacefully 
get your knees off our neck

they called us anarchists
then wrote themselves some checks

we turned out in record 
to win the election

they claimed there was fraud 
pledged their objections

we agreed to a recount 
they cried stop the steal

maskless they rallied 
refusing to heal

they threatened more violence despite our constitution

we said he’s propagating 
they called it lib delusion

then hundreds and hundreds 
with his flags and motifs

assailed the steps
of our nation’s top chiefs

we cried this is madness 
the building’s not secured

they said our take-back has begun and we will not be deterred

we said look at the police 
they’re like ushers in disguise

allowing them to enter 
with insurgency supplies

we saw gates open wide 
with a skirmish or two

then a lonely black cop
with just a stick and film crew

never drawing his firearm 
just clutching his baton

yelling and retreating
his leverage too far gone

they paraded their faces 
took selfies and stole files

besieged and disgraced
our nations state house defiled

they were released without consequence 
set free without question

acquitted of their felonies 
at forty fives direction

we watched in horror for hours
what we had known would come true

his fascist america 
executing their coup

Rémy Dambron is an English teacher, proud husband, and activist whose poetry focuses primarily on advocating for social justice and denouncing political corruption. His work has been featured on What Rough Beast, Writer’s Resist, Poets Reading the News, and The New Verse News.


by Martha McCollough

zombie daddy trudges on / grudges flying / bringing you your big chance / to shit in marble hallways / what a land of opportunity / for a sweaty daddy / poor daddy / his pinhole hungry-ghost mouth / starving starving / rubbing up against the teevee / daddy eating up the low-class love / slabface swelling & yelling / nooooooo / bloody crash of murder clown car / tactical antlers tangled / kevlar hooves sliding on the pedals / daddy’s at the wheel singing / all the way to / mother of mercy / is this the end of daddy

Originally from Detroit, Martha McCollough now lives in Amherst, Massachusetts. She has an MFA in painting from Pratt Institute. Her poems are forthcoming or have appeared in Radar, Zone 3, Tampa Review, and Salamander, among others. Her chapbook Grandmother Mountain was published by Blue Lyra Press in October 2019.  


by Phyllis Wax

who rouse fear—                                                           
the Egyptian cobra, the black mamba,                                                  
the pit vipers of Pakistan and Afghanistan—                                        
and nativists lump the unfamiliar benign 
with these toxic snakes, want to fence them all out. 
But what about the homegrown “patriots”—the domestic
side-armed sidewinding rattler, chattering and clattering           
its venomous views, sowing discord wherever  it chooses?

What about the skin-headed southern cottonmouth
with its deceptive languid accent and aggressive
lashing out?  The klanned coral snake, venomous,         
yet anonymous?  The paranoid tea-                                
stained copperhead?  The credulous shrug them off,                        

consider them crazies,
not dangerous species
to be monitored and tracked.

They slither from under rocks and brush piles                            
in the western hills, cluster in nests in lowland swamps,
ooze out of slimy mics all over the homeland.
The willfully oblivious ignore them—              
even when they rear back and strike.                                                                                                     

Phyllis Wax writes in Milwaukee, WI, where she is now watching in horror as the homegrown snakes are all slithering out at once. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, both online and in print.


by Donna Katzin

The violence was barely visible to law-makers                                                 
when police squeezed out George Floyd’s last breath
with a knee to his neck, shot their way
into Breonna Taylor’s home,
left her dead on her floor, clicked off
the too-short lives of Tamir Rice and Trayvon Martin
with flicks of a trigger.                                        
They scarcely discerned it in the eyes of children     
ripped from fathers’, mothers’ arms,
caged at the border, never to see
their parents again.
It was not obvious to them when 350,000 souls—       
disproportionately black and brown, immigrant, indigenous—
were extinguished by the virus
the president heralded as a “hoax,”                      
as ICU’s, hearses, morgues choked on bodies
and ambulances were ordered not to stop
for “low-probability” passengers.                                    
It took broken glass and guns at the Capitol,
ghost-faced rioters in MAGA hats, banners, swastikas,
sporting toxic slogans spawned and spewed
by the Commander-in-Chief.
It took hordes single-minded as Atilla the Hun
or shock-troops of the Third Reich storming
up the marble stairs beneath idyllic landscapes,
portraits of iconic heads of state,
pushing past police who never imagined 
the possibility of a white mob
forcing their way into chambers constructed,
polished to protect the rule of law,
wielding shotguns and rifles,
wrapped in bullet-proof vests.
It took the legislators in lockdown
little time to detect the pattern,
crouching behind their chairs, calling
loved ones, clutching gas-masks,
as they were herded to hidden locations
while the president’s minions lounged
in their offices, read their mail,       
trashed their papers, took selfies.
In the fray below five people died.
It took them only hours to declare a breach,
recalibrate the rules, call for silencing,
impeaching the author of the action
to pluck out the bad seed.
But still, in the white wilderness of our minds,
tiptoe home-grown terrorists nurtured                  
with our blindness, lethal legacies,
assumptions of supremacy—             
the hate so deeply sown                                     
in our own hearts.

Donna Katzin is the founding executive director of Shared Interest, a fund that mobilizes the human and financial resources of low-income communities of color in South and Southern Africa.  A board member of Community Change in the U.S., and co-coordinator of Tipitapa Partners working in Nicaragua, she has written extensively about South Africa, community development and impact investing.  Published in journals and sites including The New Verse News and The Mom Egg, she is the author of With the Hands, a book of poems and photographs about post-apartheid South Africa’s process of giving birth to itself.  

Friday, January 15, 2021


by DeWitt Clinton

“The end of the earth,” acrylic painting by Tobi Star Abrams

The end?  Well, we could hardly call it that, as if
Whatever just happened, isn’t found in an old
Paper thin tome nobody’s read for a zillion years,
Instead, the end, or The End, just keeps blistering
The heck out of nearly everyone, though some
Are immune, and will never know when any End
Is just around, looking for hopeless dopes like most
Of us are now, prayers done with, floors mopped
With Clorox, as if that would scare anyone away,
But the Bugs like that deep inhalation we take when
We walk into any room, like sniffing lighter fluid
Right into the lungs where it plans to stay and stay
Until all of us are turned over onto our stomachs
By the kindest of medical staff, hoping the deep
Breaths will pull us out, but most of us have already
Died, and had no clue anything was like The End as
So many are whispering about now, as if Breaking
News isn’t about a new political cataclysm, but rather
Breaking the hearts of so many in so many hugely
Different parts of our world, everywhere even in
Antarctica, and who brought the Bugs in to such a
Pristine, icy world anyway?  ICU’s are now in gift
Shops, chapels, parking lots with unique tenting
Materials and refrigerator trucks behind and out
Of sight, keeping all the dead quite cool until we
Find a place that will prepare the dead without
Ending up as the prepared dead.  That’s our new
World with the best hopes of looking ahead nearly
Two or three years out, and even then, new varieties
Will awaken all of us again, those who aren’t quite
Living any more, but just waiting, you know for what
Don’t you, call it what you want but here, it’s The End.

Recent poems by DeWitt Clinton have appeared in Lowestoft Chronicle, The New Reader Review, The Bezine, The Poet by Day, Verse-Virtual, Poetry Hall, Muddy River Poetry Review, Across the Margin, Art + Literature Lab, One Magazine, Fudoki Magazine (England), and The New Verse News.  He has two poetry collections from New Rivers Press; a recent collection, At the End of the War; and By a Lake Near a Moon: Fishing with the Chinese Masters, poetic adaptations of Kenneth Rexroth’s 100 Poems from the Chinese.  He is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin—Whitewater, and lives in Shorewood, Wisconsin.