Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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

Friday, February 26, 2021


by Pepper Trail

It has always circulated among us
We know that, and we know
Mutations happen all the time
So what makes this so virulent
So easily transmitted
Neighbor to neighbor, father to son?
It is airborne, that is clear
Transmitted on the breath
On the words carried on the breath
Capable of crossing great distances
Broadcast on the seething turbulence
Filling our air, our airwaves
Experts speak of it with awe
The terrible beauty of its design
How it targets our vulnerabilities
Binds to our fears
Produces an inflammation
Disorderly and wild
There are treatments
Not painless but effective
But the problem is this:
The genius of this variant
Its most deadly symptom
Is denial of the disease itself
And so the epidemic rages
The world waits for the crisis
For the fever to break
To burn itself out
Or to infect every last one of us
Burn everything up, at last

Pepper Trail is a poet and naturalist based in Ashland, Oregon. His poetry has appeared in Rattle, Atlanta Review, Spillway, Kyoto Journal, Cascadia Review, and other publications, and has been nominated for Pushcart and Best of the Net awards. His collection Cascade-Siskiyou was a finalist for the 2016 Oregon Book Award in Poetry.