Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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, February 23, 2021


by Barbara Parchim

Probing the structure of the ocean crust requires a wave source. The most common source is an air gun, which is effective but potentially harmful for ocean life and not easy to use everywhere. Václav M. Kuna and John L. Nábělek found that fin whale songs can also be used as a seismic source for determining crustal structure. Fin whale vocalizations can be as loud as large ships and occur at frequencies useful for traveling through the ocean floor. These properties allow fin whale songs to be used for mapping out the density of ocean crust, a vital part of exploring the seafloor. —Science, February 12, 2021

now that seismologists know
that different frequencies of whale songs
can map the layers of the ocean floor
to help us study sediment and rock
in areas where earthquakes occur—
can we pause?
when their beauty and sentience,
curiosity and gentleness,
is not enough—
has never been enough—
to awaken compassion
when the “harvest” of these giants,
some with their young alongside
does not engender adequate empathy
now that we have a “use”
for these beings,
for scientific research,
that requires a living, breathing, body
can we, finally, stop the slaughter?
Barbara Parchim lives on a small farm in southwest Oregon. She enjoys gardening and hiking and volunteered for several years at a wildlife rehabilitation facility. Her poems have appeared in Ariel Chart, Isacoustic, Turtle Island Quarterly, Windfall, and Trouvaille Review. Her first chapbook, selected by Flowstone Press, will appear in 2021.