Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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

Monday, February 01, 2021


 by Mary K O’Melveny

“Vaccine Wheel of Fortune” by JMbucholtz at Deviant Art.

               In the Circle of Life
                    It's the wheel of fortune
                    It's the leap of faith
                    It's the band of hope
                    Till we find our place…
—“The Circle of Life” (Lyrics by Tim Rice)

No one wants to be the last woman down before the cure.
So everyone is staring at computer screens, leaning into
laptops, cradling cell phones. Legions of faithful vaccine
seekers are as determined as El Camino de Santiago pilgrims.
Or would-be buyers of Hamilton tickets back when Broadway
was still open.  There are waiting lists, rumors, promises.
Appointments made, then cancelled. Lines form, disband.
Recorded messages say don’t call us, we’ll call you.
Everyone is at risk. But not enough to be advanced to more
fortunate categories. We reside in data bases far and wide.
We’ve filled out forms as if they were lottery tickets, sent
every scrap of personal data to would-be hackers around
the globe, called doctors we’ve not seen in years, even searched
for fake college IDs that might jump us to new age brackets.
Some neighbors raced to appointments in neighborhoods they
had never seen, forgetting who the odds had already disfavored.
As usual, the privileged see serendipity. Everyone else
knows how often the game is rigged. Kismet is a figment.
The carnival barker is gone but his fabrications linger
like smoke from a cheap cigar. Even as chilled vials traverse
the highways like pilgrim caravans, new viral strains mutate,
shapeshift. Before all our waiting arms are raised, half a million
will likely die. So we click and call and cry for our chance
at good fortune. Once again, Lady Luck smiles, then disappoints.

Mary K O'Melveny is a recently retired labor rights attorney who lives in Washington DC and Woodstock NY.  Her work has appeared in various print and on-line journals. Her first poetry chapbook A Woman of a Certain Age is available from Finishing Line Press. Mary’s poetry collection Merging Star Hypotheses was published by Finishing Line Press in January, 2020.