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Sunday, May 16, 2021


by Amy Shimshon-Santo

“i don’t understand why people keep choosing fascism.” —my mother. 

my words are knots, 
while I need parachutes. 

sleepless from threading imaginary-strategies 
potential sentences to disrupt the state. 

try lots of periods. . . . . .
put the [killers in brackets]

some writers spin enviable lines,
bumper sticker responses 

at the ready, 
then go out for cappuccino.

as if the correct terminology 
could bring back the dead 

my body is tangled,  
it can’t sleep for grieving

my head shakes, 
remembering do Nascimento’s lyric
eu sou america do sul,
eu sei você não vai saber.
same with everywhere,
imperial windows barely see in

much less out. do something, her body said
the world is on fire

you can only change what you touch 
how can a mom bring down a fascist state? 

massage therapists post information
on demonstrations, they sing

bring flowers, 
and are dragged on the ground by police

fascism comes in all flavors
styles and sizes

anyone can be a fascist
two for one, on sale now

maybe anyone
can be a freedom fighter too.

I want to stop the war
words were supposed to make the world

but mine roar within 
i misspell lines, small lions

the people who are doing the fighting 
are the ones who must stop.

i want to make them
let's see, i have hot water and a barrel of lemons

try! use your words
stop a war with your body

“we are not all that powerful, “ h says. “its ok,
we are not built for that.”

but my body, made of moon dust 
cells and pillage histories believes it is

it dreams of becoming 
big as a u.n., an i.c.c. — BIGGER!

a small body, dreams of being 
a body of power

she is more  
like a garden bird 

small and two-footed,
feathered with emotion
while history wears 
boots and helmets

carries rifles, barges in
drops bombs and burns

“we will get crushed 
if we try to carry the world,” h says. 

but that is what the body feels 
responsible for

how does a mother 
stop a war? 

"the people who are bombing must stop," 
the mother stirs, but we must find a way to stop them

Amy Shimshon-Santo is a poet and educator who believes that culture is a powerful tool for personal and social transformation. Her interdisciplinary work connects the arts, education, and urbanism. She is the author of Even the Milky Way Is Undocumented (Unsolicited Press, Pushcart Prize & Rainbow Reads Award nominee). 

Saturday, May 15, 2021


by Joseph Hope

“peace” by Shahid Atiq at toonpool.

The body would prefer perfume to real bullets.
Prefer water to tear gas.
Prefer flowers to rockets.
Prefer anything that will not kill it 
to what can.
Ask the dead!
Brokering peace is better than taking a side.
Whether it's 
Palestine vs Israel or
Allah vs Jesus or 
White vs Black or 
Jews vs non-Jews
peace will still remain the only cure to conflicts.

Joseph Hope is writing from Nigeria, a student of Usman Danfodio University. His works are either forthcoming or already published in Reckoning Press, Evening Street Press, Zoetic Press,  The New Verse News, Praxis Magazine, Gemini Spice Magazine, Spillwords, SprinNG, Writers Space Africa, Nthanda Magazine, 5th Chinua Achebe Anthology, Ariel Chart, Best "New" African Poets 2019 Anthology, and many more. He's a young man running away from his name. How absurd! He tweets @ItzJoe9

A Letter to Readers of The New Verse News

Dear Readers,



Within the past few hours, Blogger, which hosts this site, deleted nine posted poems from March 2021:

"The Year of the Great Pause"
"Brave Red"
"Free Range Bird"
"The Pursuit"
"Waiting Room"
"International Women's Day 2021"
"Calendar Girls"
"Cracking the Code"
"Mr. Potato Head Responds"

According to emails from Blogger, The New Verse News's "content has violated our malware and viruses policy."

There is no further explanation to help me understand how, if true, these violations could have been avoided... or, more worrying, how they can be avoided in the future since Blogger warns us: "We encourage you to review the full content of your blog posts to make sure that they are in line with our standards as additional violations could result in the termination of your blog."

After having had Facebook summarily take down our page there some months ago with even less explanation, I can't help thinking that someone is out to get us and our politics.

We shall see.

For now, I apologize to the poets of the deleted poems.

James Penha,
Editor, The New Verse News

Update: A Blogger community expert writes in reply to my call for help: "Your posts may have been removed in error. Blogger is aware of the issue and working on a fix."😖

Friday, May 14, 2021


by Lynn White

Cartoon by Matt Lubchansky at The Nib, May 12, 2021

There are always two sides to every story,
you said.
The protesters were armed.
The protesters were violent
when faced with soldiers in full combat gear.
Faced with snipers armed with live ammunition.
Armed but
only with stones,
and only some of them.

There are always two sides to every story,
you said.
I ask,
to every story?
Do you really believe that
for a demonstration of unarmed people
when the snipers and soldiers
are already waiting

There were terrorists amongst them 
intent on doing us harm,
You say
so, yes, to every story, every story.
Would the not harm be similar 
to the tens who were killed
and the hundreds that were injured?
We have a right to defend ourselves,
you said, 
so yes,
there are always two sides to every story.
Every story.

so, you will want to hear it for the Nazis then!
That’s not what you meant.
That story stands alone
one sided.
Perhaps the number of sides
depends on the differences in power.
Perhaps it’s not alone.


Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality and writes hoping to find an audience for her musings. She was shortlisted in the Theatre Cloud 'War Poetry for Today' competition and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Rhysling Award. Her poetry has appeared in many publications including Apogee, Firewords, Peach Velvet, Light Journal and So It Goes.

Thursday, May 13, 2021


by Julie Steiner

Look for the helpers, Mister Rogers said.
Whenever you feel sad or scared about
the news, look for the people helping out.
Keep those within your sight. Your heart. Your head.

It’s good advice. On days when all I’ve read
puts basic human decency in doubt,
and all I’ve heard’s what hurtful people shout,
I focus on the helpful folks instead.

Or try to. Sometimes all that’s in the frame
is evidence that helpers never came.

Two long, light-gray balloons, like downturned lips,
say several states withheld their rescue ships.

No helpers in the picture. Not this time.
But you can help bear witness to this crime.

A shipwreck off the Libyan coast has reportedly claimed the lives of 130 people, despite SOS calls for help, the UN migration agency IOM said on Friday [April 23]. The tragedy was confirmed late on Thursday by the volunteer rescue vessel Ocean Viking, which found dozens of bodies floating in the water northeast of Tripoli. It had been in distress since Wednesday morning, the NGO said in a statement. IOM spokesperson, Safa Msehli, told journalists in Geneva that the victims had been on board a rubber dinghy for two days before it sank in the central Mediterranean. “For two days, the NGO alarm phone, which is responsible for sending distress calls to the relevant maritime rescue centres in the region, has been calling on States to uphold their responsibilities towards these people and send rescue vessels. Unfortunately, that has not happened.” More than 500 people have drowned on the so-called Central Mediterranean sea route this year according to IOM—almost three times as many the same period last year. —UN News, April 23, 2021

Julie Steiner is a pseudonym in San Diego. Besides The New Verse News, the venues in which her poetry has appeared include the Able Muse Review, Rattle, Light, and the Asses of Parnassus.

Wednesday, May 12, 2021


by Jo Ann Steger Hoffman

Only a few are brave enough, a few
only, who listen to the inner voice
that does not lie, speaks clearly what is true.
These few decide to make the harder choice
to stand apart, alone, claim truth out loud
despite the storms that blow the House apart
when one with strength of purpose stands unbowed
beneath the weight of censure, dares to chart
a course that steers its way by compass points
unshaken by fierce winds of ambition,
steadied by faithfulness to what anoints
a leader with the right to set direction.
What some will view as weakness in this hour
will soon reveal itself as peerless power.

Jo Ann Steger Hoffman’s publications include a children’s book, short fiction and numerous poems in literary journals, including The Merton Quarterly, Persimmon Tree, Pinesong, The New Verse News, Kakalak, Red Clay Review, Broad River Review and Flying South. Recognition from Palm Beach Poetry Festival contests and a Pushcart nomination are among her awards. Her narrative non-fiction book Angels Wear Black recounts the only technology executive kidnapping to occur in California’s Silicon Valley. A native of Toledo, Ohio, Jo Ann and her husband now live in Cary and Beaufort, North Carolina.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021


by Indran Amirthanayagam

Myanmar poet Khet Thi, whose works declare resistance to the ruling junta, has died in detention and his body was returned with the organs removed, his family said. A spokesperson for the junta did not answer calls to request comment on the death of Khet Thi, who had penned the line “They shoot in the head, but they don’t know the revolution is in the heart.” His Facebook page said he was 45. —The Guardian, May 10, 2021

We have a body for you Mrs. Thi
but some organs are missing.
You understand that we had
to keep the heart for further study,
to better understand the root cause
of your husband's delusion,
and our apologies if the eyes
too seem askew. We dug into
ball and cornea, to unsplice
the vision fiber.This revolt must
be attacked by all available means,
including forensics, tear gas,
live bullets, home visits at night,
torture sessions in the nearest
police station. and we will be
ready for blowback from abroad,
the bloody poets gathering,
shouting words in their hearts.
Come on you chattering birds. Sing.

Indran Amirthanayagam writes in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Haitian Creole. He has 19 poetry books, including The Migrant States (Hanging Loose Press, 2020) and Sur l'île nostalgique (L'Harmattan, 2020). In music, he recorded Rankont Dout. He edits The Beltway Poetry Quarterly, is a columnist for Haiti en Marchewon the Paterson Prize, and is a 2020 Foundation for the Contemporary Arts fellow.

Monday, May 10, 2021


by Donna Katzin

Demonstrators march towards Boston Police Headquarters to protest the police-perpetrated killing of 16-year-old Ma'Khia Bryant who was shot by Columbus Police on April 21, 2021. This march was initially organized to celebrate the life of George Floyd following the verdict of Derek Chauvin. Credit: ANIK RAHMAN / NURPHOTO via GETTY IMAGES via TRUTHOUT

There’s a reason why so many activists have insisted that the Derek Chauvin verdict — though it offers a measure of solace for George Floyd’s family — isn’t justice. Our current way of thinking about and doing justice does not and cannot meet the moment. If anything, the Chauvin verdict achingly demonstrates that justice as we know it is wanting. It’s time to imagine a new justice that does and can…  It’s about reckoning with and disrupting entire histories, legacies, and systems of racial terror and white supremacy that, like monsters who we think are dead but keep coming back, relentlessly replicate and reproduce themselves. —Fania E. Davis, Truthout, May 9, 2021

After a year of protests,
witnesses, testimonies, videos,
this time we see the scales balance --
a white perpetrator in blue found guilty
of squeezing the life out of a Black man.
For a moment the weight of planets
lifts from our backs, shoulders,
necks, and we can stand
a little straighter,
breathe again.
But still we hear
the ripping of the land
as more Black bodies fall, blood
oozing from crevasses
too wide to heal.
In the streets, the howl
of the original sin refuses to die,
roots like a relentless, toxic weed
in its shallow grave, waiting
to show its face again.

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. 

Sunday, May 09, 2021


by Earl J. Wilcox

“Puff of Wind,” painting by Tonya Schultz.

By some ancients’ reckonings
Five decades are a puff in the wind
A tick in the tock of time.
Summing up by comparison needs
Too many tropes to catalogue—
As Milton or Whitman might—
A few more than Miz Dickinson
Did nearing the end of her years
In the same house, rooms familiar
To her as butterflies or gentle poots.
My leaving this house feels more
Like Frost traveling to Florida
Near wintertime or south to Boston
On occasion—journeys which
Beckon or intrigue may satisfy
The urge to know what lies
Ahead more than gone before.
While it is not true that Earl Wilcox has been sending poems to The New Verse News for 50 years, he has contributed about two dozen in the past 15 years.

Saturday, May 08, 2021


by Marsha Segerberg

You can keep an eye on the re-entry of the Long March 4B at Aerospace.

“Heads Up! A Used Chinese Rocket Is Tumbling Back to Earth This Weekend. The chances of it hitting a populated area are small, but not zero. That has raised questions about how the country’s space program designs its missions.” —The New York Times, May 7, 2021

The Long March 5B is tumbling out of control. 

A 10-story, 23-ton array of hurtling
rocket junk. Uncontrolled re-entry.
It’s a bus that went to a space station called Tiangong,
Chinese for Heavenly Palace.
Chances you could be hit are not zero, they say in the news.
Some time Saturday. Maybe Sunday.
Chicago is safe. New York City—maybe not.
I think it’s irresponsible, said someone from NASA.
Some people are not displaying responsible space behaviors.
said the press secretary.
A NASA satellite about the size of a school bus,
whammed back to earth in 2011, but only a 1-in-3,200 chance
anyone would be hurt. That’s what they calculated.
The Long March 5B could spread 10 tons over hundreds of miles.
Think about three pickup trucks’ worth of debris,
NASA said. Not so bad, spread out like that, right?
There was the Columbia, disintegrating over Texas. 
No one was hurt on the ground by the 85,000 pounds of junk. 
I wonder if that included the seven astronauts..
I wonder what their collective ashes weighed. 
There was the Challenger blowing apart after launch. 
Another seven astronauts. Several crew members
 are known to have survived the initial breakup
 of the spacecraft... no escape system... the impact
of the crew compartment at terminal velocity
with the ocean surface was too violent to be survivable.
You can visit the metal pieces in a museum.
There was Apollo 1 that didn’t even get off the ground,
so not to worry about falling mangled debris. Just
three astronauts burned up on the launch pad. 
We don’t count them as space junk. 
It was only a test.
They say they’re doing their best to stick ocean landings,
(except for the Long March 5B, for which there is no plan).
I wonder what the fish think.

Marsha Segerberg is a retired biology educator and member of COW (Community of Writers) in Phoenix, Arizona. Her poems have appeared in Chiron, Rat’s Ass Review, and Rogue Agent, among others. She lives in the Phoenix desert with her dog, Peggy.

Friday, May 07, 2021


by Joanne Kennedy Frazer

“Shootings never stopped during the pandemic: 2020 was the deadliest gun violence year in decades.” —Washington Post, March 24, 2021

consumed     with disgust,
          anger       at the other tribe?
have you given any thought     
      to addressing       your differences
    with, say,   
  the Ruger AR-556 assault weapon?    
you can buy one       on the world wide web
      right now       today      

Joanne Kennedy Frazer is a retired peace and justice director and educator for faith-based organizations.  Her poetry has appeared in several anthologies, journals, ezines and magazines. Her chapbook Being Kin was published in 2019. Home is Durham, NC.

Thursday, May 06, 2021


 by Susannah W. Simpson

Photo: The Seemapuri crematorium in eastern New Delhi, on April 29, 2021. "As India's second wave of coronavirus sweeps through the country, bodies are piling up faster than workers can cremate them or build new pyres… Demand is so high that Seemapuri crematorium has expanded into its parking lot, where dozens of workers construct new cremation platforms from bricks and mortar. There is so little space and so many bodies that families have to get a ticket and wait in line for their turn." —CNN, May 1, 2021

Delhi... 2031... 

Blue-grey haze hangs low over
bundles of bodies and bundles of wood.
When the wood runs out, blankets
and chairs, shutters, both yellow
and green serve double-duty to carry
and to burn, ashes—snowdrifts
of mothers, daughters, uncles
float on the Ganges.  No one left to fill
Diwali lanterns with oil, no one left
to string up lights, to sweep or wash streets,
no one left to weave marigolds into their hair,
or wrap saffron saris round the young and old
no one left to feed the water buffalo,
or to tie ribbons to their tails.

Susannah W. Simpson is a hospice nurse. Her work has been published in The North American Review, Potomac, The Wisconsin Review, South Carolina Review, POET, Nimrod International, Poet Lore, Salamander, Xavier Review. Her poem "Lily" has been anthologized in Full Moon and Foxglove (Three Drops Press, UK), and her book Geography of Love & Exile was published by Cervena Barva Press in 2016. She holds an MFA from Bennington, a Ph.D. from SUNY/Binghamton and is the Founder & Co-Director of the Performance Poets of the Palm Beaches.

Wednesday, May 05, 2021


by George Salamon

"In the Great Recession more than a decade ago, big tech companies hit rough patches just like everyone else. Now they have become unquestioned winners of the pandemic economy," in "A perfect positive storm: Bonkers dollars for Big Tech," The New York Times, April 29, 2021

Every plague has 
its silver lining:
the people suffer,
high tech profits,
those who have
much, receive more,
next time around
I'll come back as
a Silicon Valley CEO
and avoid the rabble's
usual woe.

George Salamon, who lives and writes in St. Louis, MO, thinks "nice guys finish last in high tech" is what the great Yogi Berra might have said about this.

Tuesday, May 04, 2021


by Janet Leahy

A mass cremation of victims who died due to Covid-19 is seen at a crematorium ground in New Delhi, India, April 22, 2021. (Reuters)

Smoke billows from the crematoriums,
the assembly line of corpses winds
through the streets of Mumbai
—once this was a route for the pearl trade.

The assembly line of corpses
taxies, trucks, bicycles,
—on the long ago route for the pearl trade.
Today the sky leaden with ash.

Taxies, trucks, bicycles
carry the dying, carry the dead
sky leaden with ash
tanks of oxygen spent.

They carry the dying, the dead
through the streets of Mumbai
tanks of oxygen spent
smoke billows from crematoriums.

Janet Leahy is a member of the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. She works with writers in the greater Milwaukee— Waukesha area. Her poetry appears in Midwest Prairie Review, Halfway to the North Pole, Art in so Many Words,  The Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar, and others. She has published two collections of poetry.

Monday, May 03, 2021


by Peter Witt

A judicial inquiry into city officials’ role in the police chokehold death of Eric Garner—and what his family has described as a subsequent cover-up—is slated to begin in mid-July, a Manhattan judge said Tuesday… Gwen Carr and Elisha Flagg-Garner, Garner’s mother and sister, joined by a group of racial justice advocates, filed a petition in 2019 seeking a judicial inquiry into Garner’s death. —The New York Daily News, April 20, 2021. 

We reap what we sow,
more than we know,
breathe in the wonder
of all things that grow,
from children to forests,
from hummingbirds to toads.

In an instant of feckless harm
we raise the alarm that all
things, even mighty or small,
can be recklessly snuffed out,
trampled in the woods,
destroyed by human hands,
ignored by an uncaring heart.

Eric dared to sell cigarettes
on the street, when a cop
on his beat, took him down
off his feet, his life incomplete,
a gentleman who once
planted flowers that
he no longer can smell,
no longer can breathe,
no longer can breathe.

Author's Note: Eric Garner was a horticulturist at the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation before quitting for health reasons.

Peter Witt is a retired university professor living in Texas.

Sunday, May 02, 2021


by Diane Vogel Ferri

People lined up in their cars at a food distribution site in San Antonio, Tex., in April 2020.Credit...Credit: William Luther/The San Antonio Express-News, via Associated Press and The New York Times.

My wall calendar helps me to visualize
my life, the plans I hold dear, the people
I must see so they also see me

At first the lines were through the
scribbling on my calendar,  an oddity,
disappointing at most—a temporary month

Sometimes there were two lines,
an X-ing out, a permanent loss
I catalogued the failures in my journal

Then the lines were of standing humans
waiting to vote, car-lines of hungry children
waiting for the food school had denied them

lines circling the parking lots for tests,
lines at the border, lines at the shelters,
lines at the unemployment office,

lines in the streets to confront the wizard 
behind the curtain, asking when we will be normal? 
But he was a fraud, a canceler of science, of truth

Freedom was not taken by a government
freedom was not taken at all, only
innocent lives, their coffins in orderly lines

The lines are now for a miracle,
for we who are left, whose lives have not
been crossed out, who are free to live.

Diane Vogel Ferri is a teacher, poet, and writer living in Solon, Ohio. Her newest novel is No Life But This: A Novel of Emily Warren Roebling. Her essays have been published in Scene Magazine, Raven’s Perch, Yellow Arrow Journal, and Good Works Review among others. Her poems can be found in numerous journals such as Wend Poetry, Her Words, Rubbertop Review, and Poet Lore. Her previous publications are Liquid Rubies (poetry), The Volume of Our Incongruity (poetry), The Desire Path (novel).

Saturday, May 01, 2021


by Chad Parenteau

Art from 1999 by Robert Lederman.

Photo of Hillary Clinton
in white pantsuit, black stripes
drawn on in marker.
Five laptops with “Hunter”
scratched onto each bottom.
FDNY firefighter axe
with ninety-eight notches.
Two copies of
Time Magazine’s 2001
“Person of the Year” issue.
One copy signed to
“Abner Lube-Me-Up,”
the other to “Amadou Diablo –
Now you can count to forty-one!”
Atlas Shrugged book, pages
blacked out, “Truth isn’t truth”
written on back cover.
“Adolph Giuliani”
protest poster, signed.
One envelope returned
to sender. Contents include:
additional copy of
Time Magazine’s 2001
“Person of the Year” issue,
“For Trump” written on cover
in gold marker.

Chad Parenteau hosts Boston's long-running Stone Soup Poetry series. His work has appeared in journals such as Résonancee, Molecule, Cape Cod Poetry Review, Tell-Tale Inklings, Off The Coast, Ibbetson Street, and Wilderness House Literary Review. He is a contributor to Headline Poetry & Press and serves as Associate Editor of the online journal Oddball Magazine. His latest collection The Collapsed Bookshelf was nominated for a Massachusetts Book Award.