Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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

Wednesday, July 07, 2021


by Tricia Knoll

“Taliban Try to Polish Their Image as They Push for Victory: The insurgents are trying to rebrand themselves as effective governors as they capture new territory. But there is more evidence that they are unreformed.” —The New York Times, July 6, 2021. Photo: Members of the Taliban in Laghman Province in eastern Afghanistan last March. Credit: Jim Huylebroek for The New York Times.

American stuff. Artificial Christmas trees. Humvees. 
Boots that mark the Afghan soil with the treads
of Americans. Little shops sell discards
like aluminum mugs. No longer sell the body armor. 
They do sell Jif peanut butter, alarm clocks, 
backpacks festooned with swooshes, 
instant coffee, exercise stretch ropes, 
hand sanitizer and tea bags. 
Bagram first the pulverized Soviet airfield, 
turned burgeoning American stronghold
with Pizza Huts and Subways, field hospital
and a prison gifted to the Afghan defense ministry.  
Then the women left behind. What will they be asked
to wear, to think, to learn? What will divide urban
women from rural? Will medical care advance?
What happens to the voices of the poets, activists,
radio DJs, victims of domestic violence? What music
will they hear? What input to the terms of peace? 
Will electricity return as swiftly as sharia justice? 
When women hold up half the sky,
never leave behind the hope of soaring.

Tricia Knoll is a feminist poet who never takes for granted the freedoms she has enjoyed while advocating for the role of women in our world. Her poetry appears widely in journals and anthologies.