Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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, July 20, 2021


by Diane Elayne Dees

Video: Britney Spears’ full opening testimony during her conservatorship hearing. She speaks directly to Judge Brenda Penny and asks her to end the conservatorship.

“I want to feel heard, and I’m telling you this again so maybe you can understand the depth and the degree and the damage that they did to me... ” —Britney Spears

Hysteria was said to be cured 
by having sex. Or giving birth. 
Or having the Devil cast out
of a woman’s body.
Or being touched by magnetic hands.
Or hanged from a tree until dead.

“Don’t worry your pretty head, take this pill”—
and they danced as fast as they could,
then wound up shaking and quivering
in hospital rooms, sweating in bedrooms, 
and dazed in the dark rooms inside their heads.

“No one did that to you—the therapist put it
in your head.” 
“It’s your imagination.” 
“Why would you say those things about our family?”
“Stop acting like a child.”

Crazy women make good stories, 
good movies, good punchlines, 
good alibis.

You can drug them, wind them up, 
watch them dance, and steal their money.
All you need is a judge, a doctor, a lawyer,
some nurses, and the right genitalia.

The court declared you a protector—
of a mind, a uterus, a woman.
But crazy women everywhere know
that what is protected 
are your bank account,
your delusions, and your secret desire
to cast the Devil out of all of us.

Diane Elayne Dees is the author of the chapbook Coronary Truth (Kelsay Books) and two forthcoming chapbooks. Diane, who lives in Covington, Louisiana, also publishes Women Who Serve, a blog that delivers news and commentary on women's professional tennis throughout the world.