Guidelines



Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at]gmail.com. 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, November 30, 2021

METAMOLOGY

by James Penha


NFT beats cheugy to be Collins Dictionary’s word of the year 
The Guardian, November 24, 2021

Before these words become as cheugy 
as Regencycore or climate anxiety this 
pingdemic opens a metaversal auction—
open only to the double-vaxxed for crypto 
or cash—on an NFT of this poem penned 
in mī (that’s mī neopronoun just coined) 
hybrid working spaces hither and thither.


Author's Note: The top ten words of 2021 according to Collins: NFT, cheugy, climate anxiety, crypto, double-vaxxed, hybrid working, metaverse, neopronoun, pingdemic, Regencycore


James Penha edits The New Verse News. Twitter: @JamesPenha

Monday, November 29, 2021

BLY AND SONDHEIM: ELEGAIC DUET

by Earl J Wilcox




Making music that puts to shame a few
classic muses, you two gave us power
in poetry, in song—day after day
night after night, anytime we felt down-
hearted, no blues for you just strong
& virile and passionately human songs
for the soul. For words, we lift high
Robert, for lyrics we can never go
wrong with Stephen: harmonics
Not hysteria. Never mute, ever live.
 

Earl Wilcox, a Broadway buff and a deeply rooted poet for activism, grieves the loss of these two iconic word warriors.

THEY WILL SEE YOUR LOVE

by Alejandro Escudé




For Robert Bly (1926-2021)


When you passed, I entered the forest and walked further than 
I have ever walked. Beyond the shaded path, I found you in the sun.

You sang to me about the old trains that wait in the falling snow.
I took a train just like the one you rode on. There were stars,

And castles erected for me, in the valley below the dictator’s citadel.
And there, we danced dressed up as knights, like so many Don Quixotes.

No one ever came to plow us into the ground with spears as sharp as 
Inadequacy. Afterward, some drove back to the Christian hospital,

Others wept in their anxious offices. Some made it back to their home,
Where their dogs waited dutifully to be walked for a short time.

But I want to thank you for your stories. The pity and confidence,
The marginalia of dragons, and the wise women who danced

In your honor, beneath the flaming cables of industry. Poet king,
I am not going back to the misery factory, where I turned

The levers like vipers, each bite a bite for eternity. I am here for you.
You branded me with the confidence of the son. I see bonfires

Flickering beyond the forest, they have welcomed me for centuries.
They tell me, the men living there, “We see you. And we see your love.”


Alejandro Escudé published his first full-length collection of poems My Earthbound Eye in September 2013. He holds a master’s degree in creative writing from UC Davis and teaches high school English. Originally from Argentina, Alejandro lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.

Sunday, November 28, 2021

NOVEMBER

by Jenna Le


November Rain - Contemporary Blue Abstract Painting by Gordan P. Junior 


November is a mammal, smoke-gray, meek.
Its lumbering body uses weighty flippers
to paddle, making short-lived silver streaks
in the surface of the bay where it’s immersed.
 
It loves the brackish waters of year’s end,
where black-green tufts of daydreams toss and seethe,
the fodder that it munches till it’s fattened
and farts its way up toward the sun to breathe.
 
At times, its blimp-like bulk, incautious, crashes
into our worries, our hurry to complete
our home improvement plans before the fractious
first snow, our human habit to mistreat
 
each other, our campaign ads, our work stress.
It wears those scars from one year to the next.


Jenna Le is the author of Six Rivers (NYQ Books, 2011) and A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora (Indolent Books, 2017), a Second Place winner in the Elgin Awards, and Manatee Lagoon (forthcoming from Acre Books, 2022). Her poetry appears in AGNI, Denver Quarterly, Los Angeles Review, Massachusetts Review, Michigan Quarterly Review, Pleiades, Poet Lore, Verse Daily, and West Branch.

Saturday, November 27, 2021

THANKSGIVING ON MY MIND

by George Salamon


Digital Painting of an old woman’s hands by Victoria Castro.


I confronted my fondest memory of Thanksgiving,
not long ago, as the oven door was opened to baste
the turkey with yet another coating of bubbly pan
juice, that was to make the meat more tender, when
I heard the scratching of Cleo's paw at the kitchen 
door shut to her, Cleo the golden retriever who knew
what she smelled and what she wanted, while the
humans were told not to didscuss the important things
they cared about—politics and race, the economy 
and money, having it all or having nothing at all, the
state of the union and the abuse of the environment—
while the word important made my skin crawl I
thought of Cleo's paw and glanced over to the old
grandma, eyes shut and the sensitivity in her lapped
leathery hands, that feeling in the tips of her fingers
for all living things and understood the paw and her
fingers mattered and counted, and the rest belonged
with all that stuff we sought and still seek at the mall.


George Salamon is fond of the German word Fingerspitzengefuehl—the feeling at the tips of your fingers. It seems to him that we will lose it completely with all that clicking on the computer and smart phone. Have a lovely Thanksgiving weekend —anyway.

Friday, November 26, 2021

THANKSGIVING CLIMATE CHANGE SONG

by Melissa Balmain




with apologies to Lydia Maria Child


Over the river and through the woods
To Grandma’s we planned to go,
But floods rose all day
And the bridge washed away
And a Honda is hard to row.

Over to Amtrak we went, of course,
Which would have been just fine
If wildfires had not 
Occurred on the spot
To block the 4:09.

Over our budget, we caught a plane—
We’d soon take off, we knew!
But cyclones and swarms
Of tropical storms
Had stranded the whole damn crew.

Over and over we tried to Zoom:
Hail knocked the power dead.
No time to stay put,
We’ve departed on foot
For New Year’s Eve instead. 


Melissa Balmain edits Light, America's longest-running journal of comic poetry. Her newest book of verse is The Witch Demands a Retraction: Fairy Tale Reboots for Adults (Humorist Books). Twitter: @MelissaBalmain

Thursday, November 25, 2021

AUTUMN ELEGY


Photo source: Plimouth Patuxet Museums


Howie Good
is the author most recently of the poetry collections Gunmetal Sky (Thirty West Publishing) and Famous Long Ago (Laughing Ronin Press).

GHAZAL: THANKSGIVING

by Rebekah Wolman


A painting done in 1995 by Karen Rinaldo, of Falmouth, Mass., depicts what many Wampanoag tribal leaders and historians say is one of the few accurate portrayals of “The First Thanksgiving 1621,” between the Wampanoags and the Pilgrims. —Dana Hedgpath, “This tribe helped the Pilgrims survive for their first Thanksgiving. They still regret it 400 years later.” The Washington Post, November 4, 2021


We’ve read the picture books about the harvest feast we call the first Thanksgiving—
no mention that for the Wampanoag it was a cursed Thanksgiving.
 
How many ways to brine and roast a turkey? Ask the food editors
what’s the virtue of this excess in which we’ve been immersed, Thanksgiving.
 
Some kids dressed up as Pilgrims; others wore construction paper feathers.
What did they learn about the Wampanoag when they rehearsed Thanksgiving?
 
In COVID quarantine, we roasted Cornish hens for one or two. Instead
of hand-drawn place cards we had names in Zoom squares at our dispersed Thanksgiving.
 
Two years after settling on Wampanoag land, the Pilgrims saw no rain
for two long months. Two months of fast and prayer and then a cloudburst Thanksgiving.
 
Family tensions linger, wrongs go unredressed, pain unspoken. Food and drink
are plentiful but other hungers go unsated at lips-pursed Thanksgiving.
 
What I’m asking, settlers’ descendants and other white folk, is what if we returned
ill-gotten gains, atoned, and then observed—a people reimbursed—Thanksgiving?


Author's Note: This poem was written in the shelter of a house built and bought and sold multiple times on stolen land...the unceded ancestral homeland of the Ramaytush Ohlone people, the original inhabitants of the San Francisco Peninsula.


Rebekah Wolman is a retired educator living in San Francisco. A previous contributor to The New Verse News with poems also appearing recently in Limp Wrist, she is a 2021 winner of Cultural Daily’s Jack Grapes Poetry Prize.

Wednesday, November 24, 2021

ON THE FOURTH WEDNESDAY OF NOVEMBER

by Peter Neil Carroll


Outside the little grocery, a woman
in a black cloth coat and feather hat
waits quietly near the electric door.
 
A shopper, stocked with pie crust,
biscuit mix, garlic flavored Velveeta
for the grits, pushes her cart
 
with one hand, the other fingers
a folded $5-dollar bill, looking  
to give it away for Thanksgiving.

Neither says a word.
 

Peter Neil Carroll's seventh collection of poetry, Talking to Strangers, will be published in 2022. He lives in northern California.  

Tuesday, November 23, 2021

NO JUSTICE

by Mary Saracino 


Source: Pinterest


In what pocket of my heart do I shove my grief  
over vigilante white boys being exonerated?
In this land of justice, justice was not served.
The scales of Lady Justice have been upended. 
The blindfold covering her eyes has been torn asunder.
She weeps with outrage.
She wails with sorrow.
She sees the abuse of power.
She calls us to resist.
And for the preservation of humankind
we must act
for love is a verb
and resistance is the antidote
to evil, to fear, to hatred,
the only medicine that
can heal
what festers deepest in the wounds of America's inglorious story.
No shining city on the hill,
a nation founded on unspeakable atrocities
must tourniquet its bleeding limbs
suture its oozing lesions 
nurse its traumatized people back to wholeness.
Together we must embark on this  
beautiful and necessary mending.
Or die trying. 


Mary Saracino is a novelist, memoir writer, and poet. Her most recent novel Heretics: A Love Story (2014) was published by Pearlsong Press. Her novel The Singing of Swans (Pearlsong Press 2006) was named a 2007 Lambda Literary Awards finalist in the Spirituality category.

Monday, November 22, 2021

MY PLUS TWO ECLIPSE

by Earl J Wilcox   


Photo by Peter Forister, November 19, 2021 at 04:00, Charlottesville, VA, USA at EarthSky


My plus one last night, Alexa,
awakens me right on time.
I am up—groggy, sour-mouthed,
muttering, mumbling musing,
old guy grumbling despite
a magnificent moonshine worship
moment waiting above my balcony.
 
Alexa plays some familiar Mozart,
as agreed on at my bed time. Out-
side I shiver, huddle in a small chair,
I’m overcome with a sublime scene:
in the fog of near-freezing November
and my dense macular mist, a small,
bright Beaver moon hides half its face
behind a dark somewhat ominous shadow.
 
A distant shrill of sirens, ubiquitous
revving motorcycles break my
somnolent stupor. Even with a cold
arse my heart pounds with warmth and joy.
Unique as this moon light masquerade
provides, earth is the place for me.
It is not music of the spheres I hum
—just some earth-made melodies
by Mozart, our universal plus one
making a little night music.


Earl Wilcox has been humming and howling at The New Verse News for many years.

Sunday, November 21, 2021

ODDS AND ENDS

by Gil Hoy


Dan Hudson. "Garbage Can" (1992), oil on panel, 24×34 inches.


On Wednesdays, 
I take my trash down to the curb. 

There's a blue bin for recyclables, 
a black bin for regular trash
and a brown bin for yard waste. 

You can tell a lot about a man 
from the contents of his trash. 
 
Our neighbor is obsessed with Covid 
and now buys most of her things 
on Amazon. Her son got sick a year ago, 
was in intensive care for three weeks 
and then died. Her blue bin is filled 
with broken down boxes every week. 
 
Her husband stays inside and has started 
drinking again. There are three or four
empty wine or bourbon bottles 
in their blue bin every week. 
 
A divorcee a few houses down  
worries about getting old. Her black bin 
holds the week's trash from products 
promising to make her gray hair brown again 
and remove the wrinkles from her face. 
She's put on weight since her husband left her 
for a younger woman five years ago. 
There are often three or four 
empty pizza boxes in her black bin. 
 
You can tell a lot about a woman
from the contents of her trash. 
 
Another neighbor has three birch trees 
next to his driveway. His yard waste bin 
is filled with grass the yard boy cut 
and birch tree branches that once encroached 
upon his driveway. His shiny Mercedes 
can now get in and out again without a scratch. 
His regular trash bin has empty pill bottles 
used to keep his blood pressure down. He bought 
the Mercedes and keeps his yard carefully 
manicured to keep up with his neighbors.
 
A house up the road has two recyclable bins 
that are always full. The house's black bin 
never has much trash at all. The owner works 
for a company that reduces greenhouse gases 
and makes our water cleaner. The owner 
attends political events most nights 
focusing on climate change. 
 
You can tell a lot about people 
from the trash they don't have.
 
A neighbor on the next street over 
is an accountant. His blue bin is filled 
with shredded paper: tax schedules, 
financial statements and old tax returns. 
By the time April 15 comes around, 
he has three blue bins that are overflowing.
 
Another one of my neighbors 
doesn't play by the rules.  
He puts his trash out early most weeks. 
And then he's fined by our Town. 
He was arrested a while back 
for stealing money from his clients 
and had to spend a few years 
away from his family. 
 
You can tell a lot about a person  
from how they handle their trash.
  
And as for me, my trash is not 
what it used to be. My wife passed away 
suddenly and the kids have all grown up 
and moved away. I don't talk with them 
or see them much anymore. 
 
I miss the deflated balloons from birthday parties 
and worn out hockey skates that used to be 
in my black bin. And the leaves that filled 
my yard waste bin when I could sometimes 
get the boys to rake. I miss my wife's 
empty fancy shampoo bottles 
I used to put in my blue bin.
 
On a good week, when I'm eating well, 
my bins may be as much as a quarter full. 
But most weeks, they're as empty 
as an old man's broken heart.  
 
You can tell a lot about a man 
from the contents of his trash. 


Editor's note: The losses mentioned in the final four stanzas of the poem are suffered by the poem's Speaker and not, thankfully, by its author. 
 
 
Gil Hoy is a widely published Boston poet and writer who studied poetry and writing at Boston University through its Evergreen program. Hoy previously received a B.A in Philosophy and Political Science from Boston University, an M.A. in Government from Georgetown University, and a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law. While at BU, Hoy was on the wrestling team and finished in second place in the New England University Wrestling Championships at 177 lbs. He served as an elected Brookline, Massachusetts Select Board Member for four terms. Hoy is a semi-retired trial lawyer. His work has recently appeared in Best Poetry Online, Muddy River Poetry Review,  Tipton Poetry Journal, Rusty Truck,  Mobius: The Journal of Social Change, The Penmen Review, Misfit Magazine, Rat’s Ass Review, Chiron Review, The New Verse News, and elsewhere. Hoy was nominated for a Best of the Net award last year.

Friday, November 19, 2021

AMERICA'S CIRCULAR FIRING SQUAD

by Pete Mackey




I bring my gun to keep others safe
with my gun but if my gun 
makes you feel unsafe 
I feel unsafe about my gun 
and will use my gun 
to keep myself safe
from you with my gun 
because


Pete Mackey is a previous contributor to The New Verse News, and his poems have appeared in numerous other publications including, in 2021, Bangalore Review, Cathexis Northwest Press, Third Wednesday, Panoplyzine, Eclectica, The Dewdrop, The Drabble, and Global Poemic along with a Pushcart Prize nomination.

ONCE AGAIN REALITY

by Buff Whitman-Bradley


Source: Puzzle Warehouse


Once again reality
Has collided with fantasy.
Once again the truth
About America
Has crashed into 
Our pretty beliefs
About the basic goodness
Of our nation under God.
And once again 
All the old cliches
Will be hauled out—
“Sure, we’re not perfect,
We make mistakes sometimes,
But at the end of the day
We’re still lucky to be living
In the Land of the Free
The Home of the Brave
From Sea to Shining Sea
Amen.”
And little by little
Memory of the latest grotesque injustice
Will fade.
We will go to the movies,
Watch the Super Bowl,
Have dinner with friends,
Take our kids to the park,
And recede back into 
The collective dream
Of America the Good.
And we will be shocked 
All over again
The next time a cop murders a black kid,
The next time a governor
Poisons a whole city with contaminated water,
The next time a hospital 
Throws an indigent patient 
Out onto the street,
The next time
A vigilante gets away with murder.


Buff Whitman-Bradley’s poems have appeared in numerous print and online journals.  His most recent book is At the Driveway Guitar Sale: Poems on Aging, Memory, Mortality, from Main Street Rag Publishers.  He podcasts poems on aging at thirdactpoems.podbean.com and lives with his wife, Cynthia, in northern California.

DUNCAN AND BRADY

by Julian O. Long




after the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict
 

Speaking of ’lectric cars,
once at a Fort Worth stop sign
a lowrider lifted a fender
like a dog might lift his leg to piss
and flipped me the bird as he took off
laughing around the corner.
That was long ago, but he knew what
he meant—and he loved it.
 
As the uptight white boy I was
in those days, I may have deserved
his contempt. These days I’d like
to blow him a kiss on the wind he stirred,
as he spun out that souped-up Chevy.
Would it were so, amigo,
would it were so.
 
Staggerlee remembers Xmas
but King Brady, he lies dead
and the ghost of old St. Louie
flew past my naked bed
when the rage for George Floyd started
up and down my street,
and the high-tailed carriages
came and went all night
breaking in the windows
knocking down the door
startling me in bed on the second floor... 
 
Busy now, containing Russia,
smug in my alabaster pink
pragmatism, I rejoiced in my country’s
apparent arrested decline. Cop who murdered
Floyd will go to jail, I thought. We threw out
the bastards who stormed the Capitol, I said—
forgetting only too eagerly
Republicans’ settled intention
to lynch the rest of us, La Migra still
lording it up at the border, catching runaways
jury finding Rittenhouse ‘not guilty on all counts.’
 
Nothin’ for it but the blues?
James Baldwin’s Staggerlee let pent up anger, blues remade,
hiss out of him like rancid air from some hack’s
rubber tire.
 
Seem like King Brady never died,
Duncan shot him,
doctor found him dead
but he just raised his hammy fist, took that doctor by the throat
and growled, “Sumbitch, you know I cain’t be killed!”
 
We’ll not overcome this last lynch mob—they’re us;
we’ll watch polite and passive as the Good Old US steals
away down Dixie one last time; no matter clawhammer steels
 
ring out from edges of fields
to tell it again
how we’ve all of us been—
 
yeah, we’ve been on the job
too long... 


Julian O. Long is a previous contributor to The New Verse News. His poems and essays have appeared in The Sewanee Review, Pembroke Magazine, New Texas, New Mexico Magazine, and Horizon among others. His chapbook High Wire Man is number twenty-two in the Trilobite Poetry series published by the University of North Texas Libraries. A collection of his poems, Reading Evening Prayer in an Empty Church, appeared from Backroom Window Press in 2018. Other online publications have appeared or are forthcoming at The Piker Press, Better Than Starbucks, The Raw Art Review, and Litbreak Magazine.  Long has taught school at the University of North Texas, North Carolina State University, and Saint Louis University. He is now retired and lives in Saint Louis, Missouri.

LAWS OF THE LAND

by Linda Gelbrich


Source: Northwest Arbor Culture


In this country a young white man
goes to trial for shooting and killing
two people and wounding another at a rally.
Today he is declared—not guilty.
 
In this same country a black voter
tries to cast a ballot,
unaware she is ineligible to vote,
goes to prison for five years,
 
and a black man is in prison for decades
for a murder he says he did not commit,
is now declared innocent by prosecutors,
but authorities say his release is not a priority.
 
Perhaps this is why
some of us write about trees,
about persistently blooming geraniums
and cosmos, even about squirrels that pester,
 
about the regular appearance
of the sun and moon.      


Linda Gelbrich lives in Western Oregon among many trees.  

Thursday, November 18, 2021

TO BE IN EARTH'S ORBIT

by Rémy Dambron


The US has condemned Russia for conducting a "dangerous and irresponsible" missile test that it says endangered the crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS). The test blew up one of Russia's own satellites, creating debris that forced the ISS crew to shelter in capsules. Astronauts on the ISS are increasingly having to take precautionary measures when fragments from old satellites and rockets come close. —BBC News, November 17, 2021


how far we’ve come

since our primitive wheels first rolled on dirt roads
and expanded our means of transit 

since our sails first met the unyielding winds of the sea 
sending us over entire oceans in search of new worlds

since we built the first railroads to journey across continents 
along iron paths only humans could pave

since our mechanical wings first presented us 
with the gift of flight
 
momentarily freeing us from the grounding force 
of earth’s gravitational pull

lifting us into lower skies to tour our globe and glide 
soaring beyond what the eye could see

since our first expedition to the moon 
launched by the thrusts of internal combustion

rockets powerful enough to achieve escape velocity 
and break through the comforts of our planet’s atmosphere 

propelling us into the perils of space 
where no soul had previously traveled 

merely dreamed...

how far we’ve come only to have become 
the very perils we feared

the very menaces we strived 
to mitigate

pieces of ourselves  
unapologetically returning to haunt us

unhesitant to disrupt our lives 
unsympathetic to our vulnerabilities 

our persistent flaws 
our stubborn mortality

an unmerciful reminder of our physiological limits
and the little chance they stand against our cerebral endlessness


Author’s note: To me this story was about more than the handful of lives that were put in harm's way as a direct result of typically destructive human behaviors. While I am relieved that the crew aboard the ISS is safe, this story was a sobering reminder that mankind remains its own greatest threat. We’ve entered a very dangerous era in our brief history as a species, where, in addition to our hazardous nature here on Earth, we have somehow managed to make space.. that cold and dark place with no water, no air, and no life, even more dangerous than it was before we got there. Where do we draw the line? When will we have gone too far?


Rémy Dambron is an English teacher and poet whose writing focuses on denouncing political corruption and advocating for social/environmental justice. With the help of his chief editor and loving wife, his works have appeared in What Rough Beast, Poets Reading the News, Writers Resist, Society of Classical Poets, Robot Butt, and The New Verse News

Wednesday, November 17, 2021

WHITEWASH

by Eileen Ivey Sirota


About 100 people, many of them Native Americans, held a protest in Pierre in September to push for improved teaching of Native American history and culture in South Dakota schools and to decry removal of Native references from proposed social studies standards. Photo: Courtesy DRG Media Group via Kelo, November 14, 2021.


All the white pages lovely, unspoiled
by time, untouched by torment.
All aboard. 
 
An uninterrupted arc of progress. 
Heroes on horseback.  See Dick and Jane
in their triumphant ignorance. 
 
We have torn you
from our history books, those fairy tales
for innocents and children.
 
Unseen and unheard are the children we ripped
from their mothers, sent away
to boarding schools to be laundered
and whitened, their mother tongue ripped out.
 
Kill the Indian and save the man,” proclaimed Richard Pratt
At the Carlisle School in Pennsylvania,
cradle their small bones.
 
From your mouths we tore         
the sacred place names and stamped them
on our suburban street signs.                                                 
 
So many ways of killing—the bullet, the blanket,
the exile, the pretending, the silence.                                   
The silence.
 
 
Eileen Ivey Sirota is a poet and psychotherapist, the author of a chapbook, Out of Order, published by Finishing Line Press in 2020.  Her poems also have appeared in Calyx, Ekphrastic Review, District Lines, The New Verse News, and Beltway Poetry Quarterly

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

REFUGE SEASON

Art: Banksy, Mediterranean Sea View 2017, detail of a triptych. Photo courtesy of Sotheby's London via artnet news.


Adam Day is the the author of Left-Handed Wolf (LSU Press, 2020), and of Model of a City in Civil War (Sarabande Books), and the recipient of a Poetry Society of America Chapbook Fellowship for Badger, Apocrypha, and of a PEN Award. He is the editor of the forthcoming anthology, Divine Orphans of the Poetic Project, from 1913 Press, and his work has appeared in the APR, Boston Review, Denver Quarterly, Volt, Kenyon Review, Iowa Review, and elsewhere.

Monday, November 15, 2021

FOR THE BOY ON TRIAL

by David Southward


From left, Judge Bruce Schroeder, Kyle Rittenhouse and defense attorney Mark Richards watch a video Nov. 12 during Rittenhouse’s homicide trial in Kenosha, Wis. (Mark Hertzberg/Pool/AP via The Washington Post)


I don’t wish death
or solitary confinement
or even the hell
of half a life wasted
behind bars. No:
I want him to be stricken
with disgust—at the blood
he’s spilled, at the horror
of his rash heroics. I want God
to part the clouds of his mind
and set afire
its nest of fear and folly.
I want the clearing smoke
to open his eyes
to true manhood: the facing down
of an enemy hiding
within—the answering
of a people’s need
for sobriety, not messiah.
I want him to rise
above the buzzfed grapevines,
the twitter of rumor
and rumble of propagandas
and remember history:
to become his republic’s
most disarming
spokesman. I want him
to march and preach
civility—to be Prince Hal
to a nation of Hotspurs,
to become (in the unpredictable
flowerings of time)
our next King
of change.
 
 
David Southward teaches in the Honors College at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He is the author of Apocrypha (Wipf & Stock 2018) and Bachelor’s Buttons (Kelsay Books 2020)

Sunday, November 14, 2021

IT'S NOT OVER TILL IT'S OVER

by Katherine West




In Brazil 600,000 are dead.  The Brazilian jazz band, Farofa, says nothing of this.  They are too immersed in the blessing of music, too busy following and blending genres, traditions, grooves.  They play a Brazilified Tears for Fears song, appropriately, "Everybody Wants to Rule the World."  What happens when there is no world to rule?  Is politics a board game, continuing in heaven?  Do politicians believe they're even going to heaven after selling the planet down the river for a portfolio in their great-grandfather's coal company?  

The violin player is from L.A.  That's where the band met, of course.  He dances as he plays, dances as if he were born in Rio.  The bass player is a comic book character.  If peanuts had a bass player, he would be it.  His big head, with even bigger hair, wobbles without any help from the body whatsoever, like one of those plastic dime store toys I grew up with.  At one point he does a 1970s funk solo.  I close my eyes.  Try to enter the naiveté of Watergate. 

For just one second I've got it:  bell bottoms, afros and ideals, Muddy Waters playing in Peace Park my first year at Mizzou, streaking across the quad to protest the war.  An abstract concept for most of us.  I had never seen anyone with the after-effects of agent orange.  Never seen a metal leg.  Never met anyone with PTSD.

Blindly, I wanted to do the right thing.  I wanted to leave the world a better place for having birthed me, for having said yes to my orphan soul.  

The funk solo ended.  The 70s vanished, leaving nothing behind but that stubborn soul, tossing aside the boring board games to come up to bat one last time, to suss out the pitcher, to grand slam around the bases, run like hell, and hope to reach home before the ump calls me out. 


Katherine West lives in Southwest New Mexico, near Silver City. She hs written three collections of poetry: The Bone Train, Scimitar Dreams, and Riddle, as well as one novel, Lion Tamer.  Her poetry has appeared in journals such as Writing in a Woman's Voice, Lalitamba, Bombay Gin, The New Verse News, Tanka Journal, Splash!, Eucalypt, and Southwest Word FiestaThe New Verse News nominated her poem "And Then the Sky" for a Pushcart Prize in 2019. In addition she has had poetry appear as part of art exhibitions at the Light Art Space gallery in Silver City, New Mexico and at the Windsor Museum in Windsor, Colorado. Using the name Kit West, Katherine's new novel, When Night Comes, A Christmas Carol Revisited came out in 2020, and a selection of poetry entitled Raising the Sparks will come out in 2021, both published by Breaking Rules Publishing for whom she also teaches Creative Writing workshops.  The sequel to When Night Comes will also be released by BRP in 2021. It is called Slave, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Revisited. She is also an artist. 

Saturday, November 13, 2021

GIRLS SAY YES

Poem for Veterans Day
by Sandra Anfang


Pictured L to R: Joan Baez, Pauline Baez Marden, Mimi Farina in this 1968 poster, from a Jim Marshall photograph, promoting draft resistance during the Vietnam War. Source: National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution


to boys who say no.
The words ring hollow
in my ears like a looped refrain
from a scratched LP
a not-so-distant memory.
 
Aligned with the movement
I nodded and signed on. I never
gave my body—much less
heart—to a man in uniform, unless he worked
in the service of people, animals, or trees.
 
But what about the other war
the one that ogled us
from leering unshaved faces
from portraits on greenbacks
from slave ships and pedophile priests?
 
Blissfully unaware of the battle
that raged behind clenched teeth
we sailed along, soothed by the
waters of our beliefs, decades
before our lips would shape the words me too.


Sandra Anfang is the author of three poetry collections and her work has been published in numerous journals. She's also a visual artist, editor, poetry teacher in the schools, and host of a long-running poetry series. She lives in Northern California, where she looks for good trouble every day.

Friday, November 12, 2021

SAY SOMETHING NEW ABOUT NOVEMBER

by Penelope Scambly Schott


Source: Photos Public Domain


Nothing new.

Eleventh hour of the eleventh day
of the eleventh month, the end
of World War One. I was eleven
and stood with my young mother
in that railroad car on the siding
where back in 1918 they signed
the Armistice.

I was twenty-one, a new mother
scarcely able to mother myself,
that November twenty-second
when JFK was murdered. This
November I expect nothing, not
peace or murder, birth or death.
I should go outside and rake up
my fallen leaves.

I’ll stand under the cottonwood.
I’ll rake and rake and rake and
stuff leaves into a sack. Every
leaf is yellow or brown. My bag
will keep wanting to tilt over. I
won’t let it. I won’t let it. I won’t
let it.


Penelope Scambly Schott is a past recipient of the Oregon Book Award for Poetry. Her newest book is On Dufur Hill, poems about the cycle of the year in a small wheat-growing town.

Thursday, November 11, 2021

GHOST FORESTS EXPLAINED

by Mickey J. Corrigan


Ghost forests occur when high tides push seawater into forested areas and salt poisons the trees, turning them a bleached white. Ghost forests are currently appearing up and down the east coast of the US at an alarming rate. Photo: Cameron Pollack for NPR


The sun comes up
the sun goes down
the trees turn white
the beach looks skeletal.

The rain comes down
the sea comes in
the trees soak in salt
instead of fresh water.

The storms come up
the sea washes in
our forests poisoned
dead limbs in the sand.

We walk the beach
stuffing our sandbags
as storms come in
more storms come in
the tides rise up 
the tides rise higher... 

our bones flash white
littering the shore.


Originally from Boston, Mickey J. Corrigan writes tropical noir with a dark humor. Novels include the mystery pandemic tale Songs of the Maniacs (Salt Publishing, 2014), Project XX about a school shooting (Salt Publishing, 2017), and What I Did for Love, a spoof of Lolita (Bloodhound Books, 2019). In 2020, Grandma Moses Press released the poetry micro-chapbook Florida Man

Wednesday, November 10, 2021

PALLAS (ATHENA) AT A SUMMIT

by Dawid Juraszek


Countries’ climate pledges built on flawed data, Post investigation finds. Photo: A large plantation of palm trees, which produce palm oil, borders an undrained peat forest in Simunjan in the Sarawak region of Malaysia. When peat-rich bogs are drained and converted to farmlands, they release a rapid pulse of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases as the once-waterlogged plants’ remains degrade with the sudden exposure to air. —The Washington Post, November 7, 2021


The ways the wise ones of our pasts
warred on the bodies of the land
all the while
crafting key words and ideas
for you and me
to grow up with
shaped and scarred us for life

Mountainsides stripped bare
underneath the blazing Sun
is not how it always was
a side effect of wanting more
shrugged off
or sorrowed over
then accepted and assimilated

A shortcut to wisdom
when exploring a narrative
what & who & why & how
hindsight is best
not indulged
as belated foresight
everything so very clear all along

Words and ideas now being crafted
justify unjustifiable
with solutions that could truly impress
only in hindsight
premised on there being a future
to look back on this moment
and give us a thumbs up


Dawid Juraszek is the author of Medea and Other Poems of the Anthropocene (Kelsay Books 2020). A bilingual writer and educator based in China, he is working on a PhD project in cognitive ecocriticism at Maastricht University. His fiction, non-fiction, and poetry have appeared in multiple venues in Poland, the United States, Great Britain, Australia, Canada, Ireland, and New Zealand.

Tuesday, November 09, 2021

SPOTTED FROM SPACE

by Martin Elster


In recent satellite imagery captured by Planet, which operates the world's largest pack of Earth-observing satellites, large groups of walruses can be seen crowding Earth's coastlines, all the way from space. The image shows ambiguous, "distinctive red-brown" blobs decorating the Alaskan coastline. Previously, walruses would gather in groups of up to many thousands, called "haulouts," on Arctic sea ice far from the shore. But with sea ice melting at rapid speeds due to climate change, they have no choice but to gather on land. —Space.com, November 5, 2021


Thousands of walruses (called “haulouts”) gather
along Alaskan shores, spotted from space.
They’re resting ample bodies, but they’d rather
veg out on sea ice. Yet there’s not a trace
of frozen H2O. A satellite 
has taken photographs. How can they eat
or sleep now? Humans may create a fright.
Many will perish in their mad retreat,
tumbling en mass to the safety of the ocean.
Monitoring their populations might
show how, through climate change, they may persist.
Yet when at last they’re gone, will they be missed?
These mammals know this world is not all right.
These mammals know there is no magic potion.



Martin Elster, who never misses a beat, was for many years a percussionist with the Hartford Symphony Orchestra (now retired). He finds contentment in long woodland walks and writing poetry, often alluding to the creatures and plants he encounters. A full-length collection, Celestial Euphony, was published by Plum White Press in 2019.

Monday, November 08, 2021

PANDEMICS, SO CALLED

by Julian O. Long


Tweet from the bouche du grand oiseau


A federal appeals court suspended the Biden administration’s new vaccine requirement for private companies, delivering a major blow for one of the White House’s signature attempts to increase the number of vaccinations to corral the pandemic. The decision was issued by a panel of three judges appointed by Republican presidents in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. The judges wrote that there was “cause to believe there are grave statutory and constitutional issues with the mandate,” staying the order while the court assesses it in more depth… The court gave the Justice Department until 5 p.m. Monday to respond to the challenger’s request for a more permanent halt to the mandate. —The Washington Post, November 7, 2021


So, could there be
pandemics, like georgics or
bucolics? To what lore might
they defer, not farmer talk
from the demobbed or mythic tales
cribbed from here and there.
They’d need to be straight
from the bouche du cheval
so to speak, hot off the press
pitch perfect, on point
get to the heart of the matter
etc., etc. And what if the heart
of the matter is no heart at all
now that three judges, appointed
by Trump and Reagan have delayed
the president's vaccine mandate
citing 'grave statutory and con-
stitutional issues'? Constitutional
issues, my ass! In all the blather
and politics of vaccination ob-
struction, there’s nothing to be
found resembling a constitutional
issue, or a human being for that
matter, except flipped upside down
and dying on a ventilator..


Julian O. Long is a previous contributor to The New Verse News. His poems and essays have appeared in The Sewanee Review, Pembroke Magazine, New Texas, New Mexico Magazine, and Horizon among others. His chapbook High Wire Man is number twenty-two in the Trilobite Poetry series published by the University of North Texas Libraries. A collection of his poems, Reading Evening Prayer in an Empty Church, appeared from Backroom Window Press in 2018. Other online publications have appeared or are forthcoming at The Piker Press, Better Than Starbucks, The Raw Art Review, and Litbreak Magazine.  Long has taught school at the University of North Texas, North Carolina State University, and Saint Louis University. He is now retired and lives in Saint Louis, Missouri.

CRITICAL THINKER

by Cody Walker


"Look, I'm not some sort of anti-vax, flat earther. I am somebody who's a critical thinker. You guys know me. I march to the beat of my own drum. I believe strongly in bodily autonomy and the ability to make choices for your body, not to have to acquiesce to some woke culture or crazed group of individuals who say you have to do something. Health is not a one-size-fits-all for everybody. And for me, it involved a lot of study in the offseason, much like the study I put into hosting Jeopardy! Or the weekly study I put into playing the game." —Aaron Rodgers


Aaron Rodgers
mixed some codger’s
tooth powder with horse dewormer and molten gold. (His credit card: maxed.)
“Look!” he cried. “I’m vaxxed!”


Cody Walker is the author of three poetry collections, all from the Waywiser Press. He lives and teaches in Ann Arbor.

Sunday, November 07, 2021

Our Pushcart Prize Nominees


The New Verse News is proud to announce its nomination of the following six poems, published here during 2021, for the next series of Pushcart Prizes:


"Mandate"

by Laura Rodley

"Brave Red"

by Ellen White Rook

"Free Range Bird"

by Indran Amirthanayagam

"Displacement"

by Erik Schwab

Saturday, November 06, 2021

COMES NOW

by Earl J Wilcox


Picture taken on March 23, 2018, shows a technician working on the clock of the Lukaskirche Church in Dresden, eastern Germany. (Photo by Sebastian Kahnert/DPA/AFP via Getty Images via AL.com)


That time of year
When we fall
Back
When time’s
Breath stirs
Our solitude
When nature’s
Calendar
Does not trick
Nor does our
Body fail
Though
Formidably
Confirms our time
Here changes
Course
Assuredly
As yesterday
Tomorrow
Forever remain
Unchanged.
 

Earl J. Wilcox has been writing for TheNewVerse.News through many turns of the clock.

Friday, November 05, 2021

PANDEMIC PANTOUM

by Catherine McGuire


KALISPELL, Montana — The October death by suicide of the ninth local teenager in 16 months prompted offers of counseling, training for teachers and visits from national suicide prevention experts. But it also whiplashed into partisan recriminations, as residents lashed out in public forums against the superintendent of schools for failing to impose dress codes and discipline, against parents for not securing their plentiful firearms — used in several suicides — and against the supporters of masks and other pandemic restrictions for stifling teenagers. An issue the valley might have rallied around, in another time, risked dividing it yet again. Photo: The Flathead Republican Party float drives on Main Street in Kalispell. (Tony Bynum) —The Washington Post, October 25, 2021


It started in panic, pulling in—
closed doors, empty roads,
huddling—unseen killer abroad!
Whole towns went still.
 
Closed doors, empty roads,
displayed by drones, at first.
Whole towns went still with
the novelty of crisis
 
displayed by drones, at first.
We drank in urgent news,
the novelty of crisis,
but weeks smudged together.
 
And we drank, as urgent news
became the same old: needles into arms.
The novelty of crisis
morphed to anger at refuseniks.
 
And now the same old needles into arms
became a rallying cry,
morphed to anger at refuseniks:
“How dare you endanger me?”
 
The same rallying cry,
spread like a virus on both sides:
“How dare you endanger me?”
revealing a comorbidity
 
that spread like a virus on both sides:
or like a wildfire flaring from a spark
to reveal a morbid comity:
we’re right; no sympathy for them!
 
And like a wildfire flaring from a spark
that falls on parched, unhealthy ground
this drought of sympathy for “them”
ravages communities more than virus did.
 
Self-absorption is parched, unhealthy ground.
How will we explain to grandkids that what
ravaged our towns more than virus did
was the climate that turned townsfolk into enemy?

How will we explain to grandkids that what
had us huddling—unseen killer abroad!
was the inner climate that turned townsfolk into enemy?
It starts in panic, pulling in.


Catherine McGuire is a writer and artist with a deep concern for our planet's future. She has four decades of published poetry, four poetry chapbooks, a full-length poetry book Elegy for the 21st Century (FutureCycle Press), a SF novel Lifeline, and book of short stories The Dream Hunt and Other Tales (Founders House Publishing).

Thursday, November 04, 2021

NO LAST HOMELY HOUSE IN LUETZERATH

by Frank Joussen



The yawning black-brown scar in the earth that is Germany’s Garzweiler coal mine has already swallowed more than a dozen villages. Centuries-old churches and family homes have been razed and the land they were built on torn away. Farmland has disappeared, graveyards have been emptied. “All destroyed for coal,” says Eckhardt Heukamp, surveying the vast pit that drops away from the edge of his fields, 20 miles west of Cologne. But there’s still more under his feet to be mined. Six more villages are threatened. —The Independent (UK), October 31, 2021


The last house in Luetzerath is white.
White like the presidential palace in Washington?
White like Thomas Mann’s house of exile in California?
White like a blank sheet of paper!
Words fail me to describe
the camp, the tree houses,
the posts of activists
directly in front of the oversized pit.
 
On my long bike tour, in the headwind,
from Erkelenz I planned on
calling it The Last Homely House.
Why not? Is the fruitful homeland of Erkelenz
with its old farms and villages
not a cosy, peaceful Shire?
Isn’t it the Fellowship’s aim,
en route to unknown, unprecedented dangers,
to gather strength at The Last Homely House
before the annihilation of the Evil
so that all of the cultivated world
won’t be destroyed?
 
Sure. But a homely house
needs homeland around it,
needs safety for heroes
recognized by all and sundry
instead of a stand-off between
silent security men
and masked activists.
The latter are friendly, talk to me.
Why not? Doesn’t the land
they wish to protect
belong to all plants, animals, humans
on it?

Even to the security men
when they, without their bright
yellow and black vests,
are back home with their loved ones,
reading their children stories
about the great adventure
to save the world?
 
 
Frank Joussen is a German teacher and writer, peace and one world activist. His publications include two selections of his poetry. He has co-edited two international anthologies of poetry/fiction in India and one of short stories in Germany. His poems and short stories have also been published in a variety of literary magazines and anthologies in India, Australia, G.B., the Republic of Ireland, Germany, Romania, Malta, the U.S.A., Canada, China, Thailand and Japan; some of them have been translated into German, Romanian, Hindi and Chinese.

Wednesday, November 03, 2021

THE BIRD IN A BUSH

by Mike Mesterton-Gibbons


A gardener who trimmed a 10ft hedge into a hand flipping the middle finger has been warned he faces police action if he doesn’t chop it down. —The Independent (UK), October 19, 2021


Throughout the lore of English countryside,
Home topiary's an art that has been prized—
Except by one whose eyes were mortified
By what a green-thumbed gardener devised
In Warwickshire: a middle-finger shrub
Raised 10 feet high to flip the bird, in jest,
Directly opposite a village pub
In Warton. For two decades, it impressed.
Now someone wants to kill the goose that laid
A golden egg—more tourists at the inn—
By chopping down the shrub. So calls were made
Upon the gardener. But he won't bin
Street art he's groomed for decades as a joke—
His bush still flips the bird at prudish folk!


Mike Mesterton-Gibbons is a Professor Emeritus at Florida State University. His acrostic sonnets have appeared in Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Better Than Starbucks, the Creativity Webzine, Current Conservation, the Daily Mail, the Ekphrastic Review, Grand Little Things, Light, Lighten Up Online, The New Verse News, Oddball Magazine, Rat’s Ass Review, The Satirist, The Washington Post, and WestWard Quarterly.