Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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, November 15, 2021


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)