Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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

Sunday, November 14, 2021


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.