Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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, February 28, 2022


by Katherine West

Natali Sevriukova reacts next to her house following a rocket attack on Kyiv on Friday, February 25, 2022. —CNN

In my dream
this is the last day of winter.
From here forward 
when the moisture comes it will not be white
when the wind blows it will not cut
toes will not numb
noses will not run
gloves will not disappear
cars will not skid 
heating bills will not rise 
neighbors will not scream 
flyers will not punch 
police will not shoot 
lawmakers will not obstruct 
soldiers will not shell 
soldiers will not shell.

The well-placed will not translate 
the world 
will not infinitely explain 
what we knew since we were two 
will not call us
"these people"
will not congratulate us 
on tying our shoes 
will not consider a different perspective 
"not listening"
will not use every adjective except "white"
when describing people
will not consider themselves BFFs with God
will not consider nature a bank account 
will not consider another country a stepping stone. 

In my dream
this is the last day of winter.
From here forward 
mini-iris will purple the planter boxes on main street 
buds will swell on fruit trees
grass will green from the inside out
neighbors will greet
children will play outside until dark
and fear will sleep
until it is needed.

Katherine West lives in Southwest New Mexico, near Silver City. She has 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. She is also an artist


by Richard Meyer

a sandwich board pessimist proclaims the apocalypse

the blighted land, a globe on fire,                     
the sludgy oceans rising higher,
the sky an ashen winding sheet

no place to run, nowhere to hide,
a species bent on suicide,
extinction on a dead-end street

maybe a plague, or flood, or war
or greedy scoundrels gulping more
on a planet wrecked, made obsolete

or tumbling toward us through the void
a stone and iron asteroid
the size of old Minoan Crete

no matter what the fatal blow,            
from up above or down below
no refuge in our self-deceit

it’s doom and doom and doom from here
the die is cast, the end is near,
a final reckoning complete

Richard Meyer, recipient of the 2012 Robert Frost Farm Prize, lives in Mankato, MN. His book of poetry Orbital Paths was a silver medalist winner in the 2016 IBPA Benjamin Franklin Awards.


by Joel Savishinsky

As Russia’s vicious attack on Ukraine continues, the western “safe haven” town of Lviv (top photo) is bracing itself to join the theatre of war. “We expect there could be an attack,” says Olga Myrovych, 34, head of the Lviv Media Forum. “We are far from Putin’s border, but this will distract the efforts of the Ukrainian army.” Lviv is a central European jewel, an exceptionally elegant town with a long history of culture and tragedy. —Institute for War & Peace Reporting, February 27, 2022. In the lower two photos, Ivano-Frankivsk (formerly Stanislawów), a city located in Western Ukraine, had its airport, fuel, and lubricants depots destroyed by the Russian missile systems. The city, formerly Stanisławów, is almost 600km away from Kyiv. With the city airport bombed, the people of Ivano-Frankivsk are being evacuated to bomb shelters. —SAYS, February 26, 2022.

The heart can be broken
in so many ways: lost love,
position, regard and address.
Janus is a novice when staring at
the diamond faces of disappointment.
We fear that even poetry may not
matter, that we have no voice, that
we have one but cannot be heard.
Shall we carry our broken hearts
before us like a banner, shouting
rage into the wind, using our mouths
and pens to signal from, or to,
a distant land.
When arms have been withheld,
can the body of words suffice
where other parts have failed, or
is hope already the disembodied
ghost of those about to die.
Crushed by the alien arms and armies,
the four-chambered heart of
our grandmothers’ homelands
may soon be a million lost freedoms,
the ones our leaders and
the whores of Babylon have each
mis-filed in the archives of revelation.
Joel Savishinsky is the author of Breaking the Watch: The Meanings of Retirement in America (Cornell University Press, 2002), winner of the Gerontological Society of America’s book of the year prize. His parents and grandparents, and those of his wife, immigrated to the US from western Ukraine in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, escaping pogroms, anti-Semitism, and the impending invasion of the Nazis. Their communities of origin are named in the poem’s title.

Sunday, February 27, 2022


by Susan Terris

Kira Rudyk

In Ukraine, Kira Rudyk—member of Parliament—told
Wolf Blitzer on CNN, she has just been trained to use
a Kalashnikov rifle to help defend her city of Kyiv.

Our women, she said, will protect the soil same as our men.
Then she mentioned her young daughter. Instead of
trying to explain if/when/how/why Russians invade,

she teaches her child to play the game. If you know 
an attack’s imminent, you lie on your belly in the safest 
place that’s near. Hands on your ears, mouth open, 
so then you’re a turtle. It’s a don’t move/lie next to me/
pretend thing. As I watched, listened, tears slid down
my cheeks, and I thought for a moment that Kira was

the mother of my grandchildren, protecting them
with a Russian rifle and a game learned on the internet.

Susan Terris is a freelance editor and the author of 7 books of poetry, 17 chapbooks, 3 artist's books, and 2 plays.  Journals include The Southern Review, Georgia Review, Prairie Schooner, Denver Quarterly, and Ploughshares. Poems of hers  have appeared in Pushcart Prize and Best American Poetry. Ms. Terris is editor emerita of Spillway Magazine and a poetry editor at Pedestal.


by Susana H. Case

A view shows a petrol station, which bears the name of New York in Donetsk Region, Ukraine March 3, 2021. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich. See also Wikipedia.

There is a town called New York in Ukraine.
Stalin gave it a Soviet name that didn't stick.
Many of its houses are empty,
along with the streets and parks.
Young people dream of leaving.
At the store in the town center,
they are out of bread.
In a room with balloons, a child
holds a chocolate and cherry birthday cake,
while the sound of gunfire blasts out
a few miles away. How naive we are
about power, profits—like children holding sparklers.
The few adults at the birthday party fret an errant 
artillery round might hit the chemical plant.
Even in peacetime, it spits out fumes 
from phenol production into the air. 
The streets are worn and tired.
Oh, New York: where is your Donetsk Times Square
full of excited tourists, your skyscrapers
that cause neck aches from people looking up in awe?
Where are your people—like in that other 
New York, the American one—who complain 
how much they suffer because the air is chilly,
the bus ten minutes late?

Susana H. Case has authored eight books of poetry, most recently The Damage Done (Broadstone Books, 2022). Dead Shark on the N Train (Broadstone Books, 2020) won a Pinnacle Book Award for Best Poetry Book, a NYC Big Book Award Distinguished Favorite, and was a finalist for the Eric Hoffer Book Award. She co-edited, with Margo Taft Stever, the anthology I Wanna Be Loved by You: Poems on Marilyn Monroe (Milk and Cake Press, 2022).


by Kalpna Singh-Chitnis

Fact Check by Reuters, February 25, 2022: Photos of explosions show Israeli-Palestinian conflict, not Ukraine. Social media users have mislabeled images of overnight explosions in urban areas, claiming they are from Ukraine amid the Russian invasion. However, the images show the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the Gaza Strip and were taken in 2018 and 2021. One picture (above by MAHMUD HAMS/AFP via Getty Images) shows Israeli air strikes on Gaza in response to a barrage of rockets fired by the Islamist movement Hamas amid spiraling violence sparked by unrest at Jerusalem's Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.

Not long ago,
I was Kosovo,

then became Baghdad
by the river Tigris.

Then I turned into Syria
and Ukraine,

crippled and bled to death.
Only to wake up again,

without any eyes or limbs,
without any heart or soul.

And today, I'm Gaza,
covered in ashes.
And Kyiv—
siphoning rockets and bullets.

You can call me hatred
or hope that cannot die.

Or love that cannot live
long enough.

Kalpna Singh-Chitnis is a Pushcart Prize nominated, Indian-American poet, writer, filmmaker, and author of four poetry collections. Her poetry, essays, and translations have appeared World Literature Today, Columbia Journal, California Quarterly, Indian Literature, Silk Routes Project (IWP) at The University of Iowa, and Stanford University's Life in Quarantine. Poems from her award-winning book Bare Soul and poetry film River of Songs included in the "Nova Collection" and the "Polaris Collection" Lunar Codex time capsules are set to go on the moon with NASA's missions" in 2022 and 2023. Forthcoming is her poetry collection Trespassing My Ancestral Lands.

Saturday, February 26, 2022


by Marc Swan

Each morning after an espresso
from our six-cup stovetop
with granola, yogurt and blueberries
in our favorite ceramic bowls
we review the news in the online sources
disheartening is a mild term
watching the world dissolve before our eyes
is unnerving, overwhelming, disjointing
first European invasion since WW II
how quickly we have forgotten invasions
in Gaza, Egypt, Lebanon, the Balkans, Africa, 
and points beyond and in between
today eastern and western economies 
have our attention
fuel prices, trade options, empty store shelves
car prices, building supplies, and yes
the list has only begun
we are interlocked in this chaotic world
of language differences, money differences
but most of all ideology differences
that create distrust, uncertainty, and taint
the taste of Pavé Toulousain cheese
we used to get
from the French farm outside Toulouse
and the crisp white Txakolina 
imported from the Pyrenees—
that once seemed so important 

Marc Swan, a retired vocational rehabilitation counselor, lives in coastal Maine. Poems recently published in Gargoyle, Crannóg, Chiron Review, Queen’s Quarterly, among others. His fifth collection all it would take was published in 2020 by tall-lighthouse (UK).


It was always a point of debate:
Veselka, Kiev, or Ukrainian National Home
Veselka was busy and bright, 
Kiev was for neighborhood regulars early or late at night, 
UNH was to time travel into a Ukrainian  private club from another age
I loved them all, but especially Kiev 
For the best comfort food in Greenwich Village
And largest portions and lowest prices
And latest hours, the most tolerant waiters
However it was hard to decide whether to order a combo blintz and pierogi platter 
or assorted pierogi platter 
or potato pancakes
Real first world dilemma 
Ideally friends would share what they had
And then there was the challah of clouds with butter
And oh how the boys had crushes on the Ukrainian waitresses
And the head waiter flirted with my mom, cheeks flushed like borsht
And I went so often they sometimes gave me a free cherry blintz!
I knew through my Bulgarian pen pal how oppressive the Soviet Union was
I don’t remember if I thought much about whether the Kiev staff escaped oppression
But I remember that December 26, 1991 was a great day
I had just moved to Philadelphia then
So I could not celebrate at Kiev
I probably just ate a vegetable hoagie
Gorbachev had the map of peace on his head unlike Putin’s face of war
After Philly, I moved to New Mexico, Arizona and California
In 2005, I returned to NYC, ready to feast on Kiev’s sauerkraut pierogis slathered in apple sauce and fried onions
New ownership resulted in Ukrainian-Asian fusion, and small portions, 
aspiring to expensive tastes 
Sadly, Veselka acquired long NYU lines, 
So I decamped to The Ukrainian National Home
It wasn’t long before Kiev shut its doors forever
I will always mourn the closing of Kiev
I hope the owners did not miss the entire bright window of Ukraine’s democracy 
Where are they now?
What are they thinking today
as people flee Kyiv 
as Ukraine is bombed 
as Putin says the dissolution of the Soviet Union that we all lived through is a myth 
Our friends are dying in the crossfires of lies
The blue sky grows dark 
The yellow flowers burn

Julie Bolt is an associate professor of literature and writing at Bronx Community College of the City University of New York. Recently, she was awarded an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship for Transformative Learning in the Humanities. Her poems have appeared in Thieves Jargon, Slow Trains, The Red River Review, Poetic Diversity, Syntax, Shot Glass Journal and Home Planet News, amongst others. Her book is Border Pedagogy for Democratic Practice.


by Bunkong Tuon


A piercing cry haunts the metro,
In the apartment building, in the dark.
Fear is a new word that’s given form in
This cry of a child, in the terrible terror
A father must feel when he sees 
Tanks and soldiers on the streets of his childhood,
In the hug of a mother, maybe a grandmother
Who holds the child as tightly as she can.
What else is there to say?
Everything seems trivial, unwise.
I send money through the links on NPR.
I send letters to elected officials.
I write poems like this one.
I do what I can to lessen my helplessness,
To soften the child’s piercing cry that 
Haunts my days and nights.
I hold my kids as tightly as 
They allow me. 

Bunkong Tuon is a Cambodian-American writer and critic. He is the author of Gruel and And So I Was Blessed (both published by NYQ Books), The Doctor Will Fix It (Shabda Press), and Dead Tongue (a chapbook with Joanna C. Valente, Yes Poetry). He teaches at Union College, in Schenectady, NY.


by Jack Kristiansen

            after Marc Chagall’s Fire in the Snow (1942) 

"Fire in the Snow" (1942); Gouache on paper by Marc Chagall. Collection: Amy and Eric Huck, Lewisberry, Pennsylvania

It’s human  
to start fires 
and every so often 
people approve   
of villages going up 
in flame 
so tonight 
a mother flees. 
Like a statue 
that’s come alive 
just in time  
to jump down 
from her perch 
above the altar, 
a mother flees. 
Having awoke 
to the coughing 
of her child, 
their house flickering, 
a mother flees. 
No crown 
on her head 
to hold in place 
her flaring hair, 
a mother flees. 
The night’s gone green, 
the snow green, 
her clothes smoky green. 
Her calm dog 
waiting for her 
to catch up, 
a mother flees. 
No husband 
in sight, 
the angels gone 
in disbelief, 
left with a son 
to save, 
a mother flees. 
Her child 
too heavy  
to carry far, 
a mother flees. 

Jack Kristiansen exists in the notebooks and computer files of William Aarnes who hopes to move soon from South Carolina to Manhattan.  His new collection The Hum in Human is available from Main Street Rag.


by Helen Wilson

We sit in a Korean BBQ restaurant
snipping conversation with tongs,
searing meat with commentary
on the political affairs of the day.
“They took pinking shears to
tattered then
abandoned by a wayward man-child.”
Tender beef cuts melt
in the mouth while
kimchi sours
like first world ethos
only sweeter. We agree,
“Lies leave a nasty taste.”
Bald-faced lies
poison any hope of error. While
errors are forgivable
contempt and chilli sauce are not,
staining white flags
indelibly without hope of redress.
“Pure heat, not head
nor heart.” I say of
rapid fire policy and 
unfiltered visceral campaigning.
“Democracy’s disintegrating,
honour’s unhanded and
self-interest trumps
public good.”
“Nothing’s changed,” say the young ones,
as their fingers 
skip across tiny screens
at the speed of light.
“Pollies have always snuffled
from the trough
of populism.” 
such is their experience.
we wield chopsticks
and pierce the offerings
that we can control.
Distracted by 
the crazy patchwork
of dishes and sticks
and tastes and flames as
tanks roll across the tundra
and the blanket of peace
under which we hide rolls back.
“So much for perestroika and glasnost.”
Who ever really knows?

Helen Wilson is an Australian poet and a professional communicator who has written for magazines, art shows and a pure love of the lyrical. Her passions include ekphrastic poetry, haiku, and dinner with her adult children. She dreams of a world where people will play nicely. 

Friday, February 25, 2022


by Corey Weinstein

In just four weeks in the summer of 1941 the German Wehrmacht wrought unprecedented destruction on four Soviet armies, conquering central Ukraine and killing or capturing three-quarters of a million men. This was the battle of Kyiv–one of the largest and most decisive battles of World War II and, for Hitler and Stalin, a battle of crucial importance. Hundreds of thousands of Soviet prisoners of war were taken in the aftermath of the battle of Kiev, but very few would survive German captivity. —Arthur Grimm, “Kiev 1941: Hitler's Battle for Supremacy in the East,” Semantic Scholar

I live in a breadbasket,
That’s the whole problem,
Fields of wheat, of barley
for the soup the family loves,
Carrots, onions, meat scraps
or beets for borscht that stains,
Blood reluctantly on our hands.
None of them: the Whites, the Reds,
the Iron Crossed Pure Whites,
the new Green with wallets and promises,
None of them know our voices,
taste our beautiful farms,
Now still again the Reds attack,
and we are stained again
with what must be done,
I was nine standing at the pit’s edge,
Some cheered, not me, some retched,
The ground heaved and belched for a week,
Father cooked their lunches, never recovered,
A drunk in Kyiv gutter dirty to the end.
Again the shrieks of bombs and moms,
Blasts and dust and blood in the air,
These Reds of famine and orders and lies
roll over our wintered earth to plant
their seeds of our despair, now still again.

Corey Weinstein is a retired homeopathic physician whose poetry has been published in Vistas and Byways, The New Verse News, Forum, California State Poetry Society, and Jewish Currents. He currently attends writing classes at Osher Lifelong Learning Institute in San Francisco and hosts their Poetry Circle. Weinstein has also been published in a number of medical/academic publications. He was an advocate for prisoner rights as the founder of California Prison Focus, and he led the American Public Health Association’s Prison Committee for many years. In his free time, he plays the clarinet in a local jazz band, his synagogue choir and woodwind ensembles.  


by Katie Kemple

On my Instagram feed, one family
posts smiling photos from ski slopes,
snowy white backgrounds that match
perfect teeth. Another family travels
to a tropical paradise: bikinis, blue
waters and palm trees. And then, a
photo of a family packing their car
trunk in Kramatorsk, Ukraine. Coats
on and loading plastic bags of their
belongings. What to leave? Baby teeth,
cleats, a wedding dress. The oven's
set to nothing for the winter. The clock
goose steps the seconds forward.
Each last look like a photo now,
the kind on film with limited takes. 

Katie Kemple's poems have appeared in recent issues of Atlanta Review, Ligeia Magazine, and The Shore


by Jesse Dukes

Written on the Eve of the Invasion of Kyiv

A dead Russian soldier in Kharkiv, Ukraine. Credit: Tyler Hicks, The New York Times.

I believe you know right from wrong. Go back.
You polish your boots, oil your gun.
Watch dispatches from your blue-eyed master.
Brew tea with thyme in your uncle’s samovar.
Brought back from Afghanistan, in dead of winter.
Better drink it now, while it’s still warm.
It is cold in Donetsk. In your uncle’s house, it’s warm.
Do you think marching west will bring glory back?
Renew a once terrible empire, melt Russian winter?
Will you do something useful with that gun?
Nikita knew to stay close to the samovar
Who is more clever, master or Man?
You are a man who needs no master.
Your uncle’s house is already warm .
You have tea, lemon, an ancient samovar.
You have Tolstoy, Checkov, Lermontov. Back
Home, you have a madman.  On your mantle, he’s placed a gun.
He’s sent you to Ukraine in winter

But you are the French at Borodino, fighting the winter.
You are the Germans in Stalingrad, sent by their master.
Too far from home never firing their guns.
Dying forgetting the comfort of warmth.
Ukraine is no enemy. You can still go back
Find your uncle, fire the stove, fill his samovar.
You know the story, Vasily leaves the Samovar.
Plunges back into the very teeth of winter.
And when he realizes his danger, it’s too late to turn back.
And what kind of master would leave a man
Stranded in the cold, without a way to stay warm?
Do you mean to kill winter with a gun?
You still have a choice. The gun
May yet stay on the mantle. The samovar
May yet fill the house with steam and warmth.
You and your fellow soldiers cannot defeat winter.
But you can defeat your master, just a man.
You still have a choice. Go Back
Stay warm despite the winter.
Heat the samovar, heed no master
Take your gun and go back.

Author’s Note: I wrote this over dinner last night, thinking about Tolstoy's Master and Man, and "Checkov's Gun". I love Russian culture, Russian history, and the Russian people I've met, and I hope they'll find their way to the right path. 

Jesse Dukes is a Senior Producer of Podcasts at WBEZ, Chicago Public Media. Twitter: @CuriousDukes


by Remi Recchia


I call my doctor and tell him, I don’t want to be a man 
today. Detransitioning? No. I mean I don’t want to be alive 
in a place that thinks my heart strings are puppeteered, that I am  
a marionette genetically modified for road rage, sex drive, alcoholic 
tendencies. That I don’t want the pharmacy tech to stare extra 
hard at my driver license on a routine prescription pickup. 
That I don’t want to blush when drunk friends ask: 
tampon or jockstrap? Because they’re not asking, are they? 
The dive-bar dust on their credit cards will remind them later 
that yes, it was rude, but they were drunk, and they have a right 
to know who their friends are, their dates are, what I 
will expect them to suck or fuck. 
Greg Abbott isn’t asking why the children want to change, 
he’s asking why they’d want to look like that. 
Like a man in a dress or a woman who’s been mutilated 
from the inside out, breasts carved off by a butcher’s 
knife or by a tree when she lurched in the wrong direction 
at the shout of “timber,” wearing, presumably, a flannel  
button-up under a leather jacket. Like a turtle without its shell 
or a ring-tailed lemur without its jewels. But if Greg Abbott 
asked me, I’d tell him, what kind of parents agree to HRT 
in the first place? What kind of parents say, yes, I trust you 
to grow a beard you won’t regret? Maybe our mothers  
are lovely and our fathers are brave, but I have always been alone 
and I have always made my own choices. I’d tell Greg Abbott 
that sometimes a law is just a word and abuse is a red 
herring for an onslaught of transphobic legislature, an actual 
school of fish with teeth and fish with fins, and who, now, 
can win against the slaughter.     

Remi Recchia is a trans poet and essayist from Kalamazoo, Michigan. He is a Ph.D. candidate in English-Creative Writing at Oklahoma State University. He currently serves as an associate editor for the Cimarron Review and Reviews Editor for Gasher Journal. A four-time Pushcart Prize nominee, Remi’s work has appeared or will soon appear in Best New Poets 2021, Columbia Online Journal, Harpur Palate, and Juked, among others. He holds an MFA in poetry from Bowling Green State University. Remi is the author of Quicksand/Stargazing (Cooper Dillon Books, 2021); his forthcoming chapbook Sober will be published with Red Bird Chapbooks in 2022. 

Thursday, February 24, 2022


by Joan Leotta

Somewhere in Ukraine, a child
measures her steps to school wondering
if her home will be standing
when the last bell rings,
if her parents will be safe if bombs fall,
if her school can shelter her
and her friends in the basement,
if she can find and reach her parents
should rubble, smoke fill her town.
Each time Putin spews out
his verbal assaults her hope erodes.
I know this because in October, 1961
when Castro fired verbal assaults
bragging on the power of his Soviet missles,
I lived in a likely-to-be targeted town.
As I climbed each of the 150 steps
From the bus stop to the top of the hill
To reach the gothic doors of the
1930s building that was my school,
I stopped on each step to pray
that we would all be safe,
and above all, that
my mother who
worked miles east from our home
and my father who worked
miles west from there
would find me and we would
face together
whatever terror Castro inflicted.
Each day my hope eroded, restored
when we escaped the physical horror
all those years ago.
But this morning, February 24, 2022
that Ukrainian child’s hope is gone
in a mudslide of fears made real,
playing out with troops and
air strikes and people rushing
about in fear. Her hope ended, I
hope for her that no matter what, her family
will remain together, sheltering
each other with their love.

Author's Note: This poem has been in my heart for several days. Yesterday’s New Yorker article "The Crushing Loss of Hope in Ukraine" put the words in my pen, and today’s news from all sources about the invasion gave the ending lines.

Author and story Performer Joan Leotta is the author of the poetry collection Languid Lusciousness with Lemon. And she is offering her chapbook Gifts of Nature for free at this link.


by Louise Wilford

Covered in red and blue graffiti, the toppled statue of British politician Edward Colston, who enslaved tens of thousands of people, stood in the city of Bristol, UK for more than 100 years before it was pulled down by angry protesters during a wave of Black Lives Matter protests across the country last summer—after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police. Demonstrators used rope to tug the statue from its stone plinth and their bare hands to roll it through the streets and into the murky waters of a nearby harbor as onlookers cheered. Others chanted “Black Lives Matter,” in solidarity with those across the Atlantic dealing with issues of police brutality, systemic racism and complex histories. —The Washington Post, June 4, 2121

She painted Love on a garage roof,
in throbbing streaks of purple-red, the convolutions of a colon.
Sprayed Birth inside a canal bridge arch–metallic mist of bronze and copper,
cream and jungle green—its colours glowing loud as we moved
closer. Joy on a fire-damaged caravan, in orange streaks, fading
at their edge to silver fairy-dust against a woodland midnight.
Paintings drifted off around the tow –first drafts, discarded
—or maybe gifts, or threats. A wisp of air, she moved
about the streets, unseen save for the spores that trailed behind,
hand-prints on lamp-posts, splashes on a fence, office windows
and abandoned cars. Tragedy in a bus shelter, thick brown strokes
with an uneven brush; Bliss rolled up a shutter’s sides in jolting yellow
stripes; the turquoise-blue of Hope rubbed on the bricks of an abandoned
warehouse—and Innocence, black as a crow’s wing, sprawling, smug, along
a dry-stone wall.   
On the beech-tree avenue in the park, she painted the stretch of Life,
from gold to god, each stage a different tree. Her colours startled
like a kestrel’s swoop, on bollards, awnings, road signs, multi-storey
concrete car-parks. On a crossing, she painted the white stripes shocking
pink. She filled the holes of letters with tiny dots like grains inside an hour-glass;
scrawled a Nightmare on an underpass, a Daydream on a council refuse bin;
Ambition on the tall side of a Tesco van, Destruction on the shovel of a JCB.
Peace, soft as sand, perched on picnic tables. She spread her peacock tail
so the hues that churned inside her could escape, Tenderness like a swirl
of oil on a puddle, blood-red Anger, bile-green Envy, the pewter-grey
of Misery, and the sharp vermilion ache of Fear, vinegar shiny as a magpie
feather. Shades and shadows, grit and silk and dust and grease, stirred
and shifted, blended and erased.
Until one day, she drenched with the fishbone-white of Death,
a statue of a man whose alchemy created gold from blood and bone.
This man of stone had swaggered in that square for a hundred and fifty years.
Her colours now were spent. She hiccuped out a final few beige coughs,
a gentle sneeze that left a cloud of baby-pink dancing in the sun—and then,
with a flap of her wings, she left.

Louise Wilford lives in Yorkshire, UK. Her work has been widely published, most recently in Bandit, English Review, Goats’ Milk, Jaden, Makarelle, POTB, The Fieldstone Review, and Parakeet. In 2020, she won the Arts Quarterly Short Story Prize, the Merefest Poetry Prize, and was awarded a Masters in Creative Writing (Distinction). She is working on a children’s fantasy novel.

Wednesday, February 23, 2022


by Gail White

All times are times of impending doom,
If one knows how to read the signs.
But old gods walk through the living room
And lay down nets and fishing lines.

Clutching the mesh, I begin to seek
Wonders and signs I’ve let slip by:
The fish impaled on the heron’s beak
Miraculous as the butterfly.

Between war and depression the end will come.
With plague and famine we take our chance.
But the cat moves her kittens one last time,
And the sandhill crane does a mating dance.

Gail White is a formalist poet and a contributing editor to Light. Her most recent collections are Asperity Street and Catechism. She lives in Breaux Bridge, Louisiana, with her husband and cats. 


by A.M. Juster

Nearly a quarter of Americans say it's sometimes OK to use violence against the government—and 1 in 10 Americans say violence is justified "right now." That's the finding of a new report by The COVID States Project, which asked 23,000 people across the country whether it is "ever justifiable to engage in violent protest against the government?" The report is one of several in recent months that find people more likely to contemplate violent protests than they had been in the past. Christian Davenport, a professor at the University of Michigan and a research professor at the Peace Research Institute Oslo, is… circumspect. While the numbers are "not especially surprising," Davenport said he's "not a fan of the use of polls exclusively" to determine a populace's potential for violence. "Individuals will say a great number of things on a poll," he said, "but never show up for anything." Photo: Trump supporters climb the west wall of the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. —NPR, January 31, 2022

I hear them in their future seminars
propounding theories about our fall
that may well make them academic stars,
but make no sense at all,

and yet, if I were there instead of dead,
I could not mount a lively refutation
to what those unborn experts will have said, 
but would just vent frustration.

As when deflated praetors palmed off keys
to Rome on Goths they labelled "primitive,"
our leaders, cultures and democracies
became diminutive.

It never seemed it had to be this way,
and we were calm as strongmen made us weak.
There was still time. We knew what we should say.
Too many did not speak.

A.M. Juster’s work has appeared in Poetry, The Paris Review, and The Hudson Review. His eleventh book will be published by W.W. Norton next year.


by David L Williams 

Dave Granlund cartoon originally published March 7, 2014!

When I consider how our country’s spent
In darkness by near half its population,
I fear that our once enviable nation,
With lost regard for civil government,
Is now deprived of any common sense
And blindly on the road to self damnation
Unless we find a way to restore reason,
Ceasing to stoke these vain and would-be tyrants,

I have to ask myself if this was meant
By founders who insisted all are equal
And fought a war to prove that this is true,
Defeating enemies who stood against
The principle that all our sovereign people
Are equally entitled to self rule.

David L Williams is recently retired from 34 years teaching high school English in Lincoln, Nebraska, his primary residence since he went to college there in the 80s. His poetry has mostly been written since May of 2021, and he has only recently started trying to publish, with success already in several publications, including The New Verse News

Tuesday, February 22, 2022


by Lu “Reed ABCs” Wei

Read: "What Uyghur Americans Want You to Know about the Olympic Games" from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum

As the wIntér oLympics cLOSE for 2022,
the Covid Bubble popped, and Xi Jinping’s Beijing fling’s through,
the teams returned, some to their lands where real snow oft occurs,
remembering the food and quarantines with heartfelt stirs.
Though typical concerns and controversies happened still,
false starts, missed calls, falls, dope disquals, and jumpsuits on the hills,
the WINter Games participants were “free” and far from strife,
Tibet, HongKong and Xinjiang. There was no loss of life.
Bing Dwen Dwen, frozen in his space clothes, with his constant smile,
embodying ice purity, has waved good-bye in style.

Lu “Reed ABCs” Wei is poet of China, an anagrammatic heteronym of Bruce Dale Wise. “Reed ABCs” is his art name (hào).

Monday, February 21, 2022


by Indran Amirthanayagam

                               for Ilya

The town is not amused. Bombs have been dropping

every ten minutes and thousands of women and children

have already fled, but Ilya's cousin on the Zoom call

keeps insisting on calm. What gives? I wish I could

shift the debate to my own little conflict, lobbing

poems into cyberspace and expecting the fallout

to give some clues about diction and meter, the finishing

couplet. Once again, my poem shifts to a discourse

about me and my proclivities.What about those family

members on the trains? What about the fellow trying

to pacify his cousin via Zoom? What about the soldier

on the border wrapped in an overcoat carrying a rifle?

Is he really able to fight in the modern theater against

the satellite-beamed remote killing device?

Indran Amirthanayagam's newest book is Ten Thousand Steps Against the Tyrant (BroadstoneBooks). Recently published is Blue Window (Ventana Azul), translated by Jennifer Rathbun.(Dialogos Books). In 2020, Indran produced a “world" record by publishing three new poetry books written in three languages: The Migrant States (Hanging Loose Press, New York), Sur l'île nostalgique (L’Harmattan, Paris) and Lírica a tiempo (Mesa Redonda, Lima). He writes in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Haitian Creole and has twenty poetry books as well as a music album Rankont Dout. He edits The Beltway Poetry Quarterly and helps curate Ablucionistas. He won the Paterson Prize and received fellowships from The Foundation for the Contemporary Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, US/Mexico Fund For Culture, and the MacDowell Colony. He hosts the Poetry Channel on YouTube.


by Terese Coe

Watch for the multiple rows of replacement teeth,

the not-unfair comparison to sharks,

the antipathies that betray the territorial,

the sonar for the nascent dictatorial.


Terese Coe’s poems, prose, and translations appear in The New Verse News, Agenda, Alaska Quarterly Review, Cincinnati Review, The Classical Outlook, Cyphers, Hopkins Review, Metamorphoses, The Moth, New American Writing, New Scotland WritingPloughshares, Poetry, Poetry Review, The Stinging Fly, Stone Canoe, Threepenny Review, the TLS, and many other international publications. Her book Shot Silk was short-listed for the 2017 Poets Prize, and her poem “More” was heli-dropped across London in the 2012 Olympics Rain of Poems. Giorno Poetry Systems, West Chester Poetry Conference, Barnstone Translation Award, and others have awarded her prizes or honors and scholarships.


by Peter Nohrnberg

Now gather round, and ye shall hear
A tale of epic daring
About a King who tweeted lots  
But wasn’t into sharing.   
Forsooth it was a vile Act
That drove him into battle:
“Preserve all Records” Congress bade;
But records are known to tattle. 
At first he simply tore them up
But a Northern Plot took shape.
Foul thanes restored his mangled foes,
mended with Scotch tape. 
A vision came to aid the King
—O I fear my rhyme shall spoil it!—
To gather up his papers dear 
And take them to the toilet.
Now he himself sat on a throne
Of 24 karat gold,
But in the White House was installed
A porcelain commode. 
Notes, memos, logs, and Post-its too
In basin he did pitch.
A smirk upon his face, quoth he:
“Toilets never snitch!”
He flushed it once, he flushed it twice,
He cursed the gods above!
And with his little stubby hands
He gave a forceful shove.
Who knows what knowledge then was lost?
A proof of Fermat’s theorem?
Evidence of Electoral Fraud?
A Covid-19 serum? 
What was wiped out I cannot tell:
Mum’s the Orange Mandarin.
Destruction worse than what befell
The Library Alexandrian! 
The doughty deed now done he left
The toilet overflowing.
He soared above the effluvia,
POTUS the All-Knowing.
And yet he did not know when he
Flushed it all down the crapper,
That squatting in the stall next door
Was CNN’s Jake Tapper! 
Out burst the newsman, overwhelmed
By fast approaching flood,
He saw the thickening of the tide
And sensed it was not mud!
“Who brought on this catastrophe,
Who took this massive dump?” 
The scales then fell from Jacob’s eyes:
It only could be T***p.
For clinging to the leather sole
Of the shoe of Squire Tapper:
A doodle of two giant boobs
On a McDonalds wrapper.
It was the flush heard round the world,
Except in Mar-a-Lago.
About his deed he’ll tell no tales
Just like good old Iago.    
‘Tis true, ‘tis true the Don is dumb,
But everyone else is dumber;
He even one-upped Tricky Dick
By being his own Plumber!

A scholar of literary modernism, cultural critic, and poet, Peter Nohrnberg’s poems and essays have appeared in Southwest Review, Notre Dame Review, The Wisconsin Review, Oxford Poetry, and Public Seminar. His poem “Pantoum After a School Shooting” was awarded second place in the 2020 Morton Marr Poetry Prize. His essay “Joyce, Irish Photography, and the Making and Publicizing of National, Familial, and Authorial Images" is forthcoming in Joyce Studies Annual 2021.

Sunday, February 20, 2022


by Frank John Edwards

It must be that something is broke,
When the sermons that Jesus once spoke,
Would land him in trouble
In some Christians’ bubble
For being excessively woke.

Frank John Edwards is a former military helicopter pilot, now a writer and physician living in rural New York. He has had poems published in various journals including the Virginia Quarterly Review.

Saturday, February 19, 2022


by Mary K O'Melveny

For the past 27 years, Dennis Wayne Hope (above) has been in a Texas prison cell that is somewhere between the size of an elevator and a compact parking space. For one hour, seven days per week, or two hours, five days per week, he is let out to exercise—alone—in another small enclosure. The only people he comes into contact with are the guards who strip search and handcuff him. The last personal phone call he had was in 2013 when his mother died. More than a quarter-century in isolation has led him to hallucinations, chronic pain and thoughts of suicide. Solitary confinement is a sanitized term for torture. Mr. Hope, 53, whose plight was described by the New York Times, has petitioned the Supreme Court to hear his case on the grounds that his prolonged isolation is a violation of the Eighth Amendment’s bar against cruel and unusual punishment. Lower courts denied Mr. Hope’s petition and court observers are skeptical the Supreme Court will take up his case. So sure are Texas officials that the court, with its conservative majority, won’t agree to hear the case that they waived their right to respond to Mr. Hope’s petition for a writ of certiorari. —The Washington Post, February 16, 2022

For twenty-seven years,
I have not seen a bird’s shadow.
Nor felt a droplet of rain.
No one has touched me
save the guards who strip-search
me to take me to an indoor
cubicle for solitary weekly
exercise. They do hold my hands,
to fix them to steel handcuffs
required for our walks down
cement block hallways of a
Texas prison. In 2013, I received
my only telephone call.
My mother was dead.
Last month, my lawyers asked
the Supreme Court to weigh
the parameters of punishment,
to tell me if unusualness or
cruelty come to their minds
in circumstances such as mine.
Some say prison focuses one’s
viewpoint. If it tends toward
the myopic, there is good reason.
I would ask them to focus
their eyes on distant objects –
a task I can no longer perform
because my narrowed world
affords no view of light or distance.
A compact car would be too large
to park in my 6x9 foot cell.
Next, I would ask them to consider
how vocal cords can atrophy,
as muscle, ligament, mucosal
tissue diminish from lack of use.
I did not take a vow of silence
when I entered this place
but my voice has hollowed
as its volume faded and its pitch
turned to a thin reed-like whisper.
At first, I talked to myself. Even
sang. But soon enough, I was
not enough. Words failed me.
Now, my head aches constantly.
My heart pounds, my pulse races
as if I was running up a mountainside.
But all I do is sit on my metal slab
or stand and watch walls wave, shift
as though a fan was moving them
like air. Sometimes, demon spirits peek
through wearing pinpricks of light.
Some say if you do the crime,
you can’t complain about the time.
But duration and despair should not be one.
I do not sleep. I have no sense of space
or stage. My brain must work overtime
to construct reality from scant available
signals. I read about a 1950’s experiment
on rhesus macaque monkeys. After thirty
days of isolation, they turned away from
social interaction, became disconsolate.
Each day I remember less.    Less.
I hope the Justices will answer me
while I still know my name. While I can
still name most things I have lost.  

Mary K O'Melveny is a recently retired labor rights attorney who lives in Washington DC and Woodstock NY.  Her work has appeared in various print and on-line journals. Her most recent poetry collection is Dispatches From the Memory Care Museum, just out from Kelsay Books. Her first poetry chapbook A Woman of a Certain Age is available from Finishing Line Press. Mary’s poetry collection Merging Star Hypotheses was published by Finishing Line Press in January, 2020.

Friday, February 18, 2022


by David Radavich

They amass at the border
as giant snakes and roaches,
men and their killing
machines, poised
to overrun the resistant
creatures of democracy.
Every weapon developed
by man is turned toward
usurpation and control,
as if that could solve
anyone’s need,
historic or personal.
Imagine the soldiers
in their invented cause
testing the firing pins,
adjusting the angles, feeding
the first ammunition.
Imagine the potential 
victims, defiant, sure 
of their innocence, 
not wanting to be yoked
like pliant oxen
at the master's gate
Imagine when the war
happens, its final destruction,
random death, a quagmire
of duty and egos in mud
doing battle like scorpions.
We wait with mental
swords drawn to cut what?—
air with our hopes
and expectations that cross
before us against the sun.

Among David Radavich's poetry collections are two epics, America Bound and America Abroad, as well as Middle-East Mezze and The Countries We Live In.  His latest book is Unter der Sonne / Under the Sun: German and English Poems from Deutscher Lyrik Verlag (2022).