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Thursday, March 31, 2022


by Richard Matta

He lines up his army men
sacrifices them, 
with the enemy he alone creates 
because he wants to play
with toy soldiers on a big stage
like a kid who wants to shoot
his BB gun, toss his cherry bombs 
even the M80s
to gain everyone’s attention. 
He knows the stakes are higher today
there’s narrative to control. 
He instills fear in those who
would question the story he weaves. 
He reminds the world
a red button, his red button
is within reach.  
Keep them guessing, 
on their heels, asking themselves
is this a crazy man who’d destroy the world?
And this is how he plays the game
Constructed ambiguity
he figures he has to play the big threat, 
they’re thinking—long game in Ukraine
—sanctions will break Russia like the USSR
He figures they’ll try psych ops—
drones dropping rubles and letters,
pleas and podcasts in Russian
the oligarchs and their yachts
hiding on the seas with the country’s wealth
They’ll fill the airwaves with western propaganda
to twist the minds of Russian military 
and those with curiosity. 
But he knows all this. It’s narrative control. 
He vows to protect his people 
from the tyranny and pathological lies 
of capitalism and democracy. And who 
in their right mind will question
a boy with a BB gun and M80s 
who plays chess and might blow up the board
for his legacy.  

Richard Matta grew up in New York and  now lives in San Diego. Some of his work is found in Ancient Paths, Dewdrop,  The New Verse News, San Pedro River Review, Gyroscope, Healing Muse, and many international haiku journals. 

Wednesday, March 30, 2022


by Suzanne Morris

Top photo: ‘Things Will Only Get Worse.’ Putin’s War Sends Russians Into Exile. —The New York Times, March 13, 2022. Bottom photo: Sasha (played by Jeffrey Rockland), son of Tonya and Zhivago in the 1965 film Doctor Zhivago.

He is the only child
in the photograph–
ten, perhaps,
no more than twelve–

surrounded by a small crowd of
students and young professionals,
wearing jeans and
heavy sweaters

seated anxiously on a long couch
or straight-backed chairs
around a table
in a sunny apartment

in Istanbul

where they’ve fled,  
fearing arrest for
protesting a war
they didn’t believe in

waged by an autocrat
they all despise.
And no one is holding
a phone.

Women with long hair,
men with short, neat beards,
eyes fixed on the speaker
outside the frame–

intent as we were
on events unfolding
across the
movie screen.

The boy stands alone in the
center of the floor; and
he’s looking, too, but with
body angled away

as if the speaker had
interrupted his play.

His eyes old and serious
for one his age, he
reminds me of
Zhivago’s young son

whose life was upended
by the Russian Revolution.

How romantic it seemed:
so long ago and far away
yet the huge
Panavision screen

made it seem we were right there
living through it all when
families were forced apart
never to be together again.

The boy is right there
in the small crowd,
the speaker instructing them
on what to do now.

How to begin.

A novelist with eight published works spanning forty years, Suzanne Morris now focuses largely on writing poems. Her poetry is included in the anthology No Season for Silence—Texas Poets and Pandemic (Kallisto GAIA Press, 2020). Examples have also appeared in The Texas Poetry Assignment and The New Verse News.

Tuesday, March 29, 2022


by Annie Cowell

My friend’s hair fell out.
Head, brows, lashes, body; every single hair.
One day she was lustrous, the next day naked. 
No explanation and no cure. Of course 
she will not die; there are 
far worse things to endure.
But for a while she could not face her world.
The daily chores, so simple and routine
became an endless round of hows and whys,
of sympathetic nods or stifled smiles.
And she felt lost, stripped bare;
her confidence destroyed.
And so she had her brows tattooed,
glued on false eyelashes,
bought wigs in different styles.
Found ways she could disguise the 
bald and brutal fact that
she would never feel, or look the same again.

Annie Cowell is a former teacher living in Cyprus. She has poems forthcoming in a number of publications. @AnnieCowell3


by Alice Campbell Romano

Photo of @AdamParkhomenko’s family trapped in Ukraine.

Face what you have to face. Chop onions. Let your
eyes sting for the kitchen screen where a city is rubble,
nothing stands, all the ground is chunks of bricks

and stones, a wreckage more extreme even than the
leavings of a tornado the TV showed you last hour.
What does it profit an autocrat, an absolutist,

unless that his obliteration is more terrible than a work
of nature. I am that I am, God the destroyer. Onions
sauté now with sliced red peppers in a little olive oil.

You feel so feeble. But you don’t flip the remote to
California’s Gold. You add the chicken tenders, while a
newscaster tells you what you know. Children starve.

Alice Campbell Romano is a New Yorker who spent more than a decade in Italy, adapting Italian movie scripts into English. Her work has been published in print journals and online, most recently by Willows Wept Review and Ekphrastic Review's Starry Starry Night Anthology; this week in Prometheus Dreaming and forthcoming in Beyond Words.


Jerome Betts lives in Devon, England, and edits the verse quarterly Lighten Up Online. His work has appeared in a wide variety of British magazines and anthologies as well as UK, European, and North American web publications such as Amsterdam Quarterly, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, The Asses of Parnassus, Better Than Starbucks, The Hypertexts, Light, The New Verse News, and Snakeskin.

Monday, March 28, 2022


by Emily Rock

Jack Ohman: Law & Order, Senate GOP

…were on display in the Senate as Ketanji Brown Jackson
faced down the Judiciary Committee
on the way to (please, let it be so) the Supreme Court.
Ghostly white Lindsey Graham, with his trademark drawl,
claimed “It’s about ‘we’re all racist’ if we ask hard questions.  
That’s not gonna fly with us.”
She was gracious: “I am happy to do whatever…”
she said as Chuck Grassley mumbled gruffly, interrupting her.
“No, that’s alright,” she said.  “I’m sorry.”

The Senator from Missouri said in his tweets
that Judge Jackson’s record on child pornography offenders
went “beyond soft on crime,” her record “endangers our children.”
She was calm: “As a judge and a mother, nothing
could be further from the truth.”
And she explained, though Josh Hawley deserved nothing
from her, that she told every criminal defendant
about the many victims' statements she received,
ensuring the child's perspective was heard in her court.
“When I look in the eyes of a defendant who is weeping,” she said,
 “I tell them about a victim who developed agoraphobia,
who thinks everyone she meets will have seen her pictures on the internet.”
I imagined an unflinching Jackson looking an offender in the eyes,
not softened by his tears—the sad sad tears of a man who has been caught,
which reminded me of her future colleague, Brett Kavanaugh:
how he cried during his own confirmation hearing,
how his emotional outbursts would be blamed on PMS
if he were a woman instead of a self-righteous white man.
Ketanji Brown Jackson said “I hope that you will see
how much I love our country, and our Constitution,”
and I recalled Kavanaugh repeating “I like beer.”
I thought of his victims, Christine Blasey Ford
and the others whose voices were not heard,
who watched their assailant weep
and go red in the face, defend his honor,
defend his entitlement to a seat
on the highest court—and prevail.
If Ketanji Brown Jackson is confirmed,
she will join two men who have been credibly accused
of crimes against women,
she will join a supermajority of aggressors
gleefully eviscerating Roe v. Wade,
stripping voting protections,
all while claiming the mantle
of Originalism, their philosophy
stuck in the 1700s with the slave-owning founders.
And yet, Republicans have tarred her 
with the absurd accusation
that she is somehow a threat to “our children.”
Whose children, I would ask Josh Hawley.
Whose children are threatened by a black woman 
with a gavel and a robe?

Emily Rock is an attorney and mother of two who lives in New Haven, Connecticut.

Sunday, March 27, 2022


by Sarah Mackey Kirby

Image: A woman sits while people cross a nearby destroyed bridge as they evacuate the city of Irpin, northwest of Kyiv, during heavy shelling and bombing on March 5, 2022, 10 days after Russia launched a military in vasion on Ukraine. (Photo by Aris Messinis / AFP) via Planet Custodian

live the lakes,
the tethered sun,
the warm bread
slathered thick
with morning slaughter.
The trees refuse to
keep their distance,
limbs outstretched to catch
drops of raining hurt.
Spray us first, they say.
We’ve been here before.
Our trunks are strong
and old
and know
the ways of bombs.
The ones of us who’ll go
will grow again. From mud.
From bullet-casing ground.
Seedling sprouts through
crimson ash at dawn.
We are tired, the trees say,
but we’ve been made for poets
to scrawl about
and cry about
as we stay firmly placed.
The people wear their shoes
with newfound purpose.
The wind blows. The rivers flow.
The moon glows. They all know.
They remember.

Sarah Mackey Kirby grew up in Kentucky. She is the author of the poetry collection The Taste of Your Music (Impspired, 2021). Her work appears in Impspired Magazine, Muddy River Poetry Review, The New Verse News, Ploughshares, and elsewhere. She holds an MA in Teaching and a BA in Political Science from the University of Louisville.


by Barbara Simmons

San Jose Mercury News, March 18, 2022

It strikes me first because I want
to replicate the cover story, its
filling up the top-half of page one with
students costumed for their roles in Beauty and
the Beast, and fill the bottom of this page, the
story line the same, but now removing it from San Leandro,
taking it to Mariupol, setting up production there for
the same play, with young Ukrainians in the roles of Belle,
The Beast, the talking Armoire and the flickering Lumiere, 
all taking turns rehearsing for the opening night. The local
story tells of students whose dramatic arc
had lost two years, pandemic’s having moved them away
from stages and onto screens. The story from another world
shows readers columns, perhaps Corinthian, now holding air,
the theater they adorned now roofless, the drama playing out
a theme of death and rubble, shrapnel-scarred skeletons, smoke
the scrim. Who may have played these roles we do not know, those
killed as they sought refuge in a theater basement. 
The layout
is the story: partitioned narratives reveal two worlds, one
where drama’s curtain rises to roles donned, 
the other where the drama is demise, 
where nothing’s left for anyone, for any of us, 
to understand.

Barbara Simmons, a native Bostonian residing in California, a graduate of Wellesley College and The Writing Seminars from Johns Hopkins, is a retired teacher and counselor.  She explores the communion of words as ways to remember and envision.  Publications include Boston Accent, The NewVerse News, Soul-Lit, and Capsule Stories. Offertories: Exclamations and Disequilibriums is her first book of poetry due in Spring 2022.

Saturday, March 26, 2022


by Carol Alena Aronoff

when hands steepled in prayer 
bloodstained palms 
in a last gesture 
to smoke-filled sky?

When ashes 
cover newly dug graves 
by those who wish 
a final goodbye 
before they flee?

Who will gather 
broken dolls 
to hold a funeral 
for childhood?

Cover the ears 
of shell-shocked 
as their owners 
carry them?

Collect tears 
from empty bullet-
scarred wells? 

Grow sunflowers 
from torn limbs
and copper jackets?

Who will be left 
to push grandmothers 
in wheelbarrows 
nowhere safe?


Carol Alena Aronoff, Ph.D. is a psychologist, teacher and poet. Her work has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies and won several prizes. She was twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize. Carol has published 4 chapbooks (Cornsilk, Tapestry of Secrets, Going Nowhere in the Time of Corona, A Time to Listen) and 6 full-length poetry collections: The Nature of Music, Cornsilk, Her Soup Made the Moon Weep, Blessings From an Unseen World, Dreaming Earth’s Body (with artist Betsie Miller-Kusz) as well as The Gift of Not Finding: Poems for Meditation. Currently, she resides in rural Hawaii.


by Anne Harding Woodworth

A crucial portion of the world’s wheat, corn and barley is trapped in Russia and Ukraine because of the war. Credit: Vitaly Timkiv/Associated Press via The New York Times, March 20, 2022

The fibers of the breadbasket are unraveling.
Metaphor is of no use in wartime.
Call the breadbasket what it is: fertile country
that supplies grains near and far,
threatened now, as arable fields lie unplowed,
despoiled by the Bear at planting time.
Metaphor is useless. The tractor with plow
(or seeder) attached should be chugging out
into the fields now and on into the end of April—
but won’t be.
Man or woman on a tractor—easy target for the Bear.
But that’s metaphor, too.
Call the Bear what he is: greedy and cruel creature.
And not all bears. This one is a singular carrier of evil,
who leads his cubs to do his bidding.
There’s little grain left for the families,

for the animals, and none to ship out to Egypt,
Indonesia, Morocco, Israel, Spain, Tunisia.

Tunisia, once called a breadbasket itself,
until it was swallowed up by desert.

Now do you see how metaphors
don’t always work?

The world is hungry and hungrier, as the Bear
destroys fecund fields. No seeds will open.

No grains will be harvested. The breadbasket
empty, crushed. War destroys metaphor.
Food! is the only word left.

Anne Harding Woodworth’s seventh book of poetry Trouble received the 2022 William Meredith Award for Poetry.

Friday, March 25, 2022


by Jon Wesick


In Latin, stare decisis means, “deice the stars.” The relevant case law is Andromeda vs. GRXL when prosecutors accused three Tralfamadorans of selling defective window-washer fluid at an intergalactic truck stop. The phrase means keeping your cool during a barrage of leading questions and racist dog whistles that would make an ordinary person hot enough to fuse hydrogen into helium.
I used to give dog whistles the benefit of the doubt. Just because they didn’t resonate with me that didn’t mean they were racist. Now, their bigotry isn’t just for some toy poodle with a Hitler mustache. Even I can hear it. When shopping at a pet store, they ought to tell you if a dog whistle is racist. That’s just truth in advertising.

Jon Wesick is a regional editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual. He’s published hundreds of poems and stories in journals such as the Atlanta Review, Berkeley Fiction Review, Metal Scratches, The New Verse News, Pearl, Slipstream, Space and Time, Tales of the Talisman, and Zahir. Jon is the author of the poetry collections Words of Power, Dances of Freedom and A Foreigner Wherever I Go as well as several novels and short story collections. His most recent novel is The Prague Deception.

Thursday, March 24, 2022


by Chris Reed

Yesterday a Ukrainian woman
and her two children, lay in the rubble,
three esses, as booted rescuers
tried to save the father, still alive.
This morning a post bombardment
photo. In a sea of debris
a lone building stands without
exterior wall, rooms open
to the world like a dollhouse
with furniture intact, a china cabinet
unbroken, a pillow still on the sofa.

From a last cardboard box,
my mother’s bequest, I unfold old
newspaper to reveal a shepherd,
familiar figure of a once loved 
childhood creche, his staff broken.
I unwrap a king, crown intact,
and a Jesus, chipped, cradles
in my open palm, white plaster edge
of his missing side, ragged against
his painted flesh

In past winters he lay in a crib 
of cotton balls we took from 
the bandage drawer in the bathroom.
Returning the figures and crumpled paper
to the box, I wonder if it’s a sin
to throw it away on my way to ShopRite.
He won’t like being in that trash bin,
but then, no one does.

Chris Reed finds the reading and writing of poetry to be a moving medium for letting the absurdities, sorrows, anger and joys of life speak to each other. Her poems have appeared in The New Verse News, Little Heron Review, and US1 Worksheets.


by Marilyn Peretti

I say Jesus Christ 
when I’m not supposed
to say Jesus Christ.

Jesus / Ukraine flag


I said Jesus Christ
when the pregnant woman
was carried on a stretcher
from the bombed maternity
hospital, her hip and leg 
hanging to the side,
and her baby died.

I said Jesus Christ
when the magnificent
Mariupol theater building 
was smashed, burying
hundreds of people
sheltering there.

I said Jesus Christ
when there were 7 fires
burning unchecked at
Chernobyl  Nuclear Plant.

I said Jesus Christ
when they displayed 
109 empty strollers 
representing the children 
who died — so far.

I said Jesus Christ
as Russia stepped up attacks
on Mariupol when it was
already reduced to ashes,
with thousands of survivors
left there, starving.

Jesus Christ

Marilyn Peretti from near Chicago has been published in various journals over the years, including The New Verse News, Kyoto Journal, Gray Sparrow Journal, Christian Science Monitor, Highland Park Poetry, Snowy Egret. Her most recent book is Behind the Mask in 2020... 2021... .

Wednesday, March 23, 2022


by Jeannie E. Roberts

—for Amelia Uzun and the Ukrainian Refugees

The greenery blooms 
holds truths 
lifts like hands 
seeks the light 
the prayer plant flowers 
as the cyclamen thrives 
they shelter in safety 
in the luster of peaceful living

A young girl blooms 
holds truths 
lifts her voice 
as if a prayer 
the bomb shelter lightens 
the gathering listens 
the room warms as one 
with a song from the film Frozen 

A concert hall blooms
holds truths 
a young girl lifts her voice 
where notes effloresce 
ascend in national anthem 
as if a prayer 
in the light 
she sings for the luster 
of peaceful living once again 

Jeannie E. Roberts has authored seven books, five poetry collections and two illustrated children's books. Her most recent collection As If Labyrinth - Pandemic Inspired Poems was released in 2021 by Kelsay Books. Her poems appear in Panoply, Sky Island Journal, The New Verse News, and elsewhere. She’s an animal lover, a nature enthusiast, a Best of the Net award nominee, and a poetry editor of the online literary magazine Halfway Down the Stairs


by Frederick Wilbur

Drawing by Zhenia Grebenchuk, 13, who fled Cherkasy, Ukraine, with his younger sister and mother, Tanya. His father took them to the bus and then returned home. Tanya said she and her children planned to wait out the war in Poland. Zhenia hoped it would only be a matter of weeks before Ukraine wins and he can kick around his soccer ball at home with friends again. —The Washington Post, March 15, 2022

They hear the drone of planes
like the chorus of evil angels.
They do not raise their eyes.
But with their lives in skulls
and backpacks, their feet follow
the single file person before them,
freedom stitched to sleeves.
It could be anywhere—
distant curve of horizon or jungled
too thick for a view.
I cannot say I have worn out shoes,
or begged for shelter—
my anguish is not their anguish,
my hunger is not theirs.
Arrogance and greed for power
cannot live among them,
their power is to survive—
survival may not be enough
until they cross the border
that cannot be seen.

Frederick Wilbur's poetry collections are As Pus Floats the Splinter Out and The Conjugation of Perhaps.


by George Salamon

Illustration by Beppe Giacobbe for Harper’s Magazine

"Can technology shape our dreams?" 
—Michael W. Clune, "Engineering our dreams," Harper's Magazine, April 2022

My dreams are true, because they occur,
they are false, because only I see them.
It's an awe-inspiring arrangement, it
is both darkness and light, it frustrates
and enlightens, it is a human thing.
The heart beats as we sleep, our
eyes write down the stuff of dreams,
dreams remain within and out of our

Our soul is endowed with two eyes,
one watches the passing of hours on
the clock, the other sees through the
the borders of time, until watching
passes into seeing through, and the
dream endures within us.
I don't want technology to tamper with
this burden and gift.

George Salamon is not happy about what technology has done to "engineer" our engaging and communicating with each other and wants it to keep its metallic hands off our dreaming, the happy dreams and nightmares. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2022


by Jean Varda

This video contains black and white footage after the liberation of Buchenwald.

I light a candle for peace and everywhere I go I pray
in my room on my bed on the street in my car,
when I breathe each inhalation is an image of hope
that the bombs will stop falling, the tanks will turn around no nukes will rain down, and those who are fleeing will reach safety and not die on their way.
How can one bear the thought of the little girl in blood
stained pajamas her mother running with her for help
then dying when she reached the hospital.
Even before I was born my mother protested war,
after the horrors of serving as a nurse in WWII
“How could they have kept from us Buchenwald,
Auschwitz, Treblinka?” She would repeat as she showed
me black and white footage of the camps and told me
how lucky I was to be born where I was with my Jewish
blood. She took me on my first peace march to protest
Vietnam, we stayed up all night on an old school bus,
I had never seen so many people at one time
as we marched on Washington.
My father taught me the Russians weren’t our enemies
that they wanted peace just like we did.
It didn’t match what I learned in school. He went to Cuba and Nicaragua, he loved the countries and the people. He was accused of being a Communist before I was born. I took my daughters to protests when they were small and showed them what I believed in, 
still we pray for peace.

Jean Varda's poetry has appeared in: The California Quarterly, The Berkeley Poetry Review, Third Wednesday, Speckled Trout, The New Verse News, and The Boston Literary Magazine. She has led poetry writing workshops and Open Mics around the country. She presently resides in Chico, California where she is working on an anthology of her poetry.


by Robin Wright

"Breathe in breathe out" poster  by Raphaella Vaisseau

A voice summons from somewhere outside this tube.
Breathe in, Breathe out, Breathe in, Hold your breath
No way to say I’ve been doing just that
ever since Putin invaded Ukraine.
Breathe in, Breathe out, Breathe in, Hold your breath
I study gray tape on the ceiling, a few inches
from my face. It’s long and straight, a runway, but
no planes, only torn spots in the shapes of tear drops.
Breathe in, Breathe out, Breathe in, Hold your breath
I lie still. When loud thuds like gunfire overpower U2
playing "With or Without You" on my headphones,
I squeeze my eyes tight, willing the noise to stop.
Breathe in, Breathe out, Breathe in, Hold your breath
I’m safe, tucked in a tube.
Breathe in, Breathe out, Breathe in, Hold your breath
A pregnant woman, bloody, swollen
thought she’d be safe inside the maternity ward
in Mariupol, but had to stumble through glass,
rubble, and labor pains to keep her body
and unborn baby from being torn to bits by bombs.
Breathe in, Breathe out, Breathe in, Hold your breath
How many families are with or without loved ones?
How many hide in basements with no food, water, electricity?
How many buried in mass graves? How many more?
Breathe in, Breathe out, Breathe in, Hold your breath
The machine done, the radiology tech
tells me I’m good at holding my breath.
I leave, await my fate and that of Ukrainians.
Breathe in, Breathe out, Breathe in, Hold my breath

Robin Wright lives in Southern Indiana. Her work has appeared in One Art, Young Ravens Literary Review, Olney Magazine, As it Ought to Be, Rat’s Ass Review, Sledgehammer Lit, Muddy River Poetry Review, Sanctuary, and others. Her first chapbook Ready or Not was published by Finishing Line Press in October of 2020.


by Rose Mary Boehm

"Exhaustion" painting by Josie Carter

The lethargy struck together with the monster virus.
When the worst of the coughing was over, when the fever
had left, when I could breathe freely again, I thought
I could pick up my life where I left off.
Instead, there was total fatigue. Brain fog.
Too tired to think. 
Too tired to plan a future.
Too tired to write.
Too tired to smile.
Too tired to dream.
Too tired to be afraid.
Too tired to hate.
This poem doesn’t like to be written.
My fight no longer wants to be fought.
Climate crisis? Let it happen. The latest news?  Who cares
about Ukraine. Trump? There is a faint echo of outrage.
White supremacists? A discreet wake-up call but not enough
right now. The UK prime minister is an idiot?
They all knew that when they voted for him.
Every day seems an effort, life
itself bends under the load of its weight.
Tired words stretch like bubble gum.
Would I be a hibernating bear, safe in the knowledge
that nothing was asked of me but sleep.

Rose Mary Boehm is a German-born British national living and writing in Lima, Peru. Her poetry has been published widely in mostly US poetry reviews (online and print). She was twice nominated for a Pushcart. Her fifth poetry collection Do Oceans Have Underwater Borders will be published by Kelsay Books in July 2022.


by Lynda Gene Rymond

Nearly unnameable colors press upon my heart. The silver-brown of Diego’s eyes, his rectangle
goat pupils glow with benevolent courage, the green-violet thumbs of asparagus erupting from
sandy soil, chaste lavender-pink of my cold fingers wielding the root knife. Lapis-tanzanite of
swallow wings and peach-buff of their underbellies. Sanguine-scarlet heads of the British soldier
lichen devour the log ends of our cedar gates, the viridian-onyx feathers of Pirate Jenny and
Halfpint as they scratch spent hay and devour the umber-gray scattering pill bugs. A threat-black
military transport flies low over my husband as he strides in his bee suit to a wind-thrown hive.
War is not here but its cogs and hammers now tense and click in every zone. My neighbor’s
poultry, gold-glinting as pocket-watches, are loosed like a dare to red-tailed hawks and sooty-
legged foxed, yet they live this day. If I could grip this small colorless invisible peace, could break
and pass it like honey-dripped bread to those who might not taste such again. Even now the
bees find red maple flowers and fly the pollen home in scarlet-orange bundles. Bundles. So many 
carrying bundles.

Lynda Gene Rymond has been runner-up for Bucks County Poet Laureate in 2019 and 2021 and a finalist in 2020. She has poetry appearing in the Schuylkill Valley Journal, Heron Tree Review, U.S. 1 Worksheets, and the anthology Carry Us to the Next Well (Kelsay Books, 2021.) Her short story “Turn, Turn” won the 2020 Pennwriters short story competition. She authored the children’s books The Village of Basketeers and Oscar and the Mooncats (Houghton Mifflin). She lives on Goblin Farm in Applebachsville, Pa.


by Kay Newhouse

Count the time from lightning flash 
And multiply by distance till the thunder
Rolls its way inside the house and rattles all the dishes on the shelves.
In case of nuclear disaster, says that there is time
(I read) To go inside
Rinse out your hair and eyes and mouth
Take off your clothes
Like napalm child whose scream in glossy magazines
Holds still for history (I should know her name)
(This is important now)

My neighbor hides her thyroid scars in wrinkles on her neck
And tells me my old dog is fat again
And daughters should wear pink not jeans
And English is not easy (she repeats) and she grew up not in Chernobyl 
But a hundred miles away or so where wind picked up the dust 
And brought it to her through the forests
Sifting ash across her clothes and hair and face and now finding her with cancer 
These so many miles and years ago—
But it doesn’t matter (she says) остинато
You can’t see a scar that has so many wrinkles to surround it 
What’s that flower on my driveway
And I answer her with just one word
“impatiens,” I repeat to her, a little louder now

Kay Newhouse’s first byline was in Physical Review Letters, and most recent in Wildfire Magazine. She lives near Washington DC, where the cherry trees flower every spring, the fireworks are overrated, and people are more likely to talk to each others’ dogs than to each other. This is about the same as everywhere, more or less.

Monday, March 21, 2022


by Umang Dhingra

do not be too loud on the streets; do not play music; 
this is how you hide if there is a bombing, this is how you hide if there is noise, this is how you hide if there is a knock on the door, this is how you hide if the shadows outside your room change shape; 
this is how you cover yourself up 
but i thought we did not have to do that anymore– 
this is how you cover yourself up; 
this is how you read books you stole from school, this is how you read books from your father’s shelves, this is how you read books when you are not supposed to; 
this is how you cry for help; 
do not wear bright colours; 
do not look anyone in the eyes; 
do not go outside until I tell you to; 
this is how you beg for asylum you thought was guaranteed; 
this is how you live with no electricity; this is how you live with no food; 
this is how you live with no dignity; 
this is how you live with constant fear 24/7 on 365;
this is how you pray and beg and hope that someone is coming to save you,
no one is coming to save you.

Umang Dhingra is a 17-year old writer from India. Her work can be found in numerous publications, scraps of paper around the house, and her family's WhatsApp group. She usually writes about being a brown girl from India, about her family, and what her mother calls, 'little explosions of sadness.’

Sunday, March 20, 2022


by Michael Brockley

“Girl with a candy,” photo by Oleksii Kyrychenko of his daughter to draw attention to the war in Ukraine. (Photo: Facebook/Oleksii Kyrychenko via Zyri, March 12, 2022)

You sit on the ledge of the wreckage that was once a window. A pose much like Audrey Hepburn’s while she sings “Moon River” in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, or Marilyn Monroe’s reading a book in a black-and-white glossy. Your back braced against the window frame so you can look over your right shoulder. A young sentry, perhaps, or an auburn-haired sniper. In your arms you cradle a pump-action rifle. And nurse a lollipop, like any nine-year old deciding between a stuffed dog and a doll in a market. Between bread for yourself or your sister. The glass has been bombed from the window that landmarks your vigil, but a mask that is fixed in an expression that is neither frown nor smile leers from the graffiti on the scarred wall behind you. The future holds your gaze along the horizon where courage is measured. Where invaders reduce schools and maternity hospitals to rubble. You are not an actress flirting with glamour in your fur-lined boots, new winter coat, and jeans. But the capri blue and traffic yellow of your nation flow through your ponytail like an anthem being sung around the world.

Michael Brockley is a retired school psychologist who lives in Muncie, Indiana where he is looking for a dog to adopt. His poems have appeared in The Parliament Literary Journal, Young Ravens Literary Review, and Visiting Bob: Poems Inspired by the Life and Work of Bob Dylan. Poems are forthcoming in RockPaperPoem, Lion and Lilac, and Of Rust and Glass


by Eugene Datta                                           


Photograph by Jérôme Sessini / Magnum for The New Yorker, March 7, 2022

He was going away; he was leaving 
Irpin—his suitcase still upright, waiting—
a trustful dog next to the master’s body:
the hand that held it, half-open, blood-
smeared, the right foot pointing away. 
Who’s the one lying close by? A friend? 
A brother? A co-escapee? Half-covered, half 
on the sidewalk, across curbstones painted 
yellow and white, plastic waste strewn 
around. What’s on the mind of the soldier 
kneeling on the monument? Head bowed
in grief, flag in hand, flowers in front of him, 
two bodies behind—it’s much harder, he’s 
learned the hard way, to do good than bad; 
so many more ways for things to go wrong 
than right. Three men with bags in hands 
leaving now—lucky to be late, to be in time, 
lucky to be leaving. A willow weeping 
behind a shattered roof, a slate-gray sky 
crisscrossed by overhead lines—
a farewell exhaled in haste covering the body, 
the suitcase still upright, waiting—

Eugene Datta's writing has appeared in The New Verse News, Poetry Bay, the Richmond Review, the Far Eastern Economic Review, the Quarterly Literary Review Singapore, West Coast Line (currently Line), and Poetry Salzburg. He lives and works in Aachen, Germany.


by Devon Balwit

Bandaged and bloodied, a mum nurses the baby she saved from Russian shellfire by shielding the tot with her own body. Brave Olga—badly injured by shrapnel in Putin’s blitz on Kyiv—cradles her month-old child as a man thought to be her partner comforts them. Amazingly, the baby was believed to be unhurt thanks to the quick-thinking courage of its Ukrainian mother. The two were being cared for yesterday at Kyiv’s Ohmatdyt children’s hospital. Journalist Anastasiia Lapatina, who works on English-language newspaper the Kyiv Independent, said the baby was well. —The U.S. Sun, March 19, 2022. See also story at Infobae.

Ratatatat—no bullets—just a flicker
making a morning ruckus on a chimney cap.
History is happening elsewhere. There
people breathe its stink, tweeze its shrapnel
from their skin, like the bloodied mother nursing her baby
on a hospital gurney. Even the old poet
has refugees blanketing his living room and library.
Post-barrage, survivors salvage what
they can. Each moment presents its immediate problem
to be solved—more life always the answer.
Here, the flicker quiets in slanted columns
of rain so gentle that not even the leaves flutter.
As in a fairy tale, I fight ensorcellment,
straining towards that distant bombardment.

Devon Balwit walks in all weather. Her most recent collections are Rubbing Shoulders with the Greats [Seven Kitchens Press 2020] and Dog-Walking in the Shadow of Pyongyang [Nixes Mate Books, 2021].


by Susan Vespoli

a hummingbird flittered on the other side of the glass 
patio door    a feathered sprite that stayed   stared

       at me     hovered like an airborne messenger     stayed 
       until I rose to face it      look into its seed-bead eyes

watch its wings thrum      to keep body aloft      its face
breathing in mine      until it released me       lifted off

       toward the pot of geraniums      breathed in billowy
       red petals      sipped nectar      through its dart-sharp beak

darted around the yard    like a small soft helicopter
and then      whoosh     disappeared over the fence. I didn’t know

       my son had already disappeared    from this human life
       or that I’d google to find a hummer is a symbol for freedom

and “may be a sign that a loved one has successfully made it
(like the hummingbird) to the other side   and is doing just fine.”

Editor's Note: Susan Vespoli’s son Adam, shot and killed by police last week, appeared in many of her poems, including "Chicken" and "Alex's Teeth" (Alex = code name for Adam) in The New Verse News.

Susan Vespoli writes from Phoenix, Arizona where the opioid epidemic is still alive and well. 

Saturday, March 19, 2022


by Greg LeGault

Marcus Jansen, “Rural America,” 2018. Oil enamels, oil stick, paper, cloth and spray paint on canvas. 50 x 74 inches. From the collection of Corrado and Christina.

Back in the day
fifty years ago
flames lit the night
as cities glowed.
Brother turned on brother
black on white
young on old
hawks on doves
chanting left on
canting right—
how terribly brief that
“Summer of Love.”
We raced into space
walked on the moon,
grieved when dreamers
were taken too soon
followed different drummers
with funkier beats
preached peace while running
wild in the streets
searching for answers
blowin’ in the wind—
“The old world will crumble
and a new one begin!” 
And through it all each America gleaned
that it was pursuing the American Dream.
Comes the day
five decades on
the flames still burn
the Dream seems gone.
Brother turns on brother
every color fearing white.
Radical left
patriot versus patriot—
who is us and
who is not? We
race to the brink
dance on the edge
armed to the teeth,
at odds is an image
and what lies beneath;
tectonic plates always
pushing and shifting
united states
untethered and drifting.
We hold up a finger
in hopes we’ll begin
to find the hint of an answer
blowin’ in the wind.
Something to tell us that what we are seeing
isn’t the end of American dreaming.

Greg LeGault is an Associate Professor of Theatre at Bethany College in Lindsborg, KS.

Friday, March 18, 2022


by Ethan McGuire

Top: Art by Molly Crabapple, special to ProPublica, April 24, 2020. Bottom: Graphic from National Nurses United.

She lies sprawled across a battered couch,
green scrubs still covering her body,
a cheap wine glass dangling from outstretched fingers.
He swings through the splintering apartment door,
blue, button-up uniform unbuttoned,
stained undershirt beneath it. “I’m home.”
“I had an awful day at work,” she sighs
as she picks up a bottle of Woodbridge merlot.
Pouring a glass, her eyes search the hall for him.
“Yeah?” he grunts, opening the fridge.
“Been having trouble with the charge nurse again,
and my plantar fasciitis is back.”
“Oh, no,” he says, pausing in the hallway.
“Administration, man, they’re coming down on us!
‘Course they won’t lower censuses for a damn thing... 
Maybe just another freaking pizza party... 
They’ll call us heroes but won’t give us a chance.”
“That sucks,” he says, as he limps through the hall
and as he sinks into the couch beside her.
“I hate being a floor nurse, hate it like hell.
I’ve gotta do something else.”
“I’m sorry.”
They sit still
in the cold and the quite then.
They only stare absently into
a noiseless, motionless TV, until
their hands touch. A certain love connects them.
She scoots over closer to his body,
and he slides his soiled, calloused hands under hers.

Ethan McGuire works by day as a healthcare information technology professional and by night as a writer, whose poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in Better than Starbucks, The Dark Sire, Emerald Coast Review, and The Poetry Pea, among others. Ethan McGuire grew up in the Missouri Ozarks, but he, his wife who also works in healthcare as a nurse, and their new daughter currently live in the Florida Panhandle near the Gulf of Mexico. Twitter: @AHeavyMetalPen

Thursday, March 17, 2022


Two Poems by Alex Nodopaka

NOTE: This video is NOT from Alex Nodopaka's niece's apartment but from Twitter.

1. To bear or not bear arms
As my niece in Kyiv
is being shelled
I write poems
based on her words*
and what I see
on our TV.
I hold my Siamese
the way I imagine
her holding hers.
It seems odd to me
with the repressed
memories I held
for over 80 years
but that's all I can do
except bear arms
and join her.
I never in my life
thought I'd say
Damn Russia.

2. Fugitive security*

A poem based on the words of Alex Nodopaka’s niece in Kyiv.
The daily shaking of the 5th
floor of the building
where I live frightens me.
Nightly I put down
a few blankets on the floor
of my bathroom.
The only place that offers
a false sense of security.
Wedging my head
between the toilet
and the wall for protection
I try to sleep
despite the rumbling
keeping me awake.

Alex Nodopaka originated immaculately in Ukraine in 1940. Speaks San Franciscan, Parisian, Kievan & Muscovite. Mumbles in English & un poquo de Madridista. He sings in tongues after Vodka, has studied at the Ecole des Beaux Arts, Casablanca, Morocco. Presently full time author and visual artist in USA.


by Kyle Gervais

To be or not to be, the president 
asked all the world today, and chose the first.
And if he reached for the obvious, I don’t
begrudge a player of many parts his thrift.
But I in my distant unpolitical ease
have time to mine a deeper buried gem,
a coward king’s belated penitence:
It hath the primal eldest curse upon’t,
a brother’s murder.   
                    They weren’t the same, of course,
Abel and Cain, and Vladimir is not,
can never be, Volodymyr might say,
his brother’s keeper. 
                    But the men who crossed the line
on the map from west to east met men (and more
than men) with names like theirs, with songs and food
like theirs, with roots that reach, tangled, chafing,
downward deep in a fertile common soil.
And when the guns are stilled and angels’ mouths
have sung so many brave souls to their rest
above the earth that cries out with their blood,
one man will turn, and hide his face from God.

Kyle Gervais teaches Classical Studies at the University of Western Ontario in London, where he lives with his husband and two cats. He has poems, published and forthcoming, in Arion, Canadian Literature, Defenestration, Eunoia Review, Literary Imagination, PRISM international, and Triggerfish Critical Review.