Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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

Wednesday, March 16, 2022


by Martha Deed

" ...the appearance of Odessa is very handsome, the harbor is excellent."

He whistles “Yellow Submarine” as he passes by my window.
He is pushing a wheelbarrow loaded with large blocks of broken concrete.
Studied music in college, he tells me later. Now this (with a smile).

When they found the Endurance in 10,000 ft of water
videoed the stern still bright in red and gold, did they think
about the men who did not die there, but who now are long dead
or about what those seamen thought making their escape
across the living ice mindlessly crushing their ship, did that crew
have the peace of mind to consider the irony
of a shipwreck with no fatalities, the lifeboat journey
across a frigid ocean, the self-rescues, the endurance?

The digging continues—the rescue of a room less carefully
constructed than Shackleton's barquentine, the room
that did not endure, the room that is a small matter
in the universe although important to me, that may not
last 106 more years even if not sunk again, even if built
right this time like the shipbuilders of Marshfield
built the Smyrna, whose captain logged its voyage to Odessa,
the first American ship to anchor there in 1830,
the crew of 27 with a 5th cousin (6x removed) who
departed this life in 1887, said to be most proud
of the Mayflower ancestors that bind us into cousinhood,
could not have anticipated Putin's carnage in 2022.

All day, the wheelbarrows roll over wooden panels
laid across the spring mud yard from street to dig—
the thin young man with long black beard
now whistling the theme to Star Wars.

Martha Deed's poetry has appeared in The New Verse News and most recently in Moss Trill, Mason Street Blog, Autumn Sky Poetry Daily, Grand Little Things, The Skinny Poetry Journal.  Her poetry collections Under the Rock (2019) and Climate Change (2014) were both published by FootHills Publishing. She is a retired psychologist who makes trouble with poetry inspired by crises and other mishaps around her house on the Erie Canal in Western New York.