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Saturday, March 25, 2023


a factual account

by Shira Dentz

Brazilian geologists have found rocks comprised of plastic on an uninhabited island in the mid-Atlantic. —Plastic Soup Foundation, March 22, 2023

microplastics melt and cohabit 
stones on remote islands, 
melding new geology,
fashionably hybrid.
in short time the moon
will have its own time zone,
a part on our watch, as
seaweed blooms mid-ocean
wider than a continent
and lists towards shores,

Shira Dentz is the author of five books including Sisyphusina (PANK Books); winner of the Eugene Paul Nassar Prize 2021), and two chapbooks including Flounders (Essay Press). Her writing appears in many venues including Poetry, American Poetry Review, Cincinnati Review, Iowa Review, Gulf Coast, jubilat, Pleiades, New American Writing, Brooklyn, Poetry Daily, Verse, and NPR, and she’s a recipient of awards including an Academy of American Poets Prize and Poetry Society of America’s Lyric Poem and Cecil Hemley Awards. 

Friday, March 24, 2023


by Katherine West

Graphic by Katherine West.

The silenced majority
that some day
will decide
which small piece of the sky
belongs to them
—Rigoberta Menchú quoted in Poetry Like Bread.

70% of Americans don’t trust politicians to make abortion policy. —19thNews

Today it is cloudy
I can’t see the sky at all
I have to imagine it

the way it was
when I was young
when life was a blue door

on an even bluer
even bigger sky

Some days
the sky was so blue
it was almost purple

and I could see
all the way
to Mexico

The birds seemed to fly higher
taking me with them

to new lands
where all the women
grew wings

wrote books
started businesses
ran for office

got married, or not
bore children, or not 
became stronger as they aged 

It was a blueberry sky
with something infinite about it, 
an exuberant potential

I gobbled this up
when I was young—
it became my marrow

and a good thing too
since the clouds
seem to be here to stay

I carry infinity
inside me
a multitude of blue doors

that I open
one by one
day by day

And there are others
doing the same
all over the world

The sky is falling
and we
we are patching it

putting it back up
wiping it clean
of clouds

We are passing out binoculars
to those
with faulty vision

We are leaving
blue footprints behind
everywhere we go

We know
there are those who erase
our footprints

who tell everyone
they meet
that we were never here

But we are here
We aren’t going anywhere—
and there are a lot of us

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, Writers Resist, Feminine Collective, and Southwest Word Fiesta. The 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, the Windsor Museum in Windsor, Colorado, and the Tombaugh Gallery in Las Cruces, New Mexico. She is also an artist.

Thursday, March 23, 2023


by Joanne Kennedy Frazer

Tapachula, Mexico, Mar 21 (EFE).- Thousands of migrants showed up here Tuesday at the offices of Mexico’s National Institute of Migration (INM) to apply for permits to travel by air to cities near the border with the United States. The travelers are using CBP One, a mobile app created by US Customs and Border Protection, to apply for asylum in the United States. CBP launched the app after Washington announced that it was ready to accept 30,000 migrants a month from Venezuela, Nicaragua, Haiti, and Cuba. —La Prensa Latina, March 21, 2023

we do it to survive
leave all we have known
a ripple in the river of humanity
we walk away from dried water  
carry music       stories of the ancients
that tell us who we are
we carry our beloved
bewildered children
on our backs      in our arms
we trek through jungles
cross over mountains
find         climb over bodies
we land in holding pens
of unknown places          disconnected
as the world runs in all directions
we ache for a welcome where one day
we will attain dignity        serenity
drink from renewed wells

Joanne Kennedy Frazer, a retired peace and justice director and educator for faith-based organizations, is a third-act-of-life poet. She enjoys writing on issues of justice, the natural world and spirituality. Her work has appeared in numerous anthologies, journals and e-zines. Her second chapbook Seasonings (Kelsay Press) will be published in early 2023. She lives in Durham, NC.

Wednesday, March 22, 2023


by Ralph Culver

Author’s note: Be at peace and travel well, Norman Dubie, singularly gifted American poet and teacher, who died 20 February, 2023 at 77.

Ralph Culver is a past New Verse News contributor. His most recent poetry collection is A Passable Man (MadHat Press, 2021), available in bookstores and through all the usual internet sources. He divides his time between Vermont and central Pennsylvania.

Tuesday, March 21, 2023


by Bonnie Naradzay

Remember when Muntadhar al-Zaidi, 
an Iraqi journalist, hurled his shoes 
at Mission Accomplished Bush, 
the man incapable of introspection? 
Bush ducked.  Mission Accomplished.
Bush painted himself relaxed
in the bathtub, pink toes showing.
“This is a gift from the Iraqis; 
this is the farewell kiss, you dog!” 
Zaidi shouted in Arabic.  
“You feel bitterness as you see people's pain 
24 hours a day,” Zaidi said.
Bush ducked.  Mission Accomplished.
Corporations made a lot of money off the unprovoked war.
Bush painted himself relaxed
in the bathtub, pink toes showing.
You could hear cries of pain, 
muffled from behind a door, 
during the news conference. 
During the Q&A’s, 
blood spatters on the carpet.
 “You feel bitterness as you see people's pain 
24 hours a day,” Zaidi said.  
Bush ducked.  Mission Accomplished.
Corporations made a lot of money off the unprovoked war.
Bush painted himself relaxed
in the bathtub, pink toes showing.

Left: self-portrait by George W. Bush; Right: take-off by Laura Finck.

Bonnie Naradzay's poems have appeared in AGNI, New Letters (Pushcart Nomination), RHINO, Kenyon Review online, Tampa Review, Florida Review online, EPOCH, Crab Creek Review, Cider Press Review, The American Journal of Poetry, Poetry Miscellany, and other places. She leads poetry salons at day shelters for the homeless and also at a retirement center, all in Washington, DC. 

Monday, March 20, 2023


by Samantha Pious

In times of old (but not so old

as Greece or Rome, nor yet, I’m told,

so recent as the Renaissance)

disaster struck the realm of France:

war with England, war with Flanders,

the king’s own family prone to scandals,

mounting deficits, inflation,

civil strife, unjust taxation,

the summary burning at the stake

of enemies of church and state,

the persecution of the Jews... 

in short, the usual abuse.

But, worst of all, the royal court

was currying favor with—a horse!

This horse’s coat, it’s strange to say,

was neither chestnut, brown, nor bay,

sorrel, black, white, brindled, gray,

nor any color known today

in France or the U. S. of A.

From head to hoof, this horse was orange.

Most people viewed it with abhorrence

but some decided (whether they

grew foolish or were born that way)

to fatten it on oats and hay,

to pander to its every neigh, 

to stroke its coat with brush and comb,

to let it make itself at home 

behind the lofty palace walls,

to clean its hooves, muck out its stall... 

all in the hopes that it would give

its friends a handout. Which it did!

Sporadically, it would provide

good luck in spades. It also lied.
It lied about the coming plague.

It promised it would never raise

our taxes. It would drain the swamp.

With utmost circumstance and pomp,

it would transform mice into men.

The nation would be great again.

Ah, what a gallant, noble steed!

And it was lying through its teeth.

This orange horse (of yellow mane)—

tell us, Muse, what was its name?

Was it Fauvel, the word for “fable”?

Was there a placard for the stable

genius? Come Judgment Day,

when every horse is called to pay

its debts, say, when they sound the trump,

who will be driven by the rump

down to the fiery pits of Hell?

Say, who but Tr——I mean, Fauvel?

Samantha Pious is a poet, translator, editor, and medievalist with a PhD in Comparative Literature from the University of Pennsylvania. "The Tale of the Horse's Ass" is inspired by a  14th-century French and Latin satire, the Roman de Fauvel, which really does feature an orange horse as its anti-hero.

Sunday, March 19, 2023


by Maria Lisella

Yoko Ono’s WishTree at the Museum of Modern Art, 1996.
UK’s Daily Mail broke the story last month of Yoko’s leaving New York City.

… to raise cows on a 600-acre farm
she & Beatles legend John Lennon
purchased 45 years ago, outfitting it
with a herd of 122 cows and 10 bulls …
a dream to live on land as his father did
with no plans of returning
their attempt to create new lives,
away from crowds, smog, love-ins
and the ceaseless need to be THEM
on West 72 St.—until 1980–
shot in the Dakota archway, Lennon fell
on the feast of the Immaculate Conception
with no plans of returning
Outdistancing his dad, 47-year old Sean
pushes wheel-chair bound Yoko
from stage to stage, celebrity galas;
she perches alone on the Marcellus Shale
plateau, protests “fracking” for the rest of us,
no longer hibernates in the sprawling Dakota
with no plans of returning
Controversial, she lived, starved
through World War II,
like a modern-day Eve, gossipy fans
blamed her for breaking up Camelot… 
she offered them her “wish tree” series.
Now widowed 50 years, at 90,
it is as if she has lived 400 years
with no plans of returning

Maria Lisella is the sixth Queens Poet Laureate and an Academy of American Poets Fellow. Twice nominated for a Pushcart Prize, her collections include: Thieves in the Family (NYQ Books), Amore on Hope Street (Finishing Line Press) and Two Naked Feet (Poets Wear Prada). Forthcoming is The Man with a Plan.

Saturday, March 18, 2023


by Jerrice J. Baptiste

Gone, morsels of light from the island 
       flickering in silent eyes.


He waved goodbye last Tuesday
      to the turquoise sea, mid-day sun 


choking on tears. His welcome meal


sliced papaya, crescent plantains, 

      conch in creole sauce. Smiles. 

My cousin’s soft lashes
       brush American stars. Glow reflects


on forehead, cheek bones, bridge of nose.

       Lips speak freedom, a new language.


My uncle hears his son’s voice 

       migrated among birds of the white season. 

Night churns slow. How can he keep still?

      One has left his cocoon.


Even from gunfire.  

Author’s noteHumanitarian Parole offers an opportunity for people arriving in the U.S to feel like humans. Approved non-residents landing for the first time are welcomed appropriately and can adapt under the right conditions of housing, employment, education, etc. They can be happy even if their family members left behind—in Haiti, in the case of the speaker’s uncle in this poem—miss them terribly. 

Jerrice J. Baptiste is an author of eight books and a poet in residence at the Prattsville Art Center & Residency in NY.  She is extensively published in journals and magazines. She has been nominated as  Best of The Net by Blue Stem for  2022.

Friday, March 17, 2023


by Laura Rodley
on Saint Patrick’s Day

Some people are consistently lucky:
the shamrock rests within their fingertips,
the pot of gold answers their dreams;
granted, the gold may be just a few quarters
they find in the road or spotting the special green cup
they sought to replace one broken,
or a friend they’ve kept all their life,
or a talent, like painting that they don’t let go,
writing, or singing, or building,
the hammer of persistence paying off,
magnets in their hands, their polarities
perfect, no misalignment,
straight shooters, consistent.
Is it the consistent faith
in their luck that draws luck to them
or is it luck is drawn
to those who dream it’s possible,
who keep their arms wide open?

Laura Rodley, Pushcart Prize winner, is a quintuple Pushcart Prize nominee and quintuple Best of Net nominee. Latest books: Turn Left at Normal by Big Table Publishing, Counter Point by Prolific Press, and As You Write It Lucky 7, a collection of 11 writers' work.

Thursday, March 16, 2023


by George Salamon

Rahul Gandhi delivered a lecture at Cambridge University [February 28, 2023] on “Learning to Listen in the 21st Century.” Recounting how the yatra [the march he recently led through India] changed him, Gandhi said the interactions with the people who held his hand during the yatra trusting him as a brother and confided in him changed him as a politician, his perspective. As the yatra entered Kashmir, Gandhi said, "As I was walking, a guy came up and showed me a few men standing nearby. He told me they are militants. I thought I was in trouble because in that situation militants would kill me. But they did not do anything because this is the power of listening.” —Hindustan Times, March 3, 2023

Can anyone ever reach you?
Would we have to dissolve
into the white hot fire inside
of you to see you?
Would you talk with us then,
touching the rivers of fire
cooling in our own blood 
so we too become weightless
like you, no longer capable of
joy or grief, and rise for the
journey that unbinds us and
knows of no return?
Most of us remain weighed 
down, unable or unwilling to
submit to the exuberance of
terror that nothing can appease.
Terrorism is not merely an act
of terror, but also one of
Its fire burns all—motivation,
victim and terrorist.

George Salamon recalls reading Hermann Rauschning's 1939 book TheRevolution of Nihilism meant as a warning by depicting Hitler's National Socialism as, at least in part, a "revolution of nihilism," a pact between leader and people for destruction and self-destruction. 

Wednesday, March 15, 2023


by Annie Cowell

Songul Yucesoy's home in Samandag, southern Turkey was destroyed when a 6.4 magnitude earthquake struck a month ago. —BBC, March 6, 2023

She raises soap sudded hands
from the washing bowl,
places them on her hips
and stretches out her aching back.
Behind her the house tilts,
crippled, less solid than its shadow, 
window frames sagging 
between cracks like craters.
On the table, rescued, somehow
unscathed, is a picture.
It is a shell-framed souvenir of life before,
when the table wasn’t orphaned
to the street. 
Now, the fruit bowl she hates
for its dull colours and chipped rim
sits beside the picture, uncomfortable,
with its solitary orange.
A white mould is beginning to blossom
on its skin.
She lifts the dying orange, 
cups it in her hands like a stunned bird
and walks the short distance 
to where her neighbours’ family inhabit
two makeshift tents, cobbled together
near the rubble of their home.
Her daughter’s friend, he of the wild eyes
and cheeky tongue, lowers his head
as she approaches, tamed and silenced
by the shame of survival.
The lump in her throat prevents speech,
so she dusts the orange 
with her finger, takes the young boy’s hand
places the orange there. 
It’s the least, and the most, she can do.

Author’s note: Some of the events in this poem are imagined, but they were suggested by the facts in the BBC’s March 6 article “Turkey Earthquake: Survivors living in fear on the streets.” The suffering continues, even as the earthquake’s aftermath slips from the headlines.

Annie Cowell lives by the sea in Cyprus with her husband and rescue dogs. She has been published by Popshot Quarterly, Gastropoda Lit, The Milk House, and many others. She is a BOTN nominee. Her debut pamphlet Birth Mote(s) was published by Alien Buddha Press in 2022. Splashing Pink from Hedgehog Press is forthcoming later this year. @AnnieCowell3

Tuesday, March 14, 2023


by Jenna Le

Ke Huy Quan
waited long.
Michelle Yeoh
was told no.
Then, this year,
a path cleared:
we were blessed
with yes, yes.

Jenna Le is the author of Six Rivers (NYQ Books, 2011);  A History of the Cetacean American Diaspora (Indolent Books, 2017), a Second Place winner in the Elgin Awards; and Manatee Lagoon (Acre Books, 2022).


by Margaret D. Stetz

…for the “Best Adapted
goes to the women of
my generation
we make up most
of the Academy
and won
though no one else would
vote for us
but learned at last
to write our own names
on the ballot
then turn up with a speech
for the acceptance
that we’ve never felt
of course the host
has withering jokes 
at our expense
but we don’t
slap him
we’ve always swallowed more
at work at home in bed
than pride
when all our names 
are called
we will not miss 
this moment
although our bladders fill like
Thanksgiving Day Parade
the trailing hems of gowns
catch heels and trip us
on the way to reach
the stage
where music has already 
played us off before
we even speak
the microphones the cameras
shutting down
we shout our thanks
for one another’s 
help and strength
into the emptying auditorium.
Our afterparty invitations
are for a future day
we don’t know when
but meanwhile
just stand
and keep our grip on something

Margaret D. Stetz, a lifelong feminist and a poet, is the Mae and Robert Carter Professor of Women's Studies and Professor of Humanities at the University of Delaware.