Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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

Friday, May 05, 2023


by Jerry Krajnak

Last week, students at North Carolina State University concluding their first week of finals learned of terrible news: two apparent student suicides. “This is heartbreaking,” Chancellor Randy Woodson wrote in a community message Thursday. “And I know there’s little I can say to console the deep hurt or heal the immense grief felt by the family and friends of these young people and others we’ve lost this year. What I can say is that I, along with so many caring members of our community, share in this grief.” Such messages have become familiar on the Raleigh campus this year, where 14 students have died, half of them the result of suicide. —NC Newsline, May 1, 2023. Graphic by Chiara Zarmati for The New York Times.

Two more students killed themselves this week.
That’s seven on campus this year. We watched the news,
wondered if some fool would wander off Hillsborough Street
with an AK-47, start shooting one day.
But the perp we should have feared was here on campus
all along, hiding among the beautyberries,
under dawn redwoods. Academic demands
and social pressures lay in wait to spring
on those he'd already chosen. Our seven this year.
Our two this week. We wonder who is next.
Our Pack depleted, we mourn as we lug our stuff
to our Moms’ waiting mini-vans.  As a mower roars
or as we pause before springing off a board
this summer, we will think about the need they all felt
to escape the crushing pressures that shattered their lives.
We’ll memorize 988. Return in August, 
greet friends, view them with new eyes, listen 
to them more closely. Hope they will do the same.

Jerry Krajnak gardens, writes poetry, and worries in his North Carolina cabin. Recent poems appear in Autumn Sky Poetry, Rat’s Ass Review, The New Verse News, The Examined Life, Star 82 Review, and other journals.