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Thursday, August 31, 2023


by Mary K O’Melveny

This summer, Florida’s ocean water temperatures exceeded 100 degrees Fahrenheit. A recent scientific study revealed that rising water temperatures can cause crucial memory loss to damsel fish and other reef-dwelling species. The fish in the study who were subjected to temperatures as high as F 89.6 did not fare well, failing “to find shelter, recognize their neighbors or find food easily.” —The New York Times, August 23, 2023
Credit.Credit...Reinhard Dirscherl/ullstein bild, via Getty Images]Credit...Reinhard Dirscherl/ullstein bild, via Getty Images] The New York Times August 23, 2023

As Fahrenheit rose, some damsel fish forgot 
where to find their food sources. With each degree,
memories shifted far away. First to go: 
finding a meal. Next was fear. Who posed a threat. 
Where danger lay. Which reefs might safely hide 
them, what might portend trouble in sargassum 
seas or bubble upward in their pathways 
turning marbles of algae into floating 
spectral groupers or snappers. As memory
fluttered away like flotsam, reef fish failed 
to thrive, survive. Each day’s heightened heat seared
off some tiny thought, some echo 
that time had taught, some souvenir of before.
Yesterday’s cache of jeweled thoughts scattered
now into a vast void. Who can ever 
truly know what is lost as heat sears, scalds?
As oceans warm, equal risk befalls both 
predators and prey. Who will remain alive 
as seas simmer and pale coral reefs blanch
white as brides? Will these warmed fish discard scales
of azure, sapphire, magenta, or wispy 
tails of sunshine yellow, peachy orange?
Will they recall where eggs were laid or where 
sharks stayed hidden as reefs shrank? What tales
will they recount as awareness shapeshifts, 
then fades away like images in an infinity 
mirror? As they spin through steamy waters,
adrift in the present tense, our questions
float along beside them. Will we have a future?
What flashbacks will follow Fukishima?

Mary K O’Melvenya retired labor rights lawyer, lives with her wife near Woodstock, New York. Mary’s award-winning poetry has appeared in many print and on-line literary journals and anthologies and on national and international blog sites, including The New Verse News. Mary’s much-praised fourth book of poetry Flight Patterns was published by Kelsay Books in August 2023. A Pushcart Prize nominee, Mary was a finalist in the 2023 Poetry Competition sponsored by Slippery Elm Literary Journal. She is also a co-author of two anthologies of writing by The Hudson Valley Women’s Writing Group, including Rethinking The Ground Rules (Mediacs Books 2022). 


by Maxine Susman

Fireflies may disappear, so NY scientists are trying to count how many are left. —The Gothamist, August 22, 2023

They don’t light the lawn as they used to.

They don’t light up my brain.

As a kid I’d cup my hands into a lantern

and catch a dozen or more at a time,

they were so tame they glowed through my fingers,

lit my hands and then the jar I filled with them, 

the dotted love songs of bugs—

then I’d set them free to speckle the summer grass. 


Remember on the mountain how fireflies rose

high as the trees, spread a yellow Milky Way—

and the meadow we named Fireflyworks Hill 

where fireflies at dusk outnumbered wildflowers.     

Remember when they arrived each year to kindle 

our brains, they’d set our neurons firing, 

rising like wishes through the summer doldrums.


This year as each year their numbers dwindle. 

I see one or two flittering solitary, 

no one to answer, 

to answer to, 

be lit for. 

Maxine Susman, from central New Jersey, has published seven poetry collections, with poems in journals such as Paterson Literary Review, Fourth River, Earth’s Daughters, Crab Orchard Review, Slant, and Canary. She teaches poetry at the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute of Rutgers University.

Wednesday, August 30, 2023


by Allison Joseph 

The victims of the racist shooting at a Jacksonville Dollar General store:
Angela Michelle Carr, 52; Anolt Joseph “A.J.” Laguerre Jr., 19; Jerrald De’Shaun Gallion, 29 

Jacksonville, August 27, 2023

What comforts you when the world is terrifying?
How do you keep your nerves and wits intact?
With all these compromises, liars lying,
like Amy sang, I just go back to black.
Should I become inured to misery,
embracing it as if it is a friend—
ignoring daily news, the grisly
spectacle and tableau, the dead ends
of broken links in paid for local news?
No wonder that I'm breaking out in hives:
I shop online, no Dollar General blues—
No supermarket trip is worth our lives. 
Is poetry still something I can use
when every day we're murdering the muse? 

Allison Joseph currently lives, teaches, and writes in Carbondale, Illinois, where she is part of the creative writing faculty at Southern Illinois University. Her most recent collections of poems are Lexicon (Red Hen Press, 2021), Professional Happiness (Backbone Press, 2021), and Confessions of a Barefaced Woman (Red Hen Press, 2018). Confessions of a Barefaced Woman won the 2019 Feathered Quill Book Award and was a finalist in the poetry category for the 2019 NAACP Image Award. Her poems have appeared in The New York Times and in the Best American Poetry Series. She is the widow of poet and editor Jon Tribble.

Tuesday, August 29, 2023


by Paul Hostovsky

They call it football because
you can only use your feet.

Though sometimes you can also use 
your head, your chest, your legs.

But you can’t use your hands.
And you can’t use your arms. 

Those are the rules.

They call it a kiss on the mouth because
it’s a kiss on the mouth.

You can only kiss the mouth of someone 
with whom you are intimate. 

A lover. A spouse. 
Sometimes also family.

Use your head. 

That’s the rule. 
In all countries and in all languages. 

True, it is an unwritten rule,
but that’s no excuse for breaking it.

And now that you’ve broken it, Luis,
now that you’re flaunting it 

and famously showing your contempt for it, 

you can be sure the rule 
will get written down after this.

And though you probably won’t end up
in jail, you just may end up 

giving your name to this kind of unwanted kiss. 
Even without your consent. 

Because that’s the rule with eponyms.

Paul Hostovsky's poems have won a Pushcart Prize, two Best of the Net Awards, the FutureCycle Poetry Book Prize, and have been featured on Poetry Daily, Verse Daily, The Writer's Almanac, and the Best American Poetry blog.

Monday, August 28, 2023


by Felicia Nimue Ackerman

Felicia Nimue Ackerman is a professor of philosophy at Brown University and has had over 260 poems published in places including American Atheist, The American Scholar, Better Than Starbucks, The Boston Globe, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Down in the Dirt, The Emily Dickinson International Society Bulletin, Free Inquiry, Light Poetry Magazine, Lighten Up Online, The Los Angeles Times, The New York Daily News, The New York Times, The Providence Journal, Scientific American, Sparks of Calliope, Time Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and Your Daily Poem


by Corey Weinstein

Sculpted on the dreams of a silver spooned boy

Forged in the hallways of opulence and ease

He put the pomp in pompadour

Traded pomade for hair spray

Built a coiffure to cover his skin head

                                shade his shifty eyes,

Homage to the hoody boys of the ‘50s,

But back rooms and board rooms

Be his back streets and card rooms

A greaser of palms, not petty grift, not of need

Money making money making money making money.


Millions love our boisterous belligerent ex-bully in chief,

From the streets of Virginia to ranches out west

Thousands gear up to carry the guns he points,

White men taste the blood lust of

Oklahoma City, Charlottesville, Pittsburg,

                              boom, crash, rat-a-tat-tat,

Bullets to hold off the onslaught of history,

Afraid to be like me, the only white guy

on the Fifty Four bus to Balboa BART,

While the gold tressed awning keeps 

the sun off a raccoon goggled tan,

His vision goes no further than the end 

of his marvelous marquee, sprayed stiff canopy

sharp, slicing through reason, challenging democracy. 

Corey Weinstein’s poetry has been published in Vistas and Byways, The New Verse News, Forum (City College of San Francisco), California State Poetry Society, Abandoned Mineand Jewish Currents, and he wrote and performed a singspiel called Erased: Babi Yar, the SS and Me. He is an advocate for prisoner rights and founded 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.  

Sunday, August 27, 2023


by J.I. Kleinberg

National Transportation Safety Board investigators examine the recovered engine of the DHC-3 Turbine Otter, two weeks after it crashed off Whidbey Island last September.(NTSB) via The Seattle Times, August 24, 2023

     Stories seen in The Seattle Times, August 25, 2023:


In keeping with trending news,

I’ve decided I’m going to sue God.

It has become obvious and inarguable

that I bear no responsibility 

for my own fuckups or for my trespass

on others. Someone must be blamed,

and God, who seems mostly to do

nothing at all and has the deepest

of all deep pockets and all the time

in the world, is in the frame.

I trust that God will surrender

to authorities and will be held

without bail.

J.I. Kleinberg is an artist, poet, and freelance writer. Her poetry has appeared in Anti-Heroin ChicDiagramThe Indianapolis ReviewThe Madrona ProjectSheila-Na-Gig, and many other print and online journals and anthologies worldwide. She lives in Bellingham, Washington, USA and online at and has chapbooks forthcoming from Bottlecap Press, Ravenna Press, and Milk & Cake Press.

Saturday, August 26, 2023


by William Marr

In the 1990s, the Italian authorities had to close the bell tower to the public and launched a competition for ideas to reinforce its structure and prevent it from collapsing, as the situation was critical. The first intervention, which consisted of adding lead counterweights to the structure, did not solve the problem, so it was finally decided to excavate the earth to reduce the slope of the tower and ensure its preservation. "The rescue of the bell tower allows us to celebrate the 850th anniversary and to appreciate the efforts of our ancestors in the arrangement of the monuments in the Duomo square," the president of the Opera Primaziale, the monument's managing body, Andrea Maestrelli, told the local press. —Euronews, August 8, 2023

descending from the tour bus
we knew right away
that the earth was gaining
in its wrestling match
with the sky
to help maintain the balance
we all raised our hands
in front of the lenses
strenuously trying to prop up
the tower
but the local guide shouted at us
our exertion threatened his Money Tree—
it must neither be allowed to fall
nor be straightened up

William Marr, a Chinese American poet, has published over 30 collections of poetry and several translations.  His recent bilingual (Chinese/English) books of poetry, A Dreamless Night and Every Day a Blue Sky, are available on Amazon. 

Friday, August 25, 2023


by Christian Hanz Lozada

I deconstruct the “Santa’s Village” Lego set
and the house has been quiet all day
while Hawaiian Uncle with stage 4 lungs watches the news
and the house has been quiet all day
the county asks family of the missing to submit DNA to match ashen remains
and the house has been quiet all day
after the fire Hawaiian Uncle escaped by sleeping on the shore
and the house has been quiet all day
and by crossing an ocean and by needing his niece’s husband to clean his ass
and the house has been quiet all day
long enough for health insurance ones and zeroes to change Hawaii to America
and the house has been quiet all day

Christian Hanz Lozada (he/him) is the son of an immigrant Filipino and a descendent of the Southern Confederacy. He knows the shape of hope and exclusion. He authored the poetry collection He’s a Color, Until He’s Not (2023) and co-authored Leave with More Than You Came With (2019). His poems have appeared in Hawaii Pacific Review (Pushcart Nominee), Bamboo Ridge Press, 34 Orchard, Mud Season Review, among others. Christian has featured at the Autry Museum and Beyond Baroque. He lives in San Pedro, CA and uses his MFA to teach his neighbors and their kids at Los Angeles Harbor College.


by Jacqueline Coleman-Fried

Smoke billows as wildfires destroy a large part of the historic town of Lahaina.

Associate with me—

an aquamarine ring gifted to me

on my seventh birthday. Years later,

a family trip to an island few could

name. Water off the island the same

color as my ring. Pelicans dive-bombing 

for fish in the bay. On the path to dinner, 

no electric light—stars flung on black.

Now tout le monde, and hurricanes like nuclear 

bombs, know this island and every 

paradise you ever loved. I want to resize 

my ring and slip it on my finger, but

it will change nothing.

Jacqueline Coleman-Fried is a poet living in Tuckahoe, NY. Her work has appeared in The Orchards Poetry JournalpacificREVIEWTopical PoetryQuartet Journal, and soon, Consequence and HerWords magazine.

Thursday, August 24, 2023


by James Penha

Smithsonian swiped

brains from people of color—

what were they thinking?

Note: The Secretary of the Smithsonian wrote the following in a piece for the August 20 Washington Post: “The Post’s recent coverage regarding the human remains still housed in our collections is certainly illustrative of the Smithsonian’s darkest history. This is our inheritance, and we accept the responsibility to address these wrongs to the fullest extent possible.”

James Penha edits The New Verse News.

Wednesday, August 23, 2023


by Scott C. Kaestner

Frostbitten existential mood swings
my fingers can’t feel my toes
try to twist, try to wiggle free
nothing. My mind is a mine field
explosive blue diamond 
in snow drift icicle sky
and damn it gets so cold
when an angry sun scorches
everything in sight. The world is
upside down, reason I know
do you hear the shit coming out
of peoples mouths? The aliens
no doubt are bored with us and
have moved onto planets with
something religion and politics
and 24 hour news cycles
eliminated from Earth
quite some
so here I am, here we are
freezer burnt waiting for the end
or a new beginning or at least
some warm socks to apocalypse in.

Scott C. Kaestner is a Los Angeles poet, writer, dad, husband, and an invisible man in plain sight. Google “Scott Kaestner Poetry” to peruse his musings and maybe even buy a book.