Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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, January 31, 2024


by Susan Vespoli
I wanted my son back. 
I wanted the cop who shot him 
to be held accountable. I wanted my son 
to be standing here wearing his Pure-Heart 
t-shirt, handing out food boxes. I wanted him 
to ask for more light clothes for Christmas,
more white socks because he believed light colors 
would help him stay clean. I wanted another cross
for him to carry—mosaic-ed in fractured glass—
another coffee date at Starbucks, another tour 
of his apartment furnished with found lamps 
and a found statue of a bear holding a fish 
that says “Welcome.” I wanted his voice
saying “I love you, Mom,” his fingers 
texting me photos of geese and cats 
and quail eggs laid in a ceramic swan.

What I got was a wrongful death lawsuit, 
a deposition where I was shamed and blamed 
by an eye-rolling smirking bitch of a City 
of Phoenix lawyer who mocked my 12-step beliefs, 
asking sarcastically,     “Did it help?”    
I got my Facebook account invaded by the cop’s 
legal team, two of my poetry books used as evidence 
against my son. I got a gag order—no more speaking 
about or publishing poems about the loss or the case, 
two canceled poetry readings. I got a t-shirt that says: 
“Make art in the face of fuck.” I got the face of fuck. 
I got a pen and more notebooks because the cop’s lawyers 
confiscated my journals and I write anyway and I write anyway 
and I still believe good will prevail. Still believe the spirit of Adam 
stands among us, that his words “I think god has another plan for my life”
will ring and ring and crack the wrecking ball of the cops’ denial 
and out of the shatter—will glow my son’s smile, his essence, his light.

Author’s Note by Susan Vespoli: City of Phoenix is squirming about the upcoming results of the DOJ’s two-year investigation into their use of excessive force, high number of police killings, and unfair treatment of the homeless. The City claims they don’t need oversight. I, as the mother of an unarmed man shot and killed by police on March 12, 2022, shout: “YES. THEY. DO.”

Editor’s Note: The New Verse News has published a number of the poems written by Susan Vespoli in the aftermath of the killing by Phoenix police of her son Adam:   "Before I Knew Adam Had Died,”  "My Ex-Husband Calls… ,"   … In Reverse,” “I Am Finally Handed… ,” “Under Investigation… ,” “Dear 2022,” Poem for My Middle Finger,” Dear Gag Order,”

Tuesday, January 30, 2024


by Lynn White
Ireland is to continue funding a United Nations aid agency for Palestinian refugees, notwithstanding claims that 12 of its now suspended employees are accused of taking part in the October 7 Hamas attacks on Israel… Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin yesterday praised the “life-saving” work of UNRWA, pointed out that 100 of its staff had been killed in the past four months and vowed that Ireland would continue to fund its work, at a cost of €18m last year. —Irish Independent, January 28, 2024

Once, in Ireland one million died

and we’re still counting.

One million fled 

for their lives

and we’re still counting.

Equivalent to the population

of Gaza


starvation ruled the land.

Starvation ruled the land in Ireland

when the potato crop was blighted.

Without potatoes there was no food.

Without potatoes there was no money for food.

Without money for rent colonial landlords evicted,

slave labour of starving men women and children 

followed the rule

through occupation

and colonisation.

And no help came.

No Aid came

to help them.

And still

potatoes were exported.

And still

the landlords did well.

All the colonialists did well.

They always do.

So Ireland knows how it feels

in the depth of its turf,

in the depth of its being,

its rock, its stones, its bones

it knows the story

and that change will come

with survival first

one step at a time

and sometimes words and money 

can effect change

as readily as weapons,

the time the past shows 

the time to make a stand

against political manoeuvring

against a respected decision 

un-welcomed by the most powerful.

History shows the time to make a stand.

For Ireland knows

how lives are blighted.

Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality and writes hoping to find an audience for her musings. She was shortlisted in the Theatre Cloud 'War Poetry for Today' competition and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize, Best of the Net and a Rhysling Award. Her poetry has appeared in many publications including: Apogee, Firewords, Peach Velvet, Light Journal, and So It Goes.

Monday, January 29, 2024


by Julia Ross

Kenneth Eugene Smith appeared to convulse and shake vigorously for about four minutes after the nitrogen gas apparently began flowing through his full-face mask in Alabama's death chamber. It was another two to three minutes before he appeared to lose consciousness, all while gasping for air to the extent that the gurney shook several times. Smith was declared dead at 8:25 p.m. Thursday, and Alabama had become the first state to use nitrogen gas to execute a human… In 2022, Smith was strapped to the gurney to be executed by lethal injection, but prison officials could not gain access to his veins for the two IV lines before the death warrant expired and the execution process was halted. —Montgomery Advertiser, January 25, 2024. Italicized lines in the poem printed below are drawn from this article by Marty Roney. Above photo: The Rev. Jeff Hood, an Arkansas-based pastor and the spiritual adviser who was in the execution chamber with Mr. Smith, challenged the idea that the execution had gone as officials anticipated. Edward D. Fountain for The New York Times.

Credit...Credit...It was appalling,” said Deborah Denno, an expert on execution methods at Fordham University Law School. “Pain for two to four minutes, particularly when you’re talking about somebody who’s suffocating to death — that’s a really long period of time and a torturous period of time.” 

The reverend made the sign
of the cross several times

as his condemned friend writhed,
ribs escaping chest in search of breath. 

The first time they were here
there was no mask, no plastic tubing.

They could lock eyes as the best
phlebotomists in the state tried 

and tried to kill him. Imagine that:
clemency in the form of blown veins.    

Divinity school did not prepare him 
for this. Lazarus who was raised

just to die again got to slip away 
both times in the warmth of arms    

while his buddy died tethered, 
wrists and ankles to the gurney,

nose and mouth to the wall
from which the nitrogen flowed

like salt and iron through a blood-
red sea. It was enough to bring you back

to certainty. The reverend removed 
his eyeglasses and wiped away tears,

knowing this time he would walk out—
sure, with God—but profoundly alone.

Julia Ross lives in Austin, TX. She writes about parenthood and about the sociopolitical hellscape known as Texas.

Sunday, January 28, 2024


by Kelley White

Vigorous turnout for Tuesday's primary in Laconia, Meredith and Gilford 
The Laconia Daily Sun (NH), January 25, 2024

Ron’s been after me for months. Maybe a year.
Those first calls from a Florida area code.
Not saying much. Just I want, I need, I feel you.
Then Mike started in, and Chris and Tim
and then Vivek and Nikki, people I’d never heard of
let alone from, Asa and Doug and... well, even
the Big Guy, whose name I will not repeat here.
The calls and texts really ramped up after Christmas.
They just don’t get it—I moved to Philadelphia in 2018
even though I kept my 603 phone number. So I’m
still a potential to them (you can tell how accurate
their information is... So many invitations
to coffee, to lunch, to rallies, townhalls, for a while
Nikki was inviting me multiple times a day—to Plymouth,
to Meredith, North Conway, Bristol, Littleton, she must
have wheels on her little high heels. Vivek had the most
interesting menus—hot dog cart, bagels, ribs! That was
a surprise. Today the phone’s silent. No one cares about
small me anymore. And the Big Guy? I know he hit my home
town. Probably won it. My poor deluded former neighbors
and their little red hats.

Pediatrician Kelley White has worked in inner-city Philadelphia and rural New Hampshire. Her poems have appeared in Exquisite Corpse, Rattle and JAMA. Her most recent collection is A Field Guide to Northern Tattoos (Main Street Rag Press.)She received a 2008 Pennsylvania Council on the Arts grant and is currently Poet in Residence at Drexel University College of Medicine. Her newest collection, NO.HOPE STREET has just been published by Kelsay Books.

Saturday, January 27, 2024


by Gordon Gilbert

"What terrorists do is target the innocent deliberately, and therefore my definition of terrorism is… the systematic and deliberate attack, murder, maiming and menacing of innocent civilians for political goals.... You can tell a lot about terrorists and what happens when they come to power. Those who fight for freedom and come to power do not impose terrorism.  Those who do, who fight in terroristic means, end up being masters of terroristic states."  —Benjamin Netanyahu to William F. Buckley on Firing Line, May 30, 1986.

Ah, Bibi, habibi!
You are not the man I thought I'd be,
no, not the one I find I have become.
I always knew how absolutely
power does corrupt.
I see now how just knowing that
was not enough to keep me
on a path of righteousness,
or save me from myself,
my own worst enemy.
So much suffering for all,
and in the end,
so much worse for Israel,
even now, as I,
the man you used to be,
confront you!
But no, I must say "we."
I am the former you.
Can you not see
you once were me?
We are taking down with us
our own beloved Israel!
Ah, Bibi, habibi,
what have we become?

Gordon Gilbert is a resident of the West Village in NYC who got through the pandemic taking long walks along the Hudson River.

Friday, January 26, 2024


by tom bauer

All we have is what we agree
the rest is I don’t know.

Do you see that?
Yes I see.
Then we agree.
The rest is I don’t know.

All we have is what we agree
the rest is I don’t know.

See the words?
Yes we see.
Everybody sees.
See what they mean?

All we have is what we agree
the rest is I don’t know.

See the outcomes?
Yes you do.
You see it too.
You can’t unsee those things.

All we have is what we agree
the rest is I don’t know.

tom bauer lives in montreal with his sons and plays boardgames.

Thursday, January 25, 2024


by William Aarnes

Bird populations are declining — a staggering loss of 3 billion breeding adults, or nearly 30 percent of the population, in just a half century. —The Washington Post, January 17, 2024

Say, in your hurry,

you fail to notice


that the flocks of doves

and sparrows are gone


from the sidewalks—

until a ding on your phone


distracts you from work

with the news that all


the doves and sparrows

are gone from the city,


no sign of where they went,

the searches for stragglers


having come to nothing,

the mayor expressing


his worry about what

their sudden disappearance


might portend, birdseed

scattered everywhere


to no avail, many

quoted as saying


the loss improves

the city, many responding


with angry lament,

hours spent online


finding the best videos

of cooing and belatedly


learning to distinguish

different kinds of sparrows,


then as time passes

the ongoing debate


about what to do

becoming of less


and less concern

to you and everyone else


in a hurry…

William Aarnes lives in New York.

Wednesday, January 24, 2024


by Gordon Kippola

Of a sudden, I remember, or seem to, 

anyway, when mom and dad were doing

some community chorus thing together 

through Bremerton’s Olympic College,

wherein they sang a lovely madrigal entitled:

“My Bonnie Lass, She Smelleth,”
being a Renaissance parody of a ballett

written by English composer Thomas Morley

back in 1595 (and who among us isn’t

a Morley fan?). Peter Schickele has died.

P.D.Q Bach, that most awesomely pretend

alter-ego, perishes alongside. In his book

(published in ‘77 as I finish high school),

The Definitive Biography of P.D.Q. Bach,

Professor Schickele introduced the concept 

of — Originality Through Incompetence —

I like to think I lived those words with honor

in each of my own small creative endeavors.

As I texted, reminiscing, with my sister last night: 

It’s going to get even worse when Weird Al goes.

Following a career as a U.S. Army musician, Gordon Kippola earned an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Tampa, and calls Bremerton, Washington home. His poetry has appeared in Rattle, Post Road MagazineDistrict Lit, The Main Street Rag, Southeast Missouri State University Press, and other splendid publications.