Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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

Tuesday, March 19, 2024


 by Ron Riekki


                                               “If you expect nothing
from somebody

                                                you are never disappointed.”

                                                            —Sylvia Plath


If I don’t get elected,

it’s going to be a bloodbath…


It’s going to be a bloodbath

for the country.


Bloodbath—coined in 1867.

1867—the transatlantic slave trade


“ends.” Blood red state said,

“The candidate is candid,” but did


you realize he’s inciting another

insurrection, an opposite of Resurrection


with Easter coming up, playing possum,

a country in toxic immobility, a wrath,


a hoodwink, a flood path we walked,

knee-deep, after the storm, the sewage,


age 18, me and a friend, Boston, cars

drowned. “It already is a bloodbath,”


she says. Adds, “And we’ve already lost.”

There’s a birdbath outside my window,


Dearborn, no birds, no deer, no births,

a friend having a miscarriage. There’s


a smell outside like hell outside, the factories

in the not-so-distant distance greying the sky


violently, no insight, no sun in sight, buried

by clouds, or smoke, or both. “It’s going to be


a bloodbath,” my ex- says, choked on the words,

mocks. The clock ticks in the other room, or


is that water dripping in the shower? A madness.

Blathering on and on on the TV. We listen. Scared.


“He looks like a Star Wars villain.” “Children

are watching this.” “I hope not.” “He has cash


in his blood.” Bloodbath dumbass scumbags

aftermath sociopath car-crash collapse. “I always


imagine him with a Hitler mustache.” Fat naps.

“I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.”—Plath.


Gasps. Gaps. I read a story about Roman Polanski

walking onto the set of Macbeth that he was directing.


the set designer supposed to be filling the room with blood, but

Polanski looked, said, “It’s not enough.” They added more.


“It’s not enough.” They added more blood. He said it wasn’t

enough. He said he was there, had seen it; it wasn’t enough


blood. Manson murderers targeted Polanski’s home. He’d seen.

“More blood,” he said, “It’s not enough.” My ex-: “How is he


even running again? How is this happening?” It’s a repetition.

I was in Macbeth once. We’d say the name of the play, didn’t


care about the curse. The boy who played The Boy in the play

killed himself, the week of previews. Macduff’s son. The egg.


He jumped off a bluff. Landed in a field. Not found for a week.

I was Macduff. I was bad. I was young. I was not ready for


the role. I feel like that now. The bad reviews, of me, at least.

My family, slaughtered. The Boy, a friend of mine. The fall.


At the end, the decapitated head. The death. The wooden stage.

The poor attendance. The bad politics, even back then. Poverty


in my mining hometown. My boyhood. How I stood on stage

after it was done, the place empty, and from the back of our


theater, I saw The Boy, my friend, emerge from the shadows,

and I swear to God, how he appeared, dead, but still there, stepping


out, of the silence, the madness of that role, the method acting

I tried to do, failed, succeeded, both, a good attempt, a good


failure, and then him, here, there, in front of me, in the dark-

light, this friend, ended, how he stood there, looking at me,


and I froze, flecks of blood on his face—no, his face only

blood, and his mouth opened, and he stepped back, and he


was gone. And my ex- leaves the room. And I turn off

the volume on the television. And the Presidential candid-


ate stood there, stands there, his teeth like ghosts, ghost-like teeth,

his hat like hate, his arterial cap, the horror of this country,


the terror of this moment, the repetition of it all, how I’ve

seen this same snippet, comment, from him, already thirteen


times today, and the room is silent, and I turn my head and

look to the right, a room that we didn’t know until we’d


already paid the rent, signed the lease, but we’d found on-

line that someone had killed himself in this apartment, our


apartment, where we lived; of course, it happens, they don’t tell you,

you move in, find out, stumble on it. And I looked into the room.

Ron Riekki co-edited Undocumented: Great Lakes Poets Laureate on Social Justice (Michigan State University Press).