Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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, March 22, 2024


by Bonnie Proudfoot
Next Year in Jerusalem is said at the end of the Passover Seder. It is an ancient tradition that was first recorded by Isaac Tyrnau in the 15th century. Above art by Caren Garfen.

Oh, Israel, if my love is a suitcase, when I get to your house

I won't unpack, even though my mother and her mother,

my uncles and cousins are buried in pine boxes beneath

a star of David and our Rabbi wept for victims of the Holocaust,


cried for a homeland for the children of Zion. Yes, I used to feel

my chest swell open when I heard Hatikvah, yes, you've suffered,

people taken in sleep, in song, as they walked out of their homes.

I know you are perched on a precipice of strife. I too have felt


like a stranger in a strange land, my family holding our faith close

to shield us from hate or harm. Here, in the safety of my small

life, I see signs on the highway, a deer rearing up, a warning one

may careen across the road, but that isn't how it happens, not


right beside a road sign. When terror charged, you weren't

ready. I see stolen homes, stolen land. I see that hate calls out 

in darkness for more hate. Gazan families starve, pick through 

ashes to find bodies to bury while you shatter hospitals, shelters. 


I mean blood will stick to you, Israel. You shatter us too, we 

who were raised with a dream, who held you in the light each

Friday night. Two peoples, breath of one breath, voices raised to 

the same God. The more faith you steal, the less you'll keep.

Bonnie Proudfoot was raised in Queens, NY, and currently resides in Athens, Ohio. Her poetry has appeared previously in The New Verse News and many other fine journals and anthologies. Bonnie's first book of poems Household Gods was published by Sheila-Na-Gig editions, and her first novel Goshen Road was published by Swallow Press. It was named the WCONA Book of the Year and long-listed for the PEN/Hemingway Award.