Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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

Thursday, May 16, 2024


by Morrow Dowdle

When one, newly broken from its honeyed shell
tests flight’s imperative,
   whirs, strikes your skin,
will you turn to see who’s there?  Don’t look up.
Don’t think you deserve only what’s lofted.
This holy spirit lies on asphalt on its back.

Reconsider where it comes from, this fear
of what that can’t harm us. 
        Why do we hate it?
Turn it over if you are brave enough to touch it. 
Braver still if you will lift it.  Make your fingers
delicate as chopsticks on a robin’s egg.

Don’t pitch it in the grass.  Let it cling
to your wrist,
           its legs’ gentle sharpness.  You are just
another kind of tree, flesh-barked.  It crawls
your arm, and that’s when you see its eyes of red,
such a red we could never manifest—

not the richest lips, not the sex in its engorged
glory.  And its wings,
           its wings when they unstick,
intricate as any dragonfly, yet you’ll never find them
enshrined in silver, glass, or amethyst.
Are you brave enough, now, to allow it

to approach your head?  You have no xylem, no sap
for it to taste.  Nothing
                                     to dread.  But would you kiss it?
Could you name it the most modest of angels,
if much disgraced?  An angel must have wings,
but surely, it can wear any face.

Morrow Dowdle has poetry published in or forthcoming from New York Quarterly, Pedestal Magazine, Fatal Flaw, and Poetry South, among others. They have been nominated for the Pushcart and Best of the Net.  They edit poetry for Sunspot Literary Journal and host “Weave & Spin,” a performance series featuring marginalized voices. A former physician assistant, they now work as a creative writing instructor for current and former prison inmates. They live in Hillsborough, NC.