Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at] No simultaneous submissions.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

Saturday, May 25, 2024

THIS MAN, 2024

a cento by Jacquelyn Shah

Source: Stablecog

How will the future reckon with this man?

  ––Edwin Markham, “The Man with the Hoe”


There is no shape more terrible than this––

. . . dangerous man . . .

ignorant demagogue . . .    

inscrutably smiling

thick with power oozed over branches,

the capitalistic offices

   . . . makes us all turn green with fright

and through the green his crimson furrow grooves.

He must have come up from a drain.

Knowing this man . . .

(mean, underhanded, lacking all attributes . . .)   

is a man who makes avenging armies.

He makes of laws

a broken staff,

disturbs polite conversation . . .

The knotted fabric of our lives,

our words, our lives, our pains––nothing!

We talk despairingly and drink our tea,

everyone a life alone.

All day, all night, we hear, we feel,

men, women in cities, multitudes, millions.

The dead and the dead

of spirit now joined . . .     

All––only putty that tyranny rolls

between its fingers . . .     

Poor people make poor land.

Author’s Note: Cento—lines & partial lines (occasional slight alterations), in order of appearance, from: Edwin Markham; Sarah N. Cleghorn, Cleghorn; Lola Ridge; Archibald Fleming; E. B. White; William Rose Benét; Roy Campbell; Alfred Hayes; Edwin Rolfe; Selden Rodman; S. Funaroff, Funaroff; Oscar Williams; Josephine W. Johnson; Baratolomeo Vanzetti; James Palmer Wade; James Agee; William Stephens; Eunice Clark; Frederic Prokosch, Prokosch; Hugh MacDiarmid, MacDiarmid; Pare Lorentz. All poets included in A New Anthology of Modern Poetry, 1939 Ed. Selden Rodman.

Jacquelyn Shah. A.B., M.A., M.F.A. & Ph.D.––English/creative writing. Publications: poetry chapbook, small fry; full-length poetry book, What to Do with Red; poems in journals. In 2023 her memoir Limited Engagement: A Way of Living was published, and she was a Pushcart Prize nominee for Gleam: Journal of the Cadralor.