Guidelines



Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at]gmail.com. 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 26, 2022

BOOK TITLES NOT ACCESSIBLE FOR CLASSROOM USE

by Sister Lou Ella Hickman, I.W.B.S.


“School librarians are professionals dedicated to the education and protection of children while cultivating a thirst for knowledge. We should trust them to do their jobs – while holding them accountable – not subvert their expertise by searching for a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist. There are already processes in place if a parent wants to challenge a book that they find inappropriate or have concerns about. These processes are designed at the local level to adjudicate the challenges because one size does not fit all when it comes to education. The state should respect the local processes in place in Texas.” —Texas Library Association, January 20, 2022. Photo by Getty; Adam Maida at "This Is a Shakedown: Texas has a book-banning problem" by Emma Sarappo at The Atlantic, December 9, 2021

                                     
deep in the heart of texas 
there is a bonfire of books 
burning words  
like witches 
there is no white heat   
no smoke 
but still they burn 
in their sealed boxes 
by those who would coffin thought 
beware 
those who would scatter the ashes 
what is written on paper 
is also written in stone 


Sister Lou Ella has a master’s in theology from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio and is a former teacher and librarian. She is a certified spiritual director as well as a poet and writer.  Her poems have appeared in numerous magazines such as America, First Things, Emmanuel, Third Wednesday, and The New Verse News as well as in four anthologies: The Night’s Magician: Poems about the Moon, edited by Philip Kolin and Sue Brannan Walker, Down to the Dark River edited by Philip Kolin, Secrets edited by Sue Brannan Walker and After Shocks: The Poetry of Recovery for Life-Shattering Events edited by Tom Lombardo.  She was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in 2017 and in 2020. Her first book of poetry entitled she: robed and wordless was published in 2015 (Press 53.) On May 11, 2021, five poems from her book which had been set to music by James Lee III were performed by the opera star Susanna Phillips, star clarinetist Anthony McGill, pianist Mayra Huang at the 92nd Street Y in New York City. The group of songs is entitled “Chavah’s Daughters Speak.”

OUT OF THE RACE

by David L Williams


Cartoon by Nick Anderson at The Week


A Republican state lawmaker has launched an investigation into Texas school districts over the type of books they have, particularly if they pertain to race or sexuality or "make students feel discomfort." State Rep. Matt Krause, in his role as chair of the House Committee on General Investigating, notified the Texas Education Agency that he is "initiating an inquiry into Texas school district content," according to an Oct. 25 letter obtained by The Texas Tribune… His list of titles includes bestsellers and award winners alike, from the 1967 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel The Confessions of Nat Turner by William Styron and Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates to last year's book club favorites: “Hood Feminism: Notes from the Women that a Movement Forgot” by Mikki Kendall and Isabel Wilkerson's Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents.The Texas Tribune, October 26, 2021


The Brahmin cried, ‘I found a corpse inside
My mind, and gave it decent burial
To finally start the journey of my life
That had to wait until I became equal.’

I learned of this while reading a great book
I’d heard so much about, and now at last
Am disappointed at how long it took
To broach deep inequalities from Caste.

I doubt the author will raise much complaint
My paraphrasing that self-reformed Brahmin
Who boldly cast away the lifelong taint
He felt from having had to wear an emblem

Of how this hierarchy in history
Inflicted untold horrors and misery
Which still continue to the present day
Enslaved as mudsills in the USA.


Editor's Note: In quotation marks in stanza one is a paraphrase adapted from the words of a Brahmin quoted by Isabel Wilkerson on page 364 of Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. Minor adaptations by the poet create here a sort of “found poetic stanza.” For more on Wilkerson's book, see her NYT Magazine piece "America’s Enduring Caste System" and Sunil Khilnani’s New Yorker review, “Isabel Wilkerson’s World-Historical Theory of Race and Caste.”


David L Williams is recently retired from 34 years teaching high school English in Lincoln, Nebraska, his primary residence since he went to college there in the 80s. His poetry has mostly been written since May of 2021, and he has only recently started trying to publish, with success already in several journals.

Tuesday, January 25, 2022

IN WHICH I INTERROGATE MY FREQUENT RESPONSE

by Eileen Ivey Sirota


Surveillance video shows a Black 17-year-old struggling with staff at a Wichita juvenile center last fall before his death, which followed being restrained facedown for more than 30 minutes. Late on Friday [January 21, 2022], Sedgwick county released 18 video clips of what happened before Cedric Lofton (AP photo above) was rushed to a hospital on 24 September. He died two days later. The release of the clips followed the announcement by the Sedgwick county district attorney, Marc Bennett, that the Kansas “stand-your-ground” law prevented him from pressing charges because staff members were protecting themselves. Bennett said he struggled with whether an involuntary manslaughter charge was justified, but concluded it was not. Sedgwick county’s webpage crashed after the video was posted. —The Guardian, January 22, 2022. Videos are available at The Wichita Eagle.


what can grow
in this salty pool
 
that does not bring back
a single Emmett or Ahmaud
 
that does not cleanse
so much as one tainted tree
 
this sterile balm
 
useless as nipples on a tomcat:
white woman tears
 
 
Eileen Ivey Sirota is a poet and psychotherapist, the author of a chapbook, Out of Order, published by Finishing Line Press in 2020.  Her poems have also appeared in Calyx, Ekphrastic Review, District Lines, The New Verse News, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, and Voices: The Art and Science of Psychotherapy.

Monday, January 24, 2022

MINDFULNESS

by Mary K O'Melveny


Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, was one of the world’s most famous peace advocates, philosophers and poets. He developed the concept of “engaged Buddhism” and worked actively to bring an end to the tragic American war against Vietnam and bring aid to its victims, without taking sides in the conflict. He lived in exile in France for many years and returned to Vietnam in 2005. He wrote more than 100 novels, books of poetry, short stories, essays and religious philosophy treatises, including Vietnam: Lotus in a Sea of Fire, Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet, and The Miracle of Mindfulness. He died on January 22 at the age of 95 at a Buddhist temple in Hue. Kham/Reuters photo accompanying January 23, 2022 “Thich Nhat Hanh obituary” at The Guardian: Thich Nhat Hanh at the Non Nuoc pagoda, north of Hanoi, Vietnam, in 2007.


is the light that shines through
each thought, each act, each breath,
each miracle that makes our world
alive    present   comprehensible
 
each breath forms a bridge
between our body and our mind 
heart and touch   sight and vision
knowledge and understanding
 
if we sit  as Buddha might sit
inhale   exhale   inhale    exhale
we learn from each leaf  each egret
each flowing river  each drop of rain
 
if we walk as if our feet
seeded flowers  our earth transforms
each day is the only day given
to make our peaceful pathway
 
each part of us  is part of all
each idea   each action    bears our name
hope will make each day bearable 
then we can begin to save each other


Mary K O'Melveny is a recently retired labor rights attorney who lives in Washington DC and Woodstock NY.  Her work has appeared in various print and on-line journals. Her most recent poetry collection is Dispatches From the Memory Care Museum, just out from Kelsay Books. Her first poetry chapbook A Woman of a Certain Age is available from Finishing Line Press. Mary’s poetry collection Merging Star Hypotheses was published by Finishing Line Press in January, 2020.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

WINTER MORNING

by Terri Kirby Erickson




Beyond the snow-laden hill and ice-covered
field, ancient oaks are raising their bare limbs
toward a sky marbled with clouds. Gilded by
a sun we cannot yet see, they look fixed to the
firmament, their shifting so subtle it seems as
if these clouds might never move again, as if
time itself has stopped and winter has come
to stay. I would not mind it. It is cozy here by
the fire, watching the day begin through panes
of glass, my hair busily turning white, my body
grateful for its rest. I never thought of growing
older, imagined I would look and feel the same
forever. But the decades fly by, and now winter
seems to suit me best. There is nothing I need
to do and no place to be. A good book is open
on my lap, and my husband of thirty years is
just up the stairs. I can see the little boy next
door already sledding with his mother. He will
remember always how it felt to zoom down the
steep bank with the person he loves best in all
the world—both laughing, faces red from the
cold. Meanwhile, oaks that will never again be
saplings, hold within themselves the memory
of spring. And the winter sky that was, only
moments ago, filled with gilded clouds, has at
last allowed them to drift ever so slowly away.


Terri Kirby Erickson is the author of six collections of poetry, including A Sun Inside My Chest (Press 53), winner of the 2021 International Book Award for Poetry. Her work has appeared in numerous publications, including "American Life in Poetry," Atlanta Review, ONE ART, Poet’s Market, The Broad River Review, The Sun, The Writer’s Almanac, Sport Literate, Verse Daily. Her awards include the Joy Harjo Poetry Prize and a Nautilus Silver Book Award. She lives in North Carolina.

Saturday, January 22, 2022

[GUANTÁNAMO] DOESN'T WORK

by Ron Riekki




“Guantánamo is probably the number one recruitment tool 
that is used by these Jihadist organizations.” 
 
“Don’t tell me it doesn’t work. 
Torture works, 
OK, folks?  Torture— 
Half these guys [say]: ‘Torture doesn’t work.’ 
Believe me, it works. Okay?” 
 
6,000 people work at Guantánamo. 
Close to 6,666 people work at Guantánamo. 
Roughly 6,666 people work at Guantánamo. 
9 people killed at Guantánamo.  Roughly. 
A cardiac arrest at Guantánamo.  Roughly. 
A death by cancer at Guantánamo.  Roughly. 
 
Seven suicides at Guantánamo.  Roughly. 
Rags in the throats of the suicides.  Yes, rags. 
Rags in the throats of the suicides?  Yes, 
rags in the throats of the suicides. And eyes? (See
cages.) Go Geronimo with this Guantánamonow.
 
Called Gitmo, if you twist the language, if you 
distort the language, if you torture the language, 
then it becomes GTMO.  Git, an unpleasant 
or contemptible person.  “That mean ol’ git.” 
Don’t call him that.  What should I call them? 
You will call them ‘detainees;'
 
you will not call them prisoners. 
They will call out for their mothers, call 
out for their grandmothers, call out for their ancestors. 
You will not call them children; 
You will call them ‘juvenile enemy 
combatants.’  They will not be allowed 
 
to call home.  On the outside, it’s supposed 
to say HONOR BOUND, but it looked like 
HORROR BOUND the first time I saw it. 
We spend 5.6 billion dollars on Guantánamo.  
And 5.6 billion less synapses after 
chronic traumatic encephalopathy. 
 
Difficult to count after traumatic brain injury. 
6,000.  666.  9.  3.  1.  0.  0?  Mouthlike, but 
you don’t call out for your mother when you’re dead. 
You don’t call out for your ancestors 
with a rag in your throat.  Rage.  Honor, 
beating, hooding, waterboarding, bound. 


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

Friday, January 21, 2022

THE WINTER GAMES GO ON

by Rudi E. Welec, “Abs”


Although detainees must sleep in cramped cells on cement floors,
and though they must wear shackles with their numbered uniforms,
and though repression crosses Xinjiang’s pale locked-down sky,
the corporate industrial complex won’t bat an eye.
 
Although Hong Kong was once a base of civil liberties,
and though the communists crush those who want democracy,
and though the people now are jailed, practicing free speech,
the corporate industrial complex won’t say a thing.
 
So now in Beijing, the Olympic Winter Games go on,
supported by Proctor & Gamble, Visa and Bridgestone,
Intel, Allianz, Coca Cola, and Airbnb…
The IOC states it will be still aired by NBC.


Rudi E. Welec, “Abs,” is an irregular pseudonym for a NewVerse News regular.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

WOMEN OF GHŌR

by Steven Croft




In twilight we stare into our deaths
like we are the coming darkness

Our harrowed babies cry
but we dare not sing to them

The flour is gone in days
even tea is scarce

Our colorful dresses long hidden
or already burned for warmth

A bird calls a melody from a snowy tree
like joy trapped by the coming darkness

Warlords with stern faces walk the streets
with whips, rifles,

Whip-march a head-bent man with hands
bound behind by thick layers of rope

They tell us we have now what the hands
of the people have earned

And there is nowhere else to go, just
a cold valley, hill passes snowed for winter

If allowed to sing, we would moan a dirge
now even the night-bird is quiet

Nowhere is even a seed of relief
markets, kiosks, shops, silent and empty

They say our sins haunt us now—
girls wanting work and education

In the cold schools boys recite the Quran
Ameen

But how many times, O Knower of the Unseen,
until all our sins are erased

In our dreams of spring we see green trees
goat's milk and markets full of vegetables

In our dreams of spring we dance and sing
in our colorful dresses


Steven Croft lives on a barrier island off the coast of Georgia. He is the author of New World Poems (Alien Buddha Press, 2020).  His poems have appeared in Willawaw Journal, San Pedro River Review, The New Verse News, North of Oxford, Anti-Heroin Chic, Soul-Lit, and other places, and have been nominated for the Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

ANOTHER RAPID TEST

by Devon Balwit


The Biden Administration to Begin Distributing At-Home, Rapid COVID-⁠19 Tests to Americans for Free. Americans can order a test online HERE


It’s just a cold, we say. We’re feeling fine.
But want to reassure, so swab away—
Another rapid test without a line.
 
The tests are nearly impossible to find.
We call around or treasure hunt all day.
It’s just a cold, we say. We’re feeling fine.
 
We hide our coughs from those who’d mind.
But none of us can forego pay.
Another rapid test without a line.
 
The law now makes tests free—how kind—
but where to find them? Hunt and pray.
It’s just a cold, we say. We’re feeling fine.
 
We’re three years into this new grind—
Vaccinated, boostered—the whole array.
It’s just a cold, we say. We’re feeling fine.
Another rapid test without a line.
 

When not teaching, Devon Balwit chases chickens in Portland, OR. Her most recent collections are Rubbing Shoulders with the Greats [Seven Kitchens Press, 2020] and Dog-Walking in the Shadow of Pyongyang [Nixes Mate Books, 2021]. 

Tuesday, January 18, 2022

IN THE ROUND

by Indran Amirthanayagam




Yes, I pray now to God, to Francis
whose name I took at Confirmation,
to the Pieta in whose lap I lie, to my
mother determined to bathe despite
her failing legs and fear of the night.
who recalls the pride with which
we were taught to reply to scissors
and knives of the outrageous
and bigoted, who say that we
do not belong on this side of
the river, on the red carpet,
in the ceremony of democracy.
We will not cede. We will not
be overcome. We will not
despair. We are going to keep
our seat despite the pandemic,
the supply chain hijacking,
the wild fires, because God
will observe the proceedings
once again—this my faith—
to keep us from falling off
the flat end of the other party's earth.


Indran Amirthanayagam produced a “world" record in 2020 by publishing three new poetry books written in three languages: The Migrant States (Hanging Loose Press, New York), Sur l'île nostalgique (L’Harmattan, Paris) and Lírica a tiempo (Mesa Redonda, Lima). He has just published Blue Window (Ventana Azul), translated by Jennifer Rathbun.(Dialogos Books). He writes in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese, Haitian Creole and has twenty poetry books as well as a music album Rankont Dout. He edits The Beltway Poetry Quarterly and helps curate Ablucionistas. He won the Paterson Prize and received fellowships from The Foundation for the Contemporary Arts, New York Foundation for the Arts, US/Mexico Fund For Culture, and the MacDowell Colony. He hosts the Poetry Channel on YouTube.

Monday, January 17, 2022

WILD ABOUT WHITE

by Jen Schneider





sets on. lights bright. everyone wild. wild about white. all bets on betty. betty always on. leg of hose & humor on tap. eyes of blue & berry sparkle. body & mind of pure spunk. cameras click. lights blind while white binds. folks of television lands. card hands & foreign tongues. tongues click. vocal cords clack. white cures airs of silence. heir to all. syllables stream. smiles crack. baby blues sparkle. betty curates & creates. aches of bellies & bent backs arc. laughter always on the menu. dial in. dial on. of/with/at your back. always streaming. of decades. of then. of now. flashes of brilliance. beltways of brightness. of dolls & decades. of danes, dances & daily documentation. of golden girls & mary tyler moore. everyone always eager for more. regimens & irregularities. broads on main. saturday night brilliance. live on stage (& social). expert at both crafting & creating a life. time to mourn. time to adorn. under the lights. lights bright. sets on. everyone wild. wild about white.

99 (by three) ways to make (live) (transform) a life

1.     Entertain all people, possibilities, & permutations. Ration sarcasm.
2.     Track consumption not weight. Weigh options. Seize opportunity.
3.     Track actions, not time. Treasure time & tunes of many types (& transcripts / scripts).
4.     Experience & experiment with life, love, laughter. Liquid humor, too.
5.     Season all sauces. Secure all seasons (& reasons).
6.     Breed offspring of original lines. Converse (& traverse) lines of unoriginal origin.
7.     Maximize sauciness. Minimize saltiness.
8.     Memorize scripts regularly. Make new memories daily.
9.     Prime personalities & timing. Always of/on prime time.
10.  Improvise finales. Rehearse final lines.
11.  Glow (like a Golden Girl). Emulate (like a multi-Emmy winner).
12.  Collect & create (a life on high definition). (re)Create. Juxtapose. Pose often.
13.  Patron (not patronize) all personalities. Puree peculiarities & ponderings.
14.  Befriend & pet creatures of many paws. Pause often. Inhale. Glow. Regale.
15.  Pen recipes of craft & creation. Greet consumers of/on/in People & Parade.
16.  Serenade serendipity. Harmonize habits. Habituate harmony.
17.  Entertain all possibilities. Entertain all people. Populate screens. Screen popularity.
18.  Track actions. Not time. Treasure time & tunes of many types.
19.  Experience & experiment with life, love, & laughter. Favor foods of familiar roots.
20.  Embrace final words & works. Take action & agency. Work finales.
21.  Grace plates, tubes, & presents. Maintain presence of mind and manners.
22.  Practice gratitude. Tether caution. For/of/in/at duties. Projects, too.  
23.  Be of homegrown grains & household grime.
24.  Assess all situations. Situate all communications. Savor sitcoms.
25.  Twinkle under stars, in eyes, of curtseys. make light of most makings.
26.  Stroll across stages. Put pen to paper. Pamper pets in pens.
27.  Add a dose of sass to all sensations (& creations)
28.  Be curious. Be courageous. Be(t) on/of/for betty.
29.  Mix & mingle. Sip sweet & salty. Stir trouble. Add dashes of umph.
30.  Blanket newsstands. Blanket screens. Fill in (all) blanks.
31.  Run series. Run bits. Run betty.
32.  Plan jokes of spontaneous & unpredictable possibility. Do not plan. Be.
33.  Be (dedicated to thee) betty.


Sources:
https://people.com/tv/betty-white-died-peacefully-in-her-sleep-at-home-agent-says/
https://www.nytimes.com/2021/12/31/arts/television/betty-white-dead.html
https://www.cnn.com/2021/12/16/entertainment/betty-white-100/index.html
https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2021/12/31/betty-white-appreciation-tribute/


Jen Schneider is an educator who lives, writes, and works in small spaces throughout Pennsylvania. She is a Best of the Net nominee, with stories, poems, and essays published in a wide variety of literary and scholarly journals. She is the author of A Collection of Recollections (Next Chapter), Invisible Ink (Toho Pub), On Daily Puzzles: (Un)locking Invisibility (forthcoming, Moonstone Press), and Blindfolds, Bruises, and Breakups (forthcoming Atmosphere Press).

Sunday, January 16, 2022

NEW YEAR RESOLUTION

by Geoffrey Philp




The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued level 4 and level 2 travel advisories for Jamaica which sees them strongly warning against travel into the country due to several factors including Covid-19 and violence which has plagued some areas. —YardHype, January 12, 2022. See also CDC, January 10, 2022


The CDC has updated their travel advisory
to Jamaica due to crime, the spread of Covid,
and a lack of police presence in the county.
 
They’ve suggested avoiding public buses or secluded
places and added to statistics of robberies and break-
ins, a rising positivity rate. Fully vaccinated,
 
boostered, and up-to-date on flu shots I’ll take
my survival odds on the island this winter.
You see, America, I need a long-deserved break
 
from my daily rehearsal of answers to policemen
with the tiresome, “Who are you? Why are you here?”
usually by some rookie hoping to make his bones
 
with an exotic trophy in the trunk of his squad car
where he’ll pose with his first kill of the New Year.


Geoffrey Philp is the author of five books of poetry, two collections of short stories, three children’s books, and two novels, including Garvey’s Ghost. His poems and short stories have been published in The Oxford Book of Caribbean Verse, sx salon, World Literature Today, The Johannesburg Review of Books, The Oxford Book of Caribbean Short Stories, Bearden’s Odyssey Poets Respond to the Art of Romare Bearden, Rattle: Poets Respond, and Crab Orchard Review. A recipient of the Luminary Award from the Consulate of Jamaica (2015) and a former chair for the 2019 OCM Bocas Prize for Poetry, Philp’s work is featured on The Poetry Rail at The Betsy—an homage to 12 writers that shaped Miami culture. His next collection of poems, Archipelagos, is forthcoming from Peepal Tree Press.

Saturday, January 15, 2022

WINTRY MIX

by Tricia Knoll




As a forecast this seems like calling for mayhem
until the front moves in and the silence of snow
licks every branch and sticks to each twig’s gesture. 
 
The goldfinch and nuthatches retreat from the feeder
to unseen hideouts. The dogs yawn, and I succumb
to a sleepiness at odds with the morning news
 
of those who call for civil war, the skyrockets
of corona deaths, projections of costs in trust
and cash. The silence of falling snow deepens
 
inch by inch above the ice slick the rain gave 
first. Slow gather and the flurry of politicians
with papers and proof seeking. Such sad news
 
in accumulations inch by inch by inch. 


Tricia Knoll is living out the series of wintry mixes in Vermont where the forecast calls of windchills of -20 in the next few days. Her new chapbook Let's Hear It For The Horses is available February 1, and the horses outside down the road during the day  are all wearing heavy blankets now.

Friday, January 14, 2022

BASEBALL LOCKOUTS AND WINTER DREAMS

by Earl J. Wilcox





Baseball labor talks to end the lockout resumed Thursday for the first time in 1½ months with little evident progress during a bargaining session that lasted about an hour, jeopardizing a timely start to spring training. Major League Baseball imposed the lockout on Dec. 2 as soon as the five-year collective bargaining contract expired, a few hours after talks broke off. —Los Angeles Times, January 13, 2022


Your tinny voice throws me off.
You stand slightly slumped holding
 
a baseball bat. Your face is a bit
out of focus though my macular
 
eyes make most pictures seem dim.
I have trouble figuring where
 
you and I are: a ball park, a small
dugout, perhaps just a dirt yard,
 
the kind I know well from childhood.
We sit very close. I see the bat, its
 
stark beauty of slightly tanned oak
or is it maple or some wood I see only
 
in my dreams. We chat, but I cannot tell
what we say. Man, your quirky smile
 
radiates warmth through shaded
teeth of twilight in dreamland.
 
You talk a lot about a pitcher’s
knuckleball you once hit. I mumble
 
a reply and just want to know more
about Enos or Gibby—and the lockout.
 
You shrug then take a sliver-looking
candy bar from your pocket. You put
 
the bar in your mouth, blow, cheeks
slightly puff out. I feel & hear a wail
 
sounding like Wabash Cannonball
or an old gospel tune clearly off-key.
 
My Alexa gently nudges me with music
and some NPR news, mid-January morning.
 

Baseball lovers all will have no trouble puzzling out who appeared in Earl Wilcox’s dream.