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Tuesday, June 06, 2023


by Jan Zlotnik Schmidt

After viewing photographs of destroyed towns in the Ukraine

The wind swept away 

father’s humming 

mother’s crooning 

her cleared throat  soft lullabies 

her rosaries and prayers. 


The wind swept away 

babies’ babbling 

children’s puzzled cries 

scalded and scarred hopes 

wheat fields turned to blackened earth.    


The wind swept away 

unfinished stories 

hushed words   secrets 

that once wormed their way 

into corners of rooms. 


The wind swept away 

mud planked floors  foundations 

cracked plaster walls  

shattered window panes 

bombs exploding like falling comets 


In a fierce whirl of fire and ash   

the wind swept away    

histories, memories, time 

present or to be known     unfettered dreams      

Only voices of survivors remain  

asking in garbled tongues:    


What is the difference between 

dying and living?  Where do our shadows take us? 

Editor’s Note: This poem arrived at The New Verse News just as we heard news of the dangerous breaching of the dam near Kherson. Although the poem’s central image is wind, it might just as well, we fear, be water.

Jan Zlotnik Schmidt  is SUNY Distinguished Teaching Professor Emerita at SUNY New Paltz where she taught creative writing, memoir, creative nonfiction courses as well as American Literature, Women’s Literature, the Literature of Witnessing, and Holocaust Literature. Her poetry has been published in over one hundred journals including The Cream City Review, Kansas Quarterly, The Alaska Quarterly Review,  Phoebe, The Chiron Review, Memoir(and), The Vassar Review, The Westchester Review, and Wind. Her work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. She had two volumes of poetry published by the Edwin Mellen Press (We Speak in Tongues, 1991; She had this memory, 2000). Her chapbook The Earth Was Still was published by Finishing Line Press and another, Hieroglyphs of Father-Daughter Time,  by Word Temple Press. Her volume of poetry, Foraging for Light,  was published by Finishing Line Press in 2019.

Monday, June 05, 2023


by Susan Cossette

CLAIM: Target’s Pride collection features a bathing suit for kids that is labeled “tuck-friendly.”
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The “tuck-friendly” swimsuits are only offered in adult sizes, according to a spokesperson for the company and Target’s website. Kids’ swimsuits in the collection do not feature this label.

He was young, rich, handsome.
Exiled from court,
robbed of his coronet
and robes of the garter,
he left the rancid nodding mass 
of stiff lace and ceremony—
the Lady Purity, 
the Lady Modesty, 
the Lady Chastity,
terrifying diadems of lightning and ice.
There was no truth in their dreadful den.
Avant. Begone.
While Orlando slept
the scarlet trumpeters circled and blared 
and she awoke naked, unashamed
in the dressing room of the Nicollet Mall Target
among scattered plastic hangers 
and clothing of every color cast
on common grey carpet.
With the money left from
the sale of her pearls
she procured vivid dresses, paper fans,
butterfly socks, even a tuck suit.
Ecstasy, ecstasy, 
wild plumed goose loading rainbows
into a red plastic cart,
on her way to the self-serve checkout.

Susan Cossette lives and writes in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Author of Peggy Sue Messed Up, she is a recipient of the University of Connecticut’s Wallace Stevens Poetry Prize. A two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, her work has appeared or is forthcoming in Rust and MothThe New Verse News, ONE ARTAs it Ought to Be, Anti-Heroin ChicThe Amethyst Review, Crow & Cross Keys, Loch Raven Review, and in the anthologies Fast Fallen Women (Woodhall Press), Tuesdays at Curley’s (Yuganta Press), and After the Equinox.  

Sunday, June 04, 2023


by Alejandro Escudé

Why all the gray skies [in Southern California]? It's a reasonable question with a fairly complex answer that we find ourselves asking yearly when they show up and stick around for a few months. Known as May Gray and June Gloom, the period’s a sign of transition from cool winter weather to scorching summer temperatures. —LAist, May 19, 2023. Photo: Ushering in June Gloom near Santa Ynez, California on June 01, 2020. | George Rose/Getty Images via KCET.

The grayness of May isn’t subtle.
It weighs on the birds too, erasing the landmarks.
I notice that my sight changes, eyes have a stalkier bond
To the naked mind—what is that about?
I exit my apartment, crossing the threshold of my door,
And the hallway is blue, chilly, despite the seventy degrees.
I need my poetry heroes to Lazarus from their graves
And deliver me back to my old selves, the dozens of poets
That came before this one who writes only gray verse.
But its always been the black hummingbird that flitted 
Through the glass of my window at the Catholic retreat 
I attended two years after my son was born.
I obeyed the order of silence. At twilight, I made my way
Past the Victorian lamp posts along the garden paths
To the dining hall. And we prayed before and after dinner.
When I returned home, the hummingbird followed.
I ask a coworker: does the gray sky affect your mood?
It is kind of dark, he says, missing the mark.
The grayness lasts so that even the darkness of night is gray.
I shift in my rocky bed, the hours graying into more hours.
You can live this way, you know, many years,
Reading between the testament folds of the colorless clouds,
Seeking something beyond the stormy horizon 
You have come to expect—that gray, prodigious god.

Alejandro Escudé published his first full-length collection of poems My Earthbound Eye in September 2013. He holds a master’s degree in creative writing from UC Davis and teaches high school English. Originally from Argentina, Alejandro lives in Los Angeles with his wife and two children.

Saturday, June 03, 2023


by Phyllis Frakt

The distant death throes of a star—

entire worlds gassed, doomed, 

consumed in its stellar belly.


They say our sun will do the same

and swallow the Earth in the “deep future”

five billion years from now.


While we wait, let’s celebrate spring,

a season in love with the sun,

carefree and heedless of remote catastrophe.


But humans bring peril five billion years early

Our planet gobbled up, not from afar,

but from us, under our benevolent star.

Phyllis Frakt began writing poems in 2021. Her previous poems in The New Verse News are "Teach to the Test" and "Caught in Between." She lives in New Jersey.

Friday, June 02, 2023


by Michel Steven Krug

Jeff Koterba / Cagle Cartoons

In the House

there’s treachery afoot.


A leader sandwiched by volleys

of red sensation


what formerly was known

as consensus.


And the price to be paid:





I move that the Country

Avert economic infanticide

By installing cold showers

That spray the margins where

Passion plays like theatre 

To astound the outer rings.

Michel Steven Krug is a Minneapolis poet, fiction writer, former print journalist from the Johns Hopkins Writing Seminars and he litigates. His poems have appeared in Sierra Nevada Review, Jerry Jazz, Whistling Shade, St. Paul Almanac, Liquid Imagination, Blue Mountain Review, Portside, New Verse News, JMWW, Cagibi, Silver Blade, Crack the Spine, Dash, Mikrokosmos, North Dakota Quarterly, Eclectica, Writers Resist, Sheepshead, Mizmor Anthology, Poets Reading the News, Ginosko, Door Is A Jar, Raven's Perch, Main Street Rag and Brooklyn Review. His collection Jazz at the International Festival of Despair is scheduled for publication by Broadstone Books, in the spring, 2024.

Thursday, June 01, 2023


by Elaine Sorrentino

Sprinting across the I-30
in the dead of night 

the leggy legend 
with infectious charm 


turned trauma into triumph, 

swapped bloodied and beaten
for surviving and thriving
in an act of self-preservation. 

She dared to be the needle 
that pricked the heady
Love Team balloon,
indestructible Tina  

in leather and denim
scrubbed toilets
scaled the Eiffel Tower in heels
unearthed her pain 

instead of maintaining
her 16-year limelight lie,
transforming thirty-six cents
and inconceivable drive 

into the Queen of Rock,
self-love, that second-hand emotion
had everything to do with it, 
Buddha offered nirvana.  

When the shine was off the penny
she was at peace slowing down,
asking her devoted public 
not to disturb her before noon. 

Elaine Sorrentino has been published in Minerva RisingWillawaw Journal, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, Ekphrastic Review, Writing in a Women’s VoiceGlobal PoemicONE ART: a journal of poetryAgape ReviewHaiku Universe, Sparks of CalliopeMuddy River Poetry ReviewYour Daily Poem,  PanoplyzineEtched Onyx Magazine, and at  wildamorris.blogspot.comShe was featured on a poetry podcast at Onyx Publications. 

Wednesday, May 31, 2023


by David Chorlton

A scream circumnavigates the world.

Is anybody listening


when the police arrive to sweep away

those for whom the last resort

is blocking traffic


to impress upon their fellow citizens

the planet is on life support

and the drivers only have a mile to go


before the ground opens up

and swallows them.


Does anybody care?


Call it Freedom; say Democracy

until it hurts; write to the highest authority

and the mail comes back 

as undeliverable.  

The future’s not the future


anymore. And yet it is still beautiful

when a day begins with a mountain

spreading its wings


and the sun breaking into song.

David Chorlton lives in Phoenix where he writes and occasionally paints watercolors. While his writing is usually poetry, his newest book is a true life account of a murder story from 1960s Vienna (where he lived for several years) in which one of his cousins was wrongly convicted: The Long White Glove published by New Meridian Arts.

Editor’s Note: Listen to David talk about his new book on the Word podcast (about 10 minutes in) from WJZZ.

Tuesday, May 30, 2023


by Susan Vespoli

with a nod to Catherine Pierce’s protest poems

“Fuck Authority” by Dan Colen, 2006, Oil on found painting

In protest I watch eight cops 
unload from their SUV, then strut
past me, a small granny with teal luggage 
waiting at the airport for a ride. 
In protest I say Beefcake. 
Fitted khaki pants and black polo 
shirts decaled with the word Police. 
Guns strapped to each man’s thigh 
with dark bands. In protest I say garter belts. 
In protest I say (in my head) I know 
what you did to my son. I saw the body 
cam. In protest, I glare. Puffed out chests 
and cocky swagger. In protest I say 
Mr. America patrol. I say rooster 

and remember the one that attacked 
my granddaughter at the peacock park. 
We thought it was a soft striped hen 
with a red mohawk until it high-kicked
its claws into her scalp. Blood spurted 
as she shrieked. In protest I say pull it in, 
dudes. Fold those football-player-sized egos
into cloth napkins at a memorial service. 
In protest I say humble. I say karma. I say
apologize. I want to scream, you don’t scare me, 
but remember my other kid saying, watch out, Mom. 
You’re gonna get yourself in trouble. In protest 
I say fuck Superman. I say fuck cultural authority. 
I bow down to sky, birds, dogs, poems, and peace.

Susan Vespoli lives in Phoenix, Arizona where she continues to write toward finding some sort of justice for her son, Adam Vespoli, who was shot and killed by police on March 12, 2022.

Monday, May 29, 2023


by George Salamon

Nette Reed checks on Desi Hurd, 62, near the Human Services Campus in Phoenix, where there are several major shelters, a medical center and respite centers. (Caitlin O’Hara for The Washington Post)

"The lie has become the order of the world.” Josef K. in Franz Kafka's novel The Trial

"More people in the country's biggest cities were becoming homeless, more were living outside instead of in shelters, and a record number of people from LosAngeles to Denver to  New York were dying in premature and preventable ways on the street." —The New York Times, May 13, 2023

“Nearly a quarter of a million people 55 or older are estimated by the government to have been homeless in the United States during at least part of 2019, the most recent reliable federal count available.” —The Washington Post, May 22, 2023

Josef K. uttered the lesson he learned
as he was about to die, the lesson our
homeless have not yet fully grasped:
they, like Josef K., have no right to live
because they are abandoned and weak.

George Salamon thinks most of our politicians are not eager to deal with homelessness (or poverty) because their sponsors would tell them they're wasting their money, while it's OK to throw money to the Military-Industrial Complex because it does its money-wasting for a Strong America.

Sunday, May 28, 2023


by Harold Oberman

AI-generated image

AI ate my sonnet.
Gulped it down / Digested it,
Spit it out in reconstituted iambs.

I want to slip it some clichés,
Gunk up its system with pablum,
Make its metaphors as mediocre as mine.

Oh, don’t taunt me you rhyming clock,
You metronome, you precise pizza.
You took away my love of form,
Translated poetry into pi.

Eat it all my clever friend.

Harold Oberman is a poet and lawyer writing in Charleston, S.C. He has appeared recently in The New Verse News, The Free State Review, An Anthology of Low Country Poets, and has been honored by the Poetry Society of South Carolina for, among other things, a sonnet. However, he has given up on that after a now antiquated version of AI generated the following poem, with minor prodding, in 3 seconds:

Oh gravity, force that keeps us all in place,
That pulls us down and holds us to the earth,
A power strong and constant in its pace,
That gives our feet a steady, solid girth.

But horses, with their grace and beauty wild,
Seem not to feel the pull of gravity's might,
They gallop free, their manes and tails unfurled,
As if to mock the laws that bind us tight.

But though they seem to fly, they too are bound,
By gravity's unyielding grip on all,
And though they run with freedom all around,
They too must fall, when gravity's call.

So let us strive to soar, like horses do,
But always keep in mind, gravity's rule.

Saturday, May 27, 2023


by Devon Balwit

The National Park Service is seeking information on a man who interacted with a newborn bison calf, which it said had to be euthanized after it was rejected by its herd. Credit: Hellen Jack, The New York Times, May 24, 2023

who moved a bison calf, causing it to be rejected,
who, I can guarantee you, was responding to the pleas
of his children—Dad, you have to do something! Dad!—
the way I respond to the urgency in my own kids’
voices and go charging off to school to intervene
in a situation that becomes worse, not better,
me ignorant of the whole story as I struggle to haul
the bellower out of the mud and set things right
while the herd looks on from a distance and sniffs
the wind. That dad and I wipe our hands on our pants
thinking job well done, unaware that kid and calf
both bear the unshakeable stink of a meddler.

Editor’s update from BuzzFeedA Canadian man who put a bison calf at Yellowstone National Park in his SUV, forcing officials to later euthanize it, has pleaded guilty and will be fined. Shamash Kassam picked up the bison calf because he thought it looked cold and assumed "it would have been roadkill" if he did not intervene. Thursday, Kassam pleaded guilty to a wildlife violation charge and was fined a total of $735, according to KTWO.

Devon Balwit walks in all weather. In her most recent collection, Spirit Spout [Nixes Mate Books, 2023], she romps through Melville’s Moby Dick.

Friday, May 26, 2023


by Paul Hostovsky

The name-sign for Ron DeSantis
in American Sign Language
is exactly the same as the sign 
for Satan, according to my deaf
informants at the Florida School
for the Deaf and the Blind
in St. Augustine. The etymology
of that name-sign may have something to do
with the visual similarity (deaf people 
are intensely visual, after all) between 
the letters in Satan and the letters in Santis, 
or it may have something to do 
with the similarity of their policies–
for example, their shared affinity
for burning, and also their preference
for darkness and the benighted 
over the light of day and the being fully 
awake. Bottom line, if you ever happen
to eavesdrop on some deaf people 
animatedly signing about Ron DeSantis,
it would be a forgivable and understandable mistake
if you thought they were talking about Satan,
because although they're not quite synonyms
they are unmistakably homonyms in ASL.

Paul Hostovsky makes his living in Boston as a sign language interpreter. His newest book of poems is Pitching for the Apostates (forthcoming, Kelsay Books).