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Submission Guidelines: Send unpublished poems in the body of an email (NO ATTACHMENTS) to nvneditor[at]gmail.com.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

Sunday, January 22, 2017

AFTER THE INAUGURATION, EVERYTHING IS PORTENTIOUS

by Allison Blevins


Photo by Fletcher Gravy


I think about the absolutes of motion when I’m naked,
how a pendulum swings, how a scale unbalanced
must wobble, how my skin ripples, weight unsteadies.

Something alive is buzzing in the kitchen, leg
against leg, string against bow, the sound
of nothing, boxed and electrified.  A blackness

circles in the sky above my son’s school most afternoons.
I could say blackness as if dawn or sleep
or blood rising to air were sinister, but the feeling

on my skin is more like dust, fine and granular, settling
even in my throat.  I could say the circling and flapping
and cawing will alight as sediment, in the corners,

in the morning, after God has closed his eyes,
after God has opened them again.  My children
cannot see my body unclothed.  When I walk naked,

I am emperor.  I parade the living room, parade
an ocean of blind children.  The images they steep in
invisible.  On the playground at my son’s school

children in puffed and quilted jackets gather and ring
around a solitary boy.  The children silent, the boy’s mouth
buzzes, all the feathers, dark and rustling, fall from above.


Allison Blevins received her MFA at Queens University of Charlotte and is a Lecturer for the Women's Studies Program at Pittsburg State University and the Department of English and Philosophy at Missouri Southern State University.  Her poetry has appeared in such journals as the minnesota review, Sinister Wisdom, Pilgrimage, and Josephine Quarterly.  She lives in Joplin, Missouri, with her wife and two children.

Saturday, January 21, 2017

JANUARY 13TH, 2017

by Marc Swan


https://www.womensmarch.com


In a short hop against convention, my wife
and I were married on a Friday the 13th. Today
a road trip to honor one. We drive to Belfast, two
hours north, to the Farmer’s Market. My wife’s
a large fan of fresh produce even in wintertime. We
meet a local farmer with twenty-three water buffalo.
I’m staggered by the number, more shocked by how
they survive. This isn’t India or Southeast Asia. She
assures me they have a warm barn, plenty to eat.
My wife buys milk for yogurt. The farmer tells us,
you’ll be amazed. I’m starting to feel the healthy
pull of the day. We travel route one to Rockland
for lunch, the warmth of an Irish cafe. Good food,
friendly staff generous with their time, tables fill
as people trundle in from the cold wind blowing
outside. From here we drive south to Wiscasset
to see a favorite shop owner who in short order
expresses her growing feelings about the election.
Every Friday thru the holidays she’s been donating
twenty per cent of her sales to five nonprofits that
will likely be battered under the new regime.
Her heart sings Cohen’s “Hallelujah" as we talk
of support for those things that separate thinking
folks from those who think chaos should reign.
Across the street in another store, a saleslady we’ve
never met senses our liberal lean. Running her hands
thru her thick blond-tinted hair, she talks of the march
in Washington and how important it is to be there—
she will “next Saturday.” Eyes water as she goes
on about rip and tear on what was once understood
as democracy too quickly becoming something
with another name from lessons never learned:
fascist, authoritarian, despotic and in these
difficult times we live, simply wrong.


Marc Swan’s poems have recently been published or forthcoming in Scrivener Creative Review, Crannóg, Mudfish, Gargoyle, Nuclear Impact Anthology, Coal City Review, among others. He lives with his wife Dd in Portland Maine. 

HAPPINESS, THE A-BOMB, AND WHY I DON'T MARCH ANYMORE

by Lynnie Gobeille 



AMERICA IS TAKING A STAND FOR EQUAL RIGHTS. JANUARY 21 AT 1:00 PM EASTERN TIME, RISE FOR ONE MINUTE OF SILENCE FOR WOMEN'S EQUALITY. Saturday, January 21, there are women’s marches and rallies planned in all 50 states. At 1:00 PM in Our Nation's Capital and at the exact same moment in every time zone across the United States, stand up for equality in one minute of silent solidarity. From Hawaii to Maine, Alaska to Florida, and every great state in between, for one shared silent minute, we rise for our mothers, our sisters, our daughters, and ourselves. 1@1 is a small, symbolic act in support of the American ideal of one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. It is one powerful minute to connect, reflect and recommit to making that American ideal a reality. Whether able to attend a rally or not, all Americans can join this unifying action on behalf of women, girls and the future of our nation.

What we need in the United States is not division; what we need in the United States is not hatred; what we need in the United States is not violence or lawlessness, but love and wisdom, and compassion toward one another, and a feeling of justice towards those who still suffer within our country, whether they be white or whether they be black." —Robert Kennedy, April 4, 1968


Let’s just say
For the sake of argument
That this is the last poem
I’ll ever write—
(having just shoveled an entire driveway
. . . good lord at my age, that’s quite the feat . . .
feet- no pun intended)
And there's a good chance I might die tonight . . .
Would I want this poem to contain
A seagull?  A fence?  An open gate?
Perhaps my sister’s new garage door happiness?
The draining of the swamp?
Toss in the news of the Ft. Lauderdale Airport shooting
A line or two just to prove I was still aware—
Of the total lack of kindness every where.

I would, of course, want to include a stanza
To clarify Why I no longer march . . .
Not against or for—
make love not war.
Yet I find it difficult to phrase
To sum up all those years and causes
Crossing those picket lines—
yes . . . I have the scars to prove it—
carrying signs.

Every where a sign—
Long haired hippie freaks need not apply,
Power to the People
Four dead in Ohio,
and it's 1, 2 , 3
What are you marching for, don’t ask me.
I don’t give a damn—my last stop was in Vietnam
We shall overcome—
We Shall Overcome.

But let’s get back to the A-bomb in this title.
Oppenheimer was merely a scientist—
or perhaps he was a poet just like me—
Creating and solving the huge man-kind mystery.
Ay, there’s the rub in life.


Lynnie Gobeille is passionate about  poetry.

Friday, January 20, 2017

HURRY UP PLEASE IT’S TIME

by Rick Mullin





Here we have the world turned on its head.
It comes: The Zero Hour Inauguration.
Skies grow orange and the trees glow red.

It brings to mind the burial of the dead,
but for the living, an incarceration.

Here we have the world turned on its head!

The flower girl imparts a sense of dread,

the chessmen might despair of compensation.
Skies grow orange and the trees glow red,

we can’t remember what the thunder said

and heavy metal rallies in formation.
Here we have the world turned on its head!

The Angels’ sermon: Prismic Light instead
of Fire. Bagpipes drone in affirmation,
skies grow orange and the trees glow red,

the sentence fragments drop like molten lead
into the auric ghost holes of a nation

where we have the world turned on its head.
The sky grows orange and the trees glow red.


Rick Mullin's new poetry collection is Stignatz & the User of Vicenza.

SOME WORDS FOR MEANWHILE

by Lucia Galloway


Poster by Jennifer Maravillas for the Women's March on Washington


There is only this way,
this one way,
to breathe   while
rain falls­—
finally falls & falls­—
in Southern California.
Comes in repeated fits,
storms over parched lands
& lawns.  Pools at our doorsteps
from overflowing gutters, sheets
off the pavements of parking lots,
carves new rivulets
in our gardens, our
paths and trails.

One way    while
crews erect viewing stands
in DC­-mile after mile
of bleachers, media towers­-
along the storied route.
While in airports, passengers
clutch boarding passes, eye
podium monitors.
While on basement floors
& kitchen tables, women paint
slogans: Resistance is Joy.
Pack boots, mufflers
& down jackets.
D.C., Chicago, Tucson, Denver, L.A.
. . . (will the buses make it?)     while
the women hope that nothing happens,
knowing that nothing
can mean anything now.


Lucia Galloway’s chapbook The Garlic Peelers won the Quill’s Edge Press 2014 inaugural chapbook competition.  She is also author of Venus and Other Losses (2010) and a chapbook, Playing Outside (2005), and has published work in Tar River Poetry, Comstock Review, Midwest Quarterly, and Wide Awake: Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond, among other publications.  Her poems have received awards from the Bread Loaf School of English, Artists Embassy International, Rhyme Zone, and the MacGuffin National Poet Hunt.  She lives in Southern California, where she curates a reading series in her home town of Claremont.  

POEM FOR THE INAUGURATION

by Jon Wesick




I hope I’m wrong,
so wrong my name becomes slang
for a tragic blunder
as in, “Custer sure pulled a Wesick
at the Little Bighorn!”

I hope jobs return to the rust belt
and displaced workers
will now buy gold-plated mansions
and endow professorships at Harvard.
I hope the new president’s tweets
scare the beards off ISIS
and that from now on all terrorists
will come with big letter T’s
tattooed on their foreheads.

I hope greenhouse gasses
bring back the black rhino
and mountain gorilla.
I hope the free market
lowers the cost of heart transplants
and cancer treatment to $1.95.

I hope doctors determine cake and ice cream
make the most nutritious breakfast
and that playing video games
burns more calories than running.
I hope high school students don’t need algebra
for high-tech careers and that cheerleaders
want to sleep with guys who can’t dance.
I hope I really can earn $100,000
by working 3 hours a week from home.
I hope our new president
rekindles the American dream.


Jon Wesick hosts Southern California’s best ice cream parlor poetry reading and is a regional editor of the San Diego Poetry Annual. He’s published hundreds of poems and stories in journals such as the Atlanta Review, Berkeley Fiction Review, Metal Scratches, Pearl, Slipstream, Space and Time, Tales of the Talisman, and Zahir. The editors of Knot Magazine nominated his story “The Visitor” for a Pushcart Prize. His poem “Meditation Instruction” won the Editor’s Choice Award in the 2016 Spirit First Contest. Another poem “Bread and Circuses” won second place in the 2007 African American Writers and Artists Contest. Jon is the author of the poetry collection Words of Power, Dances of Freedom as well as several novels.

A NATIONAL DAY OF MOURNING

by Mary Saracino



Poster by JessicaSabogal for We the People which will flood Washington, DC with NEW symbols of hope on January 20. You can download the set of posters for free at http://bit.ly/wtpdownloads.


I will wear black on January 20
a national day of mourning
while the collective soul of America
lets loose a dirge as an illegitimate president
takes the oath of office
his place secured in history
by fake news, voter suppression
the deception of a foreign dictator
and his own brand of white supremacy
spewed from his bully pulpit of
racism, misogyny, xenophobia, homophobia
and every other kind of –ism the world has ever witnessed

On the next day the women of the world will don
pink pussy hats, take to the streets in cities far and wide
to march in protest, defying the fake king, the tyrant
in the Oval Office
reclaiming their vulva power,  the power to
procreate truth, to name evil, to smash
the glass ceiling of lies that tries to silence us


Mary Saracino is a novelist, poet, and memoir writer who lives in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Her most recent novel is Heretics: A Love Story (Pearlsong Press 2014). Her novel, The Singing of Swans (Pearlsong Press 2006) was a 2007 Lambda Literary Awards Finalist. Mary’s short story, "Vicky's Secret," earned the 2007 Glass Woman Prize.

ACUTE

by Barbara A Taylor




acute trumpitis  
the doctors’ surgeries
are overflowing


"Each day demands that I write and that my fingers touch and feel the earth." Barbara A Taylor's free verse poems, renku, haiga, haibun, award winning haiku, tanka, and other Japanese short form poetry appear in many international journals and anthologies on line and in print. She lives in the Rainbow Region, Northern NSW, Australia. Diverse poems with audio are here and here.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

SHOPPING STREET OF THE ETERNAL SPRINGTIME SUN

by John Brooks


The carcass of a dead cow lies in the Black Umfolozi River, dry from the effects ot the latest severe drought, in Nongoma district north west from Durban, South Africa, on November 9, 2015. (Photo: MUJAHID SAFODIEN/AFP/Getty Images) via Forbes.


seen in a dream:

it was a day in early May
when my love and I went walking,
and came upon a shopping street
of smiles and pleasant talking

where gentle commerce, kissed by breezes
under mildest skies,
proves the wisdom of peaceful nations
and gentle, tranquil eyes

where prices just—
when haggled settled in prompt and balanced measure—
pass on goodwill, then more goodwill,
an ever-flowing treasure

and though the smiles may sometimes flash
like lovey-dovey corp-prop,
the vibes they pulse are so sincere
the darkest cynics’ thoughts stop

where sunlight softly shines on skin
of every varied hue,
tattooed “FAIR TRADE”
for it’s fair trade the livelong day they do

makers, buyers, sellers, all
craft laws and customs too—
a demos-dappled, fair-spun world
of fairness through and through

where differences of every scope
‘twixt persons, groups, and nations,
instead of sparking conflict meet
respect and admiration

and women bask in happiness
of luminous equality,
while men assess all hyper quests
to dom but rank frivolity

with each child’s rights kept well in sight
health, safety, education—
not mom’s, not pop’s, or others’ chattel,
sublime emancipation

cis, bi, and gay, hermaphro, trans
walk arm in arm so winsome,
for all sex o and g id
full tolerance and then some

the air so clean,
completely free of fossil fuel exhaust,
all power, transport, factories green
because we know the cost

where vegan ways have won the day
‘cause land-use, carbon eco,
for Gaia, humans, fauna kind,
much more than trendy deco

and stable climes bless stable lands—
temps to precipitation—
the dream realized—full zero C!—
for each and every nation

where soft, caressing zephyrs wafting
from a nearby sea
with placid wave sounds free the soul
of all anxiety

and all those found in need receive
an adequate basic income,
and since all lead self-purposed lives,
contentment in their hearts thrums

while all, liaising every way,
pursue accord in every sense
with greetings, meetings, and farewells
eschewing petty dissonance

for each supports the wider commons
because it’s understood
that one’s desires should be fulfilled
within the greater good

as my love and I drank up these nectars
imbibed as we were walking,
our faces creased in wondrous bliss
without the need of talking

but then I roused and knew I’d dreamed
but a hope of some day could be,
then lay awake to fear the quickening
trump of one day will be

of a nightmare of our making
on the path we’re treading now,
what we’ll swear we tried our best to stop
as we bring upon ourselves

for oh I fear heat-shackled skies
and fear how quick the seas will rise
fear too huge seas of hate will bring
great storms and inundation

so too I fear vast droughts will come,
and famine and starvation,
and with them swarms of grief will come
for each and every nation

with demos, good will, fair trade, all
sucked dry from all topographies
a cracked-earth, cordoned, craven world
of discord’s rank demographies

and with it all more wars will thrive
in all their sundry ways,
from guns and bombs to drones and bots
to nuclear array

and so I fear that Death will come
to rule the livelong day

and then with ease blood seas will fill
once-could-be springtime streets,
and fish will nibble bashed-out brains
that schemed their own defeat

and so at last we’ll rue we hadn’t
dissed the tough decisions,
shunned prudence, foresight, skill, and guts
and doomed a higher vision

but when I woke my love and whispered
all I’d dreamed and what I feared,
my love first flinched, then, calm, insisted,
“you must do more than shedding tears

“for what you fear will surely come
so plentifully, in clover,
if those of us who’d like your Street
stay passive till it’s over

“of course we’re foolish not to see
your Street’s a perfect Neverland,
but we’d be ghoulish if we flee
from striving to make it Everland

“’cause if we strive we’ll celebrate
the stuff that life is made of,
and not buy in to self-defeat
and all that we’re afraid of

“that way—you bet—we’ll bring ourselves
as close as we can come—
‘cause it takes balls, no santa claus—
to streets of the springtime sun”


Author’s Notes: “Shopping Street of the Eternal Springtime Sun”—a poem concerned with environmental justice and other key, global social justice issues—utilizes a light verse style, including, for the most part, a whimsical tone (with a gothic-apocalyptic interlude), sing-song rhyming with hip-hop inflections, and line endings that closely parse the syntax as a means of both heightening and leavening, by contrast, the seriousness of the subject matter: an evocation of alternative utopian and dystopian futures leading to a call to action to, as much as possible, realize the former and avoid the later. Though rough notes and initial drafts began earlier, “Shopping Street” experienced the bulk of its creation during the rise to power of D****d T***p within the US Republican Party and received its final revisions in the wake of T***p’s election and impending inauguration as 45th president of the United States.

A particular challenge in composing and revising this poem has been anchoring and interweaving its often conceptual content with resonating concrete images and other sensory elements.

The poem’s original inspiration came in an afternoon walk with a lover on a beautiful spring day in the hills overlooking Kamakura, Japan – an area of abundant natural beauty by the sea about an hour’s train ride south of Tokyo. The route we took descended, with seamless effect, from the hills into the most pleasant pedestrian shopping street I recall ever experiencing – this street serving as a sensory catalyst for the utopian shopping street of the poem.

This inspiration combined with my reading of Steven Pinker’s The Better Angels of Our Nature—a book which offers hope for humankind’s future through the continued nurturing and enhancement of societal institutions, values, policies, laws, customs, and other guidelines and behaviors which are outgrowths of various human virtues, among them a capacity for enlightened reasoning and an expanding circle of empathy that includes all of humankind—to produce the core of the poem’s content and energy. 

Countering the hopefulness of Pinker’s vision is the ongoing planetary emergency posed by global warming resulting from anthropogenic climate change and its numerous potential—and already to some degree ongoing—disasters, among them, according to recent research, the possibility within this century of multi-meter sea level rise and super storms of unprecedented, within the span of human history, destructive power, both of which are touched on in the poem.

Although a number, at least, of the world’s nations now seem—especially with the coming into effect of the Paris Agreement on combatting climate change—to be focusing significant resources on achieving the goal of a transition to a world of 100% clean energy, it is sometimes difficult, given the climate-related policies of the 45th POTUS and the continuing inadequate pace, globally, of this transition thus far, to avoid feelings of despair. The poem addresses such feelings as well, ending, in its final stanzas with an exhortation, however blunt in its quaint simplicity (but again leavened, I hope, by a tone of playful whimsy), to transform such despair into useful action. Though my belief in the efficacy of such exhortations, and of making the efforts exhorted, is far from firm, I at least like to believe, and to make the efforts.


John Brooks is a writer, child sexual abuse survivor-activist, climate change activist, and animal rights activist (among other things, of course) deeply concerned with anthropogenic global warming and its massively dystopian consequences if humanity’s thoroughly inadequate—though in some locations and respects noticeably improving—response continues. His self-published novella Preludes depicting the horror of child sexual abuse from a child’s perspective, has received a number of favorable reviews by readers. @jbwriting

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

FUNERALS FOR FETUSES

by Eliza Mimski


This poster was created by Shepard Fairey who eight years ago made the iconic Obama poster that captured a period of HOPE in America. Today we are in a very different moment, one that requires new images that reject the hate, fear, and open racism that were normalized during the 2016 presidential campaign. So on Inauguration Day, We the People will flood Washington, DC with NEW symbols of hope. You can download the set of posters for free at: http://bit.ly/wtpdownloads. You can choose to support this We the People art project via Kickstarter.


1969. Nineteen years old and pregnant.
I couldn't afford to keep the baby.
In those days, before Roe vs Wade,
you had to prove to two psychiatrists
that you were mentally unable to go through
with the pregnancy.
They wrote letters to the medical board of the
hospital performing the abortion.
Insurance didn't cover the psychiatric visits.

The first psychiatrist asked if I would kill myself
if I didn't have the abortion.
I said yes, I would take my life,
even though this wasn't true.
He jotted some notes on a yellow legal pad.
He asked me little else.
The second psychiatrist asked if the sight of a penis
frightened me. I said yes. I lied that the sight of a penis frightened me.
He wrote that down.

My fate was in their hands.
They determined
my future . . .

The state of Texas now requires women
who have abortions or miscarriages
in hospitals,
in abortion clinics
or in other health facilities
to bury or cremate the fetal remains.

In Indiana, Mike Pence signed legislation
to force women to have fetal funerals
for abortions or miscarriages.
This can be carried out by the facility.
A name for the fetus during
transport to the burial ground
is not required.


Eliza Mimski is a retired high school English teacher living in San Francisco. She is still coping with the election and the news by writing poetry. Her work has appeared in Quiet Lightning's Sparkle and Blink, Fiction 365, Poets Reading the News, and is forthcoming in Anti-Heroin Chic.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

CULLING DEADWOOD IN WINTER TIME SHRUB TRIMMING

by Earl J Wilcox


Poster by ErnestoYerena for We the People which will flood Washington, DC with NEW symbols of hope on January 20. You can download the set of posters for free at http://bit.ly/wtpdownloads. You can choose to support this We the People art project via Kickstarter.


The crape myrtle have long ago dropped their snowy flowerlets.
Seedlings spread asunder along the drive way commingle with
elm and river birch leaves sticking to the soles of my shoes.

High on scrawny deadwood oak and cherry quaint mocking birds
harass me, their sniveling artfully calls my name as if I give a damn
they are jealous of my red hat, purple sweater. Everything in their

vision--and mine—clashes like the winds of war this week
before our democracy inaugurates a senseless man fixed
on his prosperity with such narcissism the mind not only

boggles, the brain buckles, sheer madness mocks mankind.


Earl J. Wilcox writes poetry daily, publishes some of it online and some in print journals.

Monday, January 16, 2017

ENEMIES LIST

by David Radavich


This poster was created by Shepard Fairey who eight years ago made the iconic Obama poster that captured a period of HOPE in America. Today we are in a very different moment, one that requires new images that reject the hate, fear, and open racism that were normalized during the 2016 presidential campaign. So on Inauguration Day, We the People will flood Washington, DC with NEW symbols of hope. You can download the set of posters for free at: http://bit.ly/wtpdownloads. You can choose to support this We the People art project via Kickstarter.


I am the one you want.
The one who can be
anything.

Beast, flower, rock,
Arab, Jew, atheist, member
of a congregation,

waters flowing over
the dam,
leaves falling
in a pattern of forgetting.

I want to be on your list.

Registry of those cast out,
cursed and damned.

We wander
and we recollect,
we migrating passerines.

Our faces are wind,
our hearts are silence.

You are the terrorists
whose eyes create shadows.


David Radavich's recent poetry collections are America Bound: An Epic for Our Time (2007), Canonicals: Love's Hours (2009), and Middle-East Mezze (2011).   His plays have been performed across the U.S., including six Off-Off-Broadway, and in Europe.  His latest books are The Countries We Live In (2014) and a co-edited volume called Magic Again: Selected Poems on Thomas Wolfe (2016).   He is currently president of the North Carolina Poetry Society.

Sunday, January 15, 2017

IGNITION

by Catherine Wald




"Nearby, off to one side, Mahalia Jackson shouted: 'Tell them about the dream, Martin!'” —Drew Hansen, The New York Times, August 27, 2016



I heard this story from a Friend who was there at the
Mall in Washington, D.C., on August 28, 1963.

It was, the Quaker said, a woman from the speaker’s congregation
who interrupted the great man’s speech.

            “Tell them about your dream, Martin,”
            she bellowed.

            (Later I learned it wasn’t just any little old
            church lady, but Mahalia Jackson.)

                                    “Tell them about your dream!”

That was when Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. put down his
prepared pages and began to preach his vision.

            That was when the capital crackled with electricity

                        and the words caught fire.

                                    They’re still burning today.



Catherine Wald’s chapbook Distant, burned-out stars was published by Finishing Line Press in 2011. Poems have appeared in American Journal of Nursing, Buddhist Poetry Review, Chronogram, Dragonfly, Friends Journal, J Journal, Jewish Literary Journal, "Metropolitan Diary" (The New York Times), Minerva Rising, Quarterday Review, The Lyric and Westchester Review.  She is author of The Resilient Writer: Tales of Triumph and Rejection from 23 Top Authors (Persea 2004).

Saturday, January 14, 2017

MILD, FOR WINTER

by Ron Singer




Although the day was mild, for winter,
I decided to wear my warmest coat.
Nor did I neglect to transfer my gloves.
I prepared and ate a hearty breakfast,
balancing food groups, vital nutrients.
Checking my wallet, I removed a ten,
leaving enough to placate hold-up men.
On the train, I read selectively
from the paper: soccer, basketball scores.
When the train was full, I ceded my seat
to someone who looked needier than me.

Why do I feel so vulnerable today?
Could it be the prospect, or certainty,
of a four-year political winter?


Ron Singer’s seventh book, a collection of Maine poems, Look to Mountains, Look to Sea (2013) won an award and was nominated for a Pushcart. His eighth Uhuru Revisited: Interviews with Pro-Democracy Leaders (2015) can be found in about 100 libraries across the U.S., and beyond. His ninth, and most recent, is a double memoir Betty & Estelle/A Voice for My Grandmother (2016). 

Friday, January 13, 2017

HERE'S TO THE GREATNESS WE INAUGURATE

by Chris O'Carroll

The issues your wise tweets elucidate,
The tone you’ve done so much to elevate,
Lawsuits you’ll never settle (oh, but wait),
Women not hot enough to violate,
The torture you have pledged to reinstate,
The faith you feign but can’t quite fabricate,
The sanity you sometimes simulate –
These are the things that make our country great.

The faux respect world leaders cultivate
Now that a cartoon is a potentate,
The brownshirt crowd to which you gravitate,
The autocrats you hope to emulate,
Life-saving health care you’ll eliminate,
Your plastic swagger as you vacillate,
The bloated deity you venerate
In every mirror – these things make us great.


Chris O'Carroll has been the featured poet in Light, and has published poems in Angle, The Asses of Parnassus, The Orchards, Parody, and The Rotary Dial, among other journals.  D****d T***p has never called him "overrated."

Thursday, January 12, 2017

AFFORDABLE CARE

by Megan Merchant 


Cartoon by Pat Bagley 


I’m sorry America, please have a seat.
By popular vote we are going to remove

your third rib
without a plan for replacement.

You should pray,
or at least mutter something biblical near a statue.

We are going to snipe the surgeon and replace
him with the homeless man

who is stationed by the automatic door
with his styrofoam cup, tipped with whiskey.

He has seen so many injured and sick welcomed
under the florescent lights that he must

be deft at holding a knife, understand how
to point the sharp edge away.

This is a beautiful approach, believe me,
do not underestimate periphery experience,

it is so close to precision, you won’t even know.


Megan Merchant is mostly forthcoming. She is the author of two full-length poetry collections: Gravel Ghosts (Glass Lyre Press, 2016 Book of the Year), The Dark’s Humming (2015 Lyrebird Prize, Glass Lyre Press, forthcoming 2017), four chapbooks, and a children’s book with Philomel Books. 

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

I WOULD KNIT YOU A PUSSY

by Hope Holz


Image source: Pussyhat Project


I would knit you a pussy
with yarn soft and squishy—
cashmere and mohair and silk with glisten and sheen.
And because it would be a multi-cultural pussy, colors like—
mauve and taupe and aubergine.
And in the spot loved most by us,
a giant, shining pearl for the clitoris.

I would place this hand-crated creation on a golden platter,
but before I could present it to you,
you would grab that pussy,
because that is what you do.
You would be enraptured and caress its
glorious folds with your baby hands
and mark each contour
wherever your pouted mouth lands.
At first, you would not notice
your new pussy has no woman attached.
But soon after, you would find
you prefer a disembodied snatch.

You would brag to everyone who might listen
about your new vaginal acquisition:
            “I own the best pussy.
No one owns a better pussy than me.
            I’m telling you—The. Best. Pussy.—
            and I know pussy, people.”

Months later, you would end your nightly ritual
by gently laying your pussy upon your pillow.
You would lie your head next to it,
nuzzle it,
your hair an orange, glowing halo.
I would slip into your room—a pussy ninja—
and find you sleeping that way
(you and your pussy, best friends forever).
I would tiptoe to your bed,
pluck your pussy from its pillow
and steal it away.

In the morning, you would be a blubbering babe
to find your pussy gone.
How dare someone take something so precious
that you call your own?

And then, you might begin to know
what it is like.


Hope Holz is a published poet who recently completed her Master of Liberal Studies degree in Creative Writing from Southern Methodist University. Currently, she is furiously knitting as many pink pussy hats for the upcoming National Women’s March on Washington. She finds her knitting needles to be fine weapons for resistance.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

LAST DANCE, or CLIMATE TEARS

by Gregg Dotoli





the slow-burn endures
as money-green carbon skeptics
play a ravaging death dance
acidic seas sway
swinging  to que sera, sera
wind blasted  trees stoop  like ballerinas
to gusting cracking notes
Swaying to que sera, sera
polar caps melting
spawning new dirges
and puzzling eerie weather
rainbows and lightning
form natural stages
for the  extant to extinct finale
Biota in decline and decay
Fragile and frail mumbles que sera, sera
we're not here to stay
we're not here to stay


Gregg Dotoli studied English at Seton Hall University and enjoys living in the NYC area. He is a white hat hacker, but his first love is the Arts. His poems have appeared in Underground Books, Quailbell, London Journal of Fiction, Madswirl, Sunflower Collection, Ink Sweat and Tears, Metaphor, and other periodicals.

Monday, January 09, 2017

TILIKUM

by Bayleigh Fraser




I’m sorry, I thought you smiled at me
when your mouth caved open for fish,

teeth gleaming hooks, I thought you splashed
my body because you saw parched lips

with pearly onyx eyes, that you understood
how I, riddled with Florida sun, could not have

what you did, cold, water which was endless
to my child self idolizing the girls in wetsuits

and ponytails riding your back, you looking
blanket soft beneath their hands. I thought

that was love. Maybe it was. I’m sorry
I loved a man who made me feel captive,

like a second skin, who wanted my hands,
my messy apartment, me gaunt-faced, his music

tortured from the television speakers, but then,
I was stroking his silky hair and having his baby,

coming back to him, and you were thrashing
for a way out. I’m sorry for returning to your spectacle.

That you sliced open the pool and bent
into the sun. That your body barrelled with gravity.

The last time I watched you—you still shiny
as a strip of old film, a fresh spill—I fought

with my sister. Blaming the heat, how
it buoyed our tempers. The two of us

huddled in the back of stadium bleachers,
our one handheld fan like a wish we couldn’t decide on.

I’m sorry we forgot your pain. One sweat-baked face
shoving another for the slightest draft, hands and curse words

scraping for a chance to hold the new video camera.
We were stormy voices. Confined bodies.

A breath away from the other’s throat, what no one
could have mistaken for love, but was all we knew.


Bayleigh Fraser is an American poet currently residing and writing in Canada, where she hopes to continue her education in poetry. She previously studied at Stetson University in Deland, Florida. A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, her poems have appeared or are forthcoming in 3Elements Review, A Bad Penny Review, The Brooklyn Quarterly, One, Qu, Rattle, and other publications.

Sunday, January 08, 2017

THE FIELD, SOMETHING BORES INTO IT

by Alejandro Escudé



Cover of the 2007 Washington Life feature on the Russian diplomatic compound in Maryland.


The columns are grandiose on the Maryland estate.
Green, greener, and inside, a more Russian Russia,
clean as Vodka, cleaner, and by right, legal. So,
in dark suits, dense cologne, diplomats walk over
‘welcome home’ mats to leave, ousted. The intelligence
apparatus hides in a piece of cake, a delicious cake too.
Something stalks the field, something bores into it,
a veiled screw, a bullet hole in the back but no blood,
a bloodless hole, that is the internet, a leak-less leak.


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, January 07, 2017

PEOPLE

by John Guzlowski




At 530 in the morning
going out for the paper,
I see a guy walking
down the sidewalk
toward me.

He's not whistling
or singing a song.
He’s just walking
straight for me
and my paper.

Why do I have to
consider him
so early
in the morning?

Even before coffee,
even before CNN
brings me
my morning's share
of the sad news

from an airport in Florida
where a kid from Brooklyn
played violent video games
with real guns
real people?

Why do I have to
wonder about this kid
walking toward me,
straight as a razor
or a heart enraged?

Will he listen to
my sorrows,
hear my confession?
Will he say, hello?
Do me harm?

Will he say the word
so that our souls
will be healed,
or not?

All this thinking--
When all I want
is go back
and have the coffee,
and feed the cat,

and not watch
horror unrolling
like a killer snake
straight at me.


John Guzlowski’s writing appears in Garrison Keillor’s Writer’s Almanac, Rattle, Ontario Review, North American Review, Salon.Com, Crab Orchard Review, and many other print and online journals here and abroad.  His poems and personal essays about his parents’ experiences as slave laborers in Nazi Germany and refugees making a life for themselves in Chicago appear in his memoir in prose and poetry Echoes of Tattered Tongues (Aquila Polonica Press). Road of Bones, his novel about two German lovers separated by war, is forthcoming from Cervena Barva Press.  Of Guzlowski’s writing, Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz said, “He has an astonishing ability for grasping reality.” 

Friday, January 06, 2017

THE DAY CARRIE FISHER DIED

by Guillermo Filice Castro



Coffee shop photo by David Shankbone (Own work) via Wikimedia Commons


How strangely innocent I was a few days ago.

How buoyant I felt before November.

How queer this weather is, warm, cold, warm.

At my usual stops, the coffee shop, the gym,

I’ve been struck by the disappearance
of the regulars.

Their names, birds never caught.

At least the staff at the deli wears name tags.

So what happened to Minh? Where’s
Arturo? And the three of us would
chat for a bit

our accents sideswiping
one another

over a logjam of latte orders and jelly donuts.

Aleppo used to be a lovely place, Minh said
with an ache as if she had been born there.

Count the days, the hours, until any store closes for good.
That’s New York for you,

New Yorkers like to think. Here today and…you know the rest.

This seems silent and precise, not to say fast.
Have I also cruised past the tipping point?

I repeat my order to some unibrowed youngster,

Hot, light, one Splenda. Not the pink packet, the yellow one.

Poor kid. Not his fault I’m feeling hostile, scared.

Tomorrow repeat the order.
Repeat the.
Repeat.

Arturo was my favorite

though he always regarded
everybody with flared nostrils,

gorgeous brown eyes half-way shut. Until he got to know you, that is.

Ever get the feeling you’re about to become invisible?
he asked me once. I wanted to pull off his hat and play

with his black hair. Tell him not to worry
like I believed it.

How he hoped to find a crown
for his girl back in Morelos. A crown?

Meanwhile a CGI princess Leia whispers at the end of Rogue One,

“Hope.”

Where did Arturo and Minh go? They must be OK
I tell myself. Found a job elsewhere.

And the regulars, well, just moved away.

But if I could

tell Arturo, wait, tell Carrie too
the snowflakes that dusted my head
this morning

were not even enough for a tiara.


Guillermo Filice Castro is a poet and photographer. He's the author of a chapbook of poems Agua, Fuego (Finishing Line Press, 2015). Recent work appears in Tarpaulin Sky, The Tishman Review, Glass Poetry, The Brooklyn Rail and others. A native of Argentina, he lives in New York City.

Thursday, January 05, 2017

VICTORY

by Judith Terzi





after "Where Aleppo's Escapees Converge"
by Nabih Bulos, Los Angeles Times, 12/19/16


The shelter's in Jibreen. This is no home away from home.
Refugees stream into a factory. Both sides fled their home.

The fleeing & returning cross paths here. Who is who?
Some returning to Aleppo to find the ashes of a home.

Others just escaped Aleppo, a city thousands of years old.
Gunmen set fire to the buses carrying them from home.

Armies shelled a hospital, then a makeshift clinic appeared.
Fathers killed fathers. What to tell the children of home?

Chopped lettuce heaped on a table & vats of donated oil.
30,000 falafel sandwiches. Doesn't charity begin at home?

A teacher writes on a blackboard. Fewer children now.
Some only trace the letters, can't read the syllables of home.

Sweet tea soothes a family huddling to ward off the cold.
Truces broken, re-broken in the broken city called home.


Judith Terzi's poetry has appeared in journals such as Atlanta Review (International Publication Prize, 2015), Caesura, Columbia Journal, Raintown Review, Spillway, and in anthologies such as Malala: Poems for Malala Yousafzai (FutureCycle), Myrrh, Mothwing, Smoke: Erotic Poems (Tupelo), and Wide Awake: The Poets of Los Angeles and Beyond (Pacific Coast Poetry Series). If You Spot Your Brother Floating By was released in 2015 by Kattywompus Press and a new chapbook Casbah is forthcoming in 2017. Her poetry has been nominated for Best of the Net and Web.

Wednesday, January 04, 2017

SUNSET COMMENT ON THE NEW YEAR

by George Held




29 December 2016


It’s one of those glorious sunsets,
Like an ad for New Mexico, that makes
You feel blessed to be alive even as
Authoritarianism leaks over the horizon –
Orange and gold flames with a purple core
Over New Jersey without the seasonal
Obstruction of leaves on the trees –
What might it presage, what tacit
Message doth it bring, this dynamic neon
Peach Melba of a twilit sky? Not the Orange
Man risen from New York City towers
To loom Kong-like over even the sunset,
The sky, the compliant Universe,
The galactic figure of our tabloid
Imaginations?
And now the fire in the sky
Deepens like a Roman omen, the night
Rushes in to drape dark auguries
About the perishing republic, and we brace
For the inevitable inauguration, the sunset
A mere glowing ember in the charred evening.


George Held, a frequent contributor to TheNewVerse.Newshas received ten Pushcart nominations, including ones for both poetry and fiction in 2016. His new poetry chapbook is Phased II (Poets Wear Prada, 2016).

Tuesday, January 03, 2017

REQUIEM FOR VESNA VULOVIC

by Devon Balwit


A Serbian woman who survived what was said to be a 10,000-metre (33,000ft) fall after a plane exploded in mid-air in 1972 has died aged 66. Vesna Vulović  (above in 1972 AP photo) was found dead by her friends in her apartment in Belgrade, Serbian state television reported. The cause of death was not immediately known. In January 1972 she was working as a flight attendant a Yugoslav Airlines DC-9 plane when it blew up over the snowy mountain ranges of what was then Czechoslovakia. All of the other 27 passengers and crew on board died.Initially paralysed from the waist down, Vulović eventually made almost a full recovery and even returned to work for the airline in a desk job. She never regained memory of the accident or her rescue. She said in 2008 that she could only recall greeting passengers before takeoff from the airport in Denmark, and then waking up in hospital with her mother at her side. She went on to put her celebrity at the service of political causes, protesting against Slobodan Milošević’s rule in the 1990s and later campaigning for liberal forces in elections. —The Guardian, December 24, 2016


The nervous begged to sit beside her on planes,
figuring anyone who had plummeted 33,000 feet
and lived had lucky coiled into her DNA.  Her fall
made her a mosaic reassembled by doctors and
by will.  Changed by gravity, she spoke out,
unafraid to call a butcher’s hands blood-dipped,
even if it cost her job.  The tiniest stone can clog
an engine, resisting from where it’s hurled.


Devon Balwit is a poet and educator from Portland, Oregon. She has a chapbook Forms Most Marvelous forthcoming from dancing girl press (summer 2017). Her recent poems can be found in: Oyez, The Cincinnati Review, Red Paint Hill, The Ekphrastic Review, TheNewVerse.News, Noble Gas Quarterly, Timberline Review, Trailhead Magazine, Vector, and Permafrost.

Monday, January 02, 2017

CHICAGO, OUR KIND OF TOWN

by George Salamon




Two girls, 13 and 14, were shot on the South Side as a violent Christmas weekend came to a close during one of the most violent years in Chicago in decades. A total of 61 people were shot in the city during the holiday weekend, according to data kept by the Tribune.. Seven were killed on Christmas Day alone.   "A Violent Christmas in a Violent Year for Chicago: 11 killed, 50 wounded," Chicago Tribune, December 27, 2016


Chicago, once celebrated by the poet
As the Hog Butcher for America,
Proudly singing to be alive,
You have become
The People Butcher of America,
Killing the brawling laughter of youth.
Why has America abandoned the fight
To keep old Chicago's spirit alive?

That spirit and everything else can go to hell
As long as Wall Street is doing well.
People? Who cares if they survive
As long as corporations thrive.
America, when you wake in the middle of the night
And an inner voice calls your name,
Have you no sense of shame?

George Salamon lives and writes in St. Louis, MO, which boasts of its own All-American murder rate.

Sunday, January 01, 2017

WINTER STARS

by Buff Whitman-Bradley


Winter Sky Rising by Alan Dyer at The Amazing Sky

Stepping outside
To watch the winter stars
Those dazzling divas of illumination
Perform their seasonal pageant
In the infinite amphitheater
Of the cold black sky
I can almost hear the old Earth
Creak on its axis
As it rolls toward another new year.

There have been better years
Than the one just past
When for one thing
The medicos found cancer in me
And had to carve it out
And radiate the environs
To prevent a recurrence.
So far that's worked.
For another, my country
By hook and crook
Selected a new president
Of such surpassing vulgarity and venality
Of such mendacity and bigotry and corruption
As to alarm all people of good will
And those most vulnerable to the predations
Of the greedy and powerful
Of racists and misogynists
Of xenophobes and homophobes
Affirmed and emboldened
By this man's ascension to power.
There is widespread concern
That a kind of civic and social malignancy
Is gnawing away at the body politic
And people all over the land
Are struggling to determine
What treatments will work best.
The prognosis is uncertain
And fatalism seems most apt.

But I remind myself that last year at this time

I was not at all sure
I would make it to now
Yet here I am
Pulsing with life and good health
Bundled up on a cold bright winter night
Shivering happily under the stars.


Buff Whitman-Bradley's poetry has appeared in many print and online journals, including Atlanta Review, Bryant Literary Review, Concho River Review, Crannog, december, Hawai'i Review, Pinyon, Rockhurst Review, Solstice, Third Wednesday and others. He has published several collections of poems, most recently, To Get Our Bearings in this Wheeling World. His interviews with soldiers who refused to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan became the book About Face: Military Resisters Turn Against War. He lives in northern California with his wife Cynthia.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

BERLIN, DECEMBER 19, 2016

by J.D. Smith





Much reading renders dust the myth
Of some past golden age,
As rust and tarnish, canker, rot
Have flyspecked every page.

Outlines emerge, though, that describe
The wax and wane of powers
And which times had the wit to build—
Or only tear down—towers.

As on a crowded street one sorts
The harmless from the threat,
Some stories stand out from the day
And mark a turn, so that

If we can’t quite assay this age
Or what it is replacing,
We still can feel the flames and smell.
The swart smoke of debasing.


J.D. Smith’s third collection of poems Labor Day at Venice Beach was published in 2012; his first humor collection Notes of a Tourist on Planet Earth the following year.. His poems have appeared in journals and sites including 99 Poems for the 99 Percent, Nimrod, Tar River Poetry, Texas Review, and Dark Mountain 3.

Friday, December 30, 2016

HANUKKAH DEMONSTRATION AGAINST HATE

by Judith Lechner


More than 75 people from the new Hudson Valley chapter of the group Jewish Voice for Peace gathered at Wall and North streets in Uptown Kingston late Wednesday afternoon to demonstrate their solidarity with Muslims and other minority groups. —Kingston (NY) Daily Freeman, December 21, 2016


Candles challenge city lampposts, neon signs, passing headlights.
            A miraculous oil lit the lamps in the Temple.
Crowd’s voices gather strength, shout “Love, not hate, makes America great.”
            Hanukkah candle flames remind us of ancient battle against oppressors.
December night chills hands holding placards of painted candles that tell their story.
            Holy Temple in Jerusalem 170 B.C.
            Greek-Syrian despot Antioch  forbids Jewish worship.
            Sends soldiers to massacre resistors in Land of Israel.
            Invaders erect altar to Zeus defiling the Temple.
            Long struggle led by Judah Maccabee wins back the holy site.
            Only enough oil to purify the Temple for one day.
            A miracle—oil burns for eight days.

Hanukkah is the memory of the rededication of the Temple.
            Purification celebrated by lighting eight candles one a day.
We dedicate ourselves to fighting hate in the temple within.
            Shine light on the persecution of Muslims and Blacks. 
We form a human menorah to display our unity in diversity.
            Lights spell out our message of brotherhood and justice.
Each candle helps illuminate inner darkness, clear hatred from clouded eyes.
             The message of Hanukkah --“a miracle can happen here.”


Judith Lechner—poet, short story and essay writer—has also written 24 nonfiction books for school libraries. Her poetry book The Moon Sings Back appeared in 2011. She is a member of the Goat Hill Poets, a performance group and has won the Green Heron Poetry Prize and Tattoo Haiku contest.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

ELECTION SHOCK, TWIN CITIES, 2016

by Sue Reed Crouse




You will tire
of using his face

to pick up dog shit.
You will quit saying cataclysm

because cataclysm unites
a country. You will cull Facebook,

CNN, the front page from your day.
You will say, I’m done, I’m through

fuck it. You will get your household
Canada-ready. You will roam the woods,

call on the willow, golden in the low light
and the pond, steeped in the oak’s rich tannins.

But then, you will go downtown and see
Somali school girls swinging, their shashs

billowing and you’ll drive on Lake Street,
where Dia de los Muertos celebrations—

with marigolds, calavaras, offrendas
were held last week. You will

pass houses
flying the rainbow flag

and you’ll go home
and get to work.


Sue Reed Crouse is a 2011 graduate of the Foreword Program, a two-year poetry apprenticeship at the Loft Literary Center in Minneapolis. Much of her work is elegiac in nature, exploring themes of grief and loss after losing Laura, her 20 year-old daughter in 2008. Finding fresh ways to explore this universal theme through image-driven poetry helps her navigate the sorrow and, hopefully, help others who grieve. Crouse’s work appears in Verse Wisconsin, The Aurorean (Showcase Poet), The Talking Stick (First Prize, Honorable Mention), Grey Sparrow, Earth’s Daughters, Damselfly Press, Midway Journal, Sleet Magazine, Unhinged, Little Lantern Press and a chapbook entitled Gatherings: A Foreword Anthology. Her manuscript One Black Shoe was a finalist for the Backwaters Prize last year.