THEME POETRY

MARCH 2022 = UKRAINE & FOOTSTEPS

HOW TO ACTUALLY FUEL YOUR BODY...

Mel Haagman

United Kingdom

https://www.facebook.com/girlontheedge90

A glass of compassion
With a shot of gratitude,
A pinch of love
And a positive attitude.
A stir of benevolence,
A sprinkle of trust,
A spoonful of candour,
A strong sense of unjust.
A large slice of integrity,
And a cupful of grace,
A helping of hope,
For the human race.
A mouthful of empathy,
Good values and affection,
The resilience needed
For good self-reflection.
Whisk in some mercy,
Sift out the divide,
And no one can say,
That that you never tried…

__________

WATCH THE SKY

Kassie Runyan

United States

https://www.kassiejrunyan.com

watch the sky for stars

maybe we can make a wish

to see our dreams come true

there! a shooting star

quick! make a wish tonight

squeeze your eyes shut tight

before the explosions start

do wishes make sounds

or is that the shells

 

what wishes can come true

in a  world run by the few

that are fighting for lies alone

the shells rain down from above

get ready to run and hide

wishing to live just another day

 

can we wish on a falling shell?

hope our wish comes true

and watch the sky for stars

__________

RUNNING AGAINST YOURSELF

Chris Wilson

Liverpool, United Kingdom

https://www.instagram.com/cw_writer_/

Playlist poised, warm up complete,

Laces tied, key safe in socks.

I'm prepared, but I'm facing defeat.

As Anxiety makes a false start out the blocks:


"You're a fake, you'll never be able to finish

Stay on the sofa let inertia diminish

Any sense of ambition; you'll be dead on your feet

Before you reach the end of the street."


Yet, I refocus: in the next lane is Willpower

Ready to race despite the early hour

I take solace and await the starting gun

"Ready, set..." And then begin to run.


Or jog. Or power walk. Or something

In between the former and the latter

So long as it gets this body pumping

To prevent me growing ever fatter.


With a spring in his step, Enthusiasm takes an early lead 

Hurdling over weeds and shit on the ground

I follow close behind, doubts no longer impede

My sense of progress as I speed around


The first bend and onto the main road

Confidence by my side, I get into a rhythm

This is easy I think until my stamina starts to corrode

And between myself and Belief there's a sudden schism

Approaching the hill, in my peripheral sight

Doubt approaches insidiously from the rear 

He scorns my efforts, is full of spite,

the gradient increases, I can't find another gear


Whilst simultaneously my heart rate sprints off the chart

My brain chastises: "this wasn't so smart."

Both legs protest they don't want to be a part 

Of this nonsense, why didn't we put our foot down at the start?


And just as Fatigue tumbles and trips

The other competitors stumble and slip

Now only grim Determination and I are on the home stretch

Pushing me further, until I'm going to retch!


Sweat stinging my eyes and running down my face

I cross the finish line into Elation's embrace

I haven't won gold or smashed a personal best

But this is a victory nevertheless.

__________

THE OLD TRACKS

Nolo Segundo

United States


In my town and only

90 feet from my house 

Run a pair of old tracks,

Railroad tracks older

Than my house, even 

Older than me, and I

Am become old, very,

Very old, like a tree

Whose branches 

Betray it with 

Every strong wind

And fall to ground

Leaving less and

Less of the tree.


I used to walk in

Between those

Carefully laid

Iron rails, stepping

On the worn wood

Of the old ties as

Though they were

Made of glass….

I walked the length 

Of my small town,

I walked the world.

I walked where 

Passenger trains

Carried lives and

Their once warm,

Now cold, dreams

And I was part of 

Each life, now gone

To ether and mist, 

And so too my 

Lonely soul will

Ride those rails

One bright day.


Still, a freight train

Comes by once or

Even twice a week,

And I thrill to hear

Its wailing horn as 

it cries out for a 

forgotten glory, 

and the ground 

still shakes a bit

as the old train

lumbers slowly 

by my house and

I wait a holy wait

For the music of

Its rumbling and 

The cry of its old

Heart as a young

Engineer pulls the

Whistle and sees 

Not that he is 

Driving eternity.

__________

DANCE OF THE MOON

Savannah K. Martinez

Texas, United States

https://www.instagram.com/crierpsycho/

 

She who reached her hands up 

     To the Moon,

She who loved his pale kiss 

     Upon her skin

So delicate was the way- 

The way he made her swoon.

 

This little blush, 

     The Dance of the Moon 

Like gentle petals in the wind;

On soft grass she did tread,

The sealing of their fates 


Of the mortals, a love unrequited 

From nature be a tale of two, who 

From separate realms lived

One in fields full of life

-And the other in astral halls passing 


Oh, how her heart-beat longs!

     And her hands dance and twine 

Reaching up,

Like those of the growing vine 


Footsteps- the sound of passion 

That choir of life that falls

Upon her ears, as man and Earth 

Become one. 


Yet in her springly meadows 

She sheds a single tear-

For she knows how her love cannot be so;

 Perhaps one day but still, 

The moon can come down to see 

Her beautiful face 

Bright with sunlight,

     And full of grace

__________

FOOTSTEPS

Sangeeta Rajput

United Kingdom

 

I hear his footsteps in the hallway

Turnaround and look, you’re not there

I forgot again that you have gone


How I long to hear your footsteps 

To see you standing at my door

You’ve left your footsteps permanently in my heart


It brings a smile to my face, the sound of each footstep

Now each step is high in the clouds 

How I wish I heard each step coming closer to me

__________

HER TEARS

Kassie Runyan

United States

https://www.kassiejrunyan.com

her tears

they stream down

her small checks

that were rosy

once…

now the tears

make lines

through the dirt

that is packed

against the skin

dirt from the last

two days…

three days…

of her legs running

to keep up

as her mother

ran them away

from home

__________

BEYOND COMPLIANCE, BEYOND RESISTANCE

D. R. James

Michigan, United States

https://www.amazon.com/D.-R.-James/e/B00IW6KT3W


When asked once who his greatest spiritual teacher had been the Dalai Lama responded, “China.”


The cat’s reactions to my fingers’

scratching, remind me I’m often

automatic: twitching skin of each

thank-you-very-much, arched back

of jockeying for a slender compliment,

submissive flop-and-grovel of every

please, please, please. But then


that prance of defiance across

invisible piano wire spanning

table to out-of-bounds countertop

to stove controls, my dainty paws,

claws approximately withdrawn,

picking out the touch-pad tune of

bake, broil, clean, clock, and cancel.


Lately I’ve been working on my

up-and-walk-away, my saunter

and dusty-sandal forefoot flick,

my vertical tail-like-a-flag of

nonchalance—which I plan to plant

somewhere pacifistic, somewhere

beyond this rage against my own Beijing.


  —first published in Why War (Finishing Line Press, 2014)

__________

FOOTSTEPS

Tulip Chowdhury

 

Strained ears, senses alert,

I wait for your footsteps,

have been waiting since the first daffodils

showed up with golden smiles.

Heart racing and aching with loneliness

I listen for footsteps, so familiar

and yet so far from me,

I watch the summer pass by.

Autumn comes, and the withering leaves

whisper of tears behind my smiles

they tell me of a missed chance

that you came,

but I didn’t hear your footsteps.

But,

how could I have not heard you come

and call my name? Or didn’t you call at all?

Footprints engraved on the sands of time

have taken my love away

and left tears drying in the sand.

__________

AMONGST THE FIELDS OF SUNFLOWERS

Colin Butcher

In fields across the plains today,

The wounded, dead and dying lay.

As overhead the dragons roar,

climbing swooping in the sky they soar.

And down below in mud and filth,

the churned-up fields of finest tilth,

Soldiers march and crush the flowers

crushed beneath their overwhelming powers.

 

A sunflower lost is a soul they’ve taken,

a broken love, a dream forsaken.

Churned beneath their steel wheel,

Overwhelmed and unable to feel.

Slashing, firing, destroying slaying,

No one stood to stop the braying.

The tyrant sits in his bunker prating,

The noble prince stands steady, waiting.

We all stand around, making noises without sound,

For when all is said and done, our voices just run around. 

But we are not on their soil,

as we make noises in the turmoil.

Their lives we live vicariously,

Seeing the flickering images on TV.

If they fall and if they fail,

We might weep and we might wail.

It does no good to wring our hands,

as they die in their own homelands.

We need to stand and help this land.

Before the last sunflower wilts and falls

and evil stands at their city walls.

__________

LOST IN THE SHUFFLE

Ruth Sabath Rosenthal

United States

https://newyorkcitypoet.com/

 

yesterday 

on one of 

my lone walks 

i came upon 

two women

one supporting 

the other 

whose shuffle 

i recognized

in a heartbeat 

quietly 

disappearing 

as they rounded 

the corner 

their tight-lipped silence

fiercely wringing still

bringing me 

back to 

when my mother died

& i’d erased 

unanswered 

phone messages 

from long-absent 

family & friends 

& shuffled 

condolence letters

from pile to pile 

before 

discarding them

unread

__________

REPORTING THE WAR

Vidya Shankar

India

https://www.instagram.com/vidya.shankar.author/

 

in another part of the world, we talk 

about the war in the classroom. my students know

more about the war than i do — the stories

that have been trickling in over

the past three days. they are excited to share what 

they know; for them it’s

a diversion from usual lessons, a chance

for chatter in the classroom. i

let them converse for a while before i say, well, so

how would you write a news report on

these stories? and I veer them on

to a writing task.

__________

FOOTSTEPS IN UKRAINE

Pankhuri Sinha

India

https://www.facebook.com/pankhuri.sinha.56/

 

Giant buses with headlights on

Screech to a halt

Teary faced, red eyed mothers,

clutching a toddler

In one hand, holding tiny fingers tightly

In another, slowly walk to its gates

Baby footsteps

Leaving mother land

For the first time!

For absolute uncertainty!

 

May these images

The sights and sounds

Of Ukraine, melt some

Callous hearts!

 

May these tiny footsteps

Turn around and return home!

May they get to walk in peace

In meadows, full of flowers, in school yards, full of teachers!

 

May children never have to

Deal with landmines below

And bombs above!

But why are we still

Wishing for such a basic

Trivial thing?

Why do we live in a world

Constantly pulling itself back?

Which year was that

Long Jewish march on snow?

Was it 42 or 44?

It has always been with me

Dangling for balance on thin

Black ice!

 

I once walked to the city centre

In a Canadian downtown

In the foothills of the Rockies

Along the train tracks

Because walking

Is most relieving when dealing

With the pain of discrimination!

Gandhi walked to the sea

With the slogan of

Making one 's own tax-free salt!

Walking is a symbol of human might

Emblematic of loving triumph!

 

People walk to be felicitated!

 

At a time, when peace is somehow

Packaged with corporate help

And distributed in tiny hand outs

By big brands, how can this world

Turn a blind eye to the marching in

Of invading soldiers over lives of people

Recently liberated in the neighborhood

Its not the military drill, or the boot clanks

Of a heavily armed invader

But the footsteps of the brave soldiers

Defending their land, tip toeing

Between buildings and corners of streets

Building bunkers in ditches, crawling over

Distances upon the rubble of life, ruins of faith

Its the mark of those soldierly footsteps

Over unnecessarily splattered blood

That's going to haunt humanity for a long

Long time!

__________

NO FOOTPRINTS

Zaneta Varnado Johns

United States

https://www.zanexpressions.com/

 

When life’s squabbles fiercely erupt 

When your burdens become unbearable

When your pain is too intense

When no words provide comfort

When the despair is overwhelming

When your light becomes dim

When your sunken eyes are swollen 

When dark nights lead to darker days

When looking down feels better than up

When you are gently lifted and carried

When your way comes out of no way

When you can’t recall progression

When troubled water no longer troubles you

When your season of trials ends

When your tears dry up

When you look down, perplexed

When you see footprints that are not yours

There is no need to look again

You know the answer—

You left no footprints because God carried you through.

__________

WAR AND BEAUTY

Michael Brownstein

Let us say the colorful hummingbird symbolizes peace.

Let us say the two-legged giant with weak arms is the gray of cruelty.

The hummingbird swift and agile, a glitter of texture;

the giant clumsy and slow, the creator of tools of destruction.

Let us say they meet in the field of wildflowers blossoming.

After the smoke clears, the fires fade, the gray fog of death remains.

Let us say the hummingbird symbolizes peace.

Let us say the giant with weak arms tries to be the master of extinction.

The field will regain itself; flowers will bloom, hummingbirds will repopulate.

Unfortunately, the giant will return with cruel anger.

He is slow and unsure: He will learn beauty always wins.

__________

THE MILKY MARROW

Gail Grycel

Vermont, United States

https://www.instagram.com/windleaner/?hl=en

 

“The colors of the world are permanent, 

despite the bleach of change” -Stanley Kunitz

 

Re-districting maps collage

our unmarked graves,

and bleached skeletons 

float on turbid rivers

of crimson blood.

 

But—our torch-held truths 

cannot be long subdued.

They will re-surface to claw 

at complacency, root 

for the milky marrow, pale 

the yellowed avarice

left in the clefted wake.

__________

QUALITY FOOTSTEPS

Kathy Jo Bryant

United States

Footsteps come

And footsteps go

Some go fast

And some go slow


Some grow louder

Some grow faint

Some get tracked

Through new, wet paint


Some leave tennie's

Tracks behind

Some leave imprints

On your mind


But most of all

I want to see

Your sweet footprints

Just following me!

__________

IN THE STEPS OF OTHER FACES OF HUMANITY

Maid Čorbić

Tuzla, Bosnia, and Herzegovina

https://twitter.com/maky.broo

https://www.instagram.com/zaglavlje.official/

 

where did that justice go?

where which we all fought for reason?

because war still is to be found

if we are not people who will understand in time

that time is money, and human lives are primary resources


which is why war must break out

if we can't have peace agreements

with these steps I pave the way for peace

but it does not go because of the resistance of some people

who want only to see war and blood


women, mothers, children are hiding

i still don't know where i am unfortunately

because the news bombards me; I hear it each day

that every now and then someone dies for no reason

just because people want to feel war again


I know some things can't be fixed easily

but why don't we react immediately to some things

because I am trapped in Ukraine as a resident

and I'm afraid there will be more

victims than ever before


the third allied war, unfortunately, seems to be coming

I don't have to die if I have no reason to

for I am, after all, only a man who wants peace

just as he wants his fellow citizens to live better and

the whole world to be presented in a better light


support from my side, Bosnia and Herzegovina

for we know best how great human sacrifices are versus history

therefore, there should be no more war

because in these steps we will go to another world

consciously carrying all mistakes with you

but unfortunately, I must understand that the world has become so strange


time must pass on

it remains for me only to hope that the world will understand

but I'm at the end of it all

that somewhere the humanist lies

where everyone is looking for it

and it is never too late to repent

because everything goes to charge sooner or later!

__________

WALKER

Jane Fitzgerald

United States

https://www.amazon.com/Jane-H.-Fitzgerald/e/B01MSW2FLO

https://www.facebook.com/JanesPoetry

 

I walked to clear my head

To get out for fresh air

I steadily tramped for miles

Block after city block


I walked to keep in shape

Gaining strength with exercise


I walked to be alone

Among throngs of bustling people

Not interacting, hardly observing


I was like a rodent on a wheel

Going round and round to nowhere

Not stopping, not varying the route


I filled my days with walking

Compelled to go on and on

I became the routine

My existence on earth

Had no meaning

Except for my walk for life

My life had become transformed

Step after step to nowhere

A pilgrimage of hollow dreams

__________

IT’S COLD IN UKRAINE THIS TIME OF YEAR

Judith Shapiro

United States

winter

my favorite season


6,000 miles away

curled up in bed

my cat

by my side

sharing warmth


thinking of you


stranded

frightened

dying


a million flee

the lucky ones


we see pictures

buildings bombed


a man in the train station holds his cat

his pain my pain


turning away

it lingers


the inexplicable brutality

the horror

do not escape me

are not lost on me


I imagine you in the cold morning

boots cut through the thin layer of ice that formed on sidewalks overnight


running


your footsteps

my footsteps


‘til thoughts

feelings

overwhelm


I step aside

let you pass


post sunflowers

share images of blue and yellow flags

crawl back under the covers

__________

UKRAINIAN EXODUS

Kathryn Sadakierski

United States

Sitting or standing in queues,

Huddled together, waiting,

For this ticket to a new life,

A journey by train or foot, 

There’s nothing so stifling

As the knowledge that something is overhead,

A twist in plans, diverging from the expected,

But not knowing, for sure, what it is,

Unsure of what will happen.


Walking together long distances, 

Crossing the borders, the bridges,

The distance falls away,

The only constant being

That we’re in this together,

Countries or counties apart,

We won’t stand in wait,

But will stand with you.


You face uncertainty, entering a shifting world,

A different nation,

Seeking refuge from a land 

Away from the one you’ve known,

Home is a new residence,

But it’s also in hope, 

Shining at the end of this winding road,

In the arms that welcome,

Those that wait on the border’s other side,

Volunteers with tables of hot tea,

Cups of compassion poured out.

Through this exodus, 

A kind face is welcome, refreshing,

As water in the desert,

Nurturing from the ash 

A garden of sunflowers.

In shelters, bread is broken underground,

Meals are shared, worries and dreams,

That this nightfall will soon end,

And the sun will rise on a better day ahead.


Road signs are removed,

The old days, the words of then,

Are replaced with new,

There is no language to describe

What you’re going through,

Though what’s true, deepest within,

The heart that beats for memories, and people loved,

Is the surest navigator,

So when any other vernacular is inadequate,

There is this,

The voice inside that tells you to keep going,

That there is still time, never a day too long gone

To preserve the light, incandescent peace,

Ensuring that the torch of your ancestors

Will be held by the future.

__________

INCOMPREHENSIBLE

Carolyn Chilton Casas

United States

https://www.instagram.com/mindfulpoet_/

 

I will never understand aggression.

What can be gained

by threatening or harming

another that outweighs

the value of a single life?

It is incomprehensible

one individual or group

wanting to take

from their neighbor.

How is it possible they believe

they have that right?

 

Our brains evolved

at light speed, advancing

intelligence creating

wonders never imagined

in the past.

But tell me, what happened

to the cultivation

of our hearts?      

 

Yesterday, I read the story

of a Russian soldier

breaking down in tears

when a Ukrainian citizen

gave him food and a phone

to call his mother.

 

What wouldn’t we give up

in material advances

to be witnesses of more

compassionate acts like that.

__________

BURNING QUESTION

Catherine Schweig

Virginia, United States

I light this candle for you, 

scared Ukrainian, 

clutching your child, 

missiles overhead,

sirens echoing through 

your empty streets. 

 

I light this candle for you, 

young Russian, forced to fight, 

machine gun in hand, 

texting, “I am afraid” 

to your Mother.

 

Nothing will ever be the same, 

and yet, nothing has changed. 

Our collective DNA holds 

stories of so many invasions.

 

Humanity plays life on repeat—

soldiers and refugees, 

multiplying ad infinitum,

stuck in the spin cycle of

killing and being killed,

over and over again.

 

Around the world, peace candles burn

illuminating a single question:

Might we change the storyline, 

once and for all?

__________

RANCHERIA FALLS

Stephen Barile

California, United States

We took a rental car

To Dave’s camp 

At Badger Flats campground.

We got there before dark

Pitched our tent on a flat, grassy spot

Near the fire pit that was smoking,

Heating a pan of creek water.

Dave was cooking dinner for us,

We ate creamed tuna on toast

In folding aluminum chairs

Sitting before the campfire. 


We decided to hike to Rancheria Falls

In the morning, about two miles

Downstream, after an hour of conversation.

We were up early drinking Dave’s coffee

Cooking on the fire, while he

Prepared eggs, bacon and toast.

After breakfast, we sat drinking coffee, 

Waiting for the day to warm.


We followed the creek until the trail

Appeared before us, crisscrossed

The stream several times and lead

Into thick underbrush over the water,

Dead trees from preceding years.

On the trek we found the trail longer,

Harder, more work, less easy to find.

The way obscured, we climbed upward

On barren slopes of the gorge, 

Granite boulders, and bushy vegetation.

Suddenly the sky opened up in blue

Over a wooded valley of pine trees.

The creek flattened out over granite

To a point where the creek fell

One-hundred fifty feet to rocks below.

We walked as close as we dared   

To the edge of the precipice

Where the waterfall began.

Then returned to the warm granite

Expanse in the late morning sun.


She took off her hat and T-shirt

Over her small pendant breasts. 

Peeled off both shorts,

Pulled off her heavy boots,

Laying naked on her garments,

Absorbed the sun’s subduing rays

Through her olive-skin.

Patches of whitish bumps appeared

Where the wind from the deep canyon

Caressed her nubile body.

__________

THE WAY I KNEW HIM

Antoni Ooto

New York, United States

https://www.linkedin.com/in/antoniooto/

http://www.ooto.org/blog/

 

You could say I knew him by the way he walked,

his way of leaning into the path.


He saw the ruts

and chose to step into them.


Never complained about mud,

a fallen tree, or war left in his way.


And I watched, following his courage,

never really knowing him at all.


first appeared in

Red Eft Review

November / 2018

__________

FOOTSTEPS AMONGST THE SUNFLOWERS

Maria Therese Williams

England, United Kingdom

https://www.facebook.com/RoamingReflections

 

Under the blue of the sky

Sunflowers bursts from the Earth 

People like you and I

Are victimised by the politically adverse

Power-hungry villains in the guise of leaders

Taunt each other mercilessly until their people are their victims

Bedlam reigns where storks should fly 

Whilst blood flows in rivers and bodies lie

Footsteps have gone in the wrong direction

Now others are running, seeking protection

For all in the garden between yellow and blue

The world holds its breath and prays for you

__________

MYSTERIES YET TO MASTER

Gurupreet K. Khalsa

United States

https://www.linkedin.com/in/gurupreet-k-khalsa-09257b11/


“I am still a long way from home.” 

– Pat Schneider


Stumbling in whispering wildernesses,

undetermined epiphanies yet to marvel,

a long way from certainty,

I am still a long way from home.


Mesmerized by flashing temporary truths,

facing uphill climbs, treacherous tangles,

a long way from infinite awareness,

I am still a long way from home.


Caught in circumstance, circles, clowns

of the present, feet glued in muddy meadows 

a long way from beckoning peaks,

I am still a long way from home.


Lured into dead ends, mysteries to master,

bound thoughts float in concertina strains

a long way from understanding,

I am still a long way from home.

__________

THE BLOOM + THE SPIRIT

Marion Price

if I could tell secrets

I would tell you of one

how I loved every footstep
I walked with him - son...
how a million times over
we walked the same way
laughing and liking, sometimes
arguing each day
how the bloom of our spirits
made marks on this earth
how ally and friend he had been

since his birth

and if all is for telling
I would tell you this too, that our
footprints, together, go on
yes, they do,
how the secret is this...
he walks still close to me
how the unseen is more than sight
ever can be

__________

FOOTSTEPS TO FREEDOM

Joanne Bowles

England, United States

There is a saying .....

"Walk a mile in my shoes", before we can begin to understand their plight

 

Today Ukraine is facing this indiscriminate war they're survival hinging on how fiercely they must fight.

  

All the world is watching the bravery of this nation.

The actions of this war receiving world wide

Condemnation.

 

The European Union are showing support for Volodymyr Zelenksy.

Whilst Russian troops  are killing the innocent  with intensity.

 

It's 2022 and we're still fighting for democracy .

We must do more to stop Russian corruption and it's lunacy. 

 

We should walk a path of consciousness for Ukraine's peace and for their freedom .

Footsteps of the brave and strong will pave the way for generations to come

 

We are praying Ukraine will rise from war and live a life of peace .

Democracy will prevail and the fighting will

Decease.

 

The seeds they've sown depicts the strength they've shown as this war gets out hand 

 

Let's hope the sunflower will forever flourish over their homelands  .

__________

PARADISE FROM WITHIN

Timothy Michael DiVito

Feeling not of this place,

but of one far away,

filled with the scent of love.

 

Feed me not lies of peace,

for I feel for this world,

as brandished steel destroys 

hope of eternal life.

 

Ravaged lives lie broken,

mended they cannot be,

except for their sacred souls, 

which can now find freedom 

in houses of the holy.

 

Fire shall rain down daily,

until this way of life

is ceased and desisted.

 

Peace, a true cherished gem,

needs to breathe free of sham.

 

Find it in your soul now

to set in motion love,

that will consume evil.

 

Paradise does exist,

not only in our minds,

but in every man's heart.

__________

WHEN DESPAIR FOR THE WORLD GROWS IN ME

After Wendell Berry

Laurie Rosen

Massachusetts and Vermont, United States


I take to the wintry woods,   

to tramp in knee deep unsullied snow,

skirting a camouflaged river—

ventriloquist of gurgling water. 


Choosing tedious and exhausting 

instead of easy, lift my snowshoed feet high––

generously avoid the skiers' hard-won trail

to break my own. 


A cobalt sky peeks between tree crowns,

distant ridges rise beyond leafless boughs,  

thick blankets of blue ice cascade hillsides.  

I ascend and descend snowy slopes, 


sweat gathers under my hat and several

layers of fleece. A restorative rhythm

guides me to receive earth’s tranquility––

a robust release from melancholy.  


I keep moving and my mind, 

for a time, rests still.

__________

FOOTPRINTS IN THE CEMENT

Mark Hudson

  A boy joyously jumped in the wet cement. He put

his footprint in the wet cement, to make a statement.

Behind him a police officer, shouted, “Hey, you!” 

The kid looked up and started running.

 

  The cop began to chase him. He slipped on

the wet cement and landed on his rear end in the cement.

  Cursing, he found he sprained his ankle, and

could not get up. A construction worker sat, drinking a thermos of

  hot coffee, which had a little added whiskey, watched in horror.

  The cop said, “Help me up, clown!”

 

  The construction worker got up to help the cop. He was

hoping the cop wouldn’t smell the whiskey on his breath.

  The construction worker, a little giddy from the

whiskey, came over to help, saw the cop lying in the

cement, and laughed so hard he fell face down

in the cement laughing.

 

  The cop helped himself stand up by using his baton,

and planted a cement footprint on the construction worker’s

rear end by stomping really hard. Then he took his baton, and hit

him on his rear end, as if he was spanking him. The construction

worker screamed in pain.

 

  “I can smell the whiskey on you, what’s your problem?”

the cop screamed. “You better have some that you can

share with me!”

__________

LEGLESS

Ant Man

England, United Kingdom


The ground a silver crust of frosting,

It mirrors mountains of range or ridge, 

The surface contours both cliff and valley,

A covered path remains yet hid.


What hinders heels from secure footing?

To tread the boards its own bequest,

The ankles ache with tissue damage, 

A call to halt and take a rest.


Stalkers quest the straight and narrow,

To follow on where others left,

A test to search a forgotten passage,

Step up to challenge where giants press.


The footsteps set before and after,

The slave and master were intertwined,

Some filled with tears and others laughter,

The way back home is hard to find.


Rewind the verse to inch still closer, 

Towards the line where it all began, 

Placing one foot before the other,

And feel the sway from the race we ran.

__________

FOOTPRINTS LEFT IN THE SAND

Karuna Mistry

United Kingdom

https://karunacreations.wordpress.com/
 

Sea of tranquility, sea of wonder

I see your gentle calmness

Serene scene for miles abound

A dark horizon under bright starlight

The universe is open here tonight

 

Pin-drop silence, not a soul about

Undisturbed beauty for all eternity

As I enter, silent waves crash around me

Fine particles scatter and splatter

Splashdown with a gentle touch

 

My roving eyes seek for sea life

Seafloor hears my alien patter

Footsteps stamped upon the seabed

Never to be disturbed, perhaps

Save for a very long time

 

Souvenirs from this lost paradise

Taken away without permission

Hurry up into the exit machine

Roar up with a debris shower

The view of Earth from here

__________

EPHEMERA

William Wren

New Brunswick, Canada

https://billwren.com/

 

Empires exist,

then they are gone,

as if they were footsteps

made in the snow.

Tyrants rise up.

They disappear too.

They’re only snowmen.

They’re water in light.

Guns, they are lifted.

Bullets, find homes

in so many bodies.

Some bodies find graves.

Others do not.

They rot on the land

or under the rubble

the bombs leave behind.

Borders are made.

In blood, they’re redrawn.

Countries, like footsteps,

are vanished and gone.

Power comes. Power goes.

It too disappears

with the skeletal smiles

on the ghosts of old men.

Memory is short. 

Death’s very long.

They’re killing Ukraine.

They’re killing Ukraine.

__________

 

A WALK IN THE SUN 

Lake Chabot Golf Course, Oakland, 1930s 

David Olsen

Uniged Kingdom

https://www.davidolsenpoetry.net/


In the Great Depression – the one before 

the “Great Recession” 80 years later – 

my Dad was a caddy. He carried the bag 

and clubs of men who were well off, 

even after the Wall Street Crash of ’29. 


They weren’t busted in the Dust Bowl, 

had means to buy when distressed 

assets passed from weak hands to strong. 

In the midst of the trough, they bought 

cheaply, while those without real jobs 

lacked capital or access to credit, 

could buy nothing of lasting worth. 


Some, like Dad, were rented serfs, 

servants for a sunny afternoon; 

they were left holding the bag.

__________

FOOTFALLS

RC James

United States

Foot falls sharp in bare feet slap on the tiles 
in slippers slide in shooshing, hissing sound. 
 
Heavy jackboots pound through prison hallways 
announcing torture sessions, never release. 
 
On the moon steps are a hush in dust, 
all sound lost to the cables and screens. 
 
In dreams steps make no sound 
we glide through a scene, feet suspended. 
 
The difference between a sprinter's  
quick strides to his limit instinct reeling 
and the long-distance runner's calculated  
movements thudding at a slower pace. 
 
In the jungle the tiger's thud crashing 
through the bush, savage sound alive, 
the antelope's quick drumbeat of tiny hooves 
escaping that same tiger's padded prowling. 
 
Has anyone heard that penguin sound,  
wobbling on the ice, a slight scraping?  
 
A housewife's tombeat clickclack of heels 
as she rushes to find a manager to complain. 
 
A shy young boy approaches a girl at school 
restraining the squeak from his hi-top sneakers. 
 
A surgeon leaving the operating room 
Walking wearily down his failure to report his failure. 
 
Earth pounding hooves of a bull elephant 
unhappy with his confinement to the circus 
and passageways leading to the center of the big top. 
 
Footsteps approaching, footsteps going away, 
intent is discovered in the footfall.

__________

BOUND AND GAGGED

Sangita Kalarickal

United States

https://skaypisms.blogspot.com/

 

we add little flags

to our profile pictures,

light up buildings and bridges

in bright blue and yellow,

we wage a war from the safety

of facebook and twitter,

we make our memes

and make war jokes...

while

in the cold, down Dnieper,

red streaks crawl into the waves...

while

a new bride wears a gun

in place of her bouquet...

while

politicians confer and talk

over their full plates of food...

while

tears unshed the common

accepts this gruesome fate...

while

war tanks crush every dream,

and new orphans are made.

__________

THE WEARY BLUES

Dianalee Velie

New Hampshire, United States

https://www.dianaleevelie.com/

 

My mother was a jazz singer who rocked

me in the cradle of her weary blues.

Her grand finale was an overdose

when I was sixteen. Orphaned,

I thought, until my recluse father

sauntered into court capturing me

along with my welfare checks.

 

An angry teen, I detested him

until he played his saxophone.

I began to realize I was conceived

in a syncopated, complicated love

song my parents once shared.

And I began to sing, softly

at first, then pulling and pumping

the weary blues straight

out of my subconscious soul.

 

Embryonic, yet bold, I wrote

their song and recorded a demo.

It soared to the top of the charts.

Forgiving and understanding

The Weary Blues of their love,

I finally harmonized the utopian

fields of trebles and chords,

the musical footsteps of my life.

__________

THE WAYS 

Sarah Turnbull

England, United Kingdom

https://www.instagram.com/wild_hares_and_holloways/


We know our way along these tracks,
Though time has worn them from the maps.
Instinctively we just know that
Our feet will always guide us back.

The gentle sound of rain on leaves,
Shelter under canopy.
The forest song of birds and breeze
Whispered through the ancient trees.

The river flowing by our side
A gentle yet persistent guide.
So much witnessed over time
And carried off to meet the tides

Creatures watch us as we pass,
Sentinels along the path.
The beat of wings, of hoof and heart
Throughout the ages keeping guard.

We greet the seasons as they come,
The rising and the setting sun.
Secrets of the ways long gone,
Through timelines, bloodlines pass them on.

__________

FLIGHT

Katherine Simmons

Indiana, United States

Their heads tip 

towards one 

another the boy’s 

eyes reach 

forward wanting 

to hold his father

whose face 

is crimped 

with sorrow –

I have to stay 

to fight 

for you, 

he says. 

You flee, 

go far 

from 

here

for me.

__________

UKRAINE IN CHAOS

Bill Chatfield

https://www.peterboroughpoetryproject.org/

 

when apples taste like cinder blocks

and the wickets all fall down

Russia must be denied permission

to rumble through the town

 

when explosions resonate through mountains

and starbursts never end

We will thinkpraythink

the sky be beautiful

until the sun shines once again

__________

NOW I LAY ME DOWN TO SLEEP

Lisa Tomey

United States

https://www.prolificpulse.com/

 

She eased tiny feet down the hallway

Her footsteps would not be heard

Mom and dad were in bed

She knocked on their door

I can’t sleep, I am afraid you will die

 

That prayer, said each night

If I should die before I wake

 

Come get into the bed

Mom made a place beside her

At the side of the bed

She felt comfort when she heard

Daddy kiss mom goodnight

She would wake in her bed

She would hear footsteps

Everyone was still alive

__________

RIGHT VS MIGHT

Sonia Pal

England, United Kingdom

It’s hard to see young mothers fleeing with  innocent kids,

leaving their men behind to fight for ‘THEIR’ land  with valiant spirits.

 

Humanity is devastated to witness the bloodshed of Ukrainians;

Carrying  guns on their shoulders, safeguarding ‘THEIR’ peaceful regions.

 

A toddler, whose parents are no more, sitting alone in the middle of an empty street- poses  the biggest question:

How much ‘MIGHT’ does my ‘NEIGHBOUR’ want ?

 

Ukraine has re-defined patriotism:


How heart wrenching and nerve wracking it is to leave one’s motherland!

Yet how proud it is to fight and die for what is ‘ RIGHT’!

__________

EVERYTHING CHANGED ONE DAY

Julie A. Dickson

United States

Carved out existence

hard working adults,

children bustled off to school

 

Rumors fly around like

agitated birds vying for food

or territory, eerily familiar

 

Violent voices shout, fear

escalates - evacuation drills,

helmets and bulletproof vests

 

cover school uniforms while

adults assemble kits, first aid

readiness, formerly passive

 

civilians pick up guns, brief

lessons to assist trained army,

defend family, imminent threat

 

World watches, breath held

blue and yellow ripple in wind,

banner blogs, drape buildings

__________

FOOTSTEPS

Charles Edwards

United States

Always looking forward

tho never behind

or above, constant tracks

carefully unkind…


Once a simple step

echoing passages

doors opened, we wept

keeping stride…


Footsteps behind me

Footsteps beside me

Footsteps above me

Just, wanna be free…


Off to another place

far far away

challenges landed, paces change

yet not today…


Since the beginning

a step was made

searches shaped; dreams found

dues paid..


Footsteps behind me

Footsteps beside me

Footsteps above me

Just, wanna be free…

__________

FOOTSTEPS

Shelly Blankman

Maryland, United States

They didn’t hear the footsteps – not at first.

Steady drizzle tapped against asphalt as hand

in hand, they ambled toward home, excitedly

planning a year of firsts, a lifetime of forevers. 

 

One an immigrant, both gay. So much to think

about before marriage. Visas. Lawyers. Whom

to tell and when. How to piece together joy

in a broken world. But this was New York,

 

haven of rainbows. Nothing else in their world

in that moment mattered – until the footsteps. 

Sauntering at first, echoing their own. Then hastening

in lockstep with theirs. Their clasped, clammy hands

 

tightened, knuckles whitened as his footsteps smacked

against the pavement in the now pounding rain, detouring 

their joy toward mortal fear. With their home finally in view,

they darted for the door, deadbolting it from dangers in the dark.

 

Click. The doorknob turned slowly. Click. Footsteps faded

into the night. Their eyes mirrored each others’ relief.

Nothing left to say, nothing left to do. Calling for help might

mean deportation for one, the severance of souls for both –

 

the end of a journey that had just begun. Time to sleep.

Tomorrow would be another round of errands, emails, 

and phone calls. Planning a wedding – and steeling themselves

for all the other footsteps along the way.

__________

DOWNSIZED

Ken Gosse

United States

https://www.facebook.com/ken.gosse/

 

A parting shot?

That’s all you’ve got?

Might hit the target—

likely not.


A parting verse

is even worse.

Why not just leave them

with a curse?


A quick “Goodbye,”

as you walk by.

Just leave. Don’t grieve.

No teary eye.


The wave you throw

as out you go,

remembered—

for an hour or so.


Your footsteps fade

once you have bade

farewell.

Your absence not inveighed.

___________

UKRAINIAN SOLDIERS, UKRAINIAN KINGS

Martina Robles Gallegos

United States

https://www.martinagallegos.com/

 

A huge mammoth invades a tiny mouse.

The mammoth’s ego grows by the minute,

But every mouse defends its humble house.

Ego may grow, but the world condemns it.


The masses flee their beloved country,

And other nations welcome them abroad;

For every hero we will plant a tree,

But we must get rid of the Russian fraud.


May Ukrainians one day see victory,

And may every soldier come home safely,

And may their courage be wrapped in glory;

May the Gods punish those who spoke falsely.


May Guardian Angels protect with their wings 

Soldiers who deserve to wear golden rings.

__________

FOOTSTEPS UNLEASHING THE HELLISH FIRES

Mahaylia Stewart

England, United Kingdom

 

I was once just a normal adolescent

now standing on the battlefield

with nothing but my mind as a mental shield

footsteps unleashing the hellish fires

hands shaking because I’m afraid

using artillery when I’m not even trained

nothing to gain but leaving the men drained

raging to the fullest

shooting out bullets

and it’s so hard to not fall apart and stay retained

but I just need to remember that I am brave and doing my part in trying to keep my country safe

the country that’s embedded deeply in my veins

and I wouldn’t have it no other way

I wish they would just go away and stop trying to annihilate

the arguments and disagreements that’s going to be yet obsolete

body parts and remains surrounding my feet

not even enough time to ruminate the

deceased of the unknown

anchored flesh and bones getting ferociously blown

setting pace ablaze

violence corrupting one’s brain

toxic substances ambushing the sane

no place to escape but accept my fate.

___________

LOST ON A MOUNTAIN

Duane Anderson

Nevada, United States

Give me a second chance in life,

allowing me to follow in your footsteps.

When I look back at my footprints,

it led me on a trail to nowhere,

a puzzle, zigzagging

up and down mountain peaks.


Your life, a show of

hope and promise,

a morning sunrise.

Keep on walking.

I will try to keep pace

as I step into each footprint.

___________

ANOTHER DAY ANOTHER WAR

Alan Bedworth

United Kingdom


And so, another conflict begins.

Started by a megalomaniac wanting

to take control of another  sovereign state.

Irrespective of the damage it will incur.

 

Lessons of the past appear to go unheeded.

It's always the inhabitants that suffer,

either by being murdered or their family

becoming another statistic.


Yet this community is renowned

for its stoicism, in the face of adversity.

A truly honourable people

noted for their patriotism.


This conflict is totally different to

what has gone before.

The world community is rallying to the call,

and providing supplies not seen before.


The world is behind your country.

All that's needed is that the world leaders.

Do everything within their power,

to keep the Ukraine as a sovereign country.

____________

UKRAINE, WE HEAR YOUR FOOTSTEPS DRUMMING…

Betty Naegele Gundred

California, United States


We feel your footsteps, pounding like our hearts, 

in unison,

your men now soldiers, boots clamoring

to the streets, marching to the front, 

to defend their homeland . . . 

the insistent tread of women

fearing for their children, 

in exodus with the old and young – men and women,

seeking shelter across borders, 

quiet goodbyes, tears, hugs, 

indecision – some stay, go underground . . . 

Ukrainians, we are united with you.

We admire your verve, your solidarity.

With your footsteps we hear the collective cries for justice,

we are with you in spirit,

we support your resistance; we pray for peace.

____________

MY ENDLESS HUNGER

Judge Santiago Burdon

Costa Rica

https://5d1dd405a81e9.site123.me/

 

The night cold with its sharp corners, cutting comfort through my skin, drunken footsteps of a foreigner, a tourist at your door again, my knock is full of empty, 

a vacant echo its reply,

circumstance denies me entry

consequence the reason why

Here I stand the company, that misery enjoys, can't mend my bleeding ego, my desire has no voice, still I feel cheated, by a love that wasn't mine, all evidence you've deleted, if there's no victim there's no crime,  you'll always own my hunger, forever be my endless sin, my footsteps without ambition, leaving impressions of

what might have been.

__________

WALKING ON

Judy DeCroce

New York, United States

https://www.linkedin.com/in/judydecroce/

 

A twist of time 

one seagull

one turning between tides.


Now, I, an empty shack, 

push a pain too close to keep.


Scout wanders the shore

watches pale leftover footprints in sand.


He was just a man, not a sailor lost at sea 

and said —

this time would be different


but there hid a sweeping depression 

falsely tamed.


Now here we are—

     a dog with loyalty…

          me with love.


It didn’t matter.


Poem by Judy DeCroce first appeared in

OPEN: Journal of Arts & Letters

Winter / 2020

__________

THEY ONCE WILL SHOOT A MOVIE

Viktoriia Zabroda

Ukraine

They once will shoot a movie,

which lots of graphic artists

will make extremely moving,

the sound director grooving

to crying angel harpists.

The genré will be thriller,

main character — the people,

villain — a bloody killer,

the theme — a cruel war...

 

The film will cost a fortune,

but will be little pleasure

for those who'll have to watch it:

The people in the theater

will pray for power shortage

to watch no second more.

___________

DIVINE UKRAINE

David Dephy

New York, United States

​Translated (on the next page) to Ukrainian by Mr. Yuriy Bedryk who is currently in Kyiv on the front line.

Your eyes are the eyes of God.

Your breath is mother tongue of Earth.

Your blood is a symphony of fire.

Your lips are the truth-tellers,

no one can take your golden mystery,

no one can feel you without admiration.

Your heart is garden of kisses.

Your ears are pearls of expectation.

Your words are constellations – 

the faces of heroes, encircled by rays,

drifted on the minds of the world,

their smile, their look, their strength and its innocence, 

a tide that tugs at us. In times like these, 

a sense washes over us, and we gather together

in the deadly noise of millennium and this stillness,

a stillness that never wavers.

All we have become, divine Ukraine, 

is what your innocence has made of us.

The naked homeland of freedom 

beats right in your heart.

Девід ДЕФI

Божественна Україна


Очі твої – очі Бога.

Подих твій – Землі мова рідна.

Кров твоя – симфонія полум’я.

Вуста твої – вуста правди,

ніхто не збагне таїни золотої твоєї,

але кожен відчує захват, коли тебе вбачить.

Серце твоє – сад поцілунків.

Вуха твої – сподівань перлини.

Слова твої – сузір’я –

героїв обличчя, промінням оточені,

що плинуть у помислах світу,

їхня усмішка, їхній погляд, їхня міць із її невинністю –

течія, що несе нас. У такі часи,

одним почуттям охоплені, збираємося докупи –

у смертельному громі тисячоліття й у тиші –

цій тиші, яку ніколи не зрушити.

Усі ми стали, божественна Україно,

тим, чим зробила нас твоя невинність.

Оголене джерело свободи

просто в серці твоєму б’ється…


Переклав Юрій БЕДРИК

__________

THE STEPPES OF UKRAINE

Neal Whitman

California, United States

displacement of hostility
well-known psychological term
for redirecting aggression 
from original source to 
a less threatening recipient —
for example, kicking the dog,
rather than your over-bearing boss

hostility of displacement
resentment expressed when,
pushed into express train,
you exit, no longer pursued
by a bear, and you bid farewell 
to what was your Jerusalem —
prognosis is weeping by the river 

__________

LIGHT FOOTSTEPS ON AN AGING FLOOR

Eugene Stevenson

North Carolina, United States

https://eugenestevenson.com/

 

Light footsteps on an aging floor,

hefty breath against the doors & walls,

pictures hang like faces, their eyes wide 

with disbelief, their mouths wry with

distaste: a deeply shadowed film clip.


Outside, the streets are stilled,

the wind is dead & buried, the air

supercools to fragility. A leaf, leaves 

float gently to the ground, a crack 

rings out, carries down the block.


Beneath the blanket’s tested heat,

a break in sleep, pleasure foregone,

a barely voiced, Where are you going?

spreads over the sheets, across the quilt, 

woven square by woven square.


The minor complaints of an aging floor 

stop at the intrusion. Soundless, black,

the room records all, holds the images in

the frames, locks their secrets in a vault 

under a stiff seal marked Happenstance.