MARCH 2022 = UKRAINE & FOOTSTEPS
HOW TO ACTUALLY FUEL YOUR BODY...
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
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
Liverpool, United Kingdom
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
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
Betray it with
Every strong wind
And fall to ground
Leaving less and
Less of the tree.
I used to walk in
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
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
and the ground
still shakes a bit
as the old train
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
DANCE OF THE MOON
Savannah K. Martinez
Texas, United States
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
Like those of the growing vine
Footsteps- the sound of passion
That choir of life that falls
Upon her ears, as man and Earth
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
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
they stream down
her small checks
that were rosy
now the tears
through the dirt
that is packed
against the skin
dirt from the last
of her legs running
to keep up
as her mother
ran them away
BEYOND COMPLIANCE, BEYOND RESISTANCE
D. R. James
Michigan, United States
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)
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.
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
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
on one of
my lone walks
i came upon
in a heartbeat
as they rounded
their tight-lipped silence
fiercely wringing still
when my mother died
& i’d erased
family & friends
from pile to pile
REPORTING THE WAR
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
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
Leaving mother land
For the first time!
For absolute uncertainty!
May these images
The sights and sounds
Of Ukraine, melt some
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
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
I once walked to the city centre
In a Canadian downtown
In the foothills of the Rockies
Along the train tracks
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
Zaneta Varnado Johns
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
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
Vermont, United States
“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.
Kathy Jo Bryant
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
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
Tuzla, Bosnia, and Herzegovina
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!
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
my favorite season
6,000 miles away
curled up in bed
by my side
thinking of you
a million flee
the lucky ones
we see pictures
a man in the train station holds his cat
his pain my pain
the inexplicable brutality
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
I step aside
let you pass
share images of blue and yellow flags
crawl back under the covers
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.
Carolyn Chilton Casas
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
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.
Virginia, United States
I light this candle for you,
clutching your child,
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?
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
New York, United States
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
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
“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
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
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
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
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
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
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!”
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
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
New Brunswick, Canada
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
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.
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
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...
in the cold, down Dnieper,
red streaks crawl into the waves...
a new bride wears a gun
in place of her bouquet...
politicians confer and talk
over their full plates of food...
tears unshed the common
accepts this gruesome fate...
war tanks crush every dream,
and new orphans are made.
THE WEARY BLUES
New Hampshire, United States
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.
England, United Kingdom
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.
Indiana, United States
Their heads tip
another the boy’s
to hold his father
with sorrow –
I have to stay
UKRAINE IN CHAOS
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
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
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
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
Always looking forward
tho never behind
or above, constant tracks
Once a simple step
doors opened, we wept
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
Footsteps behind me
Footsteps beside me
Footsteps above me
Just, wanna be free…
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.
A parting shot?
That’s all you’ve got?
Might hit the target—
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,
for an hour or so.
Your footsteps fade
once you have bade
Your absence not inveighed.
UKRAINIAN SOLDIERS, UKRAINIAN KINGS
Martina Robles Gallegos
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
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
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
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,
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
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.
New York, United States
A twist of time
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
North Carolina, United States
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.