Kassie Runyan

United States


my voice falters

as i cry out

screaming into the darkness

yesterday i smiled

but today i woke to a

tearstained pillowcase

my body numb

brain in a fog

yesterday i was alive

skipping through the day

today i fumble through

the known motions

as if on auto-pilot

my scream hits the wall

and bounces back to me

it sounds like the pain

of another body

one full of emotion

that could be happy again


but that emotion is gone

just in this moment

as i watch my hands clench

but don’t feel the pressure

tomorrow i will smile

and plan for the next day

but today i am unsure

of who i even am

or who i would like to be


Mel Haagman

United Kingdom

I hear it in your voice,

I see it in your eyes,

The outpourings of grief,

You’re unable to disguise.

The strength that you possess,

So many couldn’t endure,

And collectively it’s made you

Even stronger than before.

Although these cruel events,

Have stolen way too much,

You’ve always got back up.

Providing others with a crutch,

And when you're down and lonely,

Exacerbated by theses days,

Know that I’m just down the road,

And here for you always… 



Mohamed el Houssaini


I miss the rustic beauty of my town


by mountains and olive trees
no matter if it is rainy or sunny

the bewitchment of the sky refines the soul

I spent my whole night thinking
a possible alternative, but I can't
I can't be thankless
betraying the place of my childhood?
what a sin!
in dim light of aurora
I feel the breeze and peace
I see nothing save green
what a grace!
Heavenly leaves charmed speak
of the boon I own
sorrow there is ephemeral
with the mellifluous voice of birds above
euphoria conquers my soul
almond trees fetchingly mesmerize

my feelings in spring
you are the panacea for everything
ss long as I breath
I'll be thankful for all your gift



Catherine A. Coundjeris

United States


Remember when letters were objects

made from sandpaper and felt?

Words were blocks to build banks

to study and hang from back packs.

Words were sticks and stones

and they did hurt.

Words on tongues hit teeth

lost words and your mind sweeps,

searching for meaning

as words jumble,

spilling out backwards

and forwards,

sounding like

a foreign language.

Little archipelagoes

of meaning in an ocean of dementia.

Then quiet

punctuated by sighs

and moans

no words necessary, but

the comforting monologue

of caregivers,

then silence

and finally, only remembered stories

peppered with familiar words…



Kaurna Mistry

United Kingdom




Plastic pollution

There’s no solution


Production insanity

Demand by humanity


Mountains of waste

Throw away haste


Greed over need

Extinction with speed


Profits and expansion

Over heart and compassion




Rethink the box

Or ingest the tox


Many different ways

To live and stay


Smarter thinking employ

Find ways not to destroy


First repair or reuse

But recycle we choose


One of many thoughts

Among all sorts



Brendan Kirwin

United States


like fire

that burns at the edge

of a forest where we keep

pieces of ourselves hidden

the soft, small parts that

fit in canopic jars


be with me here

the stillness will feel like

the world was just made


it should feel strange,

like repeating a word

or a name over and over



what should we say?


your name, my name,

names of saints of light

and color,

names we hear

in dreams that arrange

the world


with all things outlined in rushed,

hatched strokes, harsh along

their edges, but blooming

with hues that fill up everything

tangible and tangential –

leaves, elbows, katydids,

clay, hips, dew, petals


we could live here,

subsist on our senses,

visions, premonitions,



the last of what’s left of us

if we can just find

the time



Deenaz P. Coachbuilder, Ph. D.

United States

yesterday, when she hurried along

hers was a welcoming home

the reassuring voices of children

as she busied herself with the evening meal

the quiet bedroom waiting impatiently 

for her nightly sojourn

a book lying enticingly open

lit by a glowing lamp

her beloved lover’s warm body to cuddle against 

all, all scattered fragments swirling blindly 

as dried wildflowers in the wind

soon her lips forget laughter’s curve

droplets of misery fill each unsought dawn

the parched hours drag

she stumbles onto the backyard garden 

granite piercing her startled bare feet

numb fragments of faded hopes

   beg to be recognized

cherished relationships stretched across the years

   the places she lived and loved in,

wrap around her a quilt 

   embroidered in long lived grace

inviting her

                 to go

looking for her life

a warmth begins to scrape against her skin

the soft lament of the mourning dove

knocks gently upon the chambers of her bruised heart

sweet smelling currents drawn into her shuttered breath

double delight roses shiver desperately to seek her attention

yellowhite butterflies flutter invitingly around border lantanas

the startled new sun mingles with her unkempt curls



Lynn White

United Kingdom


I must wait till tomorrow,

that’s what I was told

when growing up.


would bring the sunshine,


would bring the treats,


would be glorious.

It was always tomorrow.

Now I know

that tomorrow brings death

and there is no glory in death.



Liz Tomaszewski

United States

We don’t have the same body

none of us do

except those ginger twins

two doors down

when looking at each other, or in a mirror 

are the same

but you and I don’t share

a mom or a dad

the same DNA

or even the love of pickles

which I think are death

and you think are life

I come from a country 

on a different continent than you 

and yet we try

to compare our bodies

thinking I eat too much

and you too little

Maybe I am the one broken

maybe you are

or maybe the melting pot

has created a standard

that none can achieve

by feeding their bodies



David Olsen

United Kingdom


A breathing cloud of starlings,

reflected in momentary mirrors,

flickers in wanton trickery,


alters a collective mind

in hive unison, as if reversal

itself is the purpose of all.


Indecision or contradiction

buffets me in winds

of your capricious whim.


To escape the suspense

of randomness, I depart

in deference to indifference.



Sarah Neve

United States



is not four walls and a door,

  a roof to shield me from the storm.

it is skin and fingers

  slightly smaller than mine with

  callouses from plucking at

  guitar strings, soft

  from holding my hand.

it is the same thin t-shirt,

a scattering of holes across

  the shoulders, as familiar

  as the speckled skin barely

  visible beneath.

home is the way I have butterflies

on the drive up and  serenity

  when I finally see your face,

  the way your eyes  soften

  when your pupils meet mine.

it is the comfort in knowing

  you will hold my hand through the rain,

  across sunsets,

  in the frozen winter,

home is four calls in one day because you

  are the answer to every emotion I have,

  every thought coursing through my veins,


  your arms

  are my favorite place to be,


is not four walls and a door,

  you are

  everywhere I want to be,

  you  are my




Brenda C.



I’d rather listen to the noise

of a powerful locomotive

approaching another,

then hear the silent war

I have known with you.

The one that stripped my youth

to age like a rusty nail embedded

in the cuticles of my soul.

There were times when we shared

laughter with language on solid ice,

but now, we fall through the thin

cracks of our smile’s and drown in

the house that was never a home.

And the joys we held in our hearts,

no longer hold us strong without love.  

A war in silence. . .  kills.



Christian Ward

United Kingdom


Forget the cabbage white butterfly 

bringing winter everywhere it flies:

A trail of brassica ice sculptures, 

snowmen trees and frozen 

lakes of backyard ponds. 

Sunset's darkroom light 

slowly returning the scene to normal. 

Bring me a garden tiger moth – a reincarnated 

big cat bringing spring with it. The garden pond 

turning a shade of Lucozade from the Koi 

will be a lake, the decorative gnomes 

with hats curled like whipped cream 

might hide in fear at this circus escapee. 

It will leap through the dandelion's

ring of flames to feed, dodge

housecats doubling up as pumas

and curious dogs with tails

whipping the air like a jockey.

It will bring pompoms of blossoms,

days opening like picnic blankets.

The lawn will welcome its netting of dew. 

Our love will not shed like last season’s 

chrysalises but will grow like the carnival 

of butterflies bringing new light. 



Abby Kay

Trinidad and Tobago


Son son what yuh want for breakfast?

  What is this I hearing?

  Lil boy like he have choice?

  Allyuh spoiling these children nowadays

  In we time we didn't have no choice

  In we time

  yuh eat what cook

  or yuh mudda say

  Who doh want it could lay down beside it

  What yuh want fuh breakfast?

  Nothing but what cook was what was cooking

  And d person cooking it was d one choosing it

  Yuh choice was eat

  or doh eat

Ah know mammy, daz how we grow

But dat was cuz we didn't have no setta food

  But yuh never went hungry doh

No, I was never hungry; but it have real thing

That we had to eat then 

That I wouldn't eat now though

Now ah have ah choice

  Daz what wrong with allyuh

  Young people nowadays

  Too much damn choice

  Allyuh weak now

  No staying power

  Breeding ah generation dat cyah persevere

  I doh like dat

  I doh want dat

  I have ah choice

  You can't make me 

  Boo hoo hoo

  Cry cry cry

As soon as something allyuh doh like show up

Yuh run looking fuh something else

Never satisfied 

Always looking for d alternative option

Daz why now have so much alternative lifestyle

  How I coulda raise children who does raise children so?

  Lawd, ah doh know

Ma look doh start

Cuz you from ah generation who had no choice

And allyuh was stuck in bad marriage or shit wok.


Never having to really be responsible for your own decisions cause you coulda always say

I had no choice

And you knew that

Daz why allyuh work so hard 

So that we coulda have more options

You wanted us to have choice

Now choice bad?

How you coulda raise children who raise children so?

Is you raise we so

So yes my son have that choice

My children go learn early that they responsible for the life dey go be living

We may not have had much choice 

But you and daddy make sure we learn dat

Iz just dat my son go just have more practice choosing

Making better decisions 

Cause he had more practice making decisions

And yuh know you woulda choose different for your life 

If you had more options


  Yuh get big? Talking to yuh mudda so

Daz not true?





Pankhuri Sinha



life should be full of them!


are nice things!


like always finding a


out of a bad traffic jam!


a surprise job offer

when work hours simply

increase without raise!


no one should be left

with that sentence

“you are left with no alternatives!”

no one should ever be told

“you have to do it"

everyone should always

be able to ask

“well, what are my alternatives?"


alternatives should be as

pleasing as a choice

between Continental, Chinese, and Mughlai!


but! Endless choices can confuse

a buffet with limitless items on the menu

will be only half enjoyed!


in a world most capitalist than anything else 


your favourite green

of the grass

can hang and dance

in jumpers and pullovers

of so many cuts

you won't know

which one to choose!

and not love, not even lust

may be, something in between

an organic song

called seduction plays itself

between people

long settled, drifting apart

ready to part!


what a travesty!

humans appearing as

alternatives to existing

humans! replacements!


what? do you say

It’s an age-old game

ancient practice

well, isn't it time

to end it now?


to clarify

to stand for the individual

to never obfuscate!

shouldn't this be modernity's clarion call?



RC James

United States


Rescued from captivity 
we will preserve you. . . 
mighty Russian word! 
—Anna Akhmatova 
We memorized our poems 
to preserve them from 
winds out of the Kremlin. 
My friends, in corners unknown, 
now memories enfold you 
in the raw weather of release. 
As you walk down the Arbat 
mind my ashes that remain 
as a sign of sanguine revival. 
Dank cells offer only blank prospects, 
a full moon illuminates your path, 
promise opens to a peaceful sea. 
Remember metal on metal at dawn, 
the thud and crunch of boots, 
shouts, and cries of the tortured. 
Black Marias careened with human loads, 
we consoled each other, understanding 
that Russian speech was our homeland. 

Delirium thrived; we walked by 
the frozen grins of corpses, 
chains finally unfastened. 
Proud Russia writhed in the army's grip, 
I won't allow emotion now, 
a dark shroud protects the memories. 
I remember your words and your faces, 
There will be new sorrows, but I will 
remember our time through them all. 
If there is to be a monument, place it 
in front of the steel doors where I stood 
for hundreds of hours, and an old woman's 
cries echoed through us, where tears 
now will flow from bronze eyelids 
watching silent ships sail up the Neva.



Carl “Papa” Palmer

United States


so what do you say

wanna give it a try

remember the last time you did it

me either

we’ll start out slow and easy

be patient and understanding

no use rushing right into it

we don’t need to keep score

nothing to prove

I’m sure it won’t be anything


to write home about or tell

a close friend probably best to

keep it secret it’s really

no one’s business

how well we bowl



Vidya Shankar



Not just a peck but a long drawn passion —

The warmth of his affection 

A tender tracing of sensuousness

Consuming blazing flames 

Cooling smouldering embers...

  And I breathe again!


O Love! What fiery mystery is this!

My eyes, desperate to behold his approach 

Become glowing coals

My parched mouth, thirsting to drink 

The virility of his lips

Turn wet crimson 

My cheeks, coloured with thoughts of him

Blush a deep that no palette 

Can reproduce

My hands, lambent with longing 

Quiver rufescent tones

My heart, a firestorm of conflagrating emotions

Swells with love for none else 

But him


O Love! What fiery mystery is this!

A moment when separated 

I, a nervous, raging inferno

Swathed in a carmine cloak of feverish desire

Yet, a minute later when near him

Healed to composedness

As aching feet by tranquil waters!



Linda M. Crate

United States


i've always been seen as one

of the alternatives,

never the first choice or option of

anyone for anything;

if you don't think that hurts i'm here

to tell you that it does—

i am always the friend that cares more,

always the romantic partner that loves

more, always the giver that gives more,

the encourager that encourages 


and i can safely say i am exhausted being

there for everyone else when no one is ever there

for me;

and so i am done treating myself like an alternative—

i have a voice and a magic all my own,

should you not be able to appreciate me as i am

then you can go find less because i am going to be

more of me.



Ken Gosse

United States


Parody of Robert Frost’s poem, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.”


Whose woulds are these? They’re mine, you know,

but druthers changed my path, and though

intentions lead to Hell from here

if shoulds were coulds, I still might go.

Bad choices make each toll more dear;

each brings a troll which we can hear

like blackboards which a nail might rake

while burning lessons in our ear.

But do we learn and do we take

this wisdom offered for our sake,

or do we simply let it seep

from brain to drain, without a wake?

My will seems empty; dark, and deep.

The better choices I don’t keep

and so I sew that which I reap—

the consequences, ours to keep.



Julie A. Dickson

United States


At last consequences felt,

too late addressed, gasses

amassed, atmosphere distressed,

other worlds explored, escape

hoped for, evading instead -

not to cope with or reverse

fossil emissions, conversation

fraught with irresponsibility,

omissions of perverse overuse,

no, say it – abuse of resources.


In theory, onto other planets,

surely hospitable, humanity

capable of life beyond earth,

strife caused to species, extinct

endangered, succinct comparisons,

doesn’t matter that earth will not


sustain future generations, journey

will alleviate any concerns brought

forward, descendants travel toward

planets, moons, supportive of life,

draconic as fantasy fiction, seen

as predilection, worlds favorable

to inhabit, abundant resources,

repeated bad habits, ensured chaos,

predictions ensue with recourse,

humanity likely to earn its due.



Sarfraz Ahmed

United Kingdom


Hats off to those thrill seekers,

Dream weavers,


Those that don’t exactly fit in,

Those that travel to far off places,

Just to get sun on their skin,

The exotic and the tropical,

The white sandy beach,

Such beauty,

Once out of reach,

To step into the eyes of blue,

To swim clear waters,

To smell the early morning dew,

To dive free fall off the edge,

Just to get to the other side,

To travel far and wide,

Across the lake and seas,

To find the answer to it all,

To unravel the mystery,



Neal Whitman

Unites States


What if “just” were a verb?

[Note the subjunctive mood, a condition which is doubtful or not factual, as in,

Let us go, then you and I, when mustard is spread on a corned beef and rye sky.]

So, what notion, state, or occurrence would “just” signify?

just / v. jūst, justed, justing 

to invert two opposing forces

Ergo, “just a second” would mean:

This one moment stays put, though the present is past. 

Of course, problems will occur when there is a second, second. 

We wonder, was it a grammarian or a seer who said, “Future tense!”?



Sangita Kalarickal

United States


A distinct dichotomy exists

in a wild flutter of heartbeat.

An unsettled unrest,

a frenzy to pump,

a drive for life.

Yet, a calm underlying current

says all is well because life is.

The calm of the river over a turbulent

feed of the speedy waves underneath.

A new step forward,

yet the past lurks.

A shadow spreads 

when I stand in light.

The essence of life. Janus.



Pratibha Savani

United Kingdom


S  l  i  d  i  n  g   
                D  o  o  r  s
Which way should I go?
What would my life have been like
Had I been through that door?
Like when I was introduced to a guy
That lived all the way in Canada
After some messages and chats
He had come over
It's not the path I chose
Not a decision
I could make with one meeting
Instead, I stayed where I was
S  t  a  n  d  i  n  g        A  t 
                     T  h  a  t        D  o  o  r
                     And let fate and circumstances
                     Take its course
                     And my life turned out this way
                     The way I am today
                     Still in the UK
                     Now married and settled
                     To the one I was supposed to
                     I knew it straight away
                     It was meant to be
                     I trusted a higher power
                     And this is the reality

                    S  l  i  d  i  n  g     
                                     D  o  o  r  s
                    Which way should I go?
                    I could have been living in Canada
                    Had I chosen that door
                    But I made a decision
                    On what felt right
                    And in the end
                    That is all we can do
                    To make a decision
                    Based on what we feel
                    At the time



Jane Fitzgerald

United States


The green icon

on my dashboard

signaled a warning

Add air to tires

I tried to ignore it

No use

My nervous imagination

Compelled me to act

I had no idea how

To remedy the problem

Tires fit in a man’s domain

I pulled into a service station

Hoping to find help

Two men pumping gas looked away

A woman in leather and biker boots

was deftly using the air pump

I asked her to please unravel

the mysteries of tires plus air

She demonstrated each step

It was such a simple task

My faced flushed from ignorance

In a matter-of-fact manner

she accepted my gratitude

My rescuer puzzled me

Having grown up in a time when

M and F identified the two sexes

I was confused by today’s letters

Was this woman a L,G,B,T,Q,I,A+

Was her character predominately

defined by a string of letters

proclaiming her sexual orientation

or by her helpful actions

I decided to go with the reality

of a person who responded

like a kind good Samaritan

This encounter led me

to contemplate a complex issue

Not so easily understood

As tire trouble



Lakshman Bulusu

United States


Steady eyes in attention rapt

Turning away to a future insight


Where angels dare, eagles glare

To outdo the latter only a mere stare


Laughing moon, a dream affair

Its crystal wafts a tuft of air


Just a fleeting dream, white in hue

To pass away the dream a sight blue


The caressed lips bereft of gist

When inside out breathe in the mist


With nostalgic sparks, days are gone

Out in the night new moons are born


The silvery edge, a lark’s watercourse

The ripples match to beautify a Rose


A nameless name, a maiden’s pledge

Wrought the wrath a disdain edge


So soft a breeze, so thin a word

Still melt the silence all around


Miles to eye, a vision in sight

Voices a secret blest alight



Kathy Bryant

United States

A New Year is beginning soon,

I wonder what it holds?

What elements of mystery

Will unravel as it unfolds?

Our future is uncertain

No matter how we plan

Exude the warmth of caring

And, hate, securely ban!

Time tested plans of helping

The sick and sad and sore

Will bring a joy unmeasured

Than you have known before

A year of positivity

Negativity in the past

Will secure a blessed future

And satisfaction, that will last!