MAY 2021 = POWER


Douglas V. Miller​

United States​

Am I nothing more to you​
than a dog who has​
shit upon your carpet?​
Has your pride in superiority,​
been shaken and challenged?​
You told me to go fight your war.​
I would have won it for you, too,​
until your profits became more ​
important than national pride and​
my life was reduced to a bottom line.​
I didn’t win your war, because​
you wouldn’t allow me to.​
So now I am criminally seen as a loser.​
Damaged merchandise,​
not worth the effort or expertise ​
to repair, that you feel safe ignoring,​
to get on with business as usual.​
Don’t get too comfortable.​
I learned things you will never ​
know and I won’t forget ​
as easily as you.​
Someday, somehow…​



Jane Fitzgerald​

United States​

The wave forcefully captures me​

and crashes my breath away​

The overwhelming strength ​

of its graceful curve​

plunges me toward oblivion​

My world is a myriad of​

aquas, greens and blues​

so coalesced, it’s all a​

swirling shining kaleidoscope​

the flecking foam of white​

leads to a saving light​

but the beauty of the wave​

engulfs me​

its magnificence is all ​

I become ​

its wondrous power and glory​



Kassie J Runyan

United States

​I suckle at her breast​

trying not to wake her​

the sleeping woman, dressed in white​

innocent of heartache and heartbreak​

hopeful dreams visioning​

the future that has yet to come​

a future of growth and hope​

that might still come to be​

she smiles in her sleep​

and her hand caresses my small head​

mother and child​

alone in peace​


I suckle at her breast​

growing full​

in a building desperation​

to take the milk she has given​

she stirs, her eyes​

fluttering open​

and confusion​

wrinkles her brow​

as her dress dyes​

from white to green​

her nipple is torn​

from my lips​

my body pulled back​

by another child​

a child like m​

but different​

I watch as he​

lunges towards her breast​

and she feeds him​

without hesitation​

jealousy climbing my body​

putting my skin to tingle​

my full belly replaced by the​

hunger of envy​

he suckles at her breast​

as I'm pushed away further​

the dizziness building​

as I'm turning and swirling​

through the throngs of children​

eagerly waiting their turn​

numbers growing​



by each and every second​

their voices​

growing louder​

as their patience wanes​

I stand on the tips of my toes​

neck straining​

trying to see her​

but gaining only a glimpse​

of her arms​

held in place​

by her side​

and the ripped sleeve of​

her dress turned red​

the torn edge of silk held up​

above the crowd​

by a dirty hand​

and the crowd cheers​

and jeers​

their ownership desire unchecked​

I'm picked up by the wave​

of pushing and pulsating bodies​

trying to get closer​

to the single source​

of nourishment​

but I fall to the ground​

and peer through the legs​

finally seeing her face again​

strained with pain and​


and still confusion​

small hands reaching to her​

pawing at her​

clawing at her​

worshiping her and the boys​

standing at the front​

of the line​

who in turn​

bow to the children​

attached to each nipple​

​they hungrily suckle at her breast​

as the shouts grow​

louder above me​

and I look up​

to see a fist land​

on a soft cheek​

eyes growing red as the faces​

erupt in angst​

I roll along the​

ground, avoiding the stomping feet​

I slither towards where I know she lays​

telling myself I will save her​

from these power-hungry children​

fighting over her​

no, I ​

don't want to own her​

for myself​

how could you even ask that?​

I giggle as my mouth waters​

craving her milk​

the fight rampages above​

but I'm not angry like them​

and I lack that obsessive need​

I crawl quicker seeing a glimpse​

of her limp leg​

shrouded in her deep black cloth​

"oh, mother"​

I cry​

"please don't forsake us​

how can we show you​

that we still adore you?“​

I get to an opening and stand​

ducking quickly below a bullet​

fired from a found gun​

and held in the hand​

of a boy​

not aiming for me​

I run towards her body​

as an explosion shakes​

the ground behind me​


no one is suckling at her breast​

by the time I make it to her side​

see her laying there​

now abandoned and naked​

not able to pull​

the last shred of the dull grey​

fabric to cover herself​

as the battle rages behind me​

I move my mouth to her flattened breast​

and pull​

trying to get just one more​


but nothing comes​

I release her breast and raise​

my head to the sky​

an anguished yell​

escaping my lips​

"oh, mother​

why have YOU forsaken US​

we ONLY wanted to love you"​



Melanie Haagman

United Kingdom

I see you in the background,​

Standing out by blending in, ​

I hear you when you’re silent,​

And your patience’s wearing thin…​

I can feel all your frustration,​

It oozes from your soul,​

I can sense you’ve lost a lot​

And it’s left a gaping hole.​

I can taste your disappointment,​

Life’s not gone the way you’d hoped,​

But you’ve hidden it so well​

Unhelpful habits helped you cope.​

I can see you in the background, ​

Standing out by blending in,​

I can hear your thoughts so loud​

Reverberating from within.​

I can see what you’re disguising,​

From the words you never say,​

I can see you’ve built a barrier,​

To keep the world at bay. ​

But step outside your silence,​

You’ve so much more to give,​

You were put here for a reason​

So don’t forget to live. ​



Jack M. Freedman​

United States​

Two Paths (Metro)​

by Jack M. Freedman​

“This is a Brooklyn-bound F Local Train. The next stop is...West 4th Street-Washington Square. Stand clear of the closing doors please.”​

Sixteen stops between​

14th Street and Ditmas Avenue​

Is it a coincidence​

that the 14th Street Station​

on 6th Avenue​

showcases the letters F-M-L​

proving also that fuckery​

is as easy as 1-2-3?​

It reminds me of how​

Delancey Street-Essex Street​

prominently features my initials​

J-M-F with the occasional ability to catch Z’s​

Every subway ride has a story​

Mine is a track with two paths​

Empath and sociopath​

Two distinct personalities​

ride on opposite sides​

of a mind going off the rails​

They make me wonder​

If I’ll ever take the B​

to Brighton Beach on a whim​

just to be somewhere far from Staten Island​

even for an hour​

Or whether I’ll bypass Ditmas on the F​

and find Coney Island in places​

far more sophisticated than​

my hyperactive mind​

Or whether catching​

a Manhattan-bound Q​

at Sheepshead Bay​

lets me find words​

within alphabetic avenues​

scattered through Midwood​

Or whether I will still​

be embraced by the R​

whether bound for MetroTech​

or Union Square​

Or whether the first five cars on the 1​

would trap me in a maze of dyscalculia​

Or whether I would take the 7 somewhere​

other than Main Street and Roosevelt Avenue​

Or whether I would take the 6​

and travel back to City Island​

Or whether the L will connect me​

to my favorite artist congregations of Brooklyn:​




Park Slope​

Or whether I have a job ​

requiring me to take the ​

R-A-G to Brooklyn Navy Yard​

Or whether I’ll ever see a dinosaur skeleton​

after a long ride on the C​

Or whether I’ll once again​

take the D to Central Park​

Or whether I’ll visit Briarwood​

taking the E from Ground Zero​

like my mother and father once before​

Or whether Bay Ridge​

still welcomes me​

after a long ride on the N​

Or whether I’ll ever see​

controversial art exhibits​

getting off the 2 or 3​

at the Brooklyn Museum​

Or whether Bowling Green Station​

will make me feel less claustrophobic​

before I catch the 4 or 5​

Or whether the W​

is the best train to take​

after leaving South Ferry​

I’ve ridden every train but the M​

for no destination I’ve reached​

relied on that letter​

I’m still asleep​

when the Z runs​

It’s still a mystery​

if I ever rode any of the Shuttles​

Subways are transitions​

which alter consciousness​

with every transfer​

Lines come full circle ​

and there are diamonds​

buried within round trips​

Just as I’ve experimented​

with altering my state of mind​

with plants and fungi containing rainbows​

Such has been the case​

with the subway​

This poem is an alchemy of adversity​

expressed in verses I will cross-reference​

in MLA, 8th Edition some other time​

I am actively taking my trauma​

and transmuting it into precious memories​

I am finally in a place where I am affirmed​

the love between me and New York​

is one that is mutual​

And whether or not ​

the alphanumeric spotlights​

come in various colors​

I am hoping that my role​

as a grey wizard​

isn’t a haze for rays​

And though I was diagnosed as bipolar​

I am grateful to exist between dichotomies​

Baruch HaShem Bli Ayin Hara​

I am grateful​

Allow me to reach a middle path​

and let me continue to​

infuse justice​

in the words I​

continue to express​

May my split personalities​

merge in a place where​

I can explore myself​

with a split-infinitive​

To boldly go​


I can find peace​



Claudette Martinez​



I Stand before you,​

naked, grotesque and thin.​

My armor is useless,​

this is your chance,​

You finally win.​

Dig through the cracks,​

grab my heart beating within.​

Take it.​

Take it, its yours,​

bloody and broken, ​

riddled with sin.



Mel Haagman

Hold your tongue
It can’t be undone…
Things slip out quick,

And the words, they stick.

You can’t take it back,

Once things have been said,

They become entrenched

Stuck inside of your head.

Those true micro-thoughts,

That come from the id, 

That are best to let pass

Should have kept on the lid.

Hold your tongue

It can’t be undone

Now isn’t the time to spout, 

And let that anger slip out.

Those who shout the loudest

Aren’t always struggling more,

And the words can cause damage

Shattering the recipients core.

Hold your tongue

It can’t be undone

The anger will fade, 

Don’t release the shade.

Reflect for a second,

That, you won’t regret

Because angry words

They are hard to forget .




Jon Wesick​

United States​

I’m making a spreadsheet​

to decide whether to kill my dog.​

That big, lumbering pile of fur​

is getting older and dammit​

it’s time to run my household like a business.​

I score each of Dusty’s features from -5 to +5,​

+5 being the best. Gazing up with adoring eyes,​

chin on paw, and tail thumping the carpet​

earns Dusty a +5 while drinking from the toilet​

or knocking over the trash and dragging used Kleenex ​

into the living room moves him closer to oblivion.​

I’m in the middle of a computer simulation​

of future vet bills when Joan notices me​

in the monitor’s blue glow.​

She just doesn’t get it.​

I weighted each of Dusty’s traits​

according to its importance​

to account for what I value.​

I’m not inhuman, after all.​

Why can’t she see​

that the rigor of the binomial distribution​

and numbers’ cool, green rationality​

deliver choices free of passion and prejudice?​

Besides, she’s hosted a sloppier calculation​

between her ears for months.​

Eyes squinting and neck straining​

I input the remaining data so fast​

the mouse jitters like a Chihuahua​

at an espresso bar. The miracle of Moore’s Law​

tallies the weighted sum and the results are​


Jon Wesick​

Decision Theory (page 2, new stanza)​

Tail wagging and ignorant of the computer’s verdict,​

Dusty drops a slobbery tennis ball​

at my feet and nudges my hand with his nose.​

How can a spreadsheet model loyalty​

or decency?​

You’re safe, buddy!​



Melanie Haagman

United Kingdom

It’s not so much the words​

And the way they’re combined ​

But the passion of the writer ​

And the power they’ve assigned.​

It’s not so much the poem, ​

It’s the way that’s it’s perceived ​

All the emotion that’s behind it ​

And the message that’s received.​

It’s not so much the rhythm,​

Or the emphasis or beat, ​

But the connections that is found​

Without the need to meet. ​

We all have the same thoughts,​

Fears, experiences and more,​

So the ability to relate to all ​

Is what the writings for...​



Emecheta Christian​

Nigeria​ ​

I strive to be better​

I train to be wiser​

I must attain that height​

I will strengthen my might​

Every minute counts​

Every day I must give account​

Everything I wish to become is in me​

Every day is another chance to break free​

Who says I can’t achieve my goals?​

Who can stop me when I charge like a bull?​

Who is better in this competition?​

Who can stop me from winning for my nation?​

There is no reason for panic or fear​

There is no reason to quit and not dare​

There isn’t a better option​

Than to persist and become a champion.​



Sonia Pal​

United Kingdom​

No joys, no toys​

No celebrations, only aberrations​

Least money for a feast,​

Sans emotions made ends meet ​

And dreamt of promotions sweet !​

Studied and learnt before dawn hours,​

Life’s lessons were very sour! ​

I actually progressed through​

Quite huge towers to ​

Attain my Super Powers - The Values of Life.​


I learnt it ALL what it takes to say :​

Does not matter if life does not rhyme ​

Never forget your rhythms to chime​


And if you champion the art of sacrifice ​

Your cries will turn into lessons wise ​​

To help others learn, idealise and rise​

 with your positive, powerful vibes and allies​



Trisha Ram – Age 6​

United Kingdom​

My room is pink​
My posters blink​
My mirror makes me think ​
That I must face my life. ​
My lights teach me to outshine​
My clock teaches me to match my pace with its tick ​
My bed teaches me to dream big​
My bookshelf teaches me to be intelligent and fair ​
My windows teach me how important is the fresh air ​
My snowy white cupboard teaches me to stay calm ​
My make up table teaches me to be the most beautiful  ‘Trisha Ram’ 




Michael Ball​

United States​

I want to see and touch and smell​

a big, honking God.​

Let the sweat of an Almighty​

drizzle on me. ​

Surely such a muscular deity can be​

mine to worship and trust.​

Meanwhile my elephant-headed Ganesh,​

eliminates my obstacles. ​

Greeks and Hindus believed in gods​

who showed their humanity.​

Certainly today, a burly, sincere God​

is not too much to demand. ​

I am Michael, like the angel who used​

to sit at the right hand of God,​

before that interloper showed​

to grab that seat.​

If believers can count on personal attention​

at least that to a fallen sparrow,​

can I expect a God good for banter and ​

a drink in the cloud bar?



After Naomi Shihab Nye​

Eve Lyons​

United States​

I was too young to appreciate ​

the trust it took Gloria to ask to stay with me​

so she could get away from Tom. ​

In my adolescent way​

I think I was happy to just be chosen. ​

It was a matter of practicality:​

I’d been away at college​

so he didn’t know where I lived. ​

But she was also entrusting her safety ​

to a naïve nineteen-year-old​

who didn’t really understand​

how scary this was. ​

I’ve never wanted to share this story​

Because it wasn’t mine to share​

I feel the same about the morning ​

I was at work, preparing to counsel ​

high school girls, when Lisa’s call came in: ​

Someone had to call the police. ​

They came and interrogated the victim​

as though she were to blame​

Forty percent of cops abuse their partners. ​

This is part of the problem, in America. ​

We don’t feel like we can talk about it:​

How men treat women​

How men treat other men​

How normal ​

relationship as property is. ​

I’ve changed the names in this poem​

but put it out there anyway in hope ​

it makes it safer for the authors ​

assuming they survive ​

to tell their stories. ​



Larissa Murray​

United States​

But, ​

what about powerless- devils advocate.​

It’s a yin and yang, sort of thing. ​

I walk through the day, with the shiny things dangling above my head-​

I, want it all;​

but I don’t say it, never would I tell you that I want it all. ​

I play keep busy to avoid the inevitable realization that I’ve already fallen-​

I have no power over gravity, it has got my attention. ​

I ask you if we can do it together, ​

fake myself into thinking I will not feel the pain,​

or feel gravity’s sting if I have your hands holding mine.​


“I want it all”.​

Power, powerless. ​

Bits and pieces of neglect,​

what a mess.​

Dissecting others, ​

mistaking cynicism as ultimate intelligence.​

Getting high, ​

and putting my feet back on the ground again.​


Watching them, as they exude their own power.​

I stumble on my own, looking down at all the flowers.​


Stretching my arms, as if they are the coming of morning light.​

But, my reach only goes so far.​

& you know what, that’s alright​

the day is already pretty bright.​

I reach, and I breathe. I reach, and I breathe.​


Power, powerless.​

For now I reach as far as I possibly can.​


I scribble the ways in which I’m okay without it,​

I scribble the ways in which I love it, ​

I scribble the ways in which I will get it,​

and upon scribbling I forget about the necessity of it- scary, isn’t it?​

But nonetheless I lay my head, and a new day comes-​

I lift my head from the floor, I honor those who reach even though they have before.​

Energized, sober, ​

it’s in, and above my head- ​

and I need it before this life is over.​



Gerard Sarnat​

United States​

B-ball defense, dribble, shoot​

players gathered in Indiana ​

instead of usual tournament​

years spread across your USA​

stadiums almost empty ​

because of COVID fears​

which rattle luckless teams ​

seemingly unpredictably, ​

with perennial powerhouses ​

having lackluster seasons​

thus amazingly not even​

qualifying for NCAA’s​

huge field of sixty-eight​

in an astonishing defiance​

of laws of gravity that favor​

large well-financed programs​

which have perk$ and facility ​

bona fides to recruit blue chip​

kids on their way to the NBA​

it’s a wonderful yet somewhat​

eerie experience time ‘n again ​

to bear witness as pampered​

youngsters come to recognize​

their inevitable success isn’t​

gonna happen, plus look in eyes​

of (perhaps) surprised underdogs,​

at first blush simply happy​

to get into The Big Dance​

with a chance to compete.​

As Bob Dylan once said, ​

probably Bible-paraphrasing ​

Loser now will be later to win.​



Ben Campbell​

United Kingdom​

pink fluffy child ​

pulls from her  ​

father  ​

to the puddle ​

she jumps, ​

bewildered by the ​

power at her​


tiny little feet ​

to make the world ​

dance ​



Michael H. Brownstein​

United States​

In the days that followed​

The blue ink of sea broiled over​

A child, a vulture, a lack of seed.​

Everything spreading outward.​

Wind whined into place and rained.​

Sun spread its thick arms and stayed.​

One person can make a world.​

A strong wind can swim in acid and wake.​

Water in turmoil thickening.​

Hold on with all of your might.​

The earth has not yet broken open.​

The legs of the strong are stronger​

Than the waves of the cloak of life.​

We will come to cross this path,​

We will make it across this continent,​

We will find the child, the vulture, the seed.​

We will change the shape of water.​



Sarah Wells​


silent addictions​

creep to the riverside​

abandons my inner world​

taking what I love for granted​


My mantras affirm my awareness​

fighting for the present​

until the present​

is past.​

silent addictions will arise,​

seeing clearly,​

that body is gone.​



Iris Levin​

United States​

 it is said​

                 every baby​

                 every color​

                 everywhere ​

                 enters the world​

                 with closed fists​

                 holding onto​

                 gifts to share with the world​

as they grow ​

hands open​

releasing hopes and dreams ​

into a divided world​

                   helpless small fists ​

                    become enraged large fists​

                    raised in protest​




                                         equality ​


    raising to ensure that​

    every baby’s fist ​

    will open safely​

    sharing their gifts with ​

    a welcoming world​





Bill Wren​


I’m giving up the power.​
I’m giving it away.​
When you’ve got the power,​
you’ve got to sin all day.​

I don’t want that work.​
I don’t want it anymore.​
When you have the power​
every day’s a bloody bore.​

If you have the power,​
you don’t get a say.​
You rape and kill without a clue ​
why it is that way.​

Power’s always empty.​
A plate that holds no meat.​
A glass that has no wine.​
A meal you cannot eat.​

I’ve been hungry in my time​
on top of that old hill.​
From that height you see​
it’s just another hill.​

One day if you’re standing​
high, atop the heap,​
you’ll find there’s nothing there,​
however wide the sweep.​

Power is a victory​
that becomes a great defeat.​
You’ll always be alone​
when the world is at your feet.​

I’m giving it all up;​
I’m giving it away.​
When you’ve got the power​
you’re tired and bored,​
alone and drowned​
in blood that spills all day.​

Take from me this power.​
My sins begin to weigh.​



Samman Akbarzada​


A sparrow got lost ​
Stared at a willow, shortly the flock was gone​
Begged for the sun to not set ​
And he witnessed the quickest sunset ​
Perhaps in the light, he could find his way back home​
But his longing wishes, and his bitter mourns​
Didn't bring back the dawn ​
A lonely sparrow ​
Flew to that willow  ​
Twitched by howls, rustles and growls ​
Bearing an unbearable evenfall​
His troubled eyes on the east ​
Lest he would be the wilderness's feast​
The night ripened colder ​
Another threat for the missing beholder​
His sanctuary was his shivering wings ​
Once they swayed as the Sparrow would sing ​
Now they caressed him near ​
His warmth, his streaming tears​
Stared at his shortened whiffs ​
Disappearing amidst​
The moonlight as it fell​
Right over his head​
Gasped, looking up at her beauty ​
She smiled, fulfilling her duty ​
To always be there for the forgotten​
An ally for the wounded and fallen​
She kept him in the spotlight​
For the rest of his esoteric night ​
He sang for her poems of heartbreak and recluse​
And of distance but intertwined roots  ​
She beamed despite her scars ​​Deeply intimate, yet mercilessly far ​
Full and amber she glowed that night​
But it was an unfortunate sign​
He witnessed the quickest sunrise ​
But with a hope said it would be alright​
The enlightened Sparrow reborn​
Found his way back home ​
Prayed for the night to fall faster ​
Just to see his anguishing disaster​
Every gloom fell for a thousand-year ​
But she evolved more dear ​
"My retrouvaille, we'll reconcile"​
He sang in his dreary twilights ​
Feeble, weary, but no longer absent​
She fell in crescent ​
He sang for her poems ​
Of love being equal to acceptance ​
Its power being faith and patience ​
Slowly but surely, she grew fonder ​
For both a bittersweet wonder ​
Yet again came the time ​
"My retrouvaille, we'll reconcile"​



Prema Murugan​


Utter a few words of kindness​

to the one depressed in distress.​

Watch how instantly his gloomy eyes glow.​

A happy seed of hope in sunken heart grow.​

No requirement of wealth of any kind.​

Kind words desires loving hearts that bind​

all humans in humanity and prolonged peace​

wishing that human race shall never cease.​

All over anger hatred betrayal prevail​

for happiness prosperity forever to avail​

Kind words!! a powerful weapon for mankind​

that abundantly should surge in every mind​

Words like serene stream forever be flowing​

to reach and drench into ocean of feeling.​

So to engender life, warm touch melting​

the cold emotions accumulated within.​

a profound process of healthy healing.​

Rejuvenating the droughted riversides​

then were grey, now turned to lush greens.​

Revitalizing the blooms deserted in vales,​

this moment dancing even to slight breezes.​

Let kind words flow non-stop, gain power​

Pave own way by warring, breaking barrier,​

the stubborn steady stones and rocky layer​

that are spread all over, everywhere.​

Powerful words running through wild track​

firmly leave behind remarkable mighty mark​

Though gentle are the streams that sizzles​

but its continuous flow softens and chisels​

the tough rigid rocks into smooth sand.​

Likewise words in ink glide, if wisely blend,​

it's as powerful as to tempt any mankind,​

their mind to refine from cruel to kind...​



Hayley Alana Agerbo​

Canada​ ​

I thought I saw you.​

Reflecting in a clear glass window. Plummeting amidst a thousand drops of rain. Whispering woes beneath a wavy, weeping willow.​

Yes, you were there.​

In the scorch of a sun. And the pale of a moon. In the cool curl of a surf pitched too soon. In the sting of sheets scraping my fire-singed skin. And deep inside my sorrowful dreams.​

I thought I saw you.​

Inhaling steam from a pot of simmering souls. Gulping wine from a goblet made of tolls. Thieving existence from treasure troves. Wrenching my love when you thought it exposed.​

Yes, you were there.​

Aching at the feet of those you’ve wronged. Riddled with regret. And pained by loss. Wishing away what refuses to be gone. Teasing the hearts of those who long.​

I thought I saw you once.​

But I never really saw you at all.​



Lisa Tomey​

United States​

there was this man​
his name was George​
he is still alive ​
in many hearts​
but this soul left​
not by his choice​
in fact he cried out​
for the luxury of breath​
was taken from him​
lungs provide ​
luxury of breath​
this luxury is afforded​
to all who choose to breathe​
until a natural death​
unless ​
takes ​
away ​
someone is left​
begging to live​
crying to his mother​
I can't breathe​



Matt Walford​

United Kingdom​

Never beaten, but wishing they had been,​
After all pain is tangible, and it’s real,​
Unlike the emptiness of self-loathing,​
Unsure of how they should ever feel.​

They have tried to put their finger,​
On the moment they submitted control,​
When It was that to someone unworthy,​
That they gave away their soul.​

Once so strong and independent,​
So full of zest and vigour,​
They see their reflection and are shocked to see,​
A smaller, broken figure.​

Insidious the methods were ,​
They couldn’t see before the die was cast,​
Wishing they could go back to being,​
Who they were a few short years past.​

Any victory they had earned,​
And dared to feel some pride,​
It would quickly be nipped in the bud,​
Their joy, the abuser can’t abide.​

When the abusers voice gets bassy ,​
Instinctively they cower,​
With sad realisation and acceptance,​
They gave their abuser all the power.​

Now can I ask a question?​
As you read this little rhyme,​
Did you ever stop to consider,​
As a male, this story could be mine?​


EXODUS 34:7​

Brian L. Hayes, PG​

United States​

The sins of our fathers​

have come home to roost​

on us, their children​

and even our own,​

unto the fourth generation.​

How long O Lord,​

Before we make America Great?​

Before the implied promises​

and “Inalienable” rights ​

are more than just empty words​

on some moldering pages​

that are only meant​

for the Chosen.​

When will,​

the color of my skin​

not be a passport​

in my own country?​

“Papers” I wear​

marking my worth ​

as a whole person,​

gaining me access ​

to so many places​

where the door wants to be closed​

to that deemed the Other.​

Still, we try to follow ​

in the ways of our fathers,​

blind men,​

groping the elephant in the room,​


we can hold back​

the coming spring melt​

that it won’t carry us away.​




Helen Openshaw​

United Kingdom​

My breath held tight,​

Hands gripped on the handle bars,​

Your presence secure behind me.​

Eyes straight ahead,​

Feet barely touching the pedals,​

Warm words encourage and lift,​


I grow, just a tiny bit, and​

I no longer feel small in this giant world.​

The moment you let go.​



Mark Hudson​

United States​

Recently, I saw a social worker on the train,​

who used to be a youthful Grateful Dead  fan.​

“I used to discuss sex and drugs,” he’d complain,​

“but now all I want is a nap,” said the man.​

Another friend, a welder lives with pain,​

on his birthday, his son had a great plan.​

He gave him a birthday card to entertain,​

the message itself on the card was not bland.​

For your birthday, I wish you a nap,” the refrain,​

as all people who work wish while they stand.​

Working people afford the bed where they’ve lain,​

the unemployed take naps on benches or sand.​

A mid-day nap always seems to revive,​

it is the secret yearning of workers nine to five.​

(Winner of an honorable mention in the 2017​

Florida State Poetry Contest)​




Jan Chronister​

United States​

is what it was,​

reminder of journeys​

no longer taken, no choice​

of destination, our bodies​

moved by others​

whorled space left soulless​

in satin-lined coffins​



Susan Henry​

United States​

I am the mayor​

of this town.​

Voters liked me​

more than a man​

who wanted to ​

raise local taxes. ​

I won by a handy​


Our city council​

meets each month.​

The public voices​

its arguments.​

I’m well-informed​

about opposing ​

views and those​

of other politicos.​

A moving cliché,​

I walk the corridors​

of civic power​

to the press office​

and engagements​

with dignitaries. ​

City Hall​

is built from stone.​

Being on the inside,​

looking out, offers​

some advantages,​

but still, I haven’t​

forgotten my voters.​



Laura Ferries​

United Kingdom​ ​

Smashing glass ceilings​

Incurring splinters​

Fortified fists​

Don’t doubt my thin wrists​

Layer after layer​

Sheet after sheet​

Bandaging our hands​

Gritting our teeth​

Shoes filled with shards​

We walk the yards​

We stride the miles​

Oh and mustn’t forget to smile :) ​

We’re assigned steeper hills​

But it strengthens our skills​

All the spiritual hurdles​

The subliminals and verbals​

With each othered obstacle ​

We wield another miracle​

The literal and the lyrical​

Every act, struggle and syllable​

Can feel so difficult​

It’s exhausting, it’s tiring​

Constantly unconditioning​

Relentlessly rewiring​

But even when the ceiling ​

Is honestly feeling​


And our skin is bruised and grazed​

Our feats should really leave us amazed.​

For us, you see, the path wasn’t paved.​

While the wounds from the fight​

And vertigo from upward flight​

Are soothing, healing, and maybe still bleeding​

Remember this feeling-​

When the system was stacked high against you​

You smashed right through ​

Society’s glass ceilings.​



Bilkis Moola​

South Africa​

Bastions of power​
fortify seats of determination.​
Stretched in a grimace of tight-lipped​
mouths with teeth that grind against​
clenched fists.​

Power corrodes the spirit like an inferno​
where flames lick flesh to misery.​
Blemished by the stain of politician’s fingers,​
the human spirit smolders​
like melting larva erupting from a​
volcanic mass of power.​

The corrosive smear of politics​
steams in waves of intimidation​
that reverberate in corridors​
where tyrants rule.​

In an eruption of the grasp for political gain -​
fingers pilfer the treasury where ​
decrepit souls whose barometer for success​
consumes the plight of the poor.​

The smear of politics ​
stains headlines in a lion’s roar​
for a kill -​
an insatiable hunger bloated by the​
avarice of evil.​

The human spirit is gnawed by rats​
whose eyes search in a menacing gleam for theft -​
gnaw, chew and devour to bellies that swell​
to belch corruption.​

Bastions of power ​
who recline in seats as tyrants​
for whom the villain is celebrated as hero​
with a spirit corroded from humanity.​



Favour Chinenye Okpor​


In this land where I was given life​

have I also been prodded by the apprentices of death​

with dirges of sorrow strewn across my waist​

and waters of misery parading deserted eyes.​

The death that did not kill us​

are the boulevards of suffering ​

heaped upon our virgin heads;​

The pregnant memories of pain​

Bequeathed to us ​

At the juncture of mother's travailing thighs.​

The death that did not end us​

is the marauding injustice sauntering our land ​

the rabid cravings of gluttony fools​

feasting on vibrant dreams and guileless innocence.​

The death that did not kill us​

are poignant streams of pain ​

coursing through hollowed veins;​

The ocean of endless agonies​

seated at the heart of an orphaned land​

The death that did not end us​

are the visions of brothers​

sunk in the bellies of a bloodthirsty government;​

The faltering sighs of mothers​

forced to drink the blood of her murdered children.​

The death that did not kill us​

birthed the hope that stitched wings into our backs-​

steering our hearts to a new home.​

The death that did not end us​

breathed strength into our pores​

and fueled power into our voices.​



Alana Bedworth​

United Kingdom​

When you feel as though you're​

running down a blind alley,​

the walls behind you close in.​

All your pain and suffering​

comes to the surface again.​

Hope for your future is​

evaporating with every blink​

of your eye.​

Where and how do you get​

the resolution to fight once more.​

The strength and power is within you,​

as you struggle to understand why.​

Reach inside for the belief, ​

that will help you rid this ​

inertia from your life.​

Life is no bed of roses,​

but when you realise the solution​

is inside you.​

Make good the power within you,​

and start life a new.​



Nicolette Soulia​

United States​


I repeat, thirteen.​

Lemme say that one more time for you.​

Barely entering puberty, ​

barely passed his momma's titty, ​

barely old enough to walk that street ​


Today is just one of many Thursday’s for me, ​

but this kid will forever be only thirteen.​

This kid will never get to see what it means ​

to work hard, fall in love, ​

and change his scene ​

because you gripped that trigger too happily.​

Yea, I bet your trigger finger feels fucking happy.​

Do you have the gall to feel happy ​

in knowing that you made someone stop growing ​

at the godawful age of thirteen?​

I’m getting a little tired of this in my news feed.​

I repeat,​


Is this the face of humanity?​

These smug white officers sharing a monopoly on being free?​

These fucking inept officers with a whole system to clean ​

up every mess they make of their way of living?​

These fucking cowardly officers who turn their trigger fingers on hands raised and eyes pleading?​

Don’t you EVER tell me that we should respect the police ​

when their targets are our precious babies.​

When their targets are us for asking the maybes.​

When their targets are anyone they see as threatening, ​

not only to their lives, ​

but to their pension and savings.​

When their checklist of ethics goes by their feelings, ​

and you never fucking asked how Thirteen was feeling.​

Even as a white woman without my own threat facing, ​

I now get it when everyone was arguing in the 90’s​

about Ice-T and his friends in a posse ​

rapping “Fuck the police!” proudly, ​

or Tupac’s rose garden up the sidewalk’s concrete ​

with the message of needing changes on the street.​

And did y’all listen? Fuck, no. You made pleas ​

with the Senate, and the House, and outlawed their words’ release ​

all because someone told you power is king.​

But who holds that power now, the bullet or the video streaming?​

The time has come for police accountability, ​

and unfortunately, ​

as told to me by a friend north of me, ​

this is a white man’s problem. ​

Just like junkies on the street,  ​

the only way to kill the virus is for them us to want the changing.​

I guess someone should have told the kid running ​

that the main thing he had to fear was the year of his becoming ​

a man, and maybe ​

that’s the part so sadly ​

apparent in his story.​

A baker’s dozen of years isn’t enough to teach him that exploring ​

his history would eventually ​

destroy him in the night by a man cunning enough to fake naivety.​

His naivety would take his life down to thirteen.​

Please excuse me while I go vomit since I’ve nothing left to speak.​



Robert Edward Baker​

United Kingdom​

Sweet Mary Quinn despised her man because he was a cad.​
Although their home was spick-and-span, Mick treated Mary bad.​
She washed his clothes a sparkly white, so everybody said,​
but Mick believed such was his right and rarely left his bed.​

One day when she and Mick had fought, she met a handsome bloke​
who dressed in green and was so short he trailed his fancy cloak.​
She wondered how he kept it neat; it didn't show one stain.​
This puzzle really had her beat; his laundry looked a pain.​

He asked her if she'd like a drink, then lured her to a bar.​
She drank so much she couldn't think how this might go too far.​
He said, “What's that behind your ear?” and “found” a golden ring​
then joked around while drinking beer and proving he could sing.​

He said, “I am a leprechaun, and you may call me Bill.​
We aren't a myth like unicorns; I live beyond yon hill.”​
Bill took her hand, which made her swoon, then bid her run away.​
She gave a nod. “Can we go soon?” “Oh yes,” he said. “Today.”​

His home was in a hidden glen behind a rainbow's arc,​
a house fit for fine noblemen, its garden like a park.​
Once there, he dragged her to a room, then pushed poor Mary in.​
It looked and stank just like a tomb, and Bill began to grin.​

“Don't cry or make a lot of fuss,” that evil creature hissed.​
“Your struggles are superfluous; it's pointless to resist.​
I've heard so many compliments, how clothes that you wash gleam​
and I've a thousand dirty pants that really need a clean.”​



Ken Gosse​

United States​

Two tracks converged on a cobbled street.​

Great pride, for we’d constructed both.​

Released from prison’s past defeat—​

No longer shackled at my feet—​

For this hard task, I was not loathe.​


The horse could travel just as fair.​

For carriage hauling, it laid claim,​

But thousands soon would travel there​

And far exceed the wear and tear​

Of horses, who would soon go lame.​


Today, a carriage without horse​

Is rarely seen upon our roads​

But someday, perhaps with remorse,​

We’ll find we’ll use another source—​

Horsepower, man-made, for these loads.​


Accomplished task. Gargantuan feat.​

Our labors sometimes made us weep​

In bitter cold and searing heat,​

Yet progress never is complete.​

We’ve miles to go—but first we’ll sleep.​



Carol Edwards​

United States​

To my dear kindred​
word witches,​
crafters of lyrical verse and spells:​

Meaning begets power;​

runes, mantras, accent and flow –​

all dead without intent.​

Magic is not in the words alone;​
to imbue them life​


string them will all the fire you possess​
and all the ice, too.​
They will embed, birth, grow,​

to strangle or to bless​
only you will know.​

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