Kassie Runyan

United States


did you know?

this place where we sit

taking a break

a breath

from walking up

a steep street

on this little bench

burrowed into a wall

put here by someone

knowing that we wouldn’t make it

up the steep street

without a break

a breath


did you know?

that this place has a dark past

a past filled with flame

and death

and when that happened

they built more on top

and buried the old history

trying to forget


did you know?

it couldn’t be forgotten

because the new build

the new grade

of the steep street

caused more pain

and stench

than what the fire left behind

as sewage ran

down the steep street

that we now struggle

to walk up

did you know?

to hide the pain

and the history

of people being dragged away

and sold on ships

as slaves

the city swept it all

under the steep streets

that now we walk up

and down

to get to the market

where fish are thrown

and people laugh

as they stick their gum to a wall

that is cleared away

every year


 did you know?

that the resilience of this city

and the way they build

to hide the past

but embrace the present

with their visitors

and the beauty

that this city now brings

to all of those who see

the need to hide

and the need to forget

without that

the city we know

wouldn’t exist

with its steep streets

and hidden alleys

and hidden levels

and hidden secrets


didn’t you know?



Mel Haagman

United Kingdom

I’d rather feel too deeply

At all things great and small

Than lack any emotion

And feel nothing at all…

Hate isn’t the opposite of love

It’s apathy instead,

And I really hope this trait

Doesn’t multiply and spread.

Successful communication

Won’t be able to take place,

Barriers in relationships

Will be a constant case.

Apathy can be temporary

Though a dangerous path to tread,

You may feel such emptiness

Now your feelings have fled.

No sense of impending doom,

Or any elation to share,

A brain once on fire,

Is now silent and bare.

Acknowledgment is crucial,

The start to being freed,

And finding motivation

To get exactly what you need.

In a world with endless potential

There’s so much good to feel,

So get inside the car of life

And strongly steer the wheel.



Dedicated to those lost in Manchester

John Albiston

United Kingdom


a light never goes out

it always shines bright

the candle flame glows

angels look after ones lost

as sad as it is

we must stand as one nation

stand united to fight 

to fight against those who harm

let us stay together

stand bold and true

the fight must go on



RC James

United States


On the mantelpiece, a single rose; 
outside, a morning filled with mist 
covering the field, oddly reassuring. 
We’re leaving, with or without 
your nightly phantoms, who, 
spitefully, claim they’ve won. 
We’ll reverse the confusion, 
our fears welcoming a bird 
from land beyond other land. 
Knowledge gained can’t work out 
what’s ahead, a handhold 
on a cliff is all we have. 
What we’ve lost remains inside, 
silent seamsters embroider dreams; 
in cool morning, prophets speak. 



CL Bledsoe

United States


Before bed, my daughter asks

about when we were bears,

serious face, big eyes. She knows

once she pulls the string, I’ll spin

all night. “That’s why you like salmon

so much,” I remind her. “We slapped

the waves into place as the river curtsied

past, which is how the Mississippi

was made. They won’t tell you that

at school, because they’re in it with

Big Erosion. We knew the secret song

that put the bees to sleep.” “But weren’t

we stealing their honey?” “We left

flowers like the tooth fairy leaves

silver dollars. They were glad to

have them. They wrote thank-you

notes. Your mother might still have

some, saved somewhere. Flowers

grew in our fur – a special kind

you can’t find at the farmer's market.

They changed color and scent

depending on our moods, what we had

to do that day. Too much homework

and they would go gray and smell

like old cheese. Everybody would know

we needed someone to make

funny faces at us.” “I don’t think that’s

true.” I shrug. “When we’d scratch

our backs on trees, it straightened

them so they grew into the sky, which

is where the best sunberries come from.

They’d drop them down for us, sometimes.

When we sharpened our claws on their

bark, we were returning the favor.”

I look into the distance, thinking about

how sweet those berries were, the feel

of loam beneath my claws. “Why did

we ever leave?” she asks.  “We got laid

off and had to come here for work,” I say.

“Your mom’s cousin knew somebody

hiring humans, so we had to trade in our

fur and claws for hair and donuts. That’s

why you should always unionize.”

That bit always puts her right to sleep.

I tuck her in, stand over her,

growling at the darkness to keep

it back a little longer.  


Ivan de Monbrison



В другом месте, дальше, идите,

Не видеть, 

Горизонт движется, как канат.

Падает, ниже, снова,

Но никогда не умирает. 

Elsewhere, further, to go

not to see,

The horizon moving like a rope.

To fall down, again

But never to die. 



Genevieve Ray

United Kingdom


6 days from now;

I get a stamp,

or a label.

I can affix,

to every other tomorrow.


If it cannot come,

there will be another sun.




5 days from now;

I'll understand how,

I don't understand often.

Skipping from thought,

to forgotten notion.


If it cannot come,

there will be another sun.




4 days from now;

I wont question why,

I will question how.

Defining one more answer,

gaining yet another question.


If it cannot come,

there will be another sun.




3 days from now;

meaning will begin again.

Adding letters to selfdom,

taking away judgements.

Nearer conclusion.

If it cannot come,

there will be another sun.




2 days from now;

I draw lines,

between forgiveness’s.

Draw lines under,



If it cannot come,

there will be another sun.




1 day from now;

A life built up,

against one day,

and what was missing.

I sit silently hoping.


If it cannot come,

there will be another sun.


I finally reach tomorrow.



Lolanda Leotta



The disease knocked on your door,

you were always a strong woman,

now you’re weak and you cry,

the fever burns you out,

the convulsions make you tremble,

you feel you are out of breath,

heart beats slow down,

I know mother you feel exhausted,

but your son need you,

you taught me to have faith, to hope. 

Don’t give up living!

God can perform miracles.

Mother! do you remember the day 

I said to you: "I want to go abroad.

in search of fortune” and you told me: 

"My beloved son, even if you’re afraid 

of making a mistake, don’t give up living!

don't blame yourself for me,

I'm not here to give you a hard time,

you have to make your own life.

Why wouldn’t you fight!

You have to try so hard 

until you find the right way,

I can’t bear to see you sad,

deprived of life energy.

I hope God hears my prayers someday.

Don’t give up your life!

You don't want to have the same fate 

as your father, 

you don’t want to be the victim 

of his backward mentality.

If you stay in his shop to serve customers,

you’ll become cynical and contemptuous,

you’ll annihilate yourself.

Go! Dare to dream!

you’ll make me the proudest mother

in the world, don’t worry about me, 

I can take care of myself

and when you come back don’t warn me,

I’ll be at the door waiting for you.



Loti Uwatabaye


Looking myself in the mirror,

My joy appears to have faded.

All the charms I had disappeared

Leaving me like an old billboard.

I can see nobody noticing me

Even make ups don't fit me, 

I feel weak for me to move on 

With anxiety that holds me back.

I am into a blackout of love 

Depression defeats my expression,

Can't even get a friendly message

May be breath is my massage.

I try to spend my day as normal 

And memories just make me wild,

I find myself walking alone all the way

Like I don't deserve accompany.

Loneliness brought me down 

And fell to the ground staring to the mirror,

I saw my image in so clear 

And hoped for bliss without doubts.



Cathy Hollister

United States


It’s easy to love a mountain…But the prairie’s charms take more looking

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Lone tree, distant, hazy


like a waif 

on an ocean of brown prairie grass,

the grasshoppers’ tenor drone surrounds 

me in a maze of clamor, 

clacking, clicking 

over and over, 

a companion as faithful as the wind,

starlings murmur,

inviting me to look up,

gaze at the artistic creations against 

the blue canvas of the sky

scent of sage emerges,

speaking of purification and sacrifice  

I know dwells within me,

though obscured by the mountain 

of noise that separates me from myself

the emptiness of the land fills 

the void of my loneliness,

my spirit welcomes the rhythm of the plains

as the golden rays of the sunset

anoint me.  



Aleksandra Vujisić



The flowers are dead in the vase

but I have no wish to throw them away.

Their new, miraculous flourishing 

is what I call hope,

or are they here to stay that way?

The love is lost in the nonsense

of everyday life, worn out as an old coat.

Its new, miraculous, reappearance is 

what I call hate,

rocking with menace this old boat.

But there is the shore not so far away,

or even a lighthouse and I think 

I can cope -

for all of the lost love or broken wings

I only have a ray of hope.



Judith N. Brooke



I search in my mind

      To find you,

But instead, many doubts and anxieties

I reach out

                   you are not there.

I search for you

                  I don’t find you.

In my dreams I wonder why

                  I cannot find you.

The obstacles mount

                  why can’t I find you?

Why are you so hard to discover,

                  will I ever find you?

What is it that compels me to         

                  keep searching?

Why can’t I be satisfied

                  with who I am?

Or do I know?

Perhaps I am crazy.

Or do I search because

                  inside I know that I am not.

I flounder like a baby

                              learning to swim

Thrashing, gasping, reaching

                  Reaching out,


                  you are not there - yet.



Alan Bedworth

United Kingdom


I see the world today,
as a place I don't recognise.
Have we come so far,
that material things
makes us who we are ?

Governments and technology,
are isolating people,
the more advanced we become.
There's systems in place,
where we don't have to leave home.

Surely that's against human instinct.
Tolerance is something
that's becoming sadly lacking.
Patience and civility is eroding
thanks to social media.

What is the future for our offspring,
if this world is allowed to keep
ignoring the signs of foreboding.
Yet look into the children's eyes.
They're full of hope and living.

Now nearly at the end of my life.
Seeing those children's eyes,
fills me with hope and confirmation.
That all is not lost for the future,
and life will return to normality.



Maid Corbic

Bosnia and Herzegovina


All my hopes from life are woven

they become just dust and ashes regardless of age

i still live for the love that warms me

let it remain etched in my memory

I think that for all solutions there must be

because I live for my dreams woven of chocolate

and hope does not cease regardless of the environment

in which I must live forever

I hope in vain for some unfortunate happiness

and I'm just someone who loves ds be what you are

faith and hope for some better times still lives on

in the depths of my hidden and sincere soul

I am someone who really loves the world around me

but the people around me have become so pale

yes unfortunately as some day slowly fades away

the earth rotates all its slopes backwards

And I was left alone and within four walls

but I don’t want to remain a hunter of untwisted dreams

for birth is still alive to me as if it were the last

while hope in me lives on forever

I sneeze at the world, and I mustn’t be

hope must remain in every sphere of life

for I am a young man longing for an honest life

and every day I live as if it were my last

I enjoy looking at the smiling people around me

and we share equal colors regardless of all distances

but what is valid when everything has become just darkness and an endless tunnel

the dizziness inflicted on me by people with their boiling behavior?

All my hopes cease with some years of existence

I wish the world was still full of optimism

because every day is actually a new beginning since life decides for me what is best

Small things really know how to hurt my hopes

people are born to be all that they really are, selfish

while I want to show with kindness that there is still hope

for a whole world that wants some new and more beautiful times

My hope must be the same for all who live

because it’s easiest to walk away from someone without saying goodbye

that is why I always take hope with great reserve

because I learned that life is a big game of cat and mouse

Hopes become futile over the years

I am no longer the boy of my imaginative dreams

but I still hide a corner for my toys

which I skillfully hide, they do not see the ridicule I receive from the world!



Mark Andrew Heathcote

United Kingdom


Hold it as a child could

only the melting snow, 

love is a living hope,

hope, a living hell.


Love, is a dew lit web

strung across our hearts

in love alone do we worship? 

In death are we - then loved?



John Muro

United States

Grateful for this day, 

A slow-shuffling wind

And a sky of buttermilk 

Fringed with blue. Hillsides 

Ablaze in torchlight, blood-

Orange bronzed, and snow-

Dusted bales glistening in 

A vacant field like wares 

Displayed on the sleeves 

Of a cut-purse. Frost fuels 

The seepage into narrow 

Arteries of brooks so it 

Appears fragments of sun-

Light, like ingots, are stored 

There in lavish sheen, flecks 

Of gold disgorged down-

Stream over moss-softened 

Stone. Birds seem transfixed 

To boughs, like burls, while 

Leaves explode in updrafts 

Of air, muddling their ancient 

Flyways as they inch, year by 

Year, further up into these gold-

Hammered hills to divide the 

Spoils of a season’s passing.



Christine M. Du Bois

United States

We remember the cute little girl

you were—

those big, trusting brown eyes—

a slow loris, cute and cuddly,

whose sweet, dreamy smile

sneaked up on people

and stole their thoughts away

into jungle treetops 

stretching up

to clouds of innocence.

But that was long ago.

Since the time you were kidnapped,

it has been so, so many years.

We remember the quick, inquisitive little girl

you were—

sounding out words on the printed page,

tracing out curlicue cursive letters,

trying out science experiments

at Girl Scouts, in your crisp brown uniform,

and marching to celebrate, and to learn,

always quick to learn!— about liberty

at the Independence Day parade. 

You asked so many questions—

were always asking good questions.

Now we ask the questions.

Since the time you were kidnapped

we have shed so, so many tears.

We remember the friendly little girl

you were—

greeting and hugging and chatting,

taking an interest in everyone

and in every living thing.

You liked parties and festivals

and you did just fine, both with other kids 

and with the many loving adults in your world.

That love has been tested

since the time you were kidnapped:

we’re stalked by so many fears.

We remember you, little girl,

though she kidnapped you long ago.

She stole you, and now the person

in your body steals more than our thoughts.

She steals our money, and our jewelry

and our peace.

She kidnapped you, and now your liberty

is reduced to a prison cell—

though a slow loris should only live free.

She kidnapped you, and your strawberry-guava smile

denatured into a cursing, bare-toothed snarl 

appearing anytime anything 

stands between you 

and your drugs.

You are not forgotten, little girl,

and we will wait and support

and insist and stay strict,

holding taut a fierce love-line

of expectation, until

you break the kidnapper’s bond, 

and the woman you were born to become,

that wise and winsome woman, appears.

And until she never forgets

never to let her future

be kidnapped again. 



Gurupreet K Kjalsa

United States


Soprano lights atop her rich-hued note,

an arc ascends aloft in crimson swell,

in summer morning sun uplifts to float

like hummingbird that sips from sweet red well.

My inner eye sees years and ages gone,

then tears of gratitude spring rich and fast;

awash in silky golden nectar tone,

I drift into the music thrumming past. 

The dome of sound prolongs beyond my sphere,

my spirit answers colors into sail;

ten thousand chanting choristers I hear -

they glide inside such songs as must prevail.

Hold true to song, to hour, doorway, shore,

reflective voice may yet belief restore.



Rebecca Kenny

United Kingdom


I gave it my whole heart 

Felt every sinew strain itself, every joint creak

And every broken bone scream in protest -

My spine, like crumpled paper, forced to right itself 

And each heel, lifted millimeters from the lino floor 

Tempting me to give in. Lie down. Sleep.

But no - I won't. I refuse. I actively refute 

The noises made by my tired form;

Instead, I throw my weight into elbows, wrists,

Fingers - carry myself along parallel bars 

A dance of sorts, with my own damaged soul;

This is a cruel but necessary tango.

Nil points. A shit show. Sink into a black 

Plastic chair, sweat-soaked skin and 

Itching scalp arguing that it's easier to pack it in.

The voices grow loud. My heart grows quieter,

But still, it whispers, at the back of my throat

Calling to me

To keep going. Just 






Thomas A. Thrun

United States


Half century ago, you would not 

have had to tell me on what page the 

hymn My Hope is Built was to be found 

in our Lutheran hymnal.  But now, being the

“Doubting Thomas” as I am, I check anyway.

1. My hope is built on nothing less

I checked the 1957 green-covered hymnal my 

sister left me.  The one she borrowed and used with 

our old upright, farmhouse piano -- which turned out 

to be the only good thing to come of Hope Church’s 

burning in 1973.  The bell calling its last in its falling.

than Jesus’ blood and righteousness.  No merit

You may recognize that the tune itself also as 

that used for The Navy Hymn, which also often 

goes by its first line Eternal Father Strong to Save.

This hymn touches hearts of all those who’ve served

or brings tears to the eyes of those remembering

sons and daughters lost in hopes of ending more wars.

of my own I claim, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name.

I idolized my older sister, also my fifth grade 

Sunday School teacher.  She memorized not only 

the page number 293, but also all of the words to 

all the verses!  Also, many more like Beautiful 

Savior (518) and Faith of our Fathers (500).

On Christ the solid rock I stand,

She was Ruthie to me.  I tried hard to be like her.

She was Miss Thrun to her high school students.  

She made History relevant, changing young lives,

showing them how to look at things, how to

analyze and prioritize.  Her own eyes were quick

all other ground is sinking sand…

not only put the Fear of God into young minds, 

but also to show kindness and love.  To empathize. 

She hand-wrote and mailed random notes to friends.  

She gave hugs and hope to all those having none.

And, I swear, she modestly hid her angle wings.

3. His oath, His covenant and His blood,

I see this again between all the lines of all 

the cards given and notes left behind after her 

November 2000 passing and then again more

recently in October 2016 after the special recognition 

ceremony at a Colorado high school homecoming. 

sustain me in the raging flood, when every earthly 

At the University High School in Greeley, 

I accepted humbly and posthumously for her an 

Honored Faculty Award.  The sky was hopeful blue.

My eyes welled from emotions long denied…  Gone 

before I could say good bye, that I loved her.  Cancer.

prop gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.

My sister’s death was 20 years ago, as of

now in this COVID year of our 2020 pandemic.

I stopped on a November day -- one of those few 

nice ones -- to catch a nap in the sun against a tree

when I’d gone back home again to hunt whitetails.

On Christ the solid rock I stand,

I stood quietly there near Ruthie’s grave.  I felt 

in a soft wind the Almighty’s breath from around

all the old stones and, then, a faint whisper-version

of my sister’s teaching voice…  “Please turn in 

your hymnals to page 293 for My Hope is Built.”

all other ground is sinking sand…

Footnote:  I also have an even older copy of the 

1930, black-covered American Lutheran Hymnal given

to my mother, Norman Gausmann Thrun (1920-2010), 

the hand-written inscription reading: “Awarded for 

attendance in Hope Lutheran Sunday School.”

My Hope is Built is on page 190.  The hymn was 

composed in 1836 by Edward Mote (1797-1874),

a London cabinet maker later turned minister.  I

will give be giving my family hymnal to my son and

daughter, eventually one each to my two grandsons.

I have included two of the hymn’s four verses above.

Growing up, between church and Sunday School,

I probably sang this hymn at least once or twice a 

month; So, times that by at least 12 or more of my 

childhood and teenage years!  Maybe 3,456 times

between the ages 6-18!  Enough to commit it to memory.

If ever I have Alzheimer’s, I still should be singing it.

Ruthie and Ma probably sang it more years than me!

It was one of our church’s regular, go-to hymns,

Lutherans being big on hymns, three per service.



Emily Thomas / Not Much Rhymes With Cancer

United Kingdom


Dress alterations are now in full swing,

snip, stich and zhoosh to get rid of the cling

Many a good times we had together,

now it bunches and pulls more than ever

Some parts to be kept, they’re too good to lose How

much to change? Should it still match the shoes?

What kind of dress would now suit my new life? Mirror

reflection, the joy and the strife

Maybe splashed florals that dance in the

light, floaty and free, lift me day into night

Wishing well buttons set it off a treat –

clasping me, holding me off my feet

All frills removed as well as the old lace

fierce structure and folds to sit in their place

A new zip snaps shut the previous frock

Coveting the new one, ready to rock

Talented tailors know how to succeed

Decisions are mine, I know what I need

The new dress needs work, it’s not yet quite done

Tweaking, adjusting, then time for some fun



Dimithri Wijerathna

Sri Lanka

Under the dark , gloomy clouds 

He in rags hope to be free from rags 

A woman searching for pinch of salt 

Hope for plate of rice 

A child hidden among books 

Trying to step for social ladder 

Hope for a better future in his life 

Farmer who sows paddy seeds 

Hope for more harvest 

To smile and cherish and free from debts 

As a world with evil pandemic 

We hope for a wonderful spring 

With multi - coloured rainbow 

We hope to scroll down the streets 

We hope to smile and laugh 

Free from mask ; We hope for a beautiful world in 2022



Betty Naegele

United States


a dry gulch snakes a narrow path

through ancient sandstone walls

thirsty for water

that once filled its belly


age-weary, it lies deserted 

but for a few hangers-on

scrub species that have made

its crusty bed their home

a desert lily blooms alone 

after an early morning drizzle

while rabbit-brush litters

the gully

its golden bloom

a peacock’s boast

why is it so prolific? I wonder

. . . . the unfairness of nature

how long will I have to wait 

in my barren land

for new life to pulse within – 

to feel the joy of fetal limbs 

pressing against my womb

I fear the drought will linger 

dry up my store of hope   

one babe is all I ask

like the lily

I wait for rain . . .  



Adrian David


I have a dream that I can make

the world a better place soon.

I can’t breathe as they mock,

“Go back to Africa, you coon.”


I have a dream to hold my head high

and demand my rightful respect.

I can’t breathe as no matter what’s the problem,

I’m always the first one they suspect.


I have a dream to set my life goals

bigger and bigger.

I can’t breathe since I’m ridiculed,

constantly being called a nigger.


I have a dream to land a good job,

based not on my race, but on my skills.

I can’t breathe, being left unemployed,

struggling to pay my everyday bills.


I have a dream to create a future

for my daughters and sons.

I can’t breathe as they’re suppressed,

forced to arm themselves with guns.


I have a dream to be treated the same

as my counterparts who are white.

I can’t breathe while most can’t

even stand my mere sight.


I have a dream that my oppressors

will be brought to justice someday.

I can’t breathe as, nevertheless,

they easily manage to get away.


I have a dream to rise

against all odds and resist.

I can’t breathe as it’s a challenge

for me to simply exist.


I have a dream to fight this battle,

it’s one I badly want to win.

I can’t breathe when I’m judged

by the color of my skin.


I have a dream to break

my shackles and be free.

I can’t breathe with all the racism,

it’s terribly suffocating me.


I’m dreaming many dreams,

for which I sincerely pray.

But I can’t breathe since they

are yet to see the light of day.



Ken Gosse

United States


The dreams, it seems, of girls with hope

in pastel images elope

where love and tenderness abound

with peace and beauty all around.

Imaginations run their course

and ride upon a magic horse

with just one horn, but room for two,

to carry them to life anew;

to ever-afters in a Spring

where lovely-feathered birds will sing.

Then on a finger, find a ring

whose brilliance doesn’t match love’s bling

yet sparkles through the day and night

so bright that demons take their flight.

And although dreams might not come true

(a fate that all but few will rue),

may disappointment not take course,

replacing hope with dark remorse;

for although love will oft’ confound,

in hopeful hearts, it will rebound.

Though many never will elope,

may all their dreams be filled with hope.



Linda M. Crate

United States


i memorized schedules

and footsteps,

found hope in words and worlds

that were not my own;

devoured books

like i was starving for words

maybe i was—

all the words i never heard

i could find in books,

and it gave me hope that maybe

one day i could find someone

who loved me in the ways

i needed to be loved.



Vidya Shankar


Lonely but not invisible 

They trudged rugged roads

That seemed to lead nowhere

They had a bridge to cross

There could be light on the other side

But for now 

They walked in the dark

Street lamps, every few paces

Mile after mile of flickering dimness 

Failing to seep through the thickness of night

But it suited them

The darkness, comforting 

Kept them inconspicuous

Away from prying mouths

One day they would

To the bridge

And when across

There would be Light

They would be Light

But for now

They walked on, walked on

Grateful for the failed street lamps

Embracing the solitude

Darkness gave them



Nolo Segundo

United States


It comes not when it's wanted,

Because it's never wanted—

Who would choose hanging  

Folds of skin, a face creased

With scores of age lines, feet

Speckled with spider veins, an

Aging heart that could yell

'Surprise!' at any time it chose?

An actress once said, 'Getting old

Is not for sissies' and she was right.

It takes guts to live with the gradual

Loosening of a once proud body, 

And the slow softening of your brain.

There is no glory in getting old—you 

Are just a survivor of life's myriad

Tricks and games, all its accidents,

Illnesses, petty defeats and failures. 

And old age does not carry wisdom

With it as you might expect—there 

Are many tart in youth who are bitter

In their slowing down decades, even

Hostile to the joys they might once 

Have hoped to swim in, carefree….

So why must we get old? What use 

Is it, other than nature making room

For other beings to replace us—still,

Why can't we live for centuries like

Old trees, or those big turtles found

On that island with the funny name?

Perhaps it's a way to teach us, to 

Cure the young of their solipsism,

To shear them of the innate vanity

That comes of taut bodies and soft

Handsome faces—then to teach

Them the fears that come with

Aging: the vulnerability of unlived

Dreams, trashed hopes, and the 

Persistent aches of lost loves…

Not to mention fear of falling!

So if you are a young reader 

Of this old poet, you'll ask,

'What? Nothing comes good 

Of a long life? No hope at all?'

Oh yes, something very good

Can come from a long decline,

At least for those who choose

To believe—anticipation!



Mark Hudson

United States


(Source: Sun-Times: Friday May 4, 2018 page 10)

  I’m not much of a follower of politics,

I tend to be pessimistic about all politicians.

  But in today’s paper, a new café opened in

Logan square, Chicago, called Sip of Hope.

The premise is a certain amount of the

coffee sold goes to a non-profit

for suicide prevention.

  I am basically anti-suicide. I believe

life is sacred, nobody should take their own


But at times, my life got so bad, it seemed

like an option.

  So in the photo with the article,

Senator Dick Durbin, and Cook County

Commissioner Luis Arroyo Jr. are seen

at the coffee shop in suit and tie, having

a cup of coffee, among “hipsters” people

with tattooed elbows, purple hair, and

in a way, it is a kind of a funny photo.

  The politicians look kind out

of place with their suits on.

  But I don’t know where their

hearts are, or if it’s just a photo op.

But the article and the photo gave me hope,

because I too, love coffee shops!



Mike Ball

United States


Down the cereal aisle, oldsters

Canoodle with their shopping carts,

Slow dancing, hunched over handle.

We also see humped torsos each pre-dawn

When, in the shadows at the dining table,

This or that dwindling great-grand reads

And even prays in penance and hope.

Fantasy becomes fear becomes faith.

When only pigeons coo and wee songbirds chatter,

When family and visitors do not violate the personal chapel,

When doubt softens with the balm of guided scripture

From leather covered KJV Bible and The Upper Room.

Gnawing, nibbling, nipping worries are natural. We live.

We sin, speak ill of others, blaspheme and come to know daily that

We fall short of the glory of the basest of angels.

Even the vaguely self-aware must doubt

Their acts, words, thoughts, as constant bystanders, 

Audience to their personal theater.

Polybius wrote, “There is no witness so dreadful as the human conscience.”

Sheltered from friends, family and clergy, oldsters hunch and pray.

Head and shoulders arched over shadowed devotionals, 

With hope for grace through osmosis and muttered incantations.

Hoping for heaven while not saying, “These are my last laps.”

Those who are in no hurry to finish their races queue for paradise.

There is no immediate entry to the unseen, unknowable house.

There is no proof of a pass to a heaven, and yet humans aspire

To salvation by deeds or contrition or grace and timing.

Are daily quickie self-services or lengthy study 

Or profession of belief enough travel insurance?

Is the best hope for those hunched over their holies to arrive incognito?

If you are not as bad as the worst among us can you sneak in,

Snaking in a queue of OK souls to pass unnoticed?



Lakshman Bulusu

United States

Assorted joys

of seeing my kids play swing;

Sweet reminiscences

of first meeting my wife;

Slices of good fortune

of getting recognized at work;

A new determination

to climb Mt. Washington with my family;

Interlaced cloaks of delight

earning a certificate of appreciation as educator;

I hope all of these

serve as a beacon light.

Extending helping hands

volunteering at a football match;

Strings of birthday wishes

and a surprise party;

Vessels brimmed with cheer

to my daughter performing in marching band;

Excellent and rare opportunities

for a change in career,

rolling by now and then

with promising perks;

I hope all of these

open news doors of reality.

Beads of un-ceased endeavor

to qualify for a marathon,

encouraged by a firm resolution

to make it to the finish line the first time;

tend to accelerate ‘to-attain’ success—

A scorcher of a victory;

Shirk of responsibility not in the least,

be it while giving or doing;

my motto‘ try again, try again’,

topped by unshakeable faith in God;

I hope all of these

bring me into a fresh dawn.



Pankhuri Sinha



It was about the same time 

That the tree, the sheesham 

Tree, so mercilessly 

Uprooted by the storm 

Lying flat on its back 

Dissecting the pavement 

With a thread attached 

In the soil, breathing 

Perhaps, like on a ventilator 

Began to sprout 

Germinate, shoot up 

In a green little twig 

With silky stem, delicate 

As love, opening into leaves

Dancing in the wind ! 


That the thin brown branch 

In the pot, of that miracle plant, 

Being sold as juice 

Being sold as pulp, being 

Sold as leaves, being sold 

In saches, being sold in bottles

But best drunk from the garden 

For it increased Platelets

Smiled in a green pimple

Growing in a bulb

And my heart bloomed 

Like a precious flower 

Like dance in rain 

Began to sing 

Like a jazz bar! 


This tiny thing 

This tough little plant 

That I'd been watering 

Since months and months 

Through out the summer 

In blazing heat 

Had kept mum 

Not saying a word 

Not giving a sign 

No shakes, no nods 

But not drying 

Was alive 

Kept the hope 

And finally spoke!


Autumn so blissful 

I had rarely known! 


Vindicated, in and out 

The greens I had guarded 

Had gifted a lot!


Claudette Martinez



I wish I were solid,  granite or stone.




Cold, smooth nothing but bone.




No beating of heart no skin no flesh,

nothing to see.




Locked in rock,

that holds no key, suspended but free.



just me.



Judy DeCroce

United States


crouches eyeless, harmless, perhaps

pretending ordinary,

with no will of her own.

So much remains to be done.

So much.

If lost, remember the rituals

pass into possibilities through

my silhouette. 

Beyond this…

                   catch up!

Catch up when light falls

and my senses cross into night…

                                  please, promise you’ll follow.



Lew Gentilella

Untied Kingdom

I step into the garden,
The skies harden,
Showers pour,
The clouds roar,
Lightning strikes,
The howling wind bites,
Raindrops drown the grass,
Time is running out on the hourglass.
Cold, I shiver,
My body quivers.

Struggling to stay warm,
My life reminds me of this storm,
Full of rain,
Nowhere for the water to drain,
Stuck in the boggy mud,
Now the garden begins to flood,
The birds have taken shelter
But in this storm, I welter
Until the clouds disappear
And so does my fear.

The sun arrives with his hat on,
Smiling now that the storm has gone,
The birds come out of hiding,
High in the sky gliding,
The garden has a new lease of life,
Bumblebees and butterflies are rife,
I feel happy and alive
Now that the garden thrives.

I see a rainbow with a kaleidoscope of colours,
One of nature's true wonders,
I have a content feeling
Now me and the garden are both healing,
We pulled through the storm together
And made it to the better weather.



Pratibha Savani

United Kingdom


Healing begins with the courage to fight,
  with a pure determination to prosper
  and thrive

Only the ones that clearly believe, 

    can truly make their dreams come to life

Painting a picture, enriched in colour,  
  materializes, the enigmatic vision inside

Empowered by the faithful might,
  bringing unimaginable strength to 
   our intricate mind



Sangita Kalarickal

United States


We slayed our demons,

And climbed boiling volcanoes.

We sailed into space,

And plucked off the moon.

Stories of reluctant heroes

and journeys through fires,

Of mentors and adventures

and taming wild dragons…

Of loud sobs through

heaving chests

and hyperventilating conflicts

We took the heavy quill

dipped in life

and wrote a book.

Raging snowstorms,

dark winters, and dark clouds.

and then a crocus.



Carolyn Chilton Casas

United States


We all want this chaotic time

to ease up. So much division

and separation. The life

we have come to expect

quaking under our feet,  

with many voicing

what we believe

to be absolute truths.


My honest hope—

this stretch of strife

might result in a softer

aftermath, where we live

in greater harmony

as tenants of our one world.


Through it all, my heart keens

for peace. And unity.

Integrity, a vital touchstone.

Day by day, I aspire to follow

my own inner whisper

reminding me that

no one set of beliefs fits all. 


I think about this a lot—

how we are a kaleidoscope

of diverse histories,

races, religions, languages.

We come from distinct places,

but can we not be tolerant and kind?

That which makes us different

is what makes us wholly special.


Scientists say, if you go back far enough,

we all derive from the same tribe;

each of us retains a remnant

of the same DNA

from some six million years ago.



Julie A. Dickson

United States


Nods to Dickinson, Frost, Yeats, Poe

When hope is undone, the world just seems wrong,

can’t allow hate a voice within this throng.

Turn your back as a sword covers the pen,

won’t take my will to write, not even then.

Advice from the wise, throw hope a life-line.

Feathered hope, Emily wrote in her time;

a way through is hope, according to Frost,

or Yeats’ daughter of hope when all seems lost.

Remain alive, your hope must rise supreme,

Poe described as “A Dream within a Dream”.

One path followed, even one less traveled,

hopelessness must fade, its cause unraveled.

Remember your voice, when choices are found,

Mem’ries of joy now, let new hope resound.



Kathy Jo Bryant

United States


Hope lies deep in our psyche

And there's always a tiny seed

That someday we'll rise up on top

And realize success for our need


Sometimes life's trials outweigh us

It seems we cannot survive

And hope is something that settles

In the dust for much of our lives


Take courage, and keep hope's flame

Burning brightly for all to see

Your courage might be very strong

Others haven't an evergreen tree        


Beware when hope just disappears

And sinks beneath the waves 

Rise up, and raise your hand so high       

So, someone can see and saves!



Asilomar: Refuge by the Sea*

Neal Whitman

United States

Under the Boardwalk

On Broadway

Two oldies-but-goodies

by The Drifters 

A tune today conflated:

On the Boardwalk

Walk on By

Wooden slats protect

Sand dunes posted “Sensitive”

Strewn on the slats

Red rose petals

Though no bushes grow here

Perhaps dropped

From a bouquet

A bride had carried

From a joyous wedding 

On the Beach

At least, that’s our Hope

* Overlooking Asilomar Beach in Pacific Grove, California, is the Asilomar Dune Preserve with a 1/4 mile boardwalk that meanders through a 25 acre protected sand dune ecosystem.



Sarfraz Ahmed

United Kingdom


I’m waiting for the river,

I’m waiting for the blue,

I want to dive into the holy water,

Let it cleanse me,

Come to my rescue,

Unburden the sorrow,

The torrents and the tides,

I want to see the water,

Now you are not by my side,

I need something to rely upon,

Something that will always be there,

So I go to the river,

Lose myself in the flow,

In memories of long ago,

Love flustered thoughts,

Hearts clustered and passions burnt,

Always yearning for more,

Almost touching the ocean,

Almost kissing the shore,

I’m waiting for the river,

I’m waiting for the blue,

I want to dive into the holy water,

Baptise myself,

Becoming something new.



Antoni Ooto

United States


We gather.

We speak within this flickering time,

while you from afar, wait by a place

filled with empty rooms.

Many things have changed.

Our moments together retired,

postponed for now.

We will go on for a while

not even noticing momentum,

stepping charily chasing tomorrow.



Martina Robles Gallegos

United States


With deep desire and a hopeful mind, I breathe in the early 

fall air that presses against my sorrowful heart and dream of 

sunnier days and brighter nights than I’ve been getting.

Morning walks with their misty marred beginnings cause me 

to mourn people I’ve lost or feel like I’m losing, and that dark 

and dim sensation shakes my whole being  to the core.

This wishful feeling of not wanting to forget but still forgetting 

against my will widens my will to keep fighting to stay away from 

destructive thoughts and tough decisions I must make.

The depths of my despair don’t dwindle even though I listen to 

words from friendly people whose words I appreciate because 

they speak their words with sacred sincerity.

I look forward to seeing someone who says soothing words and 

put my mind at ease, but those folks are not easy to find because 

sometimes friends turn out to be the worst foes.

When a sunny day awakens me every morning, it’s like a 

magical moment that I can marvel although momentarily,

and that’s the thought I keep in my mind throughout the day.



Jane Fitzgerald

United States


You liked to give me peacock feathers
Whose iridescent greens and blues
Pleased my vision so

The plumes in fullness blazed

Like the fervor of your love

But when those feathers shut and fell

It took my breath away

And my heart was narrowed and colorless

Until another day

When once again the peacock feathers

Would shine in fullness fair

But never would their beauty

Be constantly there

And my soul

In anguish did wait and yearn

To feel the shining light

To see the glowing feathers

And embrace that precious sight



Sonial Pal

United Kingdom


Seeds and Bread
Rice and Chapatis
That’s all I keep 
with great hopes to peep
through my windows
when ants, magpies, pigeons,
robins, squirrels and crows
come down and eat

When frisky squirrels jump up &down
ants walk  perfectly in line
birds bask in the bright sun light
Sit on the brown wooden fence
Perched with  wide open claws
Peck with their beaks
Stroll with their little legs

To watch such scenes
,is a real feast 
For the eyes of one and all
To soothe one’s soul

Cherry blossom and Maple trees
With an addition of plants underneath
make them feel safe and at ease
To breathe in the cool breeze!

My garden looks complete
with just a daily handful of seeds
it sustains their high hopes of life 
and helps them  to breed
How alluring and blissful it is to hear
When in the dawn hours,
These birds sing to my ear
Without any fear!
What inner peace and satisfaction they leave
When in extreme seasons they come down and eat!

How eagerly I wait for them to my sight !
As they are a constant, silent reminder
That everything on this Earth is perfect and right.'

bird house.jpg