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October 2009
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Girl X

by Doreen Ambrose-Van Lee
Didn't get a chance to build her castle in the sand 
When she was 9 her innocence was taken by a sick man
Who preyed upon her as she ascended a stairway
Her life hasn't been anywhere near the same since that day 
He lured her into his apartment and violated her to no end and then
He carried her back into the stairwell and he went back into that torturous den
of an apartment with his girlfriend and played pretend
While this child lie in a hallway covered in grafitti and roach spray
Unconscious and unable to say --- what happened to her.
This happened in January of '97' in a place soon to be defunct called Cabrini Green
Where residents are mostlly heard about and seen 
In a negative light on the evening news
When truth be told it is only a handful that abuse
I say that because I was once on the other side
And I know that many residents have morals and pride
But the ones that get the attention are the ones that are violent
Not the law abiding, hardworking, ambitious silent.
But back to the subject at hand
Which is Girl X, who is now a grown woman
Whose life was torn apart one winter day when she
Was on the way home from her grannie's house
By an ex offender who sexually assaulted and doused
Insecticide into vital organs leaving
her  disabled 
For this heinous act her assailant got 'life'
Thrown across the table.
Life on the table
Life on the table
Which means he is still able to breathe, eat, sleep, watch tv
and exercise,
While she sits in a wheel chair unable to perform basic functions like opening her eyes.
Needless to say, in this instance and many like it, 
I don't believe the punishment fits the crime,
And it is too much to try to convey in a rhyme
But when they are sentenced 'life' shouldn't be an
option they should be all out of time.

Dream #1) r.e.m.ember

by John E. Slota
Flicker of Light
Cold and Hot and Light and Dark
Thrown from the Fire
Cool Incandescent,
Stain Red-Pitch-Black Ember.
Rising and Floating Unpredictably,
Crackling Loud as Quiet Will Allow.
Mysterious Darting Flicker
Arrival Uncertain
Destination Unknown.
Zigzagging Missile Afire
Kindled, Drawn, Spent.
Brittle Substance
Too Soon Softened to Ash.

Never a day without you!

by David LaRue Alexander
I know
I can always count on you.
I know
you'll always be there.
So dependable, so punctual.
Every morning,
with your radiant smile.
How gently you awaken me.
You tease me,
with your warm caresses.
Til, I can no longer
ignore them.
Yes, I adore you!
I treasure each moment we share.
When were apart,
I'm filled with thoughts of you.
I count the moments
till you return.
Your actions have become
so familiar to me.
I discern your true intentions,
and understand
your real purpose.
I've come to love you,
and your unsubtle ways.
To know and accept
that unfailingly,
as the shadows grow shorter,
then longer again,
that you'll flee from me!
I would run after you,
but I know I can't catch you.
No matter how I implore,
I know you won't heed,
my desperate cries!
You won't look back!
You won't stop!
I stand there,
in the dim obscure twilight,
until the last vestiges of you are gone.
Til once again, I'm alone in the dark.
But there is no uncertainty,
no vagueness, for...
I know
I can always count on you.
I know
you'll always be there.
So dependable, so punctual.
Every morning, with your radiant smile.
Never a day without you!


by William Vollrath
seasons' cycles
newly slipped skin
cumulative postcards
of karma's road trip
tears and fears
joyfully shed
temporary finality
mysteriously evolves
promised tomorrows
again born

Last Voyage

by Jim Lambert
Joyce is leaving
maybe today, 
maybe tomorrow
surely by next week
exact time of departure 
left to the great unknown

her lifelines were pulled
they made her look like
an android undergoing
an awful overhaul

she is now rocking in her boat
the tiny waves slapping a rhythm
while schools of fish
swim by to gawk

her gentle spirit
still surfs
kissing the cheeks
of her friends

the pain is gone
her aching husband
is treading water

there are no children
to wave and Bon Voyage!

it's just Joyce
in her little boat

Gentle Joyce
sailing off
to forever 
in our hearts

	9.8.09 in honor of Joyce Rosko, Gentlewoman and precious friend
		Joyce died early on 9.9.09—about six hours after I wrote this poem.

The Haunted Picture

by Rick Sadler
      I  see  the  flash  of  lightning  the  clash  of  thunder
      Why  do  we  destroy  a  child  of  God  I  only  wonder
      The  ink  pen  on  the  table  beckons  for  me  to  write
      About  the  end  of  abortion  on  this  rainy  night
      I  know  I  was  lucky  to  have  been  given  up  for  adoption
      As  I  am  happy  to  be  alive  to  share  this  option
      A  haunting  picture  of  a  small  boy  among  the  roses
      His  smile  of  thanks  for  his  life  that  he  shows  us
      In  my  church   voices  pray  out  against  abortion
      Seeking  the  non  violent  way  for  a   amiable  solution
      To  convey  the  message  of  life  write  for  the  new   day
      The  Virgin  Mary   speaks  to  me  in  her  lovely  poetic  way

      Dedicated  To:                                                             
      Louis  Ortiz
      Febuary  18,  2001                    

national cemetery

Danville, Illinois
by Steven Kappes
standing at the center
of a vast circular field
all the crops
as far as I can see
are white stone markers

divided by roads
into pie-shaped sections
with the center monument
a statue of a soldier
on a tall pedestal
his backpack slung low
his canteen at his side
and a rifle clutched
at the ready

swirling around my head
are the spirits of those
who were laid to eternal rest
in this holy place
those sent to die
by frail and vain men
never to live out the lives
that had been promised

it is a howl of anguish
that rises and falls
like a cresting wave
and batters my soul

I try to tell them
nothing has changed
from Antietam
to Afghanistan
young men die
for old men's pride

but what I say
is nothing new
for they are here
from all the wars
good ones and bad

and know full well
the awful

Amish Shopping

by Bonnie Manion
Prancing hoofs twix thin-rimmed wheels
slowly guide through patchworked farm weald,
haystacks cross-stitched next to cornstalks
appliqued with dark green forests.
A black cab leads by a dusty backroad
out from a plain clutch of frame abodes
to a bustling tie-up by the village boardwalk,
to a pungent plankfloored butchershop.
Haunches and cheeses hang in chunks
beside sausages sliced to varied lengths,
smokey smells entwine the glass cases,
celebrate their delicacies.
Over hills spread gold with sunshine,
paper-wrapped and tied with twine,
aromatic amish parcels are borne
home to gastronomic farewells.
(First published in Twilight Ending)

End of the Summer Solstice

by Mark Hudson
It's time for the summer solstice to end,
And winter will be returning with a fury.
I don't see the winter as a friend,
As the wind blows like a flurry.
A solstice is when the sun is at a tilt,
The Earth's axis away from the sun.
That's why Stonehenge was built,
A place where druids have fun.
One way they describe it is "Sun-standing."
The sun appears to orbit the Earth.
It's difficult to be understanding,
The seasons and their worth.
Six months divided into two,
Winter and Summer equinox.
The Celtic druids will be true,
Soon we'll be setting our clocks.
The equinox is when the sun crosses the equator,
The days and nights are of equal length.
I guess that sooner or later,
We'll yield to the sun's strength.
The sun sweeps through the hemispheres,
The days are longer in summer.
In winter, you better cover your ears,
Otherwise, you'll find them being number.
At the temperature latitudes,
The sun is above the horizon.
Kind of brings some gratitude,
And it's not really suprisin'.
When the moon is in the path of the sun,
It's called an eclipse, which people view.
It might seem distant, farther than one
Wishes it good to be true.
In Ireland, people visit the old sites,
And practice pagan ways.
They practice pagan rites,
Till the end of their days.
The calender of modern man
Was made in the 1800's or so.
Some people go by it if they can
But others are living in times ago.
The druids of Stonehenge were neglected at first,
By the Romans and Christians as well.
In the Renaissance, they re-emerged,
With a whole lot of tales to tell.
In 1624, the Celtic warrior queen
Built Stonehenge if history is right.
It's something that some people never have seen,
And they assemble in robes that are white.
Today, in England they still exist
Performing their ceremonies like always.
I guess it's something that I've missed
Living in the states with all these
Different ideas about what the seasons mean
I don't go through rituals for seasons.
But I believe the Earth should be green
And that there are plenty of reasons.
We need to respect the Earth we see
And I think it's the only one.
On Earth we're not always free
As we labour under the sun.
But one thing's sure, nothing stays the same,
Which is actually pretty wild.
Some say the winter will be tame,
And others say it will be mild.
The Farmer's Almanac says we'll freeze,
"El Nino" could mean our winter's light.
No matter if it's below fifty degrees,
The snow will be icy and white.
I will write poems when my hands shiver,
And I have to wear a sweatshirt inside.
In Winter, I have to survive, be a liver,
If you're homeless, there's nowhere to hide.
There's a lot to be grateful for,
Like having a roof over your head.
So at the end of summer, we have no more,
Water at the beach where we'd tread.
Perhaps the change of seasons is good
We should appreciate it as much as we can..
If you don't, you probably should
You'll soon be losing your tan!
So when winter comes, don't complain,
You won't find an ear to be listening.
The holidays can be kind of insane
As snowflakes are icy and glistening.
And for Christmas, all I want from St. Nick,
Is a little world peace on earth.
But I think what will do the trick,
Is for people to be seen for their worth.
And so as Summer fades away,
I will not mourn its loss.
As the sky grows increasingly gray,
I know that God's still the boss!

After the Fall

by Susan T. Moss
Oh, Mama, it finally happened.
You did what you most feared
and fell on cracked concrete,
where mice run in twilight dampness
among treadless tires garaged
with a rusting rake draped in cobwebs.

What shadows darted through your mind
lying there, helpless in February cold?
Did you face each fear, absorb
the electric midnight of the unknown,
before dragging your quicksilver feet
toward wind-sifted snow at an open door,
where no one saw you inching toward
a belated passerby:  a stranger who
caught your wave in strong-gloved hands?

Time passes and wounds heal
with friends bearing good wishes baked
into every cake and casserole.  Beauty happens
on each tentative shuffle, each new venture
leading to the day when memory's dark images
are closeted in an old hatbox,
and spring blooms at your feet.

Play Time

by Farouk Masud
Last night in the forest preserve,
I left the campsite to observe
A floating, flitting little glow—
A pulsing, spritely magic show.
It led me to a meadow, where
'Tis hallowed ground left in despair.
The darkness there—it seemed alive!
A place where evil tends to thrive.
My watch clicked twelve—it was midnight!—
When before me, there came a sight:
Six little children dancing round
A bouquet of black roses bound
By the hair of their dead mother.
This ring of sister and brother
(Forsaken by society)—
They sang and danced in harmony:
      One, two, three—
      Mother's coming for me.
      Four, five, six—
      She has her wooden sticks.
      Seven, eight, nine—
      She's choking me with twine.
      Ten, eleven, twelve—
      Our deaths…folks did not delve.
I snapped out, as if from a trance—
Terrified from this ghoulish dance.
I spoke in a low, solemn tone
To one phantasmic child alone:
"And mother?  What became of her?"
"Six days and six nights thereafter,
At midnight, throughout the mansion,
We whispered in harsh unison:
      When daylight wanes and twilight nighs,
      When darkness falls and fills the skies,
      When midnight strikes, then you will say:
      It's time for the children to play!
She went stark mad and became sick,
Then killed herself with arsenic."
I felt pity for these children
Who died in scorn and without sin.
"What must I do to lift this curse,
To break and make this spell disperse?"
"You must find our graves before dawn,
Before this sacred night is gone;
Look to where the river bed flows
Past the garden of the black rose.
Hurry now!  Flee and fly my friend!
Hither comes mother round the bend!"
I quickly turned my head to see:
A ghastly witch running at me!
I ran like hell with heart and soul
Past wood and pond and hill and knoll.
The witch was nowhere to be found
As I approached the hallowed ground:
With haste, I fell upon my knees
Before a row of ancient trees
That loomed high above like towers
Near river and mystic flowers.
I hurriedly began to dig
Away at earth and rose and twig.
Then suddenly, I heard a scream—
It's mother bolting like a beam!
In both her hands she held her sticks
(I tightly clutched my crucifix),
Reciting prayers with utter dread
Before her sticks crash on my head—
"Mother, leave him be!  He's our friend."
"You rascals!  You've come to defend
This lowly heathen from his fate?
To make this foul curse dissipate?
You've disobeyed me!  I'll teach you—"
"I have found your graves, it is true!"
"No!" she cried out as she vanished.
The witch and the curse were vanquished.
The children thanked me with loud cheers,
With hugs and laughter and with tears.
They walked away, happy with glee—
Little souls at rest, finally.
I brought the townsfolk to this place
To bless this spot with prayers and grace.
We exhumed the bodies within,
To sanctify and to begin
Befitting ceremonial
Rites and virtuous burial.
This morning, I woke with dismay,
Perplexed by an eerie display;
For as I rubbed and washed my eyes—
Suddenly, there came a surprise—
(I fell to my knees in fierce prayer)—
There's something bound by twine or hair,
Something not seen before within:
Six, black roses in my garden!

The Badlands

by Mardelle Fortier
In the stark silence
where only God can cross
deep gulches carved by time and ice
saw-toothed ridges born this morning
red castles of stone chiseled on for ages

in the desert heat
where only summer and winter live
with the antic prairie dogs
fleet antelope running past strange cacti
wild roses on the horns of ancient cliffs

I stand before acres of shifting sand
and look down rock layers of revealed time
feeling in my bones the lonely cries of wolves
the hooves of lost and echoing buffalo
the deep beliefs and dreams of all the Sioux

(Published in Bibliophilos, Summer 2006)


by Beth Staas
It hides under his skin
like a cold sore, erupting
just when things need to go right,
out of step,
out of synch,

like playing at Orchestra Hall
 with a broken bow
or a school pageant
 in a wrinkled shirt,
singing off-key.

He may drop his guard
and smile
but the dread lingers
as sly nods
and limp handshakes
add to the burden
of despair.

So he slinks back home
 to embrace his Familiar,
 his Ever-Present
 waiting in the corner
 and ready to comfort
 as no one else can:
 his shadow, his image,
 his self.

(Published in North American
Review, September-October 2008)

Rain of Grace

by Patricia Gangas
"Be like the rain of grace for the earth."
                  Ahmad Shamlu
Unsteady spring steals into a solitary sunbeam,
opening moment to moment through the fields of time.
The sky is high over the deep woods,
the hibiscus hedgerows,
where birds fly like sprays of brilliant pearls.
Rain erupts from the hills of heaven
careening into the wind.
Set aside the affairs of the world, 
still the human voice
and bend down over the sacred earth;
then, let all, at once, release their praying songs.

We live, not knowing the ways of heaven--
hearts join hearts and receive God's joy
feel love under the dream of His voice.
Write lofty songs on wind and flower,
be transformed into this greening spring,
grow radiant beneath the rapture of the rain of grace. 

Hymns Returning

by David McKenna
David McKenna poem


by John Pawlik
For only a moment—
A chipmunk in sunlight . . .
Then moves on

Night Life

by Wilda Morris
Here it's not nursery toys
that come alive in the night
but clothes in the closet.
Your coveralls and my denim jacket
leap through the window
to rock on the porch swing.
They sidle over to the garden,
take nips from a bright red tomato
before joining neighbors
in a square dance.
One of your brown leather boots
gives a playful kick to my sneakers
which string along.
Didn't you notice those footprints
leading out to the pasture?
All their eyes look skyward,
finding Cassiopeia's Chair.
If the inside of your shoe is damp
in the morning, it may be milk
spilled from the Little Dipper.
Your Sunday suit slides
off the hanger, offers an arm
to my flowered silk dress
with the white lace collar.
They dine formally on prime rib
and baked potato, using our silver,
then waltz through the house.
Listen!  Don't you hear
the echo of Strauss?

(First published in Prairie Light Review)

Late at Night

by Kathleen Murphy

Late at night when the owl goes hoo
It draws me into another world
Of dark, dark woods under strange moonlight
And leaves that are brown and dead and curled;
Creaking doors and old warped floors
In big old houses with no one there,
Ghostly knocks and broken clocks
And sounds you're not sure if you hear.
Late at night when the owl goes hoo
It makes me think of many things;
Dusty books and shadowy nooks,
Snuffed-out candles and antique rings
That belonged to aunts dead long ago,
Faded old photos in musty drawers,
Silent rooms that stare like tombs
And graves no one visits any more.  

Holy Spirit

by Syreeta L. Williams

Holy spirit you're welcome come on in.
You're my comforter, my guide, my friend, 
you're my inner being.

Your soothing presence, and your calming breeze,
Your presence touching me, brings me to my knees.

You cannot be seen with the natural eye, but your
presence is known with the spiritual mind.

As I stand and lift my hands to the heavens, and begin
to worship and praise you, my voice reaching higher 
heights in the heavenly waves with the kiss of your presence.

The soft breezy wind, the covering of coolness sweeping across my
face.  The eyes of thankfulness as I focus my face to the North Star.  
I think about the next time I will meet you.

My Love Of Early Morning

(Poem from Woman of Words, 2002)  

Passing and Pausing

by Alan Harris
Do you think this lived-in "Now"
could be any more about self?
Toys and joys, thrills and kills
all decorate our deadly days.

"Now's" cousin "Then" was mayhem
aptly captured between bookends,
whereas "Will be" rides veiled on high
like cirrus clouds above the moon.

With the past a mess for certain
and the present a certain mess,
our trust must be in the future
beginning no later than here.

Passing, pausing through life and life,
caught up in matter's unloveliness,
we still need to stay and work
and be, yes be--linked in good heart
as we walk on the road into Light.

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