Never Letting Go

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Contributor: John Ogden

- -
There are peaks
Where we have stopped
And looked down
Seen valleys dark
And valleys verdant
Seen the little farms and vineyards
Built by friends
And those we love.

And then there are the brambles
And then there are the thorns
But we get through them
We fight through them

Each sweet supper
Each sweet sip of nectar
We take
Is worth
Not letting go
Never letting go.

- - -
John Ogden was conceived of a government form and a passing mailbox. He lives somewhere out in the woods of a rural land more akin to the fantasy realms of literature than real life, and his favorite dirt bikes will always be the broken ones.

Lost Love

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Contributor: Lyla Sommersby

- -
I know you miss him
He's the sore you can't help but poke
He's the one you could have built
Something with
If only things had been different
If only he'd stayed
Out of the slammer.

I know you miss him.
I know what it's like
To miss someone
You lost
To look back
And wonder
What might have been
What might have been.

- - -
I am a student in Miami, Florida. Painting is my other love. My first book, Sketches of Someone, is available through Thunderune Publishing.

What's Gonna Be, Asks Billy?

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
Tell me, Grandma,
what's gonna be
when Grandpa dies?
He's layin' in bed
and he ain't movin' and
he ain't sayin' nuthin'
so tell me, Grandma,
what's gonna be?

Grandpa told me
come next Spring
we'll go fishin' again
down by the river
and in summer
and we'll trap rabbits
and have a feast.
No one else goes
fishin' with me.
Tell me, Grandma,
what's gonna be?

And Grandma says,
Billy, I don't know
what's gonna be
except to say
when Grandpa dies,
you and me and all
the neighbors will sit
around the fireplace,
poke the embers
and tell our stories.
Everyone will cry
oceans about
your Grandpa.

But first, Billy,
the angel in his chariot
has to tap the horses
and swoop down
and take Grandpa
off to heaven.
Your mom and dad
are waiting for him.

The angel's in
no hurry, Billy,
but the horses are.
They have other
calls to make.
Grandpa's not
the only one
who has to
say good-bye.
Soon, Billy,
you and I will know
what's gonna be.
Now we can hug
and wait and see.

- - -
Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.


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Contributor: Amanda Firefox

- -
When I said that I loved you,
I meant that I love you
With all of your slain hearts
All of your chains
All of your thorny dragons
And ages
Of roaring war

But I thought your wars were over
I thought your dragons had all gone silent
And I thought your chains were cut
But some of those old bones still rattle
And I can hear your hands
Muffling the beats
Of other hearts.

- - -
Amanda Firefox is a fiery little brunette who spends as much time at the beach as she can manage. She doesn't write much, but when she writes, it's almost always about her favorite subject: boys.

Dies Irae Dies Illa

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Contributor: Elizabeth Morton

- -
when the world ends it will be a weekend.
four Clydesdales will trudge through the supermarket.
but the women will be buying celery and ham hocks and deodorants like they always do, and nobody will notice the burning bush by the sardines or the plague of locusts chattering by the ceiling fans.

when the world ends our cardboard palaces that periodically break down will be prised open.
and us, hunkered by wicker furniture and houseplants.
our skylights peeled back.
cockroaches will make love like they always do.
and the sky will smell like marmite.

the city's flood plains will be slick with neopolitan oils, cigarette ends, paper napkins.

and the wave on the horizon will be friendly as a shadow.

and the skyscrapers will wait
upon the breaker like bone.

- - -
Elizabeth Morton is a writer and sometime student from New Zealand. In her free time she collects obscure words in supermarket bags. She has been published in Poetry NZ, Blackmail Press, JAAM, Shot Glass Journal and Takahe magazine.

How to Avoid a Holiday Heart Attack

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Contributor: J. K. Durick

- -
When it knocks don’t answer, pretend that the knock and nudge of it
is some plumbing thing that needs your attention, but not right now.

If it’s under the tree, ignore it, like the scarf Aunt Martha always sends
Or the Murphy’s fruitcake, or the three wicked candle Curtis dropped off.

If it’s gotten into your stocking, up there on the mantle, hand it off to
whoever might mistake it for theirs, deception in some cases is okay,
at least for the day, this break in the somber business of pressure and
pulse and pills, this day off from diet and determination and dying.

Avoid indulging in the seconds and thirds of the things that make the day,
stay away all day from anger and joy, then melt, blend into the scene,
become a bit of bland background for the others to ignore, don’t worry
about your gray face or shortness of breath or the pain in your right arm.

Cold sweat and lightheadedness just add to the holiday feel of things,
the pressure in your chest is just another restless guest doing his best.

Dismiss caution, grab a shovel and head out for the mouth of the driveway.
Even at your age you can clear it faster than any kid can or ever could.

- - -
J. K. Durick is a writing teacher at the Community College of Vermont and an online writing tutor. His recent poems have appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, Black Mirror, Deep Water Literary Journal, Eye on life Magazine, and Leaves of Ink.

Scenes from a Parish

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
The weekday Mass at 6 a.m.
brings old folks out
from bungalows
around the church.
They move like caterpillars
down sidewalks,
some with canes,
some on walkers.

Young Father Doyle says the Mass
and is renowned for giving
homilies on weekdays
superior to homilies
heard in other churches
even on a Sunday.

After Mass, he goes back
to the rectory to care
for a mother older than
most of his congregants.
A gracious lady, his mother
cannot move or talk
because of a stroke.

But every Sunday at noon,
when the church is overflowing
with people wanting Mass to start,
Father Doyle, in full vestments,
wheels his mother in a lump
down the middle aisle
and lifts her like a chalice
and places her in the front pew
before he ascends to the altar.

Sometimes at night,
when his mother is finally asleep,
he returns to the Church
and rehearses in the dark
three hymns she long ago
asked him to sing at her funeral.

He practices the hymns
because the doctor said
she could go at any time
and when that time comes,
he doesn't want to miss a note.
The last thing she ever said was
"Son, I'll be listening."

- - -
Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

Slipstream Together

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Contributor: Elsa Fahey

We ride in your car

You tell me about the stars
about planets made
of burning ice
and I am burning
despite the night's ice.

You tell me about the trees
point out the ones that fruit
point out the leaves
and I am a flower
ready to blossom
at your touch.

You tell me about us
about all of the places you want to see
with me
and I smile
because I don't care if we fly
or stay in bed all day

let time turn on, boy
let time slip away

- - -
Elsa Fahey lives in Los Angeles, sometimes. She likes dancing, travel and danger.

Once, Now

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Contributor: J.R. deLong

- -
Once, we stood together
Now, we stand apart.

Once, we held each other
Now, we rarely touch.

Once, we held hands
While we pushed on through the sands
Through the winter and the weather
Dragged each other
No matter how hard the hell around us fell

but somewhere
some         how
   I                   lost
your              hand.

Now, when I say “I love you,”
I only remember that once
you didn't hesitate
to reply
in kind.

- - -

If She Breaks Me

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Contributor: Harry H. Wooster, Jr.

- -
If she breaks me,
I'll live a life that makes her want me.
I'll shave off all the rough edges
sweep up the cutest little oriental cutie
pamper her with sweets and wine
make her so completely mine
with a belly full of children
one after one after another
all bearing my name
all fighting over the legacy
I'll build
without the one
who couldn't see
to stick with me.

- - -
HHW jr. is the son of a Marshall and aims to carry on the family name no matter the cost.


| Filed under

Contributor: Richard Schnap

- -
What is faith worth
If it allows atrocities
To be committed in its name?

(It is the agony of a beast
Caught in a trap
That it built itself)

And what does hope bring
When the world keeps on making
The same mistakes?

(It is the dream of a bird
That challenges the wind
Till it cripples its wings)

And what permits charity
To be just another label
For robbing the blind?

(It is the flaw of the heart
That’s as easily swayed
As easily fooled)

- - -
Richard Schnap is a poet, songwriter and collagist living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His poems have most recently appeared locally, nationally and overseas in a variety of print and online publications.

Plain Rides

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Contributor: Nicole Hampton

- -
Big metal cutting through the air
The lion of the sky
I am impenetrable in its womb
I soar
Palm to hard Plexiglas
Floating through the atmosphere

When I was little I would stare at the sky
In a way I don’t now,
Fuck, I miss the little things

I would lie on my trampoline
And wave at all the passengers on the plane
Knowing at least one would see me

I would change their life

They’d remember this girl on the trampoline
Trying to bounce ever closer to the big blue
They’d come rescue me from this place
They would uproot me
An unsatisfied weed waiting to bloom

Now here I am way up here
As the pressure builds and my ears pop in my skull

The person in front of me leaning their seat back another inch
Me pushing back rudely
Everyone knows you shouldn’t put the seat down
That two-inch luxury is reserved for first class

As I sip my nine dollar mini bottle of wine
Stilling the stress of playing God
Looking down at all the houses
Brown hats, beige bodies
Growing grey legs and arms
Stretched out all over the Earth
Square patches for plotted food
Cars like beetles I could squash
It didn’t seem real
I used to want this, to fly away

But there is no more appeal to being up so high
I cannot breathe
I cannot move
I cannot even touch the sky

- - -

30 Minutes

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Contributor: Lena Ziegler

- -
So suddenly, I am alone.
No watchful eye asking me to be careful when I drive.
No laughter or shared inside jokes about shitty reality TV.
No more talk about our Christmas tree.

We said we’d hang the lights together. But together for us means alone.

I’m so often alone together with you, your body a vessel filled with emptiness parked steadily on our loveseat; my body aching with the strongest desire to go back to what we were.

30 minutes ago.

30 minutes ago you were the hero, now you stand defeated by the villain within you, forcing you to stumble and slur in the most unflattering ways.

You look like a fool.
You look like a freak.
You are not unique.

You are a washed up piece of wood, used and broken, unable to withstand the waves of jealousy that break through your mind.
You are everything I am glad I am not.

No details go unnoticed. You insisted on going to the car to get that last string of lights.

This strikes me as suspicious.

I have a job interview tomorrow. A great opportunity they tell me. I’ll really get the chance to jump start my career. Professional growth for college graduates and newlyweds.

The bells jingle around the doorknob as you open the front door, brushing remnants of snow off of your shoulders. It’s already melting into your hair.

You haven’t washed your hair in days.

You walk toward the kitchen, tracking snow and salt onto the carpet, forgetting to wipe your feet. You hand me the string of lights. Your eyes are already lazy.

No details go unnoticed.

I peel pieces of mozzarella off of the inner part of the cheese grater, my eyes tracing your movements. You pass from the kitchen to the attached living room, lingering as you kick off your shoes. Muddy snow crumbles out of the grooves of your boots onto my freshly scrubbed kitchen floor.

You are so careless when it comes to me.

Earlier today we bought our tree.

We hurried across the street, our feet slipping on the slick pavement. Freezing rain. I unlock the car and we climb in, wincing together as our legs press against the cold leather seats. My teeth chatter dramatically as a whine that I must be the coldest girl in the world. You kiss my cheek. The news had said that we shouldn’t go out. The streets are too icy. The freezing rain will soon be snow. Stormy conditions.

Only a few blocks down the city street to choose the new addition to our broken home; a lovely green Christmas tree.

“Turn it up,” you say smiling and reaching for the stereo. Bing Crosby’s “It’s Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas” echoes merrily through the speakers and fills the car with something.

- - -

Paddy Murphy Is Fred Astaire

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
It's six below and so much snow
this January midnight.
Sunday's gone
and Monday's turning.

Yet Paddy Murphy's stepping out,
his crushed fedora all askew.
He's soused again and all aglow,
dancing along Fifth Avenue.

Tonight he thinks he's Fred Astaire
and so he's swirling in the air.
He needs a partner way up there,
someone pretty, someone fair.

If it weren't for the music
that only he can hear,
Paddy would be gone by now.
Tonight he's whistling, though,

delighted that his fingers find
the parking meter posts
are an endless xylophone.
Listen to him play those posts

so all the world can hear
Paddy's favorite tune,
the jig of an ancient tippler
with one last dance to go.

- - -
Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

That Sudden Silence

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Contributor: Lyla Sommersby

- -
That sudden silence
was me
sliding into the sea.

That sudden silence
was me
realizing you couldn't hurt me

I stood in the surf for hours
I stood naked to the rising tide
I shivered
and I sank
until there was no more
until there was nothing more of you,
until my skin was clean
of your marks
of your scars.

That sudden silence
was me
breathing free
because only the sea
could cleanse me.

- - -
I am a student in Miami, Florida. Painting is my other love. My first book, Sketches of Someone, is available through Thunderune Publishing.

Cry Louder

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Contributor: Ben Riddle

- -
In solidarity with the people of Ferguson.

Crying is the innate human response
to suffering so immense
that the individual
lacks an ability
to articulate
to escape
to cope
with that suffering.

Instead, the mind and body unite
shaking and trembling
with all their might
in an effort to
draw attention
to the issue at hand
even if no one is listening.

Crying is an innate human response
to suffering so systematic
so overwhelming
that there is no option
but to cry out
to place roses in the streets
to raise hands in peaceful protest
to wash away what was and start again.

It’s time to make a change.

- - -
A twenty year old aspiring poet and athlete from Perth, Western Australia, Ben Riddle studies Political Science and English and Cultural Studies at the University of Western Australia. You can find more of his work at


| Filed under

Contributor: Moischicho

- -
Time to stop crawling

ignore the threat

still there

like a coiled viper

take place as my own without risking a death

an abandoned state of silence

insults and sarcastic embraces

the slut who wants to please has grown tired of the role

and ugly emotions won't fall asleep

putting on a new reflection

that illuminates

straight through bone and marrow

survival strategies must be scrapped and burned

I stand here now in bare costume

without it all

without defense

the heart’s fire and light is strong and will forever remain.

- - -


| Filed under

Contributor: Richard Schnap

- -
Sometimes I see it
In the impressions of a child’s hands
In a fresh section of cement

And sometimes in a group
Of black limousines passing
Leading a long line of cars

And sometimes in the initials
Someone carved in a tree
Surrounded by an arrowed heart

The knowledge that we make
Marks upon the world
That forbid it to forget us

- - -
Richard Schnap is a poet, songwriter and collagist living in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. His poems have most recently appeared locally, nationally and overseas in a variety of print and online publications.

The Food Stamp Cafe

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
Being out of work
during the holidays
is twice as bad and
twice that's happened
now to Wally Ballew
who calls his kitchen
The Food Stamp Cafe.
Both times Wally convinced
Beulah and the kids
hot dogs are haute cuisine

provided you
vary the preparation:
Boil them one day,
grill them the next,
and bake them
the following day
after you split them
down the middle
and fill them
with Velveeta.

As a rule of thumb,
Wally says to toast
the buns and change
condiments every day
until a turbaned genie
rises from the mustard jar
waves his wand
and hires you again.
But save the recipes.
It can happen again.

- - -
Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.


| Filed under

Contributor: J. K. Durick

- -
Around here this time of year
our weather weighs us down
the heft of snow bulges barns
and streets, pulls on our back-
muscles and hearts, strains and
pains and gains, closes roads and
airports, postpones everything
it touches, brings us inside,
reminds us of childish things
like sliding or digging down in it
to igloos or forts away, out of
the wind, out of school for the day.

Somehow, it feels the same, even
now, becomes so quiet; a kindness
surrounds us, surprises us –
the storm itself becomes shelter
against the storm.

- - -
J. K. Durick is a writing teacher at the Community College of Vermont and an online writing tutor. His recent poems have appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, Black Mirror, Deep Water Literary Journal, Eye on life Magazine, and Leaves of Ink.

The Sleepless Settee

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Contributor: Paul Tristram

- -
Upon the sleepless settee
I lay down tonight.
Body tied to exhaustion
Mind still in flight.
I cannot get comfortable
I turn over again and again.
I need sleep, rest, relaxation
But in insomnia I remain.
Through my dead window
The skies brighten to grey.
As my mood darkens to pitch
Birds sing in the new day.
I should have drunk last night
I wouldn’t now be in this Hell.
I would be in oblivion
Unconscious but asleep as well.

- - -
Paul Tristram is a Welsh writer who has poems, short stories, sketches and photography published in many publications around the world, he yearns to tattoo porcelain bridesmaids instead of digging empty graves for innocence at midnight, this too may pass, yet. You can read his poems and stories here!

Bullet Stains

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Contributor: Nicole Hampton

- -
You never expect to actually see it
You go to matinées and
are morbidly obsessed by it
While you eat your fifteen dollar popcorn
Crunch, gunshots, crunch, screams

When you first see the blood
After that show seen long ago
It’s sort of like the movies
Except you’re the one breaking
Wetting your face with hot surrender
Shutting down like a computer
Dropping to your knees
Shrinking away from this world

Someone close to you may die
The blood is a horror scene
The blood is a horror seen
You don’t know why they’re being so calm
How can they stand this room,
Unpurposfully painted red
The color is aggravating to the eyes
As well as the heart

He lives
But the seasons in him have changed
Bright summer
Now a permanent fall into
The lonely cold of winter

A wet sheen shaping his face for the first time
Dare he live to tell this tale that haunts him
You almost wish you had a horrible life full of pain
Just so you can take in this moment better
As if there is some appropriate way
To see a friend mistakenly shot
Bullets zipped through tough skin
So easily
You didn’t think it’d be that easy
How you wish you’d have been prepared
Numbed up by the Orajel of lost lives

You bring him Su-Do-Ku and magazines
A symbol of his survival
Play some games and get better!
Math and Kim Kardashian will cure you
Heal all those holes in you
It’ll all be better

The season has changed
The trees are bare
Sun and floral flew away
Bare trees and snow are what remains
His life force stripped from him by bullets
Coming out a permanent dark cherry on the upholstery

- - -

A Time to Cleanse

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Contributor: Scott Thomas Outlar

- -
All I can do is sing
when times are troubled
Dance into this new spring
upon the graveyard
All the flowers die
but birth anew, yea
The trees are all in bloom
I heard Season whisper
The fountain of our youth
is sun and passion
When all this fruit is ripe
I’m loving apples

The rain is sure to fall
let’s try and care less
If heart is all we have
pure blood will guide us
The truth feels pretty good
urge you to try it
There’s life and then there’s death
can’t escape Karma
You are graced and you are blessed
it’s such a charmed jewel
Leave off from your distrust
it’s faith come lately

- - -
Scott Thomas Outlar burst forth from the womb of primordial ooze itching to write rants, screeds, manifestos and proclamations about life's existential nature. He can be reached at

Not Far From Ferguson

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
Not far from Ferguson
in South St. Louis,
a Bosnian man
was murdered days ago
by four teens--three Black
and one Hispanic.
They pounded Zemir Begic
with hammers
while his fiancée watched.

The newspaper claims
race didn’t play a role
in Zemir’s death but
the Bosnian community
felt otherwise as they
marched peacefully down
the main thoroughfare
in their neighborhood.

Today the newspaper teems
with articles about Ferguson,
something it has offered daily
in the three months since
the killing of Michael Brown.
But three days after the death
of Zemir Begic the paper offers
no further explanation.

No word either as to whether
the Reverend Al Sharpton
will come to St. Louis to meet
with the Bosnian community.
President Obama has yet
to offer condolences.

Most Bosnians in St. Louis
are immigrants who understand
hatred and discrimination,
having come to the city
to escape death in Bosnia
at the hands of Serbs.

This is not a good time
to be either Black or Bosnian
in metropolitan St. Louis.
It’s not a good time
to be anyone else either.
We are at best observers
in an urban forest
surrounded by
anger and gossip.

Many of us would prefer
a bridge to crawl under
provided it’s home to trolls
who offer a silent night.
That might be the best place
to spend Christmas this year,
better perhaps than
almost anywhere else
in St. Louis.

- - -
Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.

Two pieces of sky

| Filed under

Contributor: Douglas K Currier

- -
Remember we put that jigsaw puzzle
we found together, together, winter,
that winter we had nothing – no money,
no friends, no invitation to parties,
no holiday cheer. Behind the towels,
upstairs closet, just sitting there waiting
for us to assemble, and didn’t we?
It took us a month of random studies,
of minutes stolen from daily despair.
We conferred; we worked; we pieced together
a sky, some buildings, a bull, onlookers,
balconies, cobbled street and the danger.
In the end, we knew what of us we lacked
– two pieces of sky, a deep shadow, face
of an onlooker, looking on, this haunch
of bull, tensed to push that bulk forward into
the running crowd, completely panicked.
Pieces missing – all puzzles should have them.
We’re still looking -- two pieces of sky, deep shadow,
face of an onlooker, and a piece of
haunch, tensed to push us a little forward.

- - -
I am a former college professor who has been published in Laurel Review, Dominion Review, The Café Review, and Fish Stories. My work appears in the anthology, Onion River: Six Vermont Poets. I live in Burlington, VT.

I Buy My Clothes

| Filed under

Contributor: A.J. Huffman

- -
in sizes that swallow me, hoping
I might drown inside their folds.
I have a desire to disappear, dissolve
into fabricated threads, become
telling tapestry for anonymous
eyes to seek and find
meaning. In my passing
I will translate into legend, lessons
of transgression. My footprints
will be infinite in determined desire
to continue on, creating permanent
pathway to nothing.

- - -
A.J. Huffman’s poetry, fiction, haiku, and photography have appeared in hundreds of national and international journals. She is also the founding editor of Kind of a Hurricane Press.

Freezer Man

| Filed under

Contributor: John Grey

- -
Don't waste a bitter wind,
a killing frost,
icy cracked lips,
trembling hands,
and cheeks transparent blue.

Why fight the mistral cold
with self-delusion,
struggle to calm
the rattle of nerves
on a piercing moonless night.

For a man cold as corpses,
mid-winter should be
a master whispering to you
with brumal belligerence,
instructions eager to freeze.

The grass is dead,
the air seared clean of oxygen,
while in the graveyard shadow
of tattered brush,
meager creatures nibble their last supper.

Understand, all creatures are meager.
And all their complaining of the cold,
their rush down dark alleys lo be home and warm,
is nibbling.

You are the ice-man.
You have the strength
of fifty January blizzards,
the mind of twenty five below,
the numbing hands to
snatch the sorry meal away,
from underneath their frigid tongues.

So trek off into the snow,
the wilderness.
The feast is foremost
and your heart awaits.

- - -
John Grey is an Australian born poet. Recently published in Paterson Literary Review, Southern California Review and Natural Bridge with work upcoming in New Plains Review, Leading Edge and Louisiana Literature.

This Morning of a Snow

| Filed under

Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
To lie in bed
this morning of a snow
when neither of us
has to go
anywhere for hours

at least. To sprawl
and talk of what
we hope for.
Better, what we know
the years will bring

and contemplate
just knowing
we can see it all
up there
on the ceiling

all aglow,
our life
played out
in color now,
this morning of a snow.

- - -
Donal Mahoney lives in St. Louis, Missouri.


| Filed under

Contributor: Lyla Sommersby

- -
No matter how many nights
I wake from dreams
of that old house

No matter how many times
I lift the broken bricks
rebuild it with bare hands

No matter how many mornings
I rise from the sand
of golden days long past

(to wake in your arms)

I can always say honestly, my dear
no home, real or imagined
would really be a home
without you
to wake up next to.

- - -
I am a student in Miami, Florida. Painting is my other love. My first book, Sketches of Someone, is available through Thunderune Publishing.


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