Stella Maris Seabirds: Senryu

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Contributor: Ingrid Bruck

- -
awake at dark
to greet the morning
seagulls and I

silence of dawn
east over the deep
we wait for sunrise

gulls flap at sun call
flit back and forth
skim the waves

yo-yos in the sky
wings skip the edges of swells
and dive for breakfast

nacreous sea reflects
pearlescent sky
mirrors of day

sky ripens red to pink
sea echoes pearl
singing the light

gulls ski the surf
drop in surging rollers
corks bob and float

quiet wait
for sun under water
to break free

plovers skitter
run into surf and fish
new waves push them back

birds run in and out
pan the shoreline
wet sand glistens

red orb swims water
mounts the sky
we watch

and catch a silver ribbon
cast from sea to shore
to Stella Maris

- - -
Ingrid Bruck lives in the Amish country of Pennsylvania that inhabits her writing. Her favorite forms are haiku, haibun, senryu, rengay and short poems. Current work appears in Unbroken Journal, Halcyon Days, Quatrain.Fish, Under the Basho and Leaves of Ink.

Ambitions of Sweet and Shallow

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Contributor: Isaac Szu

- -
Clinging to the ashes of ages long past
Gray dust smoulders longing to be rekindled
Stagnant air no longer feeds the fire
Once fed by shallow tufts of grass.
Like the fate of a fickle flame
Hesitation is Hamlet’s greatest regret

I am
A reed caught in a river of rivalry
A conflux of purpose and passion
Doubtful of what lies ahead
Blind to what lies before
But reminded of what lies behind.
Waiting for a tomorrow that will never be

As time fades, ideals fade
Leaving me to wonder
Whether they ever existed
Sewing my lips so no more
Empty promises are made
The hardest truth to accept
Is one which denies itself

- - -
Isaac Szu lives for only one thing, perfecting his backflips. He often pretends he is a vegetable in hopes of one day capturing the unrequited attention of his turtle. But as for his friends, he only judges them by how much they owe him.

Stages of Growth

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Contributor: Peter Said

- -
Coming out the womb
Unbreakable connection
I need you to live

Pre-school in the south
Look at my new toy mommy
Okay love see you

Middle school, thrilling
Soccer club, I´ll see you at night
I´ll wait for you home

High school, new chapter
Leave me ´lone, I´m an adult
Tears of letting go

- - -
Peter Said travels all around the world battling other soccer players and collecting scenery for his paintings. In his travels, he has not only found one way to be healthy, but universally, he learned that he can't eat french fries.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
Nothing is anywhere anymore,
Dad shouts over the phone.
His reveille again at 4 a.m.
Will I come over and find it?

What's missing, Dad, I ask.
It's midnight and I'm in bed.
It'll take awhile to get there.

Your mother went to make
pineapple upside down cake
hours ago and still no cake.
She's nowhere to be found.
I called the neighbors.
They won't come over.
It's just me and the dog
and he's asleep.
Son, I need your help.

Mom died 10 years ago, Dad.
You and I went to the funeral.
We buried her at St. Anthony's.
Remember all the rain?
And then the rainbow shining?

Son, you're right again
Sorry I woke you but where's
the pineapple upside down cake?
I've been waiting for hours.
A little snack and I'll turn in.

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


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Contributor: Trisha Satish

- -
I am crumbling at a crossroad of constant pressure
Not knowing if this move will be the last

Giving ears to the gruesome voices of my ghosts
That tell me I will always return to where I started

I am the thunder finally breaking through the clouds
Understanding that I am not defined by my history

Leaving behind the fear that brought disconnected tears
Realizing that there is more to life than just a location

I stand there unmoving like an anchor in the ocean
Staring at waves that once controlled and wilted me away

Seeing the burning bush that tells me to let go and start anew
And I finally fit in place

- - -
Trisha Satish is awoken by the cat-like bark of her Golden Retriever. She is driven through her day to fight political injustices and promote feminist movements whether it’s through her vibrant voice or her drumming. At the end of a busy day, Trisha always finds time to catch up on her favorite Netflix shows.

Running to an End

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Contributor: Eriberto Uribe

- -
Always on the run.
Always in our warm corpses.
Until we turn cold.

We pass eventually.
It depends on our choices.
Faster or slower.

Strong or not you lose.
Smart or not, time always wins.
Live without worrying.

Our most noticed day.
Dressed nicely, in a box.
Everyone watches, silent.

- - -
Eriberto Uribe drives to the pharmacy in his lab coat for the opportunity to intern, knowing he will not get paid in cash but instead in experience and knowledge. As he continues his journey to assist the ill, he finds friendship with Waldo, his pug, that doesn´t care how poor he is or whether his poems are too internal.


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Contributor: Francis Olivares

- -
I live between my love and my choices
Like a couple who is struggling to stay together

I live between my top half, which is fragile and skeptical,
And my bottom half which is structurally strong

I live between a smile and a tear
And didn’t know what or how to feel

My left side always distracted and curious
My right on a train track towards greatness

But for my eyes are set on different goals,
Like how Zeus and Athena were when against Typhon

No one would have thought
That I did not know what to do

I guess I’ll just lay on my back,
Close my eyes, and sleep this trouble away

My love will fight through Pandora’s box of crimes
It is a tiger that has escaped its cage

My mind running as if it was funneling through the tunnel
That was the tunnel of my thoughts.

- - -
Francis Olivares an adventurer who courageously climbs cliffs with a camera in one hand and a grip in another just to take the perfect picture. A person who is so dedicated that he has gone around the globe and climbed many mountains to reach his end goal. When not looking through the lens of his camera you can find him unwinding with a coffee at a local Starbucks.


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Contributor: Ian McDonnell

- -
Everyday, same thing, same thing,
The wake of a new day, but my mind is still asleep,
The subtle scent of sorrow lingers throughout my mind,
I need a new light.

Anxiously waiting for the desire of success — it’s now breakfast time
I eat to release the tension,
Flowing down the banks of the river,
I continue my insight.

My heart longs for the love it deserves,
Dreading for the break that it always anticipates,
An exposed atrium altered by all,
Never really knowing when the doors will close for last time.

These tools that were gifted that compose beautiful art,
Fingers graze the paper gently, tracing the reality I wish I had,
Forcing me into a sense of relief,
I am fine for now in this home away from home.

Every tree has their own trunk, where they contain their sense of settling,
My trunks never have their anchorage,
Constantly on a journey to find where to plant my roots,
These legs won´t take me to the heights I wish to reach.

Pitch black, drawn back, where did the time go,
The final chapter, the ending to the story, dusk to dawn,
The journey has yet come to an end, my feet can no longer take their next step,
Comfortably found horizontal, it all starts again tomorrow.

- - -


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Contributor: Stacy Maddox

- -
Steal the sheer, tempted quick breaths
From these offered, longing, crimson lips
Tantalize deep, dark coveted corners
Hoping for a sweet and salty taste

Savor slowly, ripe, flushed silhouettes
Linger, caress, shamelessly explore
Kindling that glittering, lucid flame
Shimmering in its full, intense desires

Create embracing ecstasy, secluded paradise
With that blessed, first flourishing kiss
Set fire to this tempestuous, lonely being
Ready to arise, phoenix-like, and waken anew

Claim this euphoric, arousing, stimulating dream
For a few captivating, suspended moments
Surrender an incited, fervent, wandering soul
To a consuming burning passion, forever untamed.

- - -
Stacy Maddox lives, dreams, tends her gardens and writes in the fast-paced city of Lawrence, KS. Indulging her time in the outdoors, connecting with nature, walking the Kansas River trails and discovering new writing and photo opportunities, is one of her greatest pleasures in life. Stacy has been published in over 25 books, print and online magazines and websites. She has been passionate about Literature and Visual Art for over 30 years.

Elemental Joy

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Contributor: Suez Jacobson

- -
July's sticky heat
creates the opportunity
to merge with
the wandering, blue alpine puddle
ringed by pines,
tended by mountains
still marked with
winter's snows.
cold, clear, ripples of joy
spread out
from the body
imagining herself as fish
surrounded by
the tingling cold
that reaches deep
into her core.
she stays immersed
in the elegance of wild
until the shivers
overtake her deep desire for
the pure pleasure
of melding with
the elemental
reality of life.

- - -
Suez Jacobson is a person who would like to swim wild waters

Ivory and Charcoal Memories

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Contributor: Allison Luan

- -
Each sigh shook my fragile frame,
The once pristine performance dress is stained with tears.

My fingers are rough, my hands are muscular,
The scars of years of practice and constant critiques stumble me.

From the brightly lit stage, the glaring spotlight judges me,
Just as the audience watches my every movement.

The lump in my chest continues to expand with each shiver,
And my palms become sweaty and numb.

Sitting on the leather seat, my hands shake as I take a final breath,
And the black and white keys feel familiar again.

Each staccato of the key to the legato of a measure travels through my body,
And drowns out the tears and anxieties that come with the performance.

The keys have formed together to soothe me,
To help me forget the demands of teachers, parents, audiences.

My movements are timed to the millisecond,
And perfection is an expectation that I have grown to hate to reach.

With a single note, I exhale and embark,
On a journey I have repeated a million times before.

- - -
Allison is often found slurping on a hearty and familiar bowl of Pho or picking through the thousands of titles on Netflix. Her passion for the youth and her lifelong hobby of playing the piano fuels her childlike personality, spreading optimism and inappropriate laughter.

A Senior Citizen's First Email

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
Things are quiet here, a friend writes
in the first email of his long life:

Most mornings I drive to Gillson Park,
sit and read beside the Lake.
The waves are a symphony.
Books are better there. Sometimes
a redwing blackbird will attack,
protecting its nest. The weather's
cool and there's rain at night.
It's not summer in Chicago
as you and I remember it.

I have a cell phone now too
and I use it all the time.
The landline's just a holdover
from the good old days.

Speaking of holdovers,
we should get together
while we still can.
At our age, who knows
how long either of us has.
People our age drop dead
without too much ado.

Tell you what: Whoever gets sick first
will notify the other one who'll take
a plane and race death to see
who arrives at the bedside first.
If I'm talking to a priest, wait outside.

Forget the small stuff like amputations.
They have prosthetics now for everything
except for tallywhackers.
Who needs more kids anyway.
My wife will send you an email if I die.
Ask your wife to do the same for me.

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

Self Portrait in a Mirror

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Contributor: Humaira Nasir

- -
Hand prints mar its formerly shining smooth surface,
As my familiar dark eyes stare straight into me.
They scratch and dig at the walls of my mind,
Looking for answers to questions I’ve only learned to ask.

Why did I lose my carefree heart?
Why did the innocent gleam fall from my eyes?
Why did the glass shards of insecurity settle in my stomach?
Can I go back to before?

Before the time I stumbled and fell,
With no lighthouse to light my path.
Where I fell into line, a spirit hustled into Charon’s boat,
Uncertain whether I’d go up or down.

Now I am bound between the luminescent pages of the past,
And the blank pages of my future that is yet to be written.
The changes made to my reflection were drawn in black ink,
Each stroke cracking my reflection a little more.

Monday morning comes and I pass my mirror,
Morbidly curious of my own broken reflection
Wednesday night passes, my eyes wet with unshed tears,
Frustration over previously veiled changes laced through my fingers.

Sunday afternoon blossoms brightly,
The midday rays bouncing off my cursed mirror.
No flaw can hide from its omniscient sight,
Leaving me with no option.

I stand before my mirror and my strange new self,
Hand clenching the fabric of my shirt.
I tilt my chin up high, spine straightening, shoulders back.
And I stare right into the eyes of the beast.

- - -
Humaira Nasir often lays on the ground, wheezing from her latest attempt to scrub the layers of ink and watercolors from her cartooning projects, off her formerly pristine white walls. After giving up for the day, she sneaks into a hidden corner of her closet in her room turned art studio to find a large bag of KitKats and Reese's, which she quickly devours and falls into a sugar induced bliss.

Caved In

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Contributor: angeliquebaum

- -
I’m on a ball and chain
Key held by the one closest to me

She says we’re moving again
Is this my chance to be free?

From the breezy ocean side
To the pine tree filled suburbs

Leaving everyone I know
Maybe things will be different this time

I know what I want
I want to be free

I am a woman like Eve
I have made mistakes too

Set myself back
Closed off from the Garden of Eden

The longing, yearning, craving of freedom
Eyes lust to see what’s out there

If only I had the key
If only she would give it to me

- - -
Angelique Baum scavenged and hunted around Asia for rare souvenirs that brought joy to her closest friends, her dogs. On the weekends she can be found with her windows down serenading everyone on the beach as she drives by. She’s very misunderstood like her favorite animals, sharks.


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Contributor: Sunny Bawa

- -

She loves her children
She cannot live without them-
She hates Italian food


Working seven days
Number one goal was to provide
for his family


She is the fourth slice
Without her it is uneven-
She is a loving sister


Growing up he thought-
His sister was competing
In reality it was love

- - -
Sunny Bawa was born in Punjab, India. He has been in the U.S. since age 5. Sunny grew a strong passion for movies and his favorite movie is “Don’t be a menace”.

The Spider and the Spray Can Man

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
He's my buddy, this tiny spider
sitting in his web, not moving,
waiting for a fly that never comes.

The problem is, he spun his web
in a bathroom on the 30th floor
of an office building

where in 20 years I've never
seen a fly or other insect
never mind a spider.

The man from pest control
comes after hours
and sprays in silence.

We call him Spray Can Man,
He has "Butch" on his shirt
and creases in his pants

pressed by a wife who packs
hearty lunches, I suspect.
I've watched Spray Can Man

twenty years and never heard
him speak to anyone working
overtime in a little cubicle.

Years ago we'd say hello to him
just like Trash Can Man and Mop Lady.
I said "Merry Christmas" to him once

and Spray Can Man never looked up.
He kept looking down, like an anteater,
spraying one baseboard after another.

When it comes to insects,
Spray Can Man is a serial killer.
Yet the spider in the bathroom

has escaped his gaze and lives on
despite the lack of any flies to eat.
The spider doesn't know death's

his destination even though
I know some day soon
his life will be swept away,

perhaps by execution if
one of my fellow workers
sees him waiting for a fly

or if Spray Can Man spots him.
This spider will discover
life is just a belch in time

as I'll find out too some day.
If I'm wrong about what's to come,
I'll have missed a lot of fun.

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

Neck in Noose

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Contributor: JD DeHart

- -
Flush of wind burst
of sound, lickety split
slipping buttery through,

Young escape artist
beaming briefly proudly
a voice of liberty fleeing.

Neck in noose lives
another day, short
stretching moment, until

Thieving hands find
loaves of bread again,
not fast enough to outrun

Hunger, then all over
again until escaping
into thicker night.

- - -

Heaven's Lost Sailor

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Contributor: Ian Castorillo

- -
Oceans in the sky as I swim to fly
Submerged in the water
I am a vessel made of life

For it is the heat of passion
For it is the cold of isolation
For it is the cruel wind
That tries to push the sails

Issues of the ship are surely sufficient
But it is the sand that makes my heart coarse
Lost on the shore
As a burning bush beckons me towards the sea

Calm waves tame my brain
And as the walls of the sea split and separate
My feet move like turtles
On a clear path clean and complete

Worship brings forth rising tides
bringing me towards the clouds
Walking carefully close to the stars
A voyager hoping to return

- - -
Ian Castorillo was determined at the age of four to reach all of the strings of the guitar, now, he talks with chords. Subsequently, he eats gourmet Subway sandwiches with calloused fingers. Sitting in his broken studio chair, writing songs and poems, Ian dreams of being on a concert stage.


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Contributor: Stacy Maddox

- -
Stay, give me one more loving night
Just hold me close, til morning light
Whisper your secrets, kiss my wanting lips
Let us sail away on colossal ships

Leave the shores behind, we'll fly by
Over waters deep and star-punched sky
The sun won't break through, unless we've seen
Beauty inside the dream of a dream

We'll taste the sweet nectar in the air
Delighting of a fragrance we both share
Tangled in the moonbeams, silver streams
Raining down by uncharted means

Feel the sounds immortals will roar
When through their heavens our bodies soar
Souls entwined on golden wings of lore
Glorious visions never known before

We can ignite the all-consuming blaze
Radiant illuminations and fantastic displays
Leaving behind a memory meant to amaze
Give me one more loving night, stay.

- - -
Stacy Maddox lives, dreams, tends her gardens and writes in the fast-paced city of Lawrence, KS. Indulging her time in the outdoors, connecting with nature, walking the Kansas River trails and discovering new writing and photo opportunities, is one of her greatest pleasures in life. Stacy has been published in over 25 books, print and online magazines and websites. She has been passionate about Literature and Visual Art for over 30 years.


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- -
Sometimes you are the voice
And I the echo
That you must follow and find.
You do not recede from me
But open up warm and bountiful
For me to settle
And together break into a field of flowers
Colourful as a million butterflies.

Sometimes I am the call
And you the echo
That I must follow and find.
I gather you into my arms
A bouquet of flowers
Sweet-scented, succulent and fresh
Cooling my thirst like water
In the middle of a thicket
As together, we fly into the horizon
Bound for the kingdom of the sun
Where we coalesce and forever are
Call and answer
Answer and voice.

When capricious weather
Separates us
Creating unfathomable distance
Between us
We become voice and echo
Echo and voice
And seek each other again and again
For I am your voice’s distinctive echo
And sometimes I am the voice
That you should echo to the end of time.

- - -

Strange Protection

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Contributor: Anita Cheng

- -
My words are potters, sealing away secrets with silence,
hiding anger and hatred away.

My words are like David,
defeating Goliath problems with expected ease.

My words are my sanctuary,
consoling me with impossibly compelling lies.

My words have never been a siren’s song.
Instead, acerbic and brutal, they spill too easily from me.

My words, like sharp, quick knives,
break through the silence and wreak destruction.

My words are a stronghold, a tempest, the breath of life.
My words are my power.

- - -
Anita Cheng defies death on a consistent basis through the consumption of food she is allergic to. Ironically, Anita is a food aficionado and cannot escape this fate. When she isn’t ending arguments with her sarcasm, Anita undertakes the role of a part time mother to those around her.

5 Haiku

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Contributor: Corey D. Cook

- -

by the sink
her vintage hairbrush -
estate sale

# # #

in the grass
a new shadow -
her headstone

# # #

in the window
my reflection -
sleepless night

# # #

walking home
our shadows
lead the way

# # #

wave reaches out
then pulls

# # #

- - -
Corey D. Cook's fourth chapbook, White Flag Raised, was released in 2015 by Kattywompus Press. His poetry has recently appeared in Chiron Review, Dime Show Review, Muddy River Poetry Review and Yellow Chair Review. Corey edits Red Eft Review and lives in Vermont.

Here Comes the Sun

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Contributor: Emily Garcia

- -
Blind as the bright blue clear July sky
with no worries or clouds in sight,
I thought nothing could go wrong.

These were the happy days--
sleeping, sparring, singing,
all fueled by the bright fiery sun of happiness.

All the lonely people always playing,
whose stories I grew up with,
whose sadness was written in songs that I couldn’t understand.

But I would soon learn, as an unforgiving cloud stole the sun
and everything was painted gray and cold.
So, the gray I became

and the cold I radiated
as rain clouds began to multiply,
and crowded the skies like my mind:

Who was I without the sun,
Who was I without the light,
Who was I without the warmth?

These were the desperate days--
over-thinking, draining, waiting,
wondering if the sun would ever return

rain began to fall from my eyes,
covering everything in sight.
The weight in my heart grasped the air in my lungs.

I became the endless frustration
of the angry purple skies
illuminated by reckless, impulsive lightning,

but suddenly thunder declared,
Your sun will soon come to rise
Once darkness disappears.

So I closed my eyes
and dreamt of my sun
at the reach of my fingertips.

and I dreamt of all the lonely people.
There were fools sitting on a hill,
content with being misunderstood.

There were Eleanor Rigbys in their imaginary worlds,
deserving more than the days they spent
lost without a place to belong.

I transformed into the deep mellow blue of the night
and the beaming stars calmly winked and assured me that,
Everything would be alright.

These were the hopeful days--
obtaining, overcoming, optimistic
knowing the sun was about to rise.

Hours, days, and months
did I spend in quiet, peaceful slumber,
remembering all the lonely people and hoping that when I awaken

I would be the soft blue
that embraces the sun and greets the morning
with the hope of the tomorrow.

- - -
Emily Garcia lived through childhood hoping she’d one day impress Simon Cowell and win American Idol. However, instead of on the stage, you could find her at her happiest today when she’s amongst the audience watching her favorite live bands. She finds solace in the possible existence of aliens and a parallel universe where English subtitles aren’t necessary.

Dancing on the Fourth of July

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Contributor: Donal Mahoney

- -
All that hair
trapped in a braid
silver to the waist
Opal this morning
nude in the mirror
brings the braid up
between her breasts
and around her neck,
a python of her creation

that she promised Elmer
she would cut off
for a pixie hairdo
like Audrey Hepburn
if he would take her
on the Fourth of July
to the Senior Dance,
something Wilbur
would always do

if she wore high heels
and that red dress
and those black
nylons he found
with the seams
like the ones she wore
the day he came home
all crew cut and cowlicks
from Korea.

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


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Contributor: j l courtney

- -
everything e s c a p e s
to-go boxes [full belly fleeting]

fast-food saviors
ring a doorbell
white with web
spiders [things less savory]
wave howdy-do

dust bunnies tumbleweed
through ketchup-mustard sunsets
[splattered dripped s l o p p e d]

deadlines skip [close]
all ribbons and bows
squeaky-clean smiling

- - -
jl courtney is an aging mother of three. She has been published at Postcard Poems and Prose, Black Heart, Page and Spine, and others.


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- -
And if only they heeded his call and did not dance
How wise they would be and how fulfilled he would have become!
But unheeding his call
They pulverize the earth with their wayward feet
Kneading the dust with fancy footwork against his call
Lumps of complimentary whistles
And corpuscles of adulatory ululation
Spangling the night air like a spray of fireworks.
All these errant bon vivants feed on his scathing wit
Sharp barbs spiking their habit of taking alcohol
Their habit of spending time and money on loose women
In the company of idle companions
But like little children they guzzle their bitter concoctions
Taking his gibes as if they were tonic
To chase away the tardy day.
His song swells in intensity like a cicada’s trill in the eerie forest
Castigating the folly and vices of their habits in scornful rhymes and rhythms
Pontificating to them about the virtues of frugality and providence
And the benefits of the straight and narrow path
Teaching them how not to dance to godless music
Teaching them the dangers of improvidence and profligacy
But with their usual open-handedness
They call out for song and more song
Throwing pieces of silver at his feet…

His act over, he collects their money, now his money
As they go out into the night fulfilled
For he has given them what they wanted
To chase away their cares but not their folly.

- - -


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