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Poetry Unplugged

Dan Refuses To Keep Playing

Another bottle tips: plates fall, life cracks:

the freezer spills out, full of lumpy shapes:

and they refuse to stop it. Garbage lids

pop off, and Dan could fix that with two hands,

but one of them is always almost always full,

and tennis-shoes do NOT get thrown away

but sweetener packets do: the empty ones;


Dan throws away the full packs.



don’t fit some drawers, but that’s confusing. And

brooms want to fit in crooked, but they can’t;

wrong shapes, wrong always, so Dan breaks them but

that won’t work for him either. And he tries

to follow rules, but somebody gets mad;

it always happens. So Dan has to hide

but even then he’s not supposed to; life


is one big accident, so Dan decides

that he’s no longer playing —

Kathryn Jacobs is a poet, professor emerita, and editor of The Road Not Taken. Her fifth book, Wedged Elephant, was published by Kelsay Press.

I Deal with “The Problem”

I dismiss guidance in self-help books on how to make life better,

don’t engage in feel-good activities either — perfumed candles,

drinking Lady Grey tea — don’t read trite quips on my Facebook page

or indulge in chocolate bonbons and bubble baths.


Clear clutter from the closets, I say — nostalgia doesn’t solve problems

or make life better. Why save a dried-up prom corsage —

watering it with tears won’t revive a “Sweet Sixteen” romance.


Multi-taskers, nose-wipers, ladies-NOT-waiting — unsung heroines,

Wonder Women, all — we’ll be outrageous, take over the world, incite

riots. It’s time for upheaval. I’ll get a tattoo, write a steamy novel, run

for office, go back to school at age forty-two.


Even though the 19th Amendment happened over a hundred years ago,

a gender gap still exists — equality’s an uphill battle.

It’s past the hour. Past time to move on. There are other places to go.

Patricia Williams, published in About Place Journal, Bramble, Liquid Imagination, Midwest Review, Poetry Quarterly, and others, authored The Port Side of Shadows (Finishing Line) and Midwest Medley (Kelsay), which was awarded Outstanding Poetry Book for 2018 by the Wisconsin Library Association.

Not knowing where to stop.jpg

I Am the Sadness

     inside my eyes,

the smell of his breath, the hands

that play his chuckle on the piano.


I absorb the bludgeoning of his fierce blues

like a punched bag. His stiff white forest

scrapes my face. I shake like a wet dog

as he holds me down.  He is as strong

as Gorgeous George in the wrestling ring.


The digger pummels again and again

forcing that thing I can’t name inside my mouth,

stretched so wide I know it will break.

The lava of his volcano smothers my nose,

cheeks, and chin, wets my pink pajamas.


In the morning when he tries to spoon oatmeal

into that stretched tired place, I spit it into his face,

his eyes half closed as if resigned, or maybe

as sad as mine.


No one asks, not Daddy, not my big sister.

I don’t know what to tell them. Maybe this is what

all grandpas do when the lights are off.

When he does it again, I don’t try to bite,

kick or fight. I just lie there like a blanket

to be rolled into a ball, stuffed inside a closet,

best forgotten.


I have no words to tell, no words to write,

no words inside my head, just photos

printed on the jell inside my brain,

a taste of something ugly.


When we’re grown, my sister doesn’t say

what he did to her. When I ask,

she just cries.

Pauli Dutton has been published in Verse Virtual, Altadena Poetry Review, Spectrum, Skylark, The Cherita, The Pangolin Review, and elsewhere. She was a librarian for forty years, where she founded, coordinated, and led a public reading series from 2003 through 2014.

The Journal

His journal,

short fragments of his life,

exposing too late

his pain and strife.


Page by page

a portrait slowly grew,

but different from

the son we knew.


Only now,

in retrospect we see

how we made our own



Previously published in another version in Stick Figure Poetry Quarterly.

Dick Narvett is a retiree from a prior life in international business and independent film acting. He now lives in Pennsylvania where he writes flash fiction and poetry.

Don’t Hate to be Different

I thought I was free

I thought there would be no me against them But I was wrong when it came to Asian Hate

Like a tidal wave against the morning sunrise It came with the intensity of a surprise Without an end in sight

Walking to school with a backpack on my back And tears running down my face

I prepared myself for the onslaught of Asian Hate

I reached the school

And opened the door

And there I was met by stares

It started with one word

And grew like a storm

The horrifying meaning of Asian Hate

I was scared but walked with my head held high Go back to your country they said

You don’t belong here

Ignoring the misery of the moment

I went ahead to my classroom

There on the whiteboard were the words Asian Hate

I said with a quiet voice Good morning ma’am She did not look up

I sat down on my seat and

Then the bell rang and people were late

But the teacher turned her face, ignorance in her eyes about Asian Hate

This cycle keeps repeating as terrifying as it seems there is no end

That’s why I’m screaming

I can’t make a difference

I’m just one Asian girl

My voice is just a whisper as I scream stop Asian Hate

The pain I feel amounts to nothing

It hits my heart like a piece of stone

I feel myself sinking in this herd of injustice

Others cry too

Fake tears, worthless lies

This is about screaming, sore throat, hurting eyes stop Asian Hate

Can everyone come together as one big family

I want our planet filled with peace and love

We remember this happened before But we soon forget

Because no one remembers Asian Hate

Anureet Kanwar is a 16-year-old Asian / American student. She is currently attending The Governor's Stem Academy at Grassfield High School. She thought this was a great opportunity to share her voice. She believes through poetry, social change is possible.

A Consequence

No witch failed as badly.

She wed a count of Anjou,

And in one magical instant

Dissolved into a cloud of smoke

Upon his unexpected demand

That she attend Holy Mass.

Clyde L. Borg is a retired high school teacher. Some of his work has appeared in Nostalgia Magazine, History Magazine, and Leaves Magazine. He resides in Fords, New Jersey.


Pigeon Hunting at Twelve

Take flight pigeons

from these splintered rafters

of rotting wood high

in the belfry of this ancient

abandoned barn.

Take flight before this twelve-year-old boy,

sixteen-gauge shotgun in hand

takes aim and shoots roofward

to please his father.

The shot sets off

explosive cannonades of echoing thunder

and hundreds of innocents fleeing in fear,

fighting to find the escapes of windows

high in the barn walls.

No pigeons tumbled to the filthy wood floor,

and the boy sighed.

Greg Stidham is a retired pediatric intensivist currently living in Kingston, Ontario, with his wife Pam and the last survivor of a pack of rescue dogs. Greg’s passion for medicine has yielded in retirement to his other lifelong passions — literature and creative writing.

David Clode on unsplash

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