The Winds of More
The evergreens by the ocean shore
Bend to greet the winds of More
They bow to Nature’s greatest force
Showing themselves no remorse
Before the gales of More say “Hello”
She gives the trees a special test
She blows their branches from the East to the West
If they last, she greets them well
If not, well only time will tell
—Destiny Dubetsky (11 years)
The world is burning like wildfire,
Flames of conflict climbing higher.
Some are sick and others dying,
It doesn’t seem like we're even trying.
The leaders who should guide us are looking to divide us,
Those who swore to serve and protect,
Are not worthy of our respect.
I’m trapped at home and can only wait,
Is this what they meant by “make America great”?
—Kelly Kalleberg (12 years)
The Time Life Was Put on Hold
The time life was put on hold,
A virus that directed toward the old,
We were all instructed to stay at home,
School work is now done on chrome,
I can't go to school to see all my friends,
And it's like this quarantine never ends,
No more getting ready to ride the buses,
Or working up courage to talk to my crushes,
No more volleyball practice from 7 to 9,
To spike the ball and call it mine,
I'm missing softball tryouts because of this,
Wow do I have a lot of things to miss,
We're losing people to COVID-19,
But I always try to keep smiling,
They say if you go out stay 6 feet apart,
But some people aren't that smart,
The virus is spreading and people are dying,
I know people think so but the government ain't lying,
More than 1,000,000 people are diagnosed more each day,
So stay home and far away,
I'm telling you it's not worth it to go out,
This is not the right way to go about,
If you want quarantine to last longer fine,
Just know the things you're taking that are mine,
Like school, friends, sports and guys,
Some of us want to go back to living our lives,
No gatherings of 10 people or more,
Unless you absolutely have to attend the store
If you go out wear a mask it ain't that hard,
You can literally just get exercise in your yard,
Healthcare workers are working hard like my mom,
Don't go to panic you can just stay calm,
There's a quote going around we need to discuss,
"We stay here for you so stay home for us!"
This is the time life was put on hold,
Wow what a story to be futuristically told.
—Emily Hadden (13 years)
Disjointed Mornings, Disjointed Nights
tell me why someday this will be worth it.
remember us in a thousand years
days of silence,
blur together, i promise everything will be all right
& good morning again.
—Lily Raper (14 years)
and locked away in here
did we pour love
into the airtight container
along with the 10 kilos of rice?
Or did we freeze it
with the leftover pork fat?
If heated on the stove
will it soften like butter
or will it smoke
and ruin dinner?
If we ever return
to how it was, to movies
and arcades and a cup of coffee
in a noisy cafe
will we remember
why we held hands
or will we misplace it
under a pile of unworn clothes
and canned goods
—Anne Carly Abad
The Time I Pulled the Trigger
You’re chasing me home
from school; I know
what you think of me is true.
I live here too,
but I run fast and I’m betting my life
I can outrun you
I leap to my porch and scream
the filthiest word I know
with a record-scratch rrr
and the neighbors open windows
as I close my door.
It’s not what I meant; it’s just what I had
at nine years old
Still pricks my skin
like burrs and chiggers
on restless summer evenings
I was taught better
but at root I’m a digger
down to the bones of my culture.
I claim no hatred in my heart
and yet in tribal battles fought
I pulled the trigger
Wielding my weapon in fear,
I’m guilty of catching
a tiger by the toe, a rigging,
but I disown the gun, the rope,
I’m not innocent,
but I hear you.
it’s not my heart that matters
if the rattling bones
don’t get dug up and ground to dust
for all of us
Time to get
the shovel out and prove
I want to walk on level ground too
Overheard at the Diner
We'll never know.
That's the whole thing about it.
We'll never know.
We'll just. Never. Know.
—George J. Searles
Threat consumed the wood
The squirrel will not leave the tree
Acorns piled high
Morning Report: 2 April 2020
Song Sparrows are already
chorusing when we step outside
answered quickly by House Finches
trilling upward toward the sky,
while a Red-Bellied Woodpecker
whinnies in the distance.
I follow the dog through
the yard as a Mockingbird
runs through its repertoire
drowning out all the other birds
except the Blue Jays. Shadows
of Crows follow us as we
And the world stilled.
And we heard the birds’ voices.
Like never before.
Empty house waiting
I call the birds to come to me
through open windows
Today the dense fog
that kept walking between us
is keeping distance.
We Love the Neighbors
Every time there is a noise in the hallway,
I feed my dog a treat. "We love the neighbors,"
I say. "We love them. We love the mailman.
We love how the mailman brings us mail."
He looks at me quizzically. He's not convinced,
but sometimes he'll swallow a woof for a Cheerio.
Later, when we're trying to sleep, a man talks on his phone
in Spanish in the alley beside our bedroom window.
I half-listen to his half of the conversation,
wondering if it counts as language practice.
When I feel a bark rise up in my throat,
I think instead: We love the neighbors. And it works.
Antsy pantsy rigmarole
Darting eyes and heavy soul
Pick it up to put it down
Empty street and empty town
Looking down at gnarly toes
Stale pajamas prick the nose
Dead end travels how to cope
Trust in rainbows, love and hope
into the mirror
say i “hello, how are you”
silence... goodnight You
the only shaking hands
among those alone
Imagined Letter to a Prisoner During a Pandemic
I write to you in prison during my solitary confinement. As you
look forward to mail, I do not tell you I am afraid of mail
and every other thing. I do not tell you once last week my phone
went dead for an entire day and I almost lost my mind. Meanwhile,
this being untouched and untouchable goes on. Do they let you out
to exercise? Here too we walk, but cannot come near another
person. Shouting salutations across the great divide,
encrypted missives translate: Was it your husband? What about
the kids? How long have you been in? While our eyes cry out:
Where can we get toilet paper? In the grocery store, stressed
beyond recognition, the masked and gloved direct us which
lines on the floor to stay behind. We take what we can get.
They have stopped testing. I know now you have it so much
worse. What shall I write? They have lost count. What can I write?
As Eliot said, last year’s words belong to last year’s language.
This world is in a global pause. I wake myself crying out
in my sleep to enter the place of deliverance.
—Mary Kathryn Jablonski
When you could not walk, I pushed you
When you could not see, I guided you
When you could hear, I whispered in your ear
You loved me for being me
I loved you for being you
Gave my best to you
Tried to see you through
Now you are gone
Raising a toast
It took a long while to fully taste
The sweetness, the bitterness
Of the country that welcomed me,
Healed me with freedom,
Nourished me with opportunity,
Flung wide open doors to the future.
But I can no longer deny:
Here, too, brutality partners with fear;
Here and now they brew their recipe—
The same acrid hooch that intoxicated
My distant birthplace.
Wonder, tenderness, celebration
Are laced with that familiar poison.
So what do I do with my gratitude,
With its sweetness that spills over the brim?
Pour enough of it out to make room
For the bitterness, the sorrow,
The shame of witnessing
What is being done to “them”
In the name of “us”?
Or do I keep the bile
In a different container
From the honey?
How do I raise my toast?
How do I drink it?
A sip from this cup, a sip from that one?
Or do I take it in together:
The nectar and the venom?
On the bank slender cattails reach out and
tall grasses with clouds of swirling insects bite the air.
old Cahoonzie Road
with it’s funny sounding name
always makes me smile
For George Floyd
I scream nasty word to the walls
Braided in fire they dissolve
less than ash
A smile above widens
Rats regain their correct names
A word echoes from a cave
as rain spoils a picnic
George Floyd is buried with song
the hungry go on living
and the devils cower
but are not quite done
Drivers scampering by
Edging into the crosswalk,
I refuse to yield.