Monday, March 15, 2010

Haiti Collage

Turn away from the idea of Earth destruction
Earthquakes are Earth yawning
She stretches Herself after rest periods
Simply shifts position
Don't women change their minds once in a while:
Too bad about the poor people who don't have much choice
All the good farming land had been scoffed up
They suffer more than the rest of us.
We are not the center of the Universe
We are subjects of Earth Mother
Simply one species among many
What makes us so important?
We choose where we live,
Live on a fault line,
It's your fault.
An art supply catalog
Displayed over a hundred
Strips of color tones and names
I reposition these to imitate layers of rock
That have decided to let go
Long, latent strata
In the chaos of new structure
Releases her tensions
Metamorphosis happens
We are only one small part of nature.
What newspapers call disasters
Are not disasters.
They are simply earth Mother
Doing her thing.
Tom Stock
Manorville, New York
Doctors Without Borders

Children of Haiti (Triple Haiku)

Children of Haiti (Triple Haiku)

Children of Haiti
eat dirt with swollen fingers
shivering ashes.

TV preachers talk
lies like lava run uphill
I step over it.

Schools destroyed here
children work the dark corners
why do we wait, please?

Gary Percesepe
Dayton, OH
United Church of Christ

Sunday, March 14, 2010

After the Earthquake

After the Earthquake

Burnish your public image by airlifting relief to Haiti.

Pose for pictures next to medical supplies for Haiti.

Alert the media about your students’ fund drive for Haiti.

Talk about regime change for the failed state of Haiti.

Film looters for Fox News from Haiti.

Put your volunteers in yellow T-shirts for photo ops milking the disaster in Haiti.

Write an Op-Ed giving historical perspective on Haiti.

Comfort the teenager whose whole family perished in Haiti.

Post a blog showing off your knowledge about Haiti.

Click at a website and send your credit card number to somewhere else not Haiti.

Scam the elderly with your bogus charity for Haiti.

Go to church, pray for the fate of the world including Haiti.

Deal privately with your guilt about ignoring Haiti.

Nancy C. Keating
Babylon, New York, USA
Doctors Without Borders.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010



See the little girl
holding up the hem
of her new dress
so it won't get dirty
during her dad's second
deployment overseas

Clutching his hand as
he stands at attention
in his soldier uniform
no one has the heart
to separate them yet

Blinded by her tears
she cries out
won't let him go why
does he have to leave
his famly once again

Daddy don't go
daddy don't
dad eee

Roberta A. McQueen
Amityville, NY
Salvation Army

Meditation - Darkness to Light

Meditation - Darkness to Light

Light through loss
light through change
light in stressful times

God's light shines brightly
through all times

Close your eyes
into the darkness
a light shines
radiating into your heart
soothing any rough spot
any heart ache
worry or stress

Peace comes
light prevails
gratitude rests
in the heart
once again.

Judy Mosca
North Mankato, Minnesota
Red Cross

Monday, February 22, 2010

hector rode by

hector rode by

even the dogs on 7th street

wore bandages.

one man slept peacefully

on the sidewalk,

his head resting on the stoop,

his swollen hands folded

in hopeless prayer.

i gave a dollar

to a guy

with sweet eyes

who spoke to me

in seven languages,

none of them English

or Spanish

he wore a pistachio

shirt and brown

pants, a battered

ice cream cone

hector rode by

on a bicycle

draped in rosary beads

the rose garden

was locked

conga beats

and sofrito

drifted down

from the park

the sleeping man

rolled off the stoop

his friends

stepped over him,


an unfiltered


hung from his ear

Puma Perl
New York, NY

American Red Cross

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Trembling Earth

Trembling Earth

The child was dead...mother, father too -
crushed in the abyss of the earth's fault line.
Muffled voices echo cries from centuries past
each time earth yawns to engulf its living creatures into its chasms.
Shattered lives breath the stench of the dead,
thanking God for being spared.
The spark of humankind amidst the rubble's roar
seeks life, nothing more.

Harriet Slaughter
Long Beach, NY
Doctors Without Borders

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Casualties of War

Casualties of War

family portraits
planned but never taken

vacation funds
never withdrawn

a Mexican restaurant
minus one patron

steps to the deck
not quite complete

leaf-stuffed gutters
need to be freed

a toilet seat that will remain
forever in its appropriate place

a smoke detector
absent of its battery

snow swaddled sidewalks
lacking a strong hand

a "Daddy" stocking's
final battle cry
silent in its ornament box

Cheri Byard
Olathe, Kansas
American Red Cross

Wednesday, February 17, 2010



It's time for all to lay down their arms
Make peace with their neighbors
Give up the racism and rigidness that
The world has succumbed to.
Look outside and breathe in the sun.
Accept who we are inside, or change
So that we may be able to live with ourselves.
Go for a walk.
Listen to the peace of the running river.
Break the silence
Learn to trust
Taking each fall in stride.
Give up the burden of anger and pain
Stop living each day as a time bomb
Create your song
Sing to the sky.

Rebecca Porter
Rochester, NY, USA
American Red Cross

A toi, Ayïti

A toi, Ayïti

three seasons
windy, dry rainy

in the windy season
gusts whip and howl
waves crash onto rocky shores
trees dance a frenzied Compas
airborne birds flail, rudderless
everything in ominous motion
a cacophony for ear and eye

in the dry season
an impious sun draws closer
a glowing coal
grilling cattle live
vultures set to pillage putrefaction
burnt grass crackles underfoot
leaves, crisp like bacon

in the rainy season
creatures screech and warn
angry gray clouds
wild, like l'apache dancers
stop at nothing
raindrops pummel
torrents ravage mighty mapous

Not predictable: 12 January 2010
your earth quaked
Qu'on te pleure, Haïti!
we weep for you

“ Pour le pays, pour les ançêtres,
marchons unis, marchons unis.!”
-- La Dessalinienne

Ursula Nouza
Syosset, NY 11791
Catholic Relief Services
World Vision Haiti Relief

The Beautification Of Lynching

The Beautification Of Lynching

Ajegunle, Lagos, Nigeria, March 6, 2033.

"Hol am! Hol am!! Hol am!!!"
"Thief! Thief!! Thief!!!"
"Ole! Ole!! Ole!!!"
"Onye Ori! Onye Ori!! Onye Ori!!!"
"Barawo! Barawo!! Barawo!!!"
"Catch him! Burn him!! Kill him!!!"
Hold That Boy! Do not let him escape!

And everybody went after him in hot pursuit with full fury
Brandishing all sorts of machetes and clubs and even stones
As well as locally-made pistols and double-barrel guns
With the breast-flapping market women thronging after the men
With kitchen utensils shouting and swearing in unison
"We must lynch him to death today, not even tomorrow"
"We must send him back to where he belongs to today"

Within minutes they caught up with
The tired, thirsty, tattered-looking lad
Still in the prime of his teenagehood
About 16 or 17 or something like that
A poor wretched-looking jobless lad
One of many victims of a corrupt government
Pushed by his country to stealing just to survive

And they beat a hell out of him
Just like a tinker does to a stubborn pan
Then put a tyre round his tender neck
Poured gallons of fuel on him
And burnt him to death just for stealing a Banana
And that was how his young life ended abruptly
A fate that should have befallen the corrupt leaders.

Chukwunwikezarramu Okumephuna
London, United Kingdom

Monday, February 15, 2010

A Song for Haiti

A Song for Haiti

I wish I could give more than this.
A tattered Jackson and a poem.
But if verse will soothe your shattered world,
then I will write for you an epic ode.
And if my words will nullify
your days endured, your dreaded dawns,
your endless ache of sleepless nights,
I will write for you a thousand songs.
I wish I could do more than hold
your sorrow in my humbled hand,
or watch your nightmare from afar.
As I write for you elysian prayers.
Each one will find its way to you,
lift the remnants of your crushing pain,
and free the Táino opia buried deep
in the loaming of your fractured land.

Teri McDowell Marks
Chadds Ford, PA
Partners in Health; American Red Cross



Where the tarred scar
of an amputated limb,
like jet-black jade,
is embedded in beaded bark:
Where the two ends
of dark barberry shoot pale
from the clipped hedgerow
stripling straight:
There is the will to survive,
startled by threatened extinction,
leaping in sudden strength,
Like Rafe, who jumped the six-foot fence
the day the bull chased him.

Rafael Tilton
Rochester, MN, USA
Catholic Relief Seviices

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Light of the World

A brand new day emerges…sunlight slowly spills on a land ravished
by nature’s fury.

In compassion and faith, people share the burden that changes
the face of a country and reverberates around the world.

A time of great need…people from many lands come together,
hearts full. This is the true character of man.

Hope, peace and the promise of better days are within reach,
thanks to God’s sons and daughters.

Karen Bonnet
Oceanside, NY
World Vision

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pearl of the Antilles

Pearl of the Antilles

They walked and paddled
wanderlust and wondrous game, easily caught,
pulls proto-Indians east and south
across the Bering strait down to the Caribbean rim
from Venezuela to one hundred islands north and west
bringing cassava, cotton, tobacco, sweet potato
and five thousand years of language and culture

1492: Taino and Columbus collide
Taino-Arawak one million strong
Columbus armed with gun, smallpox, chain gang, iron, and time
Two generations later, 600 natives remain

1508: The thousand plantations must be fueled
Natives gone, West Africa’s humanity is for sale

1790: French slave masters destroy 30,000 slaves each year
Europe feeds on Haitian
tobacco, coffee, sugar, cotton, indigo
produced by the black gold
of the French bourgeoisie
750 ships, 24,000 sailors move this
cargo and humanity
from Africa to Haiti to Europe
the triangle of death

1804: Toussaint L’Oveture leads 30,000 slaves,
against Napoleon’s finest
actions birthed by the French and American revolutions
the little man’s dreams of new world empire extinguished,
French Louisiana sold,
the US doubles size

Haiti the second republic of the new world
The first freed slave republic
US, France, the rest of Europe responds
Haiti must be crushed
embargo and boycott
force her to pay 152 million francs
reparations to French and US bankers
Interest and principal paid off in 127 years,

1915: Wilson sends in the Marines
US debt collectors
19 years occupation
After 127 years interest and principal paid in full

1957-1986 the US runs Haiti
a client colony with
Papa Doc, then Baby Doc and
the tonton macoute
60,000 murdered, millions stolen
Haiti is in good hands

1990, Aristide elected, wins 90% of the vote, US coup, 1991
2000 Aristide reelected,
Demands 21 billion at UN
Kidnapping and coup 2004
2,000 disappeared

Jean Bertrand Aristide banished to Africa
Fanmi Lavalas, his party, barred from all elections by US

January 12, 2010
200,000 dead
Fourth invasion
200 flights a day
180 military flights
12,000 marines, guns, secure the rubble
(rumor of oil)
Graffiti in cite soley
“Marines al lakai nou”
“Nou pap tounin esclav enko”
Marines out, we will not be slaves

Haiti the struggle must continue

Tom Karlson
Medicc; American Red Cross

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Mom and Dad

Mom and Dad

the stars Protecting me from
dangerous things
Hugging and kissing me

Surfing waves Cleaning up the
community Building LEGO buildings

Living all together Playing
with them Hoping they can
with me because I love
them Cooking with
my Mom Drawing pictures
with my Dad Planting with
my Mom Having a good life Having

peace to



Michael Mulhern, Jr.,
Age 7
Baldwin, NY
American Red Cross

A Symphony in the Wind

A Symphony in the Wind

Bass drums
in the distance,
a sonata
plays in the leaves of trees,
the clang
after a cymbal in the breezes,
strings and reeds play
as waves hit the shore,
a tuba
in a blast of wind,
a broken chord,
an arpeggio
of stories upon piano keys
as fingers from ocean waves
run uphill,
the background sound
that holds it all together,
like a breath.

Louise Mathewson
Eden Prairie, MN
Clinton-Bush Haiti Fund

For Haiti Rescue Team Members

For Haiti Rescue Team Members

The grinding sound of roaring
train announces earthquake's threatening
groan as people scream. and scream again!
Astonished terror never known, in any language
is the same--as parents die, and bodies maim.
Cathedrals crumble into dust; the Capital,
with columns fine, distorts and falls as buildings
must when earthquake tremors undermine.
They die beneath tombs of cement while cries
rise up in loud lament.

I see, and wonder how to aid. I hear,
and wonder what to do. Both age and distance
have forbade, but, suddenly I'm watching you
who leave behind both home and kin.
You wonder not, but fly right in to carry
food and water there. Not asking for permission slips
where need is strong, death in the air, the food
you bring to trembling lips sustains them.
Though sometimes too late, you never stop,
yield not to fate.

Dried blood and squalor, desperate pain
cause you and others, dawn to dark, to fly
where hope might not sustain without your skill,
determined heart. You witness bullies have their way
as smaller ones lose in the fray, and wonder
at the good you do. You weep for thousands,
pray for each. Brave doctors ferried in with you
attend to wounds as cries beseech. We.
We will send funds to help you fly with mercy
as hard days grind by.

LaVerna B. Johnson
St. George, UT
Utah Haiti Relief

All Things Big and Small

All Things Big and Small

At a certain moment
The sun shone ablaze
From my window
Its brilliance so intense
It lured me to the frame
A small wayward branch
On the naked trunk of my oak
Upstaging the majestic blue spruce
Leaving it in the shade
The few-dwarfed leaves
Appeared gold
Like precious charms
Linked on a small wrist
This unusual setting
As if planned by the gods
A delight in its most
Unobtrusive creation
For the moment
This small branch
Held in its glory
Golden promises
The acknowledgment
Of something greater
Than itself

Maria Manobianco
Farmingdale, NY
Catholic Charities

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Sea Inside

Sea Inside

inspired by the painting Good Neighbors by Laurence L. Schultz

If you painted me into your picture
of the house that reminds me of the sea-
green stucco warm like gulf waters,
purple umbrella roof,
front porch orange as coral,
alien as coral and sponge
and phosphorescent fish darting.
If I climbed the tangerine steps-
three to the porch-
and walked inside,
you would paint me there in tropical hues.

A sea anemone-
my indigo hair, a fan,
my undulating yellow arms,
my rippling red legs.
I expel all air from my lungs
and settle to the sandy bottom,
to the cool deep, to the deep quiet, to the painted dark.
I settle into myself,
becoming small and dense and magnificent-
as still as anything in the sea.

Nicole Borg
Wabasha, MN
American Red Cross

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Small, round words

Small, round words

We have talked this through on frantic city streets
when we were young: After all these years we are still
at a loss to learn the September sky; we go right on failing
to memorize the colors the leaves will turn
in autumn. Or the reasons science soon
might confirm your soul.

I am about to stop writing
about my dead. The poems
are piling up in plain pine boxes;
they're lining unmarked graves
and fluttering like ash above
the redbricked chimney
of the Woodlawn crematorium;
always, I am leaving
small, round words like stones
upon the crypt.

In the moments before our deaths,
we have heard them say,
we might gather strength to make
one last demand
that won't be met.

By then, unmet demands
may come as no surprise.

After all these years we haven't learned
to map the September sky.

After all these years
what we know best of summer
is our own penchant for missing
luminous moments.

Kenneth Salzmann
Woodstock, New York
Partners in Health

post mortem: an ode to agustin "eddy" jeudy

post mortem: an ode to agustin "eddy" jeudy

over pineapples & tea leaves
we spoke of smiles & poetry
& for one moment we all wanted
that old kitchen table to crack open
& give birth to a new lazarus.
one who would speak to us in creole,
show us what lights we couldn’t see
as our toes tap-tapped to the compas.

eagerly we awaited the slightest of sound.

warm fire.
baby’s breath.

but that old piece didn’t budge.
even when we kicked its wooden
legs & prayed in secret for momentum
that damned table sat unmoved
leaving us with only our eyes

John Medeiros
Minneapolis, Minnesota
Doctors Without Borders

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Superior Trail

Superior Trail

Piney paths,
where blueberry dots wink engraved invitations
and birches impersonate chickadees trilling improvisational arias,
pitch perfect.

Jane Levin
Edina, MN
American Jewish World Service

Our Daughter’s Wedding

Our Daughter’s Wedding

A piece of me, us,

married last Saturday.

Like the Pillsbury Dough Boy,

I am puffed up and smiling.

Hundreds of photos

tumbled across my screen.

My weary heart and soul churned

“How lavish, and self-centered!”

Stress sapped and slapped me:

illness, new job, grandson.

I wandered among the throng,

smiling but not connecting.

I tripped on long gown.

Gave little, planned nothing,

Barely washed our hair and clothes.

We’d done our part to be there.

Frustrated waiting,

Why feathers, banners, weeds?

Pride and peace enfolded me

Creative decorations

Priscilla Bence

Martinez, GA
Salvation Army

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Walk in the sunrise

Walk in the sunrise

Walk into the sunrise

In the minds eye I see

A portrait

Of majestic fire

Walk into the sunrise

Before me I see

The sky

Lit ablaze

Walk into the sunrise

In myself I see

A glimmer

Of hope

Walk into the sunrise

For a moment I see

The beauty

Of the world

Walk into the sunrise

In the sun I see

The cosmos

Everything before me

Gene Whipple

N. St. Paul, Minnesota

American Red Cross



That time of the year
Shall not be forgotten
That painful tale
Shall remain forever
The heart-rending aches
The piercing sighs
Shall make the earth shake
And shall make the dead wake
My eyes tell my tale
My heart all the time wails
The scaring pain
Shall be endured
With the face so pale
With eyes so wet
With the mind so disturbed
And with the heart so gloomy!

Ahmed Waheed Sarmed
Sherbrooke (QC) Canada
Canadian Red Cross

Surprised By Grace

Surprised By Grace

Stonehenge and dragonfly:
enduring and ephemeral
dance a spiral

light sparkles on water
goes flat in the interval
between sunshine and moon glow

stillness and shadow rule
loons call
into the void

surprised by grace,
Earth slips on her
axis, then
keeps turning
into the light

Judith Prest
Duanesburg, NY
Doctors Without Borders

We Are All Diminished


As the train pulls out
of Union Square, I see a thin
woman with torn sneakers,
standing in the center
of the car, holding tight
as the train lurches side to side.
She pleads in a loud voice,
"I've got children at home,
need to feed them.
Please help. A quarter,
a dime, a dollar, anything will
help." The only sound
is the rumbling of the train
through the tunnels
and the tinny beat
of music from a teenager's
ear phones. No one speaks;
no one donates;
we look at our feet.
The woman walks
through the car.
I avert my eyes.

Adam D Fisher
Stony Brook, NY
Amer. Jewish World Service

To the Long Buried

To the Long Buried

House heaped upon your head,
body buried under rubble,
tongue swollen, bones bent, skin red,
world narrowed to nightmare bubble.

Body buried under rubble,
what thoughts magnify your dread?
World narrowed to nightmare bubble,
calling last rites for the dead,

what thoughts protect you from dread?
Alive - fifteen days - durable
stalling last rites for the dead.
Beating all odds, formidable,

alive - fifteen days - miracle.
Tongue swollen, bones bent, skin red,
beating all odds, saint's double,
our awe heaps upon your head, instead.

Katerina Fretwell
Parry Sound, Ontario
Doctors without Borders

Monday, February 1, 2010

Rowan Fullmoon Moot

Rowan Fullmoon Moot

Freezing ground
Bright moonlight
Felt alright.
Friends around
In the night

In perfect sound
Perfect Loving
Friends abound.

Edward May
Catholic Agency For Overseas Development
Milton Keynes, England

Island Morning

Island Morning

All morning the surf
breaks on Burnt Head
giving up her secrets.
She throws them on the rocks,
one word at a time:
whispers, cries,
a nursery rhyme,
the sound of a man's voice.

Eggs roll in boiling water.
I watch the clock.
A voice in my head
from childhood speaks,
"only three minutes."
The toast is down.
butter and marmalade
sit on a cream colored plate.
I place the eggs
in a small white bowl,
carry them to the table;
take my knife and break
the egg in two,
turn it yolk side up,
pinch on grains of salt
and pepper, swallow
the history of my mornings.

The cries of an animal
rise from the beach.
Someone must love
it enough to search for it.
Leaves are turning upward,
the sky white with rain,
too cold for a stranger to find me,
too far for a friend to walk
on unknown ground.

Gladys L. Henderson
Nesconset, New York
Mercy Corps.

The Net of Elementals

The Net of Elementals

Two things I know:

the desolation of
impermanence and its
consolation inter

Soul is the constant sound
between desolation and
consolation, an equanimity
that solves nothing but
holds to, holds on to its own

Old words console the soul
with kindness for their own
kind like
sky and
scry and
cry and
why why why

We cannot know until we are
dead and when we are dead we
cannot speak so the rest can hear.

Penn Kemp,
London Ontario, Canada
The Red Cross

Orphanage, Tirana, Albania

Orphanage, Tirana, Albania

A child peers through
a broken, barred window.
Rats tumble like acrobats
as they enter.

Water drips from overhead.
"It was the bombs. Watch out
for the holes in the floor."

They find a room
filled with babies
their own lullabies.

She holds hunger
to her milkless breasts
as cups of soup
glaze over with grease.

Linda Leedy Schneider
Grand Rapids, Michigan
Feed The Children

Friday, January 29, 2010

Blessed Bones

Blessed Bones

Blessed are the bones of the beloved
Though the marrow has seeped away.

Bleached white they lie uncovered
Their remains revealed in riverbed.

No longer bearing cruelties inflicted
Holy relics of cherished days.

Blessed are the dreams of the beloved
Though they never saw the light of day.

Leslie Neustadt
Niskayuna, NY
World Jewish Service

Oh, Haiti!

Oh, Haiti!

Oh, Haiti!
How you suffer
We, too, suffer

Oh, Haiti!
How you grieve
We, too, grieve

Oh, Haiti!
How you plead
We answer you

We your brothers
And sisters
Hear your cries
We are one with you

We send help
We send love

Oh, Haiti!
We hold you dear
In your darkest hour

We your brothers
And sisters
Will not abandon you
We want you whole

Oh, Haiti!
How you will recover
How you will rebuild
How you will rejoice

Ron Cooper
Louisville, KY
American Red Cross

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Grandpa's Violin

Grandpa's Violin

The strings of the old violin that grandpa played
Sets in corner out of the way
His fingers would grace the strings
Making the old violin sing
The dust has covered the strings that once were played
Hoping for master's hands to adore them again one day
The years have long past
Memories of melodies have been cast
The day will come when Angels will arrive
Taking my soul for a heavenly ride
The heavenly gates where all things come true
Will welcome me and you
I will ask the angels at this special time
One front row center seat in the heaven of mine
There I will set on God's heavenly shore
Listening to grandpa play the old violin once more

Steve Capell
Shawnee, KS, USA
American Red Cross & United Methodist Church

Forgetfulness and Frozen Waffles

Forgetfulness and Frozen Waffles

In the morning mirror
eyes still caked with sleep
are chided upon by decaffeinated drawls.

Slaps of cold water are ineffective.
Brush bristles fail to untangle grizzled frizz.
I hear the wind howl and harmonize.

There are children asleep upstairs
who wake and say things I can't imagine.
They hide the truth. Dare me to bite,

Well aware of my handicap
between forgetfulness and frozen waffles.

Robert J Savino
West Islip NY
American Red Cross



Coming home late
the other night,
swans were gathering
in the harbor
under a cowled sky
with the smallest glimmer
of moon showing through.
They floated near the marsh:

little searchlights of life
on such a starless night.

Barbara Southard
Miller Place, New York
Doctors Without Borders

Non-Collige Virgo Rosas

Non-Collige Virgo Rosas
"Gather, Girl, the Roses"

Morning gathers
at the curtains; my girl
with her cheeks like summer roses,
my child with sleepy blue eyes sees
the first bright moment of the day,
and laughs out loud. Now

as the kitten scrambles, just now,
beneath the covers, that laughter gathers
over our heads and the day
light disappears with the kitten and girl,
until my sleepy eyed child sees
the pink and yellow roses

of her blanket and thinks of the roses
in our garden that are just now
beginning to bloom, and wants to see
them (now!) and smell them and gather
them into a very little girl
sized bouquet today.

The blankets fly, her Fri-day
smile bright with promised roses -
this pink cheeked girl,
my blue eyed child. Now,
in her striped dress with gathers
at the waist, her hair braided, see

her jump from the the bed, see-
saw-and-swinging towards a day
in the garden; we gather
up the blanket with the roses
and the kitten, napping now,
and step out into the morning, my girl,

my blue eyed girl and I. She sees
only those flowers, now; but I see our days
filled with all the roses she can gather.

Sandra Erickson
East Barre, Vermont

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

During Yoga

During Yoga

Out of sound a silence creating
space between the joints, posturing
the spine to elongate

while busy thinking sides taken, causes stated
fingers pointed, name-calling-beyond-just-calling,
deep seated hatreds flaring explosions

and myself in yoga centering myself,
seated with the sit bones pressed into the earth
the spine lifted, the heart center, forward

into the atmosphere, acid rain, global warming,
erratic weather patterns, asthmatic population clusters,
earthquakes, PCPs, fish dying, oceans dying,

air dying, people dying, being born, babies entering
standing on one leg, lifting the other, straightening,
bending forward one leg rooted to the ground,

concentrating on the breath, taking the movement into flow,
flowing in movement, moving past the ages, past aging,
past such times as these that call for hope,

compassion rising to its fullest, we are forever one
with as many as ever were - elongating
the spine and neck, raising the arms in prayer.

Karen Neuberg
Brooklyn, NY
American Jewish World Service & Doctors Without Borders



i shall remember forever
that dull rainy morning when
i saw my mother naked

the long swerving curves of her
waist mysteriously familiar;
modern like a steel skyscraper

standing in the dampness of
the garden i struggle to keep my gaze
from sinking into the depths of her shadow

i shall remember forever
the stillness in her eyes;
the stirring stream behind

perhaps the faintest breeze
would have caused her to cover herself
and remain my mother

Michael Ernest Sweet
Montreal, Quebec

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Allen Theater Matinee

Allen Theater Matinee

The plump white-haired woman played
the upright piano, polyester slacks hanging
off the bench, keys tinkling Gershwin while
couples, singles, book club or Red Hat
gals sat down, popcorn and soda in hand.

She played, facing the red velvet curtain,
mindless of her just-taken-out-of-the-box
creases in the back of her white sweater,
head bobbing to the tunes, turning pages
crisply, never looking behind or side to side.

At exactly 4:30 p.m. the owner approached
the stage, waiting for her to finish the tune,
close the book, turn off the light, place it on
the floor, gather her purse, straighten that
shapeless sweater and turn to the audience.

Beaming at the low applause, she slowly thrust
those heavy legs, one in front of the other,
up the carpeted aisle, greeting this one,
that one, patting the locals on the hand,
disappearing into the light, a prom queen.

Kim King
Hershey, PA USA
Doctors without Borders



From the back, I can
scan this room, stacked and layered,
counting the faces and names,
folded and pressed, saved in a notebook for later.

The Pope is not here.

But if he were, he’d probably be sitting in the corner at the upright,
picking out a ballad in a major key, or
slamming out a wild ragtime jam.

Instead of the pope, this little man stands
in the auditorium shell,
elvish, or maybe a fugitive cobbler, one of
Jakob und Wilhelm’s runaways,
tucked carefully
in his jacket of moss and leaves.

He pulls giant pearls—the size of his hand
and gripping a faint pink glow—
from his jacket pocket, rolling
them across the wood and marble, a slow hum.

I stole one.

Rolling down the windows to let in the April night,
I can hear them, calling, calling, as the deer
lope past the interstate, and I plan
to plant that stolen pearl, tonight,
at the lap of the maple overhanging the kitchen.
I plan for the care of the golden outlines,
the open mouths and the eyelids that
I will find in the maple bark
tomorrow morning. And I plan
for a glorious exit.

T.M. Göttl
Brunswick, OH
The Salvation Army

The Blackberry Tree


embraced the ground
under its shawl of leaves and berries.
Its scent was the final
element of its perfection.

The ground, sprinkled with the tree's fruit,
fed ants, worms, busy beetles
and anything that deemed to live
in the leaves' magnificent shadow.

As a child I ventured
under those mighty branches,
a six-year-old brat,
nosy, seeking adventure.

Shielded from the sun, in this backyard
kingdom of smashed berries and broken twigs,
I feared the tree's grained bark
with its disease of carved lines.

Later I would learn
the bark was normal,
the stepped-on berries were not blood.
Later I would learn

the world needed more places
as simple as this shelter
where apprehension canceled itself
and meditation was born.

Austin Alexis
New York, NY
American Red Cross

Foot Race

Foot Race

They know only wind

made fast by their own limbs

striving. One boy

twists his head to gauge

the other’s speed,

neck straining

against the backward pitch

of his shoulders. His shallow chest

lifts, clavicles protruding

over the stretched-out neck

of his tee shirt.

The friend ducks his head,

pumps his peaked elbows.

They suck air and smile.

I’ve driven past

before they reach the finish—dead end

of the side street or a line

dragged in the dirt—so I don’t

see if the smaller one trips

over his worn-out Nikes and is

tearful at his friend for always winning.

Or if the big one is slower, unfamiliar

with the new length of his bones.

They are lost behind the curve

when I look for them

in the side mirror.

They are the last beautiful thing

I’ll see for miles.

Robbie Pock

Bisbee, Arizona, USA

American Red Cross

Tea on the Terrace

I'm taking Tea on the Terrace
after Sue Macartney-Snape
with Kitty, Clarissa and Kate.
I'm tete a tete
below the topiary
in a tinkle of china
through the delicate calm of an English afternoon
poured from the Georgian teapot.

In slender chiffons
under straw hats
they cast disdainful glances at noises off:
they are polite
in front of a visitor
who goes hatless in the heat.

They hold the careful languid pose of old money.
It's green diets keep their figures trim
it's green fingers tend their gray coiffeurs
it's green moods stipple their yellow age
among box hedges regimented
like Daddy's infantry at Omdurman.

A thin slice from the chocolate cake
poses on the Royal Doulton
and the strawberry tart's for show against the green
while our Earl Grey scents the terrace.
Beyond their gates, grass threatens to deaden
their brittle diction.

This I may tell in an afternoon's
tete a tete on their estate
with Kitty, Clarissa and Kate.

Maggie Norton
Red Cross & Oxfam