Winners Announced Here.



Begin with a favorite line from another poem, (or other literature) and “take off” on it in a different way.  



$100. (You must have Paypal if you live outside the United States in order to collect your prize.)






Post your submission in the comments section below. Include your full name and location. Example: John Smith, New York. One poem per poet.



Sunday July 18, midnight EST. (Winners announced July 25.)



Anyone. Any age.



Cynthia Erlandson



“Across the pale parabola of joy” from P.G. Wodehouse’s novel Leave It to Psmith

Across the pale parabola of joy,
Beyond the fountain spouting youthful streams,
Beneath the universal truth of dreams,
Eluding even Everyman’s envoy,
And looping past the point where paradox
Is juxtaposed on marrow meeting bone,
Beyond the tyranny of ticks and tocks,
The Answer lies—or stands, or sits—alone.
There, where the questions quake outside his gates,
The crux of time’s eternity awaits.




CODEC Stories:

92 Responses

  1. Peter Hartley, Manchester UK

    I wandered lonely as a cloud,
    A mushroom cloud of toxic gas.
    I wish I’d died within that shroud,
    As energy equates to mass
    When multiplied then by the square
    Of the velocity of light.
    If you had warned me: please beware!
    I might have saved us from our plight.

    If I’d not set the world alight,
    If only I might have foreseen
    What I might do to put it right,
    A plumber I wish I had been.
    That summer in 19-oh-5
    I wish I’d never been alive.

    • Mike Bryant

      Pure genius, Peter. What would the world be like if he had chosen plumbing? It’s all relative.

    • Peter Hartley

      Cynthia or Mike,

      May I please amend my entry to make it a regular tetrameter? As below? Sorry about this: if it is breaking all the rules please withdraw my entry.
      Many thanks.

      I wandered lonely as a cloud,
      A mushroom cloud of toxic gas.
      I wish I’d died with all that crowd.
      Equating energy to mass
      I multiplied it by the square
      Of the velocity of light.
      If you had warned me: please beware!
      I might have saved us from our plight.
      If I’d not set the world alight,
      If only I might have foreseen
      What I had done and put it right.
      A plumber I wish I had been
      That summer’s end, 1905,
      I wish I’d never been alive.

  2. Peter Hartley

    Thank you Mike. I would probably hold a Desmond in flux-brush analysis and a DPhil in the utilisation and functional propensities of the servo-assisted left-handed pipe wrench by now.

    • Mike Bryant

      A salesman told me that a servo-assisted left-handed pipe wrench would do half my work for me, so I ordered two! Maybe if I got a flux brush capacitor I could slip the bonds of time.

  3. Susan Jarvis Bryant, Texas

    “If I should die, think only this of me” from Rupert Brooke’s poem,
    ‘The Soldier’

    If I should die, think only this of me:
    Her words ignited skies that cradled stars
    In ebon swathes of midnight’s symphony.
    They melted opal moons and marched with Mars
    Through thunderclouds, then bid the dark adieu.
    They trilled their treetop buzz in daybreak’s flares.
    They praised then bruised in brazen shades of blue.
    They blazed with tangerine and lemon airs –
    The zest that caught the senses unawares.

    She gazed in glee and gasped in giddy awe
    At odes of bards of old casting their spell.
    A burning tyger and a raven’s caw
    Illumed the DNA of every cell.
    She had a yen no clock could ever quell.
    She craved to conjure mariners at sea,
    Those lesser travelled roads and trips through hell;
    And now Death’s stopped to keep her company,
    Her words are flirting with eternity.

    • James A. Tweedie

      Marvelously conceived, lyrically beautiful, and, as I would expect, copiously clever. A gourmet entree seasoned with the herbs and spices of enough literary references to pose a threat to Bartlett.

      I shall assume, of course, that flights of angels sang her to her rest.

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        James, thank you so very much. You have made my morning with your wonderful and marvelous poetic comment. I’m all for those flights of melodious angels – how lovely.

        As for your entry – what an atmospheric delight… and the sharp shock of the ending… I’m off to get a tissue. Great stuff!

    • Julian D. Woodruff

      What humbling virtuosity, added to the readiness of your literary references. But most of all, this poem speaks of sheer joy in words and their power of expresssion. “She” will be holding tournaments with Dante, Dickenson, Rupert et reliqua.

  4. Lucia Haase

    “There sandy seems the golden sky”…from Robert Frost’s
    poem “A Cliff Dwelling.”

    There sandy seems the golden sky
    where seas of winded bluebells flow.
    The forest lends a winded sigh
    as peace of misty morn drops low

    into the shadows of the wood
    before the rising of the sun
    that warms my vessel for the good
    that God prepares this day begun.

  5. David Watt

    David Watt, Canberra, Australia

    My mistress’ eyes are nothing like the sun.
    I had too much to drink. What have I done?
    If I were to compare her to a fairy,
    I’d say her underarms were twice as hairy;
    And lips she has, but not the kissing kind:
    Last night, somehow, I didn’t seem to mind.
    I’ve gladly greeted many newborn days,
    But now, I curse the sight such light displays.

    Though, who am I to judge on looks alone?
    She has a car, a flat, and fancy phone;
    And I am clearly not a Romeo.
    What’s that she says? “Relax a while. Don’t go!”
    “I wouldn’t dream of leaving! We’ve just met.”
    This girl of means may grow upon me yet.

    • Susan Jarvis Bryant

      Utterly hilarious, David. Sonnet 130 is one of my favourite Shakespearean sonnets. You may well have surpassed the bard with your quirky version. Bravo!

  6. James A. Tweedie

    “I did not care what it was all about.”
    Ernest Hemingway, The Sun Also Rises


    I did not care what it was all about.
    Two men like others I have seen in smoke-filled bars
    Were loudly cursing one another out,
    Surrounded by the stench of whiskey, sweat, and cheap cigars.

    A push, a shove, then angry punches thrown
    As each man bobbed and weaved and did his level best
    To knock or throw his adversary down,
    The larger man held the advantage, as one might have guessed.

    The smaller man was beaten, bruised and bleeding
    When from behind he pulled a large concealed knife.
    The other man threw up his hands while pleading
    To stop the fight, and hoping for a way to save his life.

    I did not care what it was all about
    Until I turned indifferent eyes upon the one
    Who held the knife. I heard the barkeep shout—
    And shoot—and realized the man who fell had been my son.

    • James A. Tweedie

      Please note that “Tombstone” is the title of the poem–not where I live–which is in Long Beach, Washington!

      • Susan Jarvis Bryant

        I’m glad you cleared that one up, James – I was just going to send my flight of angels your way. 😉

  7. Norma Okun

    When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d
    Returning year after year
    All was over with a bullet that took away
    The President
    Who gave so much to the United States?
    Who made the slave to flee the horrors of slavery?
    Who could have changed the way it was by making?
    The rich plantation owners
    Pay them, let them keep their jobs,
    Just pay and share the profits.
    Instead, they opted to fight in a Civil War
    That burned, destroyed them
    Southern lifestyle
    Gone with the wind were the ashes
    That burned the southern states
    As lilacs last in the dooryard bloomed
    Year after year.

    • Norma Okun

      Forgot to put where I am from California
      Lines from Walt Whitman When lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d

  8. Sasha A. Palmer

    “The words were summer on the tongue” from Ray Bradbury’s ‘Dandelion Wine’

    The words were summer on the tongue.
    The winter-dazzled city lay
    prostrate before us,
    all was young,
    in perfect
    the angels’ chorus
    echoed the strummer
    with downward—upward
    sweep of sound…when words were found.

  9. Gail

    These were all so enjoyable. I’m convinced the greatest art is produced under some constraint–such as, the parameters given for this contest.

  10. Toshiji Kawagoe, Hokkaido, Japan

    “The Holy Scriptures I”
    from George Herbert’s “The Temple”

    Oh Book! infinite sweetness! let my heart
    rejoice whenever I am lost in grief
    or intimate relation falls apart
    like castle of cards or a deadly leaf.

    Oh blessed elixir of eternal youth,
    my panacea bequeathed from the past,
    with each turn of a page I find in truth
    that my old wounds unhealed be soothed at last.

    The smell of a well-thumbed small book calls back
    the night I was long sleepless in my childhood
    for cruel nightmare, by a pile of firewood
    my grandma told tales from this leatherback.

    Its inks and pages have faded in color,
    old story still redeems me from my dolor.

  11. Roy E. Peterson

    I was the shadow of the waxwing slain / By the false azure in the windowpane… —Vladimir Nabokov, Pale Fire (1962)

    By Roy E. Peterson

    I was the shadow of the waxwing slain
    By the false azure in the windowpane.
    I was the sheep that forgot how to bleat
    When the wolf approached in the snow and sleet.
    I was the owl that should have given hoots.
    I was the hunter found without his boots.
    Long ago I heard one’s silence was golden.
    They didn’t say that makes me beholden.
    I was playing games others played for keeps
    Taking us to hell while our country sleeps.
    I felt I could take anything they gave.
    I could have been the lifeline that would save.
    I could have kept the blind men from the fall;
    My voice was stilled and silent through it all.

  12. Conor Kelly

    Conor Kelly, West Clare, Ireland


    Turning and turning in the widening gyre
    The roller-coaster goes higher and higher.
    Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold,
    Since Playboy ditched its naked centrefold.
    The ceremony of innocence is drowned,
    Yeats has taken lessons from Ezra Pound.
    The darkness drops again but now I know
    The electricity was bound to go.
    And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
    Is now the media’s iconoclast.

  13. Xara Ashman

    “In my stiff, brocaded gown. With my powdered hair and jewelled fan,” – Amy Lowell’s “Patterns”

    In my stiff, brocaded gown
    With my powdered hair and jeweled fan,
    To sit all day
    Close to fainting
    Posing away
    For a painting.
    In finery
    I am arrayed
    To be vividly
    And best displayed
    In brightest hues
    And perfect strokes.
    I am a muse
    Who moves and evokes.
    A beauteous object.
    A painting’s subject.

  14. Hayden Oh, Colorado

    “Time present and time past”
    T.S. Eliot, Burnt Norton

    Intergalactically Impossible

    Time present and time past,
    I loved him,
    With every bare fragment,
    Of my blackened soul,
    Lingering beneath a false facade,
    Visually perfect,
    Astronomically doomed,
    That is him and I,
    Imperfection swallows me whole,
    Brushing him aside,
    Until our stars never align,
    Counting flaws like constellations.
    Time caresses my tear-stained cheeks,
    In this endless wait of our
    Intergalactic impossibility.

  15. Jeff Eardley

    Jeff Eardley, Leek, England

    If you can keep your head,
    When all about are losing theirs,
    You could start a revolution,
    Like that rascal Robespierre.
    I’m sure we’re due another one,
    We’ve waited quite a while.
    “Egality,” “Fraternity”
    Are words to make you smile.
    You’d saunter round the Louvre,
    In a fancy velvet cloak.
    The hero of the working class,
    Those peasant, country folk.
    Then climb up on your soapbox,
    At the Place de la Concorde.
    Preaching hate and venom,
    To the manic Paris hoardes.
    Then abseil down the Eiffel Tower,
    With camera crews in tow,
    To post yourself on Instagram,
    So everybody knows.
    A national celebrity,
    You’re having lots of fun.
    Your father’s words come back to you,
    “You’ll be a man my son.”
    But if you get the message wrong,
    You’ll know what “danger” means.
    When you’re keeping your appointment there
    With Madame Guillotine.
    You cry out for atonement,
    For the words you might have said.
    As the shining steel descends,
    To part your body from your head.

  16. Mike Bryant

    As the moderator, I can’t enter this interesting contest, but I’ll throw a poem into the ring anyway. I’m using the first line of ‘The Road Not Taken’ by Robert Frost. I’ve also stolen some of his rhymes.

    The Lane Not Walked

    Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
    Or was it green or maybe both.
    I was alone, or not… I stood,
    Or sat, and wondered if I could
    Machete all the undergrowth;

    I turned around, it wasn’t fair
    That I’d been sent here, it’s insane,
    Because I was chill with naught to wear;
    I’d rather have been almost anywhere…
    No road, it was really more a lane.

    I shan’t be walking, that’s not a lie.
    Somewhere two or three years hence:
    Or now when lanes diverge, yes I—
    I’ll take them both, or travel by,
    My car has made all the difference.

    • Jeff Eardley

      Mike, this is brilliant. I hope your car is battery-powered and fitted with the latest flux brush capacitor.

      • Mike Bryant

        Thanks, but no, Jeff, no self respecting Texan is gonna be toolin’ around in a woke mobile. I am a pure petrol head. No battery powered vehicle can survive the demands of air conditioning a vehicle. However, I am with you on the flux brush capacitor. I’ll order one from Peter Hartley.

  17. Mia Panayi

    Mia Panayi, UK

    Elizabeth Barrett Browning
    How Do I Love Thee

    How do I love thee? Let me count the ways
    I love your hands, your voice, your grace,
    I love the way you glide,
    Sprinkling stardust in your stride.
    I love your zest for life, your charm ,
    I love thee just as the earth and sky and seas,
    Long for the sun throughout winter’s icy path;
    In frozen wastelands I long for your embrace.
    I love thee with a love that binds me to you
    Through the misty veils of time and sorrow
    Vivid memories dance and bring you to me,
    Casting a glow that makes your soul
    The blazing hearth of my eternal home.

    • Mia Panayi

      I post without waiting long enough for it to sort of ‘marinade’
      just a couple of changes. Another great exercise/ challenge
      thank you . Hopefully this is an improvement..

      How do I love thee? Let me count the ways
      I love your hands, your voice, your grace.
      I love the way you glide,
      Sprinkling stardust in your stride.
      I love your zest for life, your charm,
      I love thee just as the sea and sky and land
      Long for the sun throughout winter’s icy haze,
      In frozen wasteland I long for your embrace.
      I love thee with a love that binds me to you
      Through the misty veils of time and sorrow
      Vivid memories dance and bring you to me,
      Casting a glow that makes your soul
      The blazing hearth of my eternal home.

  18. D.G. Rowe

    D.G. Rowe, Buckinghamshire.

    “From the depth of the dreamy decline of the dawn through
    a notable nimbus of nebulous noonshine”
    Algernon Charles Swinburne, Nephelidia.

    From the depth of the dreamy decline of the dawn
    through a notable nimbus of nebulous noonshine,
    The singer asleep surrenders his soul to the merry
    muse that makes him mad.
    When the bottle of brandy bursts his brain, with lashing words
    loquacious and lippy, deliver licentious lines;
    The group all gathered at Houghton’s house guffaw and gag at
    what is heard and had,
    That even Burton’s big brass balls squeal and squeak in shame.

  19. Raymond Gallucci


    “In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
    A stately pleasure-dome decree:
    Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
    Through caverns measureless to man
    Down to a sunless sea.”

    And in this Subterrania
    Lived Morlocks with a mania
    For breeding Eloi innocent
    As source of Morlock nourishment.

    But then The Traveler through Time
    Arrived and made that downward climb
    To show the Eloi they need not
    End up in Morlocks’ stewing pot.

    And in this future chose to dwell,
    Believing here he might excel
    By teaching Eloi of the past,
    Forgotten since the global blast.

    • Paul Freeman

      Hilarious. I’m a great fan of H.G. Wells – and Rod Taylor would have loved this.

      A fun fact. Years ago I spotted similarities between H. G. Wells’s ‘The Sleeper Awakes’ and Woody Allen’s ‘Sleeper’. Finally I contacted the H. G. Wells Society and (drum roll) ‘Sleeper’ IS based on the H. G. Wells novel.


      Forgot to add location – Frederick, MD, USA.

  20. Tan Pratonix, Enola, PA

    Whose woods these are? Oh, do not mind;
    His house is what I left behind.
    He will not see me stopping here
    Watching his woods fill up with sheer
    Rain and ice and snow and sleet
    (I’m longing for a bit of heat) .
    My little horse is sad and sullen;
    I urge him on, but no, he ‘wooden’
    Move an inch, but shakes his head,
    He means, ‘I hate these woods; wish I were dead! ‘

    But I cannot be stranded here
    In these horrid woods, all dark and queer.
    The blizzard hits with icy rain
    (Both horse and I endure the pain);
    Fully soaked, I feel the chill;
    Pneumonia’s something no one will
    Contemplate on an evening trip
    (I know I sound like One Big Drip)
    Made through woods with spindly trees
    (I think I am going to freeze!)

    I wish I had remained at home
    (I feel the chill enter my bones)
    And did some cooking on my stove,
    But poets love to drift and rove
    Through haunted woods with eerie trees
    (And here I give out One Big Sneeze!)
    My horse is drowned in snow and sleet,
    And I am dying on my seat!

    (The Frosty poet succumbed in ice.)
    I think this poem will suffice
    To warn us against journeys in snow,
    Which conclude in hypothermic woe.

  21. Joseph Mason

    I think that I shall never see ..
    Along this road I roam ..
    A barren Wasteland tragedy ..
    That masquerades as poem ..
    Nor Cancel Culture comedies ..
    Where Sheeple Howl with glee ..
    And graze in wanton gluttony ..
    On Grass – or faux pourri ..
    No Wayfarer shall tread upon ..
    The road from tyranny ..
    This mystic mix of dusk and dawn ..
    In the land of poetrees ..
    Winds past a lake where daffodils ..
    Sway gently – whilst the breeze ..
    Nudge lonely clouds that wander still ..
    O’er a kingdom by the sea ..
    ‘Twas many and many a year ago ..
    Hearts ached for Annabel Lee ..
    And miles to go – and miles to go ..
    To meet serendipity ..
    Through snowy woods on a winter’s eve ..
    Looms a furrowed path forsaken ..
    Do follow it – should you believe ..
    In the hallowed road not taken ..
    Around the bend a carriage rests ..
    Abandoned in the night ..
    As death seeks out another guest ..
    For hope has taken flight ..
    Cry not – her fruitless search for love ..
    And immortality ..
    A lofty perch awaits above ..
    In perpetuity ..
    The pantheon of bards hoards dreams ..
    Envisioned by one’s muse ..
    The Belle of Amherst reigns supreme ..
    Ensconced in somber hues.

  22. Isabel

    “I fell in love with melancholy” from Edgar Allan Poe’s poem Introduction

    I fell in love with melancholy
    In its songs I found
    The darkened light of youthful folly
    Which raised us from the ground

    To feel a cracked and broken sigh,
    To sing a funeral song,
    To gaze upon a darkened sky,
    And know it won’t be long

    We’re held together by shattered glass,
    The glue, a soft and lumping mass,
    We’ll walk this dark and blue-ish pass,
    Until it narrows in

    Each heart belongs to swollen earth,
    We may stare at the sky with mirth,
    But She does lead our new rebirth,
    We’re learning how to sin

    As children taught to do no wrong,
    We’ve fallen down from grace,
    We drag our innocence along,
    We won’t pick up our pace

    If only they could see us now,
    So many years since our last bow,
    For if they chose to break their vow,
    What good is ours alone

    What good is it to be a child,
    If wise old age is only mild,
    We spend our time destroying wild,
    Reduced to flesh and bone

    I want to be a girl again,
    So that I can be wrong,
    Back before we all were men,
    And knew the word belong

    But down the dusty road we walk,
    We’ve lost our daily need to talk,
    Our hands are of a ticking clock,
    Our life is far too long.

    • Isabel Pérez, Boston MA

      this is my full name and location, sorry about that!

  23. Eric hyers

    “Some sign, o divine will; and every obedience is assured nearly before your” a deleted line by Arthur Rimbaud, trans by Wyatt Mason

    Some sign, o divine will; and every obedience is assured before your thought becomes action. Signal the beginning, and the effort will set a flawless overture to life; breathing, aching, swooning; dragging to the surface the grace of soul, the invaluable worth of developing an intellect into a dedication, tenaciously testing elements long lost to abuse and neglect—with one sign, no longer lost! No longer will the naive love the darkness, thrive on its excess! Long for the caress of lust! No longer compressed! A single sign could set off the endeavor infinitely repressed!!

  24. Brian Yapko -- Santa Fe, NM

    (After Chaucer’s Prologue and other poems)

    When that April with his showers sweet
    Made mud fields out of every field and street
    And caked with blackest moss each flower pot
    As made our hero grumble “Out, damn spot!”
    So did the West Wind make our hero leery
    That date night might become a midnight dreary.
    Wont to argue, would his date dispute
    Of man’s first disobedience? – And the fruit
    He bought to woo and win her went to rot
    (Cheap-purchased off some lady from Shalott.)
    Our hero met his date. Alas! Dismay!
    For she was more rough wind than buds of May!
    Although she walked in beauty like the night
    She had a scolding tongue – a waspish fright!
    Lilacs in the yard withheld their bloom
    When she complained – the very voice of doom!
    They walked till evening spread against the sky
    But strayed. She mocked him with a glittering eye.
    Foul-mouthed in the frith, her anger grew.
    Whose woods these were he truly thought he knew
    But he was wrong. Well, better to be lost
    Than loved, he thought. This date packed too much cost!
    They argued underneath a poison tree.
    Two roads diverged. The best was not to be.
    There was no help and so they kissed and parted.
    Free! Our hero was not broken-hearted.
    The vales rejoiced! No albatross in sight,
    He ambled gentle into that good night.

    • Julian D. Woodruff

      I love it, Brian, even though I’m sure I’ve missed a few of your allusions (as also in Susan’s). The placement of the Thomas reference at the end somehow reminds me of the last line of Dehmel’s Verklaerte Nacht, “Zwei Menschen gehn Dutch hohe, helle Nacht.”
      There’s a parallel in music, you may know, to what you and Susan have done; the most famous example is the final of Bach’s Goldberg Variations.

      • Julian D. Woodruff

        Oops! I forgot to rein in in the spell checker. “… durch hohe, helle Nacht” (sorry, no Dutch treat).

  25. Paul Freeman

    Paul Freeman – Abu Dhabi

    Based on ‘Daffodils’ (Apologies to William Wordsworth)

    I wandered lonely as a cloud
    of flatulence whose pungence spills
    into the world, announced aloud,
    and finds a space its essence fills –
    like elevators, locker rooms,
    or closets for the mops and brooms.

    So in my home, each room I try
    (if cabbage or baked beans I’ve scoffed)
    to ape that overpowering sigh;
    and once my dorsal portal’s coughed,
    Life’s pressures ebb and I’m relieved,
    though wife and kids are greatly peeved.

  26. Julian D. Woodruff

    COVID and Travel,
    From Shakespeare’s play Richard III, I, i

    ‘Now is the winter of our discontent’
    Stretched out through spring, to summer, likely fall.
    In masks and social distancing we’ve spent
    Over a year, and now we’re facing, all,
    Arm twisting at its finest to get tested
    And vaccinated not just once, or twice,
    But more. Refuse, and we may be arrested,
    Or fined, or both; all that may not suffice.
    For instance, travel has for months been hard.
    You want to board a plane or cross a border,
    It’s “Oh, but you don’t have a vaccine card.”
    Patience and options, too, are growing shorter.
    The train?—nix! Next, they’ll take your car by force.
    Then might you beg, “My freedom for a horse!”

  27. Georgia Slavec

    Georgia Slavec, Minnesota

    From “Hope is the thing with feathers” by Emily Dickinson


    Hope is the thing with feathers,
    so what could have stricken that sea?
    raining down jeweled constellations,
    what symbol could come of such grief?

    That same sun will see us someday,
    out of this place;
    I’ll send, in flight, my pain
    to its destiny’s martyrdom tame—
    my hubris of man,
    by its synagogue, slain—

    Though in waiting forever,
    I’ve grown used to the weather
    of my underground labyrinth confine—
    anew lightning of day striking heat to my may
    melts those feathered hopes wary of change;

    But too late I’ll realize that to what I’ve been prey,
    of some sick and elusively maze-like a game—
    it was me all along, the bull charging my trail;
    I’m the Taurus ensuring destruction prevails.

  28. S.A.Todd

    S.A.Todd, UK

    Opening line from the immortal classic ‘Humpy Dumpty’ (traditional), progressing into a piece I call ‘Spent Shells’…

    Humpty Dumpty sat on the wall
    Humpty Dumpty, sick of it all.
    His death-leap was marvellous –
    all the King’s men
    (despite the poor landing)
    still scored him a ’10’.

    • James A. Tweedie


      The original poem may be immortal but poor Humpty clearly was not. I doubt that this short prequel to “Spent Shells” will last much longer than did Mr. Dumpty, but if nothing else, it succeeded in making me laugh–which is, of course, not nothing to laugh at. I look forward to reading what comes after. Please post more and again.

  29. Sally Cook, New York

    From: I Have A Little Shadow by Robert Louis Stevenson
    My I-Pad

    I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me.
    It’s very like my laptop, and as far as I can see
    I didn’t need another, but the salesman said you might
    Keep one within your car, the other tucked in bed at night.

    Suppose your neighbor’s pipes break one sub-zero night, he can
    Awaken you at three AM to borrow a big pan
    To catch the burst. And if a plane has just gone down in Spain
    You’ll want to be the first to know; not be left out again.

    He made sense. Driving, I amuse myself with little games.
    When on a date, it’s easy to be tweeting other dames.
    What fun to multi-task, send smutty pictures, anything!
    If I don’t like what someone says, I speed dial, let it ring,

    Then leave a call back message, tell the first I have to go
    Accept an urgent message, and nobody has to know
    I set it up, How smart I am! I never am alone
    When on my bed or in my car, I have my little phone. .

  30. Frank V. Boyer, Stone Ridge, NY

    I’ll Shut My Eyes

    Villanelle on a line by Sylvia Plath

    “I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.”
    I read those words when I was young– and brave.
    It was a line that echoed in my head.

    I rushed beyond mere words that I had read,
    and lived my days for spending. Who can save?
    Or find another way to live, instead?

    Age whispers now, “Regret that life you’ve led,
    recall the times you’ve watched commitments cave
    and choked on promises you left unsaid.”

    Like Plath, I waltz this dirge inside my head
    and feel the heavy traction of the grave.
    Is someone done for, Sylvie, as you said?

    Who whispers close? “Oh, that is only death.
    in my blank ballroom [direst dancers…..] baton waves
    to summon us to measures we will tread.

    I’ll shut my eyes! I’ll feel my way ahead–
    along this passage where my one life leads.
    I will see out this poem to its end–
    rewrite these lines that echo in my head.

  31. Frank Boyer, Stone Ridge, NY

    The other version of this poem was an incomplete draft! I’m sorry that I posted it by mistake!

    What follows is the draft that should have been posted. Again, I apologize to all for the error.


    I Shut My Eyes

    Villanelle on a line by Sylvia Plath

    “I shut my eyes and all the world drops dead.”
    I read those words when I was young– and brave.
    It was a line that echoed in my head.

    Rushing beyond mere words that I had read,
    I lived my days for spending. Who can save?
    Or find another way to live, instead?

    Age whispers now, “Regret that life you’ve led,
    recall the times you’ve watched commitments cave
    and choked on promises you left unsaid.”

    Like Plath, I hear a dirge inside my head
    and feel the heavy traction of the grave.
    Is someone done for, Sylvie, as you said?

    Who whispers close? “Oh, that is only Death.
    I knew his cold caress along my nape.
    I trod, my love, a measure that he led.”

    I shake her voice out of my aching head.
    I will not dance that way down to the grave.
    I will write out my poem to its end.
    I shut my eyes. I feel my way ahead.

  32. Phil S. Rogers

    Phil S Rogers, Texas

    First line from Christabel, by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

    ‘Tis the middle of night by the castle clock,
    and fitful dreams, sleep doth unlock.
    Gothic dreams that meander throughout the mind,
    and pleasant visions there to find.

    ‘Tis the middle of night by the castle clock,
    blackness pervades and spirits knock.
    Ethereal shadows, forgotten bowers,
    oft return in the darkest hours.

    ‘Tis the middle of night by the castle clock
    vivid demons, like humans walk.
    Likewise tutelary gods, and spirits kind,
    melange of shadows in the mind.

    ‘Tis the middle of night by the castle clock,
    thoughts good and bad together flock.
    A reliquary of sundry thoughts to deem,
    all jumbled in one livid dream.

    ‘Tis the middle of night by the castle clock,
    seraphic spirits slowly stock,
    those accursed shadows in our mind entombed,
    ensure that they can be exhumed.

    ‘Tis the middle of night by the castle clock,
    bad thoughts, good spirits now do block.
    Ephemeral souls sing paeans in the night,
    gone from our minds by morning light.

  33. Soonest Nathaniel, Lagos, Nigeria

    “We were fishermen”
    from Chigozie Obioma’s novel The Fishermen

    We were fishermen:
    we went off to the river
    after the roosters had woken the world to consciousness;
    had we falcons harkened to the voice of the falconer
    turning in the widening gyre,
    then we would not have been here.

    But what had we to fear?
    We knew the river from its cradle,
    we loved the river calm and gentle,
    we cherished her offerings large and little.

    What had we to fear?
    we were heroes,
    catchers of big dreams,
    the unstoppable fishermen.

    But that was until yesterday,
    before they uprooted the sacred tree
    at the centre of the river path
    before the market was set on fire & things fell apart.

    we harvested the corpse of a woman,
    her breasts & eyes were missing;
    the limbs of history were dismembered.

    Now the court is seated
    beneath the oak tree at the market square,
    the witnesses have been asked to come forward,
    on the lips of the adulterous pastor’s wife
    lingers a well known ditty;
    there are fishes that should never be caught.

    The lunatic has been given a revelation;
    a prophecy sits at the tip of his tongue;
    the widow is one foot away –
    from bearing false-witness
    & these fishermen are an invocation away
    from becoming baits for the biggest catch of their lives.

  34. RobinLynn

    Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there, wondering, fearing, doubting, dreaming dreams no mortal ever dared to dream before.” .. This burden I have carried all through my life , feeling of loneliness with no end insight . Making my way through life everyday fighting a fight that seems to never go away. Why was it me I ask myself? Why do I have to keep loosing myself? I did not ask for this burden from you. You forced it upon me and ripped my heart in two. Two hearts I have one full of love that can never be let out because your your hate you scared it away. The other heart is cold and full of fear that’s the heart I have learned to keep very dear. When will this burden set my heart free ?Will anyone take this burden from me?

  35. Xavier Pimentel

    “As I Walked Out One Evening“ by WH Auden

    The Last Walk

    As I walked out one evening,
    On my two tired feet,
    I couldn’t help but notice,
    The people in the street.
    I know that I was crying,
    In the dark evening red.
    All the Earth was dying,
    Inside my weary head.

    Strangers who did not wonder,
    At this obvious sign,
    Walked on like they were blinded;
    Walked on like I was fine.
    I know that I was dying,
    In the dark evening sun.
    All the Earth was crying,
    And my time sadly done.

    Strangers who did not wonder,
    At my tear-stained face,
    Walked on like I was nothing;
    Like I was a disgrace.
    As I walked out one evening,
    To see the end of light,
    I couldn’t help but notice,
    The people in the night.

    The dark was now upon me.
    The sun was now asleep.
    I found myself in my home,
    Where I could hide and weep.
    I know that I had been crying,
    On that fateful day.
    All the world was dying,
    As I had flown away.

    • Xavier Pimentel

      Forgot to leave my location! I’m from Texas.

  36. Tod Benjamin, Bournemouth, U.K.

    A Homage to Poetry… from Leisure by W.H. Davies to John Donne via…..?

    What is this life if, full of care,
    We have no time to sit and pore?
    No time to read our favoured piece,
    Grow faint with joy at thoughts
    So exquisitely rendered into verse?

    What is a poem? Well may you ask!
    Whate’er its mystic root, each grows
    In unique form the reader’s soul
    To illumine. Its warmth to cause
    Flutter in hearts believed frozen.

    Inspired musicians pen angelic chords
    To accompany agonized lines of bards.
    If music be the food of love, play on –
    But sing! For true words make up love’s essence.

    Poems lie hid in unexpected places
    In crafted phrases to spring from dull pages
    To surprise the casual eye. So ask not
    For whom it was placed there – it was placed for thee.

  37. Rajagopal Kaimal

    The Farmer

    The woods are lovely, dark and deep.
    But then he has a big harvest to reap.
    Being distracted will really spoil it all.
    And one needs to ever hear Duty’s call.

    If the chap goes gallivanting around,
    His wife will have him verbally bound!
    And he may be really denied his dinner.
    May often be called a very bad sinner!

  38. J. Starkey O'Fallon, Missouri 63366

    Pied Died

    I hate all things that spring up after rain,
    Like spring, spring fever, and each spring song sung,
    Nor praise I one small fallen finch’s pain,
    Nor glory I in dappled dried cow dung;
    I loathe all things yet counter, things all strange,
    All things original, and things all spare,
    From some pained plow horse dying from the mange
    To germ warfare to every good lord’s prayer;
    Hooked rainbow trout for dinner I protest,
    Malignant moles and freckles still despise,
    The fatal chestnut allergen detest,
    And sprung sprung rhythms smoothly satirize;
    While who knows how to best end writer’s block
    But any god whose beauty dead things mock?

  39. Janett Lee Wawrzyniak

    Janett Wawrzyniak, Florida
    July 2, 2021

    “How Do I Love Thee,” by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

    Love and joy always ascending is realized,
    Source frequency is recognized.
    To higher Light Source,
    For every age ascension frequency draws,
    Setting your coding’s course.
    Into the highest frequencies, love rises in unity
    With Source Light through eternity.
    The silent advance is in new levels of ascension.
    Those striving in silent details feel and sense.
    Invisible communities assisted by individuals in balance,
    Continue onward in the physical.
    From the Universe vibrating at higher frequencies,
    Divine Eternal Light through guidance,
    Brings Freedom, from lower densities.

  40. David Whippman

    David Whippman, UK

    From “If” by Rudyard Kipling

    If you can keep your head when all about you
    are taken with some passing PC cause;
    if you can let bandwagons leave without you,
    and stay quite still, and speak the truth that’s yours…

    and won’t keep silent when the mob’s demanding
    that you don’t talk about the wrongs you see;
    if you can be concerned and understanding
    yet never grovel on your bended knee…

    if you oppose some trendy leftist fashion,
    and yearn for peace, yet are prepared to fight;
    if you believe with logic, yet with passion,
    then stand your ground, for you are in the right.

  41. Diane Puterbaugh

    Diane Puterbaugh, Jackson, TN

    Bernadette Mayer’s “Grey”

    I see nothing
    But the usual locusts and maples
    At the tree convention down the street
    The sugar maple says
    “Let’s not throw our coins in the fountain, let’s plant them in
    the reeds by the river bank.”
    The silver birch adds
    “I do not want to be a money tree, but a forest of promises.”
    The pin oak concurs
    “All in favor, raise your branches.”

  42. Rayne Affonso

    Rayne Affonso – Trinidad and Tobago

    Based on W.H. Auden’s poem, “Musée des Beaux Arts”

    About suffering they were never wrong,
    those pesky, brilliant minds,
    for not a guest walks past my hutch
    without remarking on the shine.

    There I flaunt my greatest losses –
    a callous display of my grief –
    then my companions stay for dinner,
    and drink my wine in disbelief.

    I own a Persian rug, a Fabergé,
    a Goya sent from Spain,
    yet still, the thing to catch their eye
    is my polished wall of pain.

    The last man that I took to bed
    could not bear to stay the night,
    said the glare woke him from slumber
    when my greed caught the moonlight.

    He asked me how I stand it,
    if I ever suffocate of shame –
    bless his heart! – that one frivolity
    I can’t afford to maintain.

    For my failures do not plague me,
    and they make for such unique décor.
    They are my greatest luxury –
    I will, no doubt, own more

  43. Nwuguru Chidiebere Sullivan

    “Always, Booking for A Beauty Is A Call for A Wondrous War”

    “I’m thinking of beauty again, how somethings are hunted because we’ve deemed them beautiful”
    — Ocean Vuong in his novel – “On Earth We are Briefly Gorgeous”

    I’m thinking of beauty again, of how somethings are hunted because we’ve deemed beautiful,
    & I’m here for the boneless creatures.
    I’m here for the doll conquered by flowers

    & I hope you see it. I hope you see me
    aiming for the higher places where glitters

    are milked by the shadows of the blades 
    pulling wonders through my tongue. You can

    see my borrowed hands knifing goals, flipping 
    pages. You can see my eyes casting stars,

    gathering night skies in them. You know all these.
    You know how I trapped a pupa in my palms

    just to show how much I can hold innocence 
    so dear. I held my breath, silenced my slope.

    I did these for loyalty because I believed that
    the cost of vanishing into light is a step to 

    conquering gloom & that the grace of blooms is the 
    truest resemblance of godliness, but it’s clear now 

    that beauty does not guarantee safety— it gifts
    us as preys to be hunted. I’m falling into

    this charm & life is busy kicking me out like a
    burnt tongue exiting a love song. Entering into it

    will be perfect but I never knew that the same song 
    can be an asylum & also a jail— a two-faced coin.

    I tossed it & I swear it’s flipping me 
    to the wrong side.

  44. Emilio Iasiello

    “The sea is calm tonight” from Matthew Arnold’s poem “Dover Beach”
    The sea is calm tonight.
    The tide ripples an aquatic lullaby. On deck
    Jimmy cries a baby’s tears. I tell him one light
    envelope gets you a broken arm. Two, your neck.
    Three, a trip on the ocean with your feet
    set firmly in a bucket of cement.
    “Jimmy,” I say, dropping anchor. “You didn’t meet
    your obligations.” He sobs worried about his ultimate descent
    to the sandy floor where so many bottom feeders eat.
    I stand him up. Not a tall man, Jimmy’s a slave
    to his passions, chained to his gambling vice.
    The horses are a bitch, I tell him. “Man up and be brave.”
    He pisses himself silly when he sees the ice-
    cold water. “Give me another shot,”
    he says. “I’ll get you the money. I swear to God.”
    I smile, a consolation to his dire predicament.
    “Think of it this way, Jimmy. I could have sawed
    you into pieces. Now your intact, a testament
    to my goodwill.” And with that I push him overboard.

    Ah, Jimmy, we must be true to ourselves!
    Whether we bet or collect
    the world spins the same for each of us. We delve
    into our souls for introspection. We can’t deflect
    what we know to be certain. And as sure as the sun
    sets at night, there is no respite for the weary,
    for people like us who know nothing of fun
    always searching for meaning in the theory
    of the long shot, cursed to be
    trapped in a race that only horses know how to run.

  45. Isabelle Wann

    Isabelle Wann, Central Coast of NSW
    “Take me on a trip” from Bob Dylan’s “Tambourine man”

    Take me on a trip, upon you magic swirling ship,
    To the salty blue waters of the sea.
    To get away from all the folk that blow and breathe the same old smoke,
    Take me to a place I can be me.
    Anyone who passes watches, with the same light in their eyes,
    Make a judgement or correction through the veil of their own lies.
    Take me on a trip, upon your magic swirling ship,
    For now I’m not a stranger nor a friend,
    But maybe if we swirl away
    Into some other place,
    Where everyone is strangers and we can be one of them.
    I can sit alone for a while, but I just want one smile,
    From anyone, and that’s just what a stranger will give.
    Take me on a trip, upon your magic swirling ship,
    To somewhere we’ll not be reached, even by a bird,
    To a place I know is there, even if I don’t know where,
    We won’t need a map, and if our knowledge overlaps, we’ll onyl need to go by light and Word.

  46. Traci Neal, South Carolina

    “Thy various works, imperial queen, we see,”
    Phillis Wheatley, On Imagination

    Thy various works, imperial queen, we see,
    But we cannot recall your tormenting tears.
    This queen seeks racial equality.
    Skin is permanent and so is the pain of hatred.
    Can our hearts heal and love spread?
    Or will we not bring refuge for the dead?

    I pray with wilting hands wishing for a world of “WE”.
    Colors of the rainbow run away from all fears.
    The universe redefines the idea of humanity.
    Scars are fatal and so is the foundation of words.
    To observe the soul of this queen, it should not be absurd.
    Reflect and reject what you have heard.

    Beauty and bounty live in the hive of this queen bee.
    She strides and sometimes hides her hurtful gears.
    May the queen embrace her own personality.
    Each experience shares in her triumph over doubt.
    The queen moves, dances, and continues to shout.
    Remember to reach for love in and out.

  47. Alexander Blackie, Devon, England

    “When I have fears that I may cease to be” from John Keats “Terror of Death.”
    When I have fears that I may cease to be
    struck down by invisible contagion.
    An evil virus we did not foresee.
    Deadly beyond our imagination.
    New variants increase in virulence,
    defying efforts to make a vaccine
    offering all global deliverance
    from this malignant pandemic obscene.
    Its origin obscure, its object plain:
    wipe out humanity if by nature.
    Or if by man, help those with most to gain
    leaving no guilty nuclear bomb crater.
    What or who opened this Pandora’s Box
    with a key the balance of power unlocks?

  48. Kudakwashe Chirapa

    Men at times are masters of their fate
    The fault belongeth not in the depths,
    Nor in the heights;
    The fault lines don’t run across seas and mountains
    But across cities and towns
    Which are man-made and
    Not God-breathed.
    In our moments of innovation
    We created and destroyed at the same time,
    For in as much as we birthed weapons
    We spoke a message of death
    Inviting the Grim-Reaper
    To carry bodies through the gates
    That divide realms and multiverses
    So indeed the fault was never in stars
    But in ourselves, for we are underlings.

  49. Felicia Sanzari Chernesky

    Felicia Sanzari Chernesky, Flemington, New Jersey

    “Time to plant tears, says the almanac,” from Elizabeth Bishop’s “Sestina”

    “Time to plant tears, says the almanac.”
    She reads every word as if a child
    but wearily, too, like a grandmother.
    Setting the kettle on the stove,
    she doesn’t hide her motherly tears.
    Outside is raining down on the house.

    It’s warm and it’s dry inside the house,
    apart from the days that the almanac
    forecasts another harvest of tears.
    It’s then she remembers being a child,
    her own mother stirring a pot at the stove.
    And standing beside her, her nodding grandmother.

    All of it ends and starts with her grandmother
    teaching her mother about a house,
    its wearying work: the diligent stove,
    the dictates of the almanac,
    the crayon schedule of every child,
    the stars and the moon and the sweat and the tears.

    And meals that could move any man to tears!
    All of it starts with the hands of her grandmother
    tenderly helping to raise each new grandchild
    as she is planted. The growing house,
    a world that is ruled by an almanac,
    the household by mother and the stove.

    Without any nourishment from the stove,
    rain would tumble like cold hard tears.
    She pages across the almanac,
    imagining flowers—a flourishing grandmother
    growing a grandmother inside the house—
    and hears the small singing of a child.

    “Is it time for tea?” asks the hungry child,
    who wonders what’s simmering on the stove.
    A tremor of thunder may trouble the house.
    As mother she soothes as she stirs, and dries tears
    inscrutable as an old grandmother,
    then turns to consult with the almanac.

    Each crayon house that is drawn by a child
    is an almanac. Upon every stove,
    a kettle of tears sings of grandmother.

  50. Amrita Valan

    Amrita Valan Bangalore India
    William Blake : “And who shall bind the Infinite with an eternal band”

    And who shall bind the Infinite with an eternal band
    Reach out and smite eternity with immortal hand
    Does he know the sacred ground upon which he takes his stand?
    Who can limit or constrain what he may not understand?

    Every point in space time begins the end of existence
    Each and every moment is predestined coincidence
    Zero dark hour an eternity seen, through midnight’s lens
    Reining infinity the high risk game of sentience.

    Hard limits don’t apply to conditions beyond our sense.
    Be content O traveller through cosmic temporal plains
    What you observe is false, truth lies always, beyond your ken
    Do not open this Pandora’s box of Schrodinger’s then.
    Let sleeping dogs lie and fey cats live nine lives in heaven.

  51. Kathy Bahr

    Kathy Bahr – California

    “What ails the midday sun?” From Constantijn Huygens “Good Friday”

    What ails the midday sun?
    Before or since golden sun, Earth exhaled orbit.
    Passing through leaves, sunset skies, see as the birds arrive.
    Emotions be revealed: glorious golden yellow and gentle day went by.
    A red surge came, engaged with the sky.
    Flux of change to darkened sky, was reflected on the water of the veins.
    Piled on a water cloud beneath the sunset high.
    Bird wings to stir over our space of golden weight against the sky.

  52. Anuska Sahukar, Hyderabad, Telangana, India


    Today the wind seems to blow very fast
    The refreshing beauty it still seems to hast.
    It appears to have no sound
    But only some can hear the leaf crashing bound.

    Birds are chirping here and there, crying
    But, I here, sitting alone seem to dying.
    Dying to hear them once again in life
    Dying to have this moment again after thrive.

    I want this to freeze,
    And enjoy this smooth calming breeze.
    But deep inside even I know
    That this fulfilling seed I can never after sow.

    This is what makes memories,
    Memories, that will be said to children like stories.
    I wish I had many life times,
    So, I can live every moment and sing their hymns.

    I wish I could fade with the wind
    And forget the throbbing hind.
    I wish I could travel with the blow
    Travel and travel the world with a sudden throw.

    At night it seems more calm
    Blows over the cities and over the farm.
    May some cannot smell
    The sweet fragrance that makes me dwell.

    The fragrance that is very dear to me
    Which reminds me of my village where I loved to be.
    Sometimes of flowers and nature
    Or sometimes of past that are more stranger.

    I hope I feel it the next time
    I could even see its melodious chime.
    I hope the next time I would flow with it
    I could request for it to be with me off my acquit.

    Today the wind seems to quell,
    For me, but is always same whether heaven or hell.

    By ANUSKA SAHUKAR, Hyderabad, Telangana, India.

  53. Ishika Jain

    ‘Two roads diverged in a yellow wood’ from Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken”.

    Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
    Being lone traveler, long I stood,
    Roads with the ways of no evidence
    Left me in a sea of indifference.

    O, perhaps the falling leaves
    Of evident possibilities of existence
    Or autumn trees would cease
    The endless time, for instance.

    Both the roads were equally torn
    By the immortal tries, they had worn
    Of travelers from some shady haunt,
    Bearing with sake their desired want.

    To all those steps, I asked around,
    Once again, the past rewound;
    Its shallow folds and paradoxes untold,
    Making no choice was the only thing I found.

  54. Kathy Bahr

    are you the poet?
    to the one liner?
    Your form is so perfect.



    “Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness: from Ode on a Grecian Urn by John Keats

    Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness
    saw many drown beneath a burning sun.
    Before the battle song had left their throats
    the solemn priests brought death like a caress —
    in fitting sacrifices, quickly done —
    ensnared by huntsmen on these captured boats.
    A bow, each back was bent, each hand stretched out,
    so like Apollo’s, bringing death and drought.

    They say we live within unchanging spheres,
    so change is mere illusion to the eyes.
    Death, then, must be just such a trick of God,
    and vain are our imaginings and fears.
    But like the basin set when someone dies,
    the ripples of our life escape his nod.
    The Hellenes sailed to meet the King of Kings,
    while I conversed with ghosts of passing things.

    Perhaps the same unfeeling Power keeps
    the courtesans at Aphrodite’s shrine,
    who beckon sailors to the waiting ships,
    entice the cripples, even, to the sweeps,
    and toast the winning side with honeyed wine —
    the red of Persian paint upon their lips.
    The temple women watch our fleet prepare,
    while weaving festive ribbons in their hair.

  56. C.K. Farrell, CT

    “I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond all this fiddle.” (Marianne Moore, ‘Poetry’)

    Beyond the Echo

    I, too, dislike it: there are things that are important beyond all this fiddle.
    Accepting fun and leisure, still, be wary not to quiddle.
    If you spend too long touring imaginary gardens,
    marveling at real toads and counting every star in
    the deep black sky that stretches far beyond the garden gate
    where the unreflected image scornfully awaits,
    you may doubt the hope from birdsong, the joy of apricity;
    you may doubt the calm of winter nights, and related felicity.
    Because you learned to like it first as a theory or idea,
    you may fear everything is spurious; there is no Dulcinea.

    But the rainbow, with its colors, can still remain itself.
    A library is more than bricks and the books upon the shelf.
    So like the sun that rises despite the gathering clouds,
    allow yourself the hope in spite of all the doubts.

    While it’s true you are, in part, the thoughts of others echoed,
    you’re still more than what you’ve learned from the gardens and the toads.

  57. Juliet Beck, 15

    “The scariest thing I have ever had to encounter.” (Reflection by S.S.W)

    We Are Not Owned

    The scariest thing I have ever had to encounter
    Property is the house with no freedom or power
    Flesh is the hollow cone that you think you own but is out home
    Will is the power to not break but is seen as an object for you to take
    Virginity is the construct of a man deciding what a woman can’t and can
    An option is the line in the sand so easily blurred by the feet of a man
    But no matter what you think you can do
    We will always stand up think you
    And believe the truth that I will speak across the land
    For I am and always will be a woman

  58. Juliet Beck, 15

    “The scariest thing I have ever had to encounter.” (Reflection by S.S.W)

    We Are Not Owned

    The scariest thing I have ever had to encounter
    Property is the house with no freedom or power
    Flesh is the hollow cone that you think you own but is our home
    Will is the power to not break but is seen as an object for you to take
    Virginity is the construct of a man deciding what a woman can’t and can
    An option is the line in the sand so easily blurred by the feet of a man
    But no matter what you think you can do
    We will always stand up to you
    And believe the truth that I will speak across the land
    For I am and always will be a woman

  59. Andrew Elliott

    Andrew Elliott – Georgia

    Tell all the Truth but tell it slant—
    Or so I first believed
    When idealistic youth was wed
    To staunch naïveté
    But with experience I have learned
    The World prefers its Lies
    So Truth must suffer fatally
    Lest every man be wise—

  60. Nivedita Karthik

    Nivedita Karthik, Gurgaon, India

    First line: “On either side the river lie”, from The Lady of Shalott, by Alfred, Lord Tennyson

    The power of a poet

    On either side the river lie
    dissidents of the written word,
    yet poetry’s flag flies on high—
    printed, spoken, read or heard.
    So here we stand now, proud and strong,
    sharing our thoughts, baring our souls,
    voices echoing like a gong
    helping humans reach their goals.
    Our words hit all the right spots
    such that you just can’t deny
    it’s poets who call all the shots
    and stop things from going awry.

  61. Bethany Mootsey, Clearwater, Florida

    “To be, or not to be, that is the question,” from Hamlet

    To be, or not to be, that is
    The question lined with luxury
    That padded princes sit and spout
    From flasks that flow with empty fizz:
    A foaming of frivolity
    That obfuscates their kingdom’s drought.

    “To be” may fill a logic quiz,
    But for the man in poverty,
    His straining, starving limbs cry out
    For fate to stretch this toil of his
    To long, lean years of c’est la vie.
    He has no time to toy with doubt.

    The brokers of the brainy biz
    May deal in vague philosophy
    And wonder “why” and “what about,”
    While warriors wince as bullets whiz
    And fight the urge to flee, “to be.”
    The question, they can live without.

  62. Ananya Kamath

    Ananya Kamath- Cupertino, California
    “Hold fast to dreams”, from Dreams, by Langston Hughes.

    A Generational Dream.

    ‘Hold fast to dreams,’
    Said the man with guile,
    But his woeful life
    Was betrayed in his smile.

    ‘And nurture that dream.’
    The old man sighed.
    ‘This world is cruel
    And dreams may die.’

    ‘Hold fast to dreams,’
    The jaded girl cried,
    ‘The dream is the payment
    For a life enjoyed.’

    ‘And may you live that dream,’
    Said my mother dear,
    ‘Your forefathers killed theirs
    To get us here.’

    ‘Hold fast to dreams,’
    Said a man full of guile.
    He led a woeful life
    For the sake of his child.

    ‘And… nurture that dream.’
    An old man sighed.
    To keep his child fed
    His dream had died.

    ‘Hold fast to dreams!’
    A jaded girl cried.
    Her parents’ dead dreams
    Laid bloody by her side.

    ‘And please live your dream,’
    Said my mother dear,
    ‘It took many a weary man
    To get us here.’

  63. Elizabeth Bennett

    Elizabeth Bennett
    Searsport, Maine

    “Once upon a time,
    Sixty years ago…”
    —opening lines to Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “The Little House in the Big Woods

    Once upon a time,
    Sixty years ago,
    I told the story of that day,
    Related in a different way,

    I was younger then,
    My world was different, too.
    I’ve heard you cannot change the past,
    But, at the least, today recasts
    Its hue.

  64. Benjamin Thomas Cepican, Indiana

    “The wheel of the roaring stillness” from G.K. Chesterton’s “The Ballad of the White Horse”

    The wheel of the roaring stillness
    Rolls ever on in flame.
    Behold! All properties in One,
    A glory greater than the sun,
    And yet always the same.

    The wheel of the roaring stillness
    Rolls ever on in fire.
    The fount of goodness here is found
    To which all goodness does redound
    And satisfies desire.

    Oh Trinity, the Three in One,
    “Three orbs of triple hue,”
    A doubled rainbow here is shown
    (With colors yet to man unknown)
    Ablaze with Something of Their Own–
    An ancient, secret Living Throne
    Remaining ever new.

    The wheel of the roaring stillness
    Does not begin or end.
    By love constrained He keeps His art,
    In everything He plays His part,
    Suggesting to the human heart:
    The Godhead condescends.