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Since Prince

Shot through our nerves

Our boots on the dance floor

Our hips and lips

Shocking and rocking us to the core

Bringing DJs to their knees with endless requests for

“Who was that?” “Can we hear some more?”


We were altered

We put him on an altar

Which he smashed on down

“Just because I’m Prince

Don’t give me no crown,”

No autographs either

He turned his head

“Idol worship lifts up no one”

As he strutted away in his gown.

The 4th Reich
oungboys1937Julien Bryan

A group of young German boys view Der Stuermer, Die Woche and other propaganda posters that are posted on a fence in Berlin, 1937 Julien Bryan Archive, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum © Julien Bryan 

Only the animals

Sense a tsunami coming

Rocking earth felt from afar

Mollusk’s screams heard

From the ocean’s bottom

The seam of the world splitting open

Hot blood stirring animals to run, crawl, fly, scamper

Towards higher ground

Leaving humans smug and unknowing

Of the earth


It could happen again


So the creatures must have known

About the tsunami

Of The Third Reich

And the wake it would leave.

Some of us know now

The waves and wakes to come.

Tumor Terminology

Honoring my Editor Father

"Tumor Terminology" Kendra Wagner

Your usual reverence – or ecstasy – with the written word

Has been siphoned away

By a whitewater rush of terminology.


Clinical collisions with this lexicon of labels

Have crushed your sensibilities

and left an unpleasant void in place

of your habitual captivation with the nuances of words.




Topoisomerase Inhibitor



Awash in this thesaurus

Of weighty, immobilizing words,

You waddle through them, one-by-one,

Under scars of syllables scrambling your tongue.

Aghast Again the Aftermath

Police Personnel Push back screams in order to ID corpses


Mothers Methodically Muster courage to call the hospital again


Fathers Frantically Furiously text call text call text call text


Journalists Judiciously Jump to the web searching synonyms for “horrific”


Nurses Neatly Needle the wounded to inject pain meds


Bloggers Bewilderedly Berate our violence worshipping gun culture


Teenagers Tenderly Touch their gay comrades in school hallways


Activists and Agencies Accelerate legislative pleas and petitions


Dogs Desperately Deliver comfort to the injured and the impacted


Murderous Magnum Moves into the Madness of all of our bloodstreams


Wrapped tight, but fragile, like a sprained ankle

In a blanket I would love later but now smothered me

I am pressed into a warm and squishy chest.


I am a tiny display of hard work and long waiting,

Paraded, swathed, a girl on a parade float,

Paraded for relatives, yet unable to wave.


My tiny ears learn to reach for the only comforting sound:

Blood valves in that bosom;

Drumbeats under the two fountains of fuel.

Over months, the magic drum is the only solace

To the scared little bones of my blossoming body.

The large-bones that carried me nine months no longer lift me.

I am lying alone with my tiny whimpers.

Secrets in Cells
Image by Eric Ward

Dedicated to the women in Purdy Corrections Center

Journaling Day

There is no written language

For these volumes of secrets

Ferociously resting

Inside our orange jumpsuits.


Visitors Day

Sometimes we open a wailing one

Hand it over to a loved one

No gushing lava of words

Just a silent wail

For sacred holding.

We Didn't See It Coming

We all lose count of the days, closed cafes, our lost pay, what the protocols require, or our misplaced desires, and the graphs and the deaths and the stats and last breaths.


We didn’t see it coming

2020 a storm with no name or too many names or memes it seems

We ran out of things to blame

We didn’t see it coming - this year

The wake-up call to see tenderly clear

Just what our brown-skinned neighbors fear

Daily, hourly, minutely – years

Being what we call woke - broke - our hearts – cracked open rages

Don’t look away we told ourselves – stay - look

At all those kids in cages and their messed up developmental stages

Through a Virus Lens
"Through a Virus Lens" Kendra Wagner

Plexiglas panels in all the cafes

The banks, the food stores, even stores that sell hay

Cashiers enduring more mouth-covered days

And pretending to smile while enduring this craze.


A breath inside a mask

An inhale that becomes a gasp

A thousand blue rectangles

That end up in the trash

Another conversation overheard

About how long this will last

The Many Hats
"The Many Hats" Image Shutterstock

Bless the hats that parents wear

The hat racks full even pre-virus

Each hat hook carries weight and care

A look, a fate, a responsible prayer


A hat for Nurse, or Chef or Chauffeur,

And one for Mathematician and Humorer

Another for maid, Fashion Cop, Teacher,

Veterinarian, Nurturer, Courtroom Judge, Bleacher


Now those hats demand an upgrade

Are put on alert, steroidally injected

Redefined, refined, ordered online or handmade

Worn all at once and stitched onto the fronts

Is artistically written, “I don’t know”

As an answer to kid’s endless daily affronts.

It's Called "Breaking News" Because We Are Broken
It's Called Breaking News


Another crashed crucible

In campus corridors



Cancelled classes and lives

Shots captured in collegiate air

Into the heart of classmates

Who enrolled with the courage

To compose

To comprehend

To connect

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