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Two Poems by R.E.I.L.

Piece for PEACE

For my grandmother (Feb 2, 1956 – February 13, 2020)

I’m trying to find the right words to make sense or peace with your passing
But I can’t, so I’ll make peace with remembering you laughing
Smile brighter than any room you lit up
My emotions run deep and sometimes get mixed up
But I remember every time you fought to get up
And I know I’d be selfish not to get it
Because I get it
But can’t grip it
Trying to turn these memories, into similes
But I can’t stop from crying
And all you’ve instilled in me I can’t stop from trying
Still it kills me to know I get to live and couldn’t stop you
from dying
It’s ironic
I feel empty, but not toxic
I carry only strength with no other option
Because I know it’s what you wanted!
I know you’re at peace, and I gotta be honest no matter the hurt
Lol remember that time you hit me over the head with your purse
Because I smacked my lips
I’ll remember you as just that and act as if
You right there over my shoulder, better yet my back
With that look like get it together, I now think before I act
They say you never know what you got til its gone
You’re proof that they’re wrong
I loved you since the day our hearts connected
The day our souls became telepathic
And my mind was dedicated
To being the strongest woman I could ever be
You are my hero, and I miss you
Thankful for every advantage I took to kiss you
Grandma, you are my angel
And every time in life I feel entangled
Or endangered
Filled with rage or anger
I’ll think of you
…. And that’s the perfect peace
And in this piece
I hope to find peace
I’m thankful for your passion to teach
Your absence is showing me it’s time to SPEAK
And be the best me
But I don’t know what’s worse
If it’s bad that I ain’t good
Or if it’s good that this ain’t all bad
Somedays I’m sad
Most days I’m mad
But all days I’m glad
That your battle is won
But my battle has just begun
So I’ll fight just as you –
How? I have no clue
But one thing for certain
Two things for sure
Your pain is no more
So ashes to ashes
Dust to dust
In God I must trust
I miss you more and more I think
But I’ll let you live in peace….
It’s the only way it’ll sink

I love you grandma!!!


I Remember

I remember when all that was all that
Remember falling in love with orange soda
Keenan and Kel never got older
A love for Nickelodeon and Disney channel in that order
Dexter had me plotting against my siblings
Ravens visions were so vivid
Used to have the blues
Looking for clues

I remember Hide and go get it gave first rush of breaking the rule
The smart guy really had twin sisters
The meanest guy was Mister…. Remember?
“Me and you shall never part…”
I remember those hand pats with my sisters
I remember when growing up just being a kid was okay

But I could never fathom how to be a kid today
Went from hopscotch
To hand on hips
I remember “boom boom ticks”
You know, telephone, telephone
Now all that’s known are telephones
And technology

Am I the only one noticing
How its damaging
By just focusing
On what today’s youth focus is?
I remember having no problems focusing
Once momma gave that one look
You knew what the focus is…. FIX IT!

I remember double dutch with skipped rocks
OGs on every block
Had eyes watching even when mommas not
I remember, but somehow losing sight
As these new wings take flight
Clear curse words by the age of four
Cartoon networks don’t play cartoons anymore
Babies got Facebook accounts
Get rewarded for acting out

Ipods, Ipads, Iphones
No eyes in homes
Home of the brave
Turnt to land of the lost
These kids are the cost
And we are the cause

I remember you couldn’t tell my mother nothing about her kids
She knew exactly what it is
Cause she knew her kids
I remember when parents were parents
With no room to be your friend
I remember you needed permission for your circle of friends
I remember when knowledge was instilled by simply what
you saw
Disrespect was not of an option
Now a days its toxic
No missions and no morals
Because there’s no motivation
Just process of elimination
Throw these kids our cellular devices
Stick them in corners to keep them quiet
Create a crisis
Where their attention won’t span
No further than the device in their hands

So we ain’t got to deal with it
These kids already lost
We swear it ain’t our fault
Blame it on the system
Until we fall victim
But we ain’t got to deal with it
I remember when we had hearts of gold
And could kill with it
They say it takes a village?
Well it’s time to deal with it!
Stop reminiscing take those thoughts and build with it

What I want to remember is a generation
Built on demonstration
And a community fighting with motivation

Shaquetta Nelson, who publishes and performs under the name R.E.I.L. (real), is the author of the book Ashes to Justice (published February 2022.) In her debut collection the DC-area spoken word performer and poet educator releases the demons of this world while holding onto love for her family of birth, and the family she’s found. Kim B Miller, Poet Laureate of Prince William County, Virginia described Ashes to Justice as, “Written with a whisper and a hammer.” And Joseph Ross wrote, “The sorrow of abuse pulses under these poems. But so does the joy of double-dutch, a grandmother’s love, and the truth of rebirth.”R.E.I.L. started her poetry career at open mics in the D.C. area and at 16 competed in the Brave New Voices slam in New York City. A poetic performer, visual artist, and arts educator teaching in D.C. schools, R.E.I.L. seeks inspiration from past and present life experiences to help the lives of other unsung souls. R.E.I.L. not only found a passion in writing, but also in art. R.E.I.L. uses wood burning and pyrography to design art beyond the words she can display in her poetry. R.E.I.L realized her new found passion in 2018 branding her collections by Harmony’s Harmony by R.E.I.L. She now wishes to someday have a studio as an outlet for teens where she can use her poetry and arts to create that creative space.  

Image by Eric T Gunther, CC BY 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Three Poems by Claudia Gary


Shadow Selfie

Projected onto shale
but rooted in this planet,
we long to countervail
the weight of sandstone, granite,
and metamorphic rocks.
We welcome paradox.

Our presence is a mask
against the radiant
late sun in which we bask,
but nothing can prevent
our shades from holding hands
there on the bridge, suspended
from gravity’s demands.
They float unapprehended—

no faces, no expressions,
no good deeds, no transgressions.
We’ve summoned them to cleave
our image to these cliffed
surroundings. Take or leave
our longing as a gift.

The Present Moment

A cumulus that drifts away
leaves room for those that follow it,
replace it, in a cotton stream
of fractals. Here the cloud-forms seem
anthropomorphic, intimate
but mute. I write them as they play.

Lover’s Memo

On site or off
you did put in the hours
to make me dream of you.

You took no breaks,
at least not long enough
to warrant your dismissal.

Re: tonight’s dream,
are you still on the job?
I thought you had clocked out.

Claudia Gary lives near Washington, D.C., and teaches workshops on Villanelle, Sonnet, Natural Meter, Poetry vs. Trauma, etc., at The Writer’s Center (writer.org), currently via Zoom. Author of Humor Me (2006) and several chapbooks, most recently Genetic Revisionism (2019), she is also a health science writer, visual artist, and composer of tonal chamber music and art songs. See pw.org/content/claudia_gary; follow her on Twitter at @claudiagary. 

Photo (c) 2017 by Claudia Gary. This was taken on an autumn afternoon at the C&O Canal National Park in Maryland. Author photo by John P. Flannery.

Collections by Gail Atwater


My childhood collections
stamps from every country
placed neatly in a book
tiny porcelain cats in a box
and stories about their lives
that made sense

Fifty years later, I started collecting again
when the Fog descended, because of it
beautiful music to make me feel beautiful things or just anything
a basket of photographs of places I’d like to be
instead of here
and a list of every good memory
every joy and pleasure
from my life that I could think of

I would say in case I need them later but of course now is later
in fact now has become where time, instead of ticking by steadily
pools and sloshes and drips
Plague Time

We’ve entered the Triangle
where the clocks and altimeters go wild
and entire planeloads of people disappear
and if there is a story at all
we’re in the thick of it and the author has gotten stuck
and is now gazing out some train window
at passing cornfields for inspiration

Some people say this oozing and sloshing is because we’ve entered a great
global bottleneck and are being squeezed through to a new,
higher-order paradigm
while that may be so, it’s too soon to tell
but also, those people could have just made a list of things to think of
when they get scared
like I did

I know you feel this too
and maybe some days we can even talk about it
maybe even face to face
other days when the Fog is too thick and my clocks have all melted
I take out my list and I remember
my father on summer evenings
smelling of sweat and dirt and cut grass
clipping three peach roses—apricot nectar
damp with dew from the garden
carefully selected to all be of
equal beauty
and giving us each one in a small white vase
to enjoy.

Gail Atwater is a therapist living in Dallas, TX who attended Duke during the Precambrian era. She enjoys exploring the power of artistic expression for personal transformation in her therapy practice, her Artist’s Way group, and her own life. She also loves taking photos, singing harmonies, and growing tomatoes.

Image: Wilfredor, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Wish to be Wind by Garrett Souliere

Wish to Be Wind

Two men come,
With man-built instruments;
They laid on the ground
Tarps, big, blue, stretched
Canvases collect what
was left of this year’s trees.

Brown blankets break
Wet as gusts push threads
Debris flying heavily;
Cherry bombs pulse,
Pine needles, hardened
Crab apples.

Vibrance bled dry,
Fallen colors sapped,
Yellows spewed, seeping reds,
Sinking soil chokes
The green from where they grew.

Until two men come,
With their wish to be wind,
Blowing off life lost and leave
When we pay what the price costs.

Garrett Souliere is a professional writer and editor who lives in Virginia with his girlfriend and their four four-legged friends. Founding Editor and Publisher of Quibble, he’s also worked as Head Fiction editor atplain china, and previously been published in Rebel.

Image by AnnaS58012, CC BY 4.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

A Poem by Alan Abrams


To a Lover, Foolishly Abandoned Years Ago, For Her Birthday in Early April

What I wish for you: sunrise, with just the right number of clouds,
at just the right altitude, to tint and refract slanting rays onto your garden;

air, mild, moist; a breeze strumming the new leaves like a harp,
and slipping through the open bedroom window like a stealthy lover,

stirring you from magical dreams. Coffee’s brewing aroma;
cat brushing your bare ankle, or maybe a grateful dog; chores,

light and familiar, that await you, and no more; a walk to be taken,
redbud for color, mock orange for perfume, and a patient

slender heron stalking shallow water; redwing blackbirds, too
perched on swaying cattails, singing for a mate.

Back home, books to be read, really, too many of them, stacked on end table and nightstand,
one of them splayed open on the seat of your chair, and maybe a story,

anxious to be told, just waiting for evening’s soothing silence and your pen.
More than any of this–someone to share these treasures with.

Now that his beard is white and his back is bent, Alan Abrams has forsaken a remunerative career in pursuit of Erato. Once in a while he catches a glimpse of her before she scurries away. Even so, a smattering of his poems and stories have insinuated themselves into publication, in such varied journals as The Hare’s Paw, The Innisfree Poetry Journal, El Portal, Autumn Sky, and The Black Boot (which alas is no longer afoot). A novel is in the works.

Image: By Sofig (Sophie Grail) – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=47320342