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Four Poems by Craig Flaherty



my brain guides the fingers each a hand
patterns sequences of line hardly a chord
for or against and the surprising key change

my eye leads scouts four beats in advance
of the fingers deaf to what they strike
phrasing expression substitution dynamics

fingers track each note an arabesque
of positions each note detached from the prior
in a soliloquy of measures the expanse
of one beat’s syncopation

j s bach genius unfurled in the music breathing
my heart wanders the baroque splendor

the music mine by performance the muscles
the arcs of bone the bent of elbows the audience

late night you tube

rambling through the rubble that leads
to the gates of elusive sleep snack bowl
empty remote in hand under my wandering thumb I
scroll down fast forward to

elephant child lost unheard his squeaky
trumpet from within the sinkhole but
village children beseech the elders to secure the
harness thirty with the thickest rope
followed by links of makeshift cablechains

village upon village gather to rescue children lower
water toss bundled grass I am
the elephant child the elders’ makeshift chain

on the fifth day five hundred men haul chant
tow the throbbing line ears out first the youngster his trunk next
rears jubilant amid midday shouts of “hurre hurre” I am the
fifth day I am theshouts of hurre
pause click “home” “search” enter “downhill”

I am the colombian mountains I am skateboarders racing the
snake tilt twist turns of my ungraded challenges the thin air the
sweeping tenderness of studded greenways at the heights I
want to shrug off my keen crew our ballet squats on the wide
bends crouching at the waist for the long straight hauls shifting
the rear wheels our arms outstretched braking through the
convolutions of my traffic below

the tree line my racers skirt a motorbike a bus holy mother of
god deliver us past the on coming line of cars no officials no
saw horses no signs no one

officiates the death defying drop over shattered patches over
pooling waters over pebble filled repairs under the murked
shadows of overgrown jungle into the shocked blinding sun my
race ends at the first stop

browse search “uphill”
I am the craggy foothills of the french alps
I am fuel injected an engine screaming
cocooned in a lattice of welded pipes coated
with red neoprene my earlier scampers
scale the dirt packed granite outcroppings
tearing through the yellow taped pathways

my chrome plated double exhaust pipes
gush a basso profundo of guttural splendor
my oversized wheels tear the hillside dirts
into a cloud of brown euphoria

nearing the top I am tossed backward by
the failure of my incline I am turned by a tree
trunk spun to tumble against the layered face
of rock I land upright swerve to grip again
the climb I gun the open throttle my white
helmet strap tightens with piercing whines

the last assault slight of the perpendicular
leans into the height’s plateau my rear
wheels catch on a big surface root I tumble
forward plow a new furrow into the meadow

click on “fios” press tuner “off”
press recliner remote to “lift” switch
heating pad to “off” unplug earphones
click sliding balcony doors to “locked”
turn on oxygenator and c-pap machine

seat face mask press “go” dial to level “3”
secure knee guard tighten hip brace
rumple the double bed covers close eyes
breath “out pain” “peace in” “out pain”
“peace in”

let not our heart be troubled

by the burning ganglia
the evening total pool

by the wayward hysteria
the gentle offshore breeze

by the escalated heart beat
the floating dove’s feather

by the avalanche upheaval
the last of the sun the first
of the stars on the still water

by the biliously woeful cries
the rising tide lifts the clear
pool the white feather the
the ebbing light the inlayed
stars into the embrace of
the inland sea

took my breath away

remember my father heating the water
in the copper stack in the kitchen
over a bed of blue flames – behind
the stove but it was never enough

two kettles filled with tap water would
wait one whistling on top of the stove
then poured into the bath around
my feet careful not to burn but
to embellish the milky soap dissolve

sometimes it was not enough mother
with one arm balancing between
the cast iron tub and the heavey
kettle pouring to make it better
as the snow storm shook
the window frames the wind
whistled around the roof

her flesh fell to a conclusion
over me submerged the kettle
on the floor she would kneel
by the tub reach in with her
soapy hand to touch

Craig E. Flaherty, writer of poems, reader at poetry groups, publisher of Coastline Window Poems, The Nature of Light, The Glossy Family, presenter at the Takoma Park Thursday Poetry Reading, poetry group leader, member of Writing a Village. His poetry has appeared in Viator and The Raven’s Perch. A lifelong  performer of church music, organist, carilloneur, pianist with Dotke Piano Trio, husband, father, grandfather, and accompanist to Jordyn Flaherty.

Image: https://pxhere.com/en/photo/1546039, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

Four Poems by Regie Cabico



I take my poem to a laboratory. It smells
like chrysanthemums.
A team of doctors wearing gas masks tells me
poetry is an equation with a solution. The last
line will not save lives. They place my poem in a
beaker. They should have planted it in a
porcelain pot.

Edward Hopper

I’m jealous of the sky,
Hopper says.

Breathe it in, I say.

Am I stoned or a canvas?
Did I still life myself into a pebble?

Am I not worthy of skipping
on a lake’s surface tension?

A shot of orange color
hits me with atomic force.

I am expansive lava, meteor.


I have fallen
in the universe’s hammock.
I listen to the trees
walk and skip around me.
I am the White Rabbit
in search of a rolex.
I feel the kindness
of dice roll around my knees.

Alma Thomas

Painting is

in a howl
of eternal howls

like an egg

of scrambled

I am lost in a blue forest
speckled with purple rain

and yellow sounds
of butter melting.

Regie Cabico is the first Asian American Poet and openly Queer Poet to win the Nuyorican Poets Cafe Grand Slam and is a 3 Time National Poetry Slam Finalist. His work has appeared on TEDx Talk, HBO’s Def Poetry Jam, NPR’s Snap Judgement. He is the recipient of a Writers In Residency from La Maison Baldwin and The Asian Pacific Studies Artist in Residence at NYU. Awards include a New York Innovative Theater Award for his work on the New York Neo-Futurists production of Too Much Light Makes The Baby Go Blind. His first full-length collection of poetry is A Rabbit in Search of a Rolex (Day Eight, 2023).

Image: Ji-Elle, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Three Poems by Indran Amirthanayagam

Meditation Under the Tree

I think of you at every moment
of the day even if there are others
in the world, other wars to fix.

It is always like this, inspiration
takes blood, sweat, absolute
compromise until love arrives

because we are exhausted from
running fast, pressed in the course
that life sets. Stop already. Take

a breath. We are there even if
in our heads we visited the country
without a hat, even if obsession

with love flourishes in your poem
because the poet maudit must write
about the flower wilted, punched,

destroyed. Or perhaps one can change
themes like a lizard its skin. I sit
in the leaves of the tree. I am waiting

for you. Nobody can see me
except you; because
I think I see you still.

Meditasyon anba pye bwa

Map panse a ou chak moman
nan lajounen men gen lòt moun
nan monn, gen lòt lagè pou n ranje.

Se toujou konsa, enspirasyon
pran san, swe, konpromi absoli
jiskaske lanmou pral rive,

paske nou bouke pou kouri
vit prese nan kous lavi dirije.
Pare deja. Pran souf.

Nou la menm si nan tèt
nou te ale vizite peyi san chapo,
menm si obsesyon lanmou fleri

nan powèm ou paske
powèt modi dwe ekri
sou flè fane, bouke, detwi.

Oubyen petèt nou ka chanje tèm
tankou yon zandolit chanje po li.
M nan fêy pyebwa,

Map tann ou. 
Pyès moun pa ka wè m sof oumen 
paske m panse wè w toujou.


Jesula would come
every other day to wash
my clothes and prepare
my food, dishes spiced
with chilies from my island.

When she washed
by hand she took care
with the beauty of each cloth.
When she finished ironing
they became like they were
on the first day I found them.

Jesula, you know
the bicycle my little boy
would ride. You can
take it now. The fact
that your son will ride

the bike means
that life will go on
and my goodbye
take place
in peace, unafraid.


Jesula vini chak de jou pou fè manje
epi fè lesiv pou mwen
yon manje epise ak piman 
zile mwen,

Lè li lave rad ak men l
li fe atansyon a bote twal la.
Lè li fin pase'l li tounen
tankou premye jou mwen te jwenn li.

Jesula, ou konnen
bekann pitit mwen te monte a. 
Kounye a ou ka pran li.
kounya pitit ou pral monte l
sa vle di lavi pral kontinye.
De pa mwen pral fè
nan lapè san pè.


There is a limit. You talk
too much. For several weeks
the same agitation, too much
insecurity. You don't have 
a passport, a visa. But each 
day you can ask for documents.
You must stop the excuses.
Make a gesture of solidarity
with people who love you
to the end of the world, 
to Ethiopia. Facebook cannot 
replace the hands of a person,
his embrace. Live not only
with the faithful servitude
that wants to kiss my feet
each time I visit you.


Gen limite, radotè.
Ou te pale twòp. Depi
semèn yo menm agiman,
anpil ensekirite. Ou pa gen
paspò, viza. Men chak jou
ou ka solisite dokiman.
Se pou ou elimine eskiz.
Fè yon jès solidarite ak monn
ki renmen w jouk Etyopi.
Facebook pa ka ranplase
manyen ak anbrase moun,
Viv pa sèlman ak sèvitè
fidèl ki te vle mòde pye
mwen nan grenn fwa
m te vizite w.

Indran Amirthanayagam is a poet, editor, publisher, translator, YouTube host and diplomat. He writes in English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Haitian Creole. He has published twenty-three poetry books, including Powet Nan Po A (Poet of the Port), which is forthcoming from MadHat Press. He edits the Beltway Poetry Quarterly, has received numerous fellowships, and hosts The Poetry Channel.

Image: The_Bicycle (60781294) from Mark Gojkovich under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

What You Owe Me by Monica Leak

What You Owe Me

Truly this nation remains in debt
Despite approving the funds necessary to address the ceiling
Yes, we the people,
Bound by a noninclusive constitution
With a shortsighted Bills of Rights
Rights that did not apply
Rights for a few but for the once enslaved yet denied
A check was written with the Emancipation
To yield 40 acres and a mule was the expectation
But soon as the the great emancipator by assassin was shot
Gone was the promise as if in writing it was not

400 years for services rendered were not paid
The lynchings, the burnings, the bombings, water hoses, unjust imprisonment
Compensation was never made
For the lives
For the land
For the time
For the separated and broken families
For the displacement
For substandard living conditions
For the separate but never equal
For the lack of and miseducation
Trying day to day to live
Being told to forget and forgive

But what is forgiveness without repentance
Just another delay to deny our humanity and existence
So with a written and spoken apology you feel sufficient to get by
To erase our presence from U.S. History curriculum you vehemently justify
Departments of diversity, equity and inclusion are steadily across academic systems are being dismantled
Something about it further promoting division
We continue to advocate and do the justice work despite their lies and misinformation
Quick to say to cry against CRT
When a book or class they’ve never read or did see

More than a forced apology
More than a national holiday
Reparations long overdue
And even with various committees and considerations
Don’t hold your breath hoping a vote will put it through
But from what we have seen your credit is no good
Any check you’d even write would bounce because of insufficient funds
Just don’t deny the debt you owe
It’s been reported to all necessary agencies
Interest is compounded daily
And we’ll yet cry out for what is owed until every penny and dime is paid

With a B.S. from Appalachian State in Communication Disorders, M.A. in Speech-Language Pathology from South Carolina State University, Master’s of Library Science from North Carolina Central University and Master’s of Divinity from John Leland Center for Theological Studies, Monica Leak uses the power of information to reach others through creative content. Monica’s works include contributions to the following: Faith of our Founders 100 Daily Devotionals to Inspire, Encourage and Propel the Finer Woman, Purpose Pushers: The Journey of Discovering and Walking in Your Life’s Purpose, Pretty, Paid, and Powerful:40 Days to Empowering the Woman Within, Speak Up We Deserve to be Hard: Stories of Being Black in America, Call to Intercede Vol. 1 (January 2022) and Sacred Sistering: A Devotional for Women of Color Ministry Leaders (March 2022); lenten devotionals: The Road to Calvary Surviving a Season of Suffering and Resipiscence, A Lenten Devotional for Dismantling White Supremacy (2018, 2019, 2020 editions) and Journey to Easter. She published her first poetry collection, No More Hashtags Remembrance and Reflections in 2018, No More Hashtags:Who You Calling? in 2019 and For Her Name’s Sake in 2021. Her work appeared in the Maryland Bards Poetry Review 2020. You can learn more about Monica by following @MLeakPoetry on all social media platforms (Facebook/Instagram/Twitter/YouTube).

Image: Public Domain

Two Poems by Maritza Rivera


There are needs that exist
but no one sees them.

There is pain that exists
but no one feels it.

There is poverty all around us
that no amount of money can cure.

We are all born equal but then
life and circumstances happen.

We turn away from those who
live in poverty, have no homes, no jobs,
no legs to stand on, as if we were immune
to the impact of so many injustices.

Yet our thoughts and prayers go out
to all those unfortunate ones

as if thoughts and prayer
could pay their rent and utilities
as if they were on some distant continent.

As if they were not our neighbors
or sitting in the pew next to us
in church on Sundays, or on the Metro
going to or returning from work
or standing next to us at the Wall
on the National Mall on Memorial Day.

These are our Earth Angels,
the people put on our path,
to help us rise to the occasion

that if we don’t look the other way
and help them up instead,
we will earn our wings in heaven.

Blessing our Boats

Today we become boats
vessels on a voyage
on the ocean of life.

Our boats carry cargo in their bellies:
traditions, stories, family secrets…

and whether we know who they are or not,
we carry the struggles and sacrifices
of our ancestors in our souls.

Our lives honor our ancestors
for without them, we would not be
and without us, their purpose in life
would be lost for we are their purpose.

We carry their ancestral memories
like stars that guide our journey.

Join me in the quest
for the truth that lives
within each of us.

Let us each bless our own boat
with the name that identifies who we are.

I christen my boat:
Maritza Rivera Rosario
Torres Mendez Sanchez
Ayala Zayas Cruz

Maritza Rivera is a Puerto Rican poet and Army veteran who resides in Rockville, MD and San Juan, PR. She has been writing poetry for over fifty years and is the creator of a short form of poetry called Blackjack. Maritza is the author of About You; A Mother’s War; Baker’s Dozen; Twenty-One: Blackjack Poems and the Blackjack Poetry Playing Cards. Since 2011, she hosts the Mariposa Poetry Retreat and the Mariposa Reunion Reading. Her work appears in literary magazines, online publications and the public arts project, Meet Me At the Triangle located in Wheaton, MD. In 2022 Maritza and Jeffery Banks co-edited Diaspora Café: DC, an Afro-LatinX anthology published by Day Eight. In 2023, she translated the poetry collection, Inquilinos Mudos/Silent Tenants by Alberto Roblest from Spanish into English.

Image: Isaac Sprague, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons