The Poet Community

The Light in the Kitchen | A Poem by Michael Kagan

The day she was buried
I remember a three-legged frog jump away
as the casket slowly lowered
random obstacles interrupt life
traffic diverted into unknown dark halls

A faucet drips in a lonely kitchen
missing the light of my mother
unprepared for death
sipping English tea

The backyard’s lost its youthful appeal
cutting through a jungle with a machete,
overwhelming pressure
of unreleased tears
I told her she was getting better

A black cloud hovers over our house
tied with a string
to a life that would rather not

My father grinding his teeth as he adjusts to the dark alone in this empty house together
constructing mechanical things he sleeps on the floor
cups his head in the calloused dirt of a workaholic’s paw
his ancient tool belt
hangs loosely on his waist
one screw driver
and a mind trying to escape

Easier not to remember
it wasn’t always this way

The house on the corner
with its neatly trimmed backyard
she dances in a field of clover
hanging sunshine on the line
dreams of her hardworking handsome man
getting home in time
I was holding her hand
the day she died

Nok Figurine | A Poem by Shola Balogun

The ocean
in your eyes,
in its depth,

moves me.

Your smiles
like the juice
of Marula

and the beauty
of your carved lips

do enchant me,

to mime the most
vast deluge of songs

captivating from
Bantuland to Chelsea.

From Mombasa
to Singapore,

You’re the ancient

priceless like Benin

whose startling myths

depict my soul

Vist Shola at

Shola Balogun, playwright, poet and writer is from Yoruba,
southwestern Nigeria. He received his Masters Degree in Theatre Arts from the University of Ibadan, Nigeria, specializing in Literary and Dramatic Criticism. He was the winner of the First Educare Trust’s Olaudah Equiano Poetry Prize (2002) and the Festival of Peace Poetry Award (2005) organized by the Institute of African Studies, University of Ibadan. He is the author of a collection of poetry, The Cornwoman of Jurare and Other Poems (2007). His books The Wrestling of Jacob, Praying Dangerously: the Cry of Blind Bartimaeus, and Death and Suicide In Selected African Plays, are available at Amazon and select bookstores. His play, Egue Eghae, is ready for the stage. Shola Balogun also writes stories for children. His Yoruba background and encounter at
the age of 21 with the poetry of John Donne and William Shakespeare
influenced his creative writing.

The Boxers | A Poem by JD DeHart

The boxers lean heavily on one
another like two sagging towers.
My father’s face is red with frustration
and also leans forward, hand poised
on his knee, a glass of buttermilk close
by (how does he drink it?).
From the kitchen, my mother complains
about fighting. She wants him to let me
watch cartoons. But there are not cartoons
on anymore. Sometimes
the fighters jump like those hopping beans
in the check-out line, which I never see
anymore. They dodge and parry and thrust
like living swords. But this fight is slow
and bloated, the gloves seem heavier, eyes
seem thicker, but the crowd seems unfazed.

A Teacher, Long Retired, Remembers Jo Ellen Brown | A Poem by Donal Mahoney

It’s funny how strangers make your day, a teacher, long retired,
told me the other day. A girl he didn’t know came up to him at the
Mall and introduced herself. She said she was Jo Ellen Brown’s sister. She said Jo Ellen had always praised him as her favorite teacher. He told her he remembered Jo Ellen. She was a quiet girl from a little farm outside of town. Very smart. That was 20 years ago.

He told me he remembered once in class she was writing an Optimist
essay and did a beautiful job. It sang, the prose was so fine, almost poetic but filled with facts. As a result, Jo Ellen and the teacher, were invited to come to the state capital for her to read her essay at the Optimist Convention. He and his wife spent three days with Jo Ellen. She had a wonderful time, first time a young farm girl had been to the big city.

On the way home the teacher’s wife asked Jo Ellen if she was going
to college and she said she didn’t know. Money was a problem but there were other problems as well. She was good on the farm and if she went to college, she would be missed. Her father needed her help.

During their three days at the Optimist Convention, the teacher and
his wife did their best to convince Jo Ellen she could succeed in
college. And Jo Ellen told her sister – the young “stranger” the
teacher had met at the Mall that day – that her three days at the state capital changed her life. She said no one had ever told her before that she could be somebody. She remembered the teacher telling her she was already somebody. His wife chimed in and agreed.

Among poor kids self-esteem is almost always an issue, the old teacher told me. This is a problem teachers can see but parents often cannot because they may also suffer from it. Poverty can affect generation after generation.

As a senior in high school Jo Ellen wrote another essay as part of an admission process and as a result she received a scholarship to a state university. She graduated with a double major and accepted a commission in the Air Force. This quiet girl went on to become an
officer who was promoted several times prior to meeting her husband
and leaving the service. And now, as her sister told her former
teacher, Jo Ellen has a nice family and has succeeded in business.

The retired teacher was pleased, of course, to hear that Jo Ellen
remembers him. He said there are many roses in the garden of his
memory. But Jo Ellen Brown is a distinct, beautiful moment. He can never forget her. He remembers a lot of his students but Jo Ellen Brown made his life as a teacher glow in the dark.

Visit Donal at

My Favorite Character | A Poem by JD DeHart

My favorite character died today
and it happened on the very last page.
Sadistic author.
The entire novel had been leading up
to a contented crescendo, every scrap
of plot a smiling, polite face,
and now I see the fallen form, lying
wounded from the quill. Well,
the keyboard, at least.
The tombstone will read:
He died to the sound of tapping keys.
Now I must either give up reading
(which seems unlikely) or go about
the business of finding another fictitious
person to spend some time with.
Another faceless face to observe,
another mouth that sounds like my own.