Poetry by Steve Swank from our virtual circles


The farm is a place,
the land is a place to be from,
earth sand, wind,
a buggy spills in the ditch.

The heat of summer,
the slog of fall,
common labor, heft, and haul
wipe the mind in daily routine.

Through the arching limbs of trees,
at night stars, a littler breeze
slopes down the shaded hill
through the kitchen door.

The troubles of man are clearly plain,
too numerous to ignore,
lost from view in the pouring rain
is the sign: kittens.

Save Your Breath

The prompt is like a box of chocolates,
save your breath—
save your breathe to cool the soup
a fox now guards the chicken coup.

A box of chocolates I did not buy
for valentines, I tell you why,
among the choices that seem so sweet
compared to you they can’t compete.

Unexpected, unique, quietly your smile
assured, elegant, content—the calm
of practice, and ready—honors the choices
that make you, you.

I turn over the little stone,
gently lift the creature
living there that waits
my notice, my love

It was started with a meet-up ad,
the writers meet at Johnny Cakes,
a thousand cranes Tedo makes,
now look at all the fun we’ve had.

Poetry by Steve Swank from our virtual circles


Contrarious octogenarians
grouped as young writers,
put on the bus,
start out strangers,
arrive as us.


The small, the purposeful, the divine
The tender, the willing, the sublime
The slender, the fulfilling, the entwine

I planted some of the seeds
you were giving out that day.
I scooped them off the floor
after everyone had left.
Now the seedlings are growing,
there are not many, but enough.
What joy to see them grow!
What colors will they be?

We did not speak, did you know
I was even there, I don’t think so.
Still, I remember what you said
about getting better ideas instead
of relying simply on chance.

I raise my hand and wait my turn,
I water the flowers.
I tune my interest and try to learn,
I water the flowers.

Poetry by Nishu Aggarwal from our virtual circles

In The Night, the Warrior Queen Rises.

In the night
When all falls quiet
I face the dark rushes
Where I threw my true feelings
In the mire of denial
And the pits of politeness

In the night
When all falls quiet
I no longer walk the domain
Carefully picking worthy battles
Forcing their retreat with grace
Intimidating them with deep calm and unfaltering dignity.

In the night
When all falls quiet
I pull the true feelings out of the rushes
Cleaning each one until they are pure thought
Each stroke repairs the rents,
Holes I had kept hidden

In the night
When all falls quiet
I wash my mind
And polish my soul
In darkness I find light
In the quiet, steady strength

In the night
When all falls quiet
I find

Poetry by Steve Swank from our virtual circles

Steven Swank 15 Myao 2020

As onesome who nowks,
say I,
Lexdysias of the wordl untie!

Feeling Lost

When we feel lost—
there are days that we
when even our friends
can’t make it alright,
I lie down in nature
and take off my shoes.

My sister has cancer,
is planning the end,
takes comfort in memory,
but does not pretend

My sister is passing,
is choosing the how—
that will come later,
she’s living the now

When we feel lost—
there are days that we
when even our friends
can’t make it alright,
I lie down in nature
and take off my shoes.

She is walking the path
her routines daily change,
sometimes it’s math
and her battery range

Today as we talked
she laughed on the phone,
she’s not a complainer,
that’s clear as her tone
When we feel lost—
there are days that we
when even our friends
can’t make it alright,
I lie down in nature
and take off my shoes.

Grateful and content
spending time with her
and talking most days
with one of her sibs

My other sister says,
folks wait in the next
she sees them anticipate
the joyous retune

When we feel lost—
there are days that we
when even our friends
can’t make it alright,
I lie down in nature
and take off my shoes.

Some wonder what happens
when the body is done,
some say we go on,
of them I am one

I’m sure we’ll share
about our lives past,
be true and sublime
when together at last.

Memoir by Marianne McGowan from our virtual circles

In the Night

Anna tells me over and over again how exhausted she is. “I couldn’t sleep last night. I was tossing and turning until four in the morning. I think it was after four when I finally fell asleep.” She tells me how she has taken Xanax for years, tried weaning herself off the medication, but simply cannot function without it.

Anna tells me how she thinks of her son all night long. She lies in bed awake, wondering how he died. Nate was only thirty-one.

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Memoir by Jennifer McArdle from our virtual circles

Learning to Lie

I was born in December, which means I’m a Sagittarius. They’re supposed to be blunt to the point of rudeness.

When I was a kid, I informed my mother about this aspect of my horoscope. She said, “Yes, that’s true.”

My dad often told me that he knew I didn’t lie, which made him proud. For most of my childhood, I am not sure if I actually was incapable of lying, or I just didn’t have any interest in it. I never cheated on an exam or on homework. I never stole anything.

Much to the annoyance of my parents, I also didn’t like lying when I was too old to get the discount for children under a certain age. I didn’t like lying when people gave me presents I didn’t like. I couldn’t lie to be sad when a relative died.

I did lie through omission sometimes; I remember when I was in third grade and had to switch seats with this boy who was always made fun of me and encouraged other boys to be mean to me, too. He had written under his name tag on his desk: “General. Captain. Hero. Man.” I erased all those things and replaced it with, “Stupid”. When we returned to our seats, that boy stared crying, and my teacher asked me, “Was it you?” I just kept coloring, but I never said No.

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Poetry by david e bell from our virtual circles

You are my Pilot
the Chevy our starship
slicing through the void
our radio, dial cool glowing
our time machine
our companion
in the long night
the desert
a blurred streak between
sun bleached lines
stretching out
past the headlights
towards a future
the horizon unseen
Continue reading “Poetry by david e bell from our virtual circles”

Borrowed Pages – A tribute to Terry Jones

Back in January, before the pandemic, we lost a Python.

Writer, director, and Chaucer scholar Terry Jones was perhaps most famous for his portrayal of Brian’s mother in Monty Python’s Life of Brian—“He’s not the Messiah, he’s a very naughty boy. Now go away!”and as the purveyor of, er, craft street food featuring SPAM.

In Terry’s honor, the illustrations for this post were offered as a prompt for write! in late January, 2020. Participants at the writing circles, as they so often do with the prompt, made SPAM their own.

Enjoy the resulting Borrowed Pages!

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Fiction by Stuart Nager from our virtual circles

The party took a turn when I was in the shower. Steam clouded the entire bathroom. I was waiting. It was taking its time tonight. A heavy thumping on the door makes me jump every time. Three times: THUMP pause THUMP pause THUMP! Silence. I thought it wouldn’t happen tonight. I was wrong. My eyes jerked to the curtain with the first THUMP. The second THUMP and my stomach fell to my ankles. My heart skipped a beat while my testicles disappeared with the third THUMP. The sound of the water beating down drowned out. Rain without sound. That rain was now scalding my skin. That damn noise!


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Poetry by Tedo Wyman from our virtual circles

May Day

"Sunday morning,
chat in the backyard
sounds great," I text,
and it sounds
like a plan,
a téte-â-téte
under her sweetgum tree
at opposite ends of the yard,
in lawnchairs.
We'll keep our voices
up, yell at each other
those private things
friends need to share
my sex life,
her rage,
it'll be the next
"Overheard in Nyack"
podcast, we'll dub the
episode "Two Crones Vent" or
"Broads Go Bonkers in Lockdown."
Neighbors will tune in live,
we'll blow enough foam
off the oat lattés
to modify the air current
of our spirits:
summon Feng Po Po,
pull off the stoic masks,
emerge from
screened images,
into the trenches
of flesh and blood to
invoke the Anemoi,
banish Boreas,
declare victory.

Image from #atthebirdfeeder © 2020 david e bell