Poems and Poetry
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Friends in America 2/22/17 | A Poem by Lee Rusch

We talked and laughed for a while
then grew serious
Things had changed
We could not leave the surface
Feared what lay below
Though portraying some kind of strength
A nonchalance almost
We kept on
Knowing no exit
No end
But, you know, the end

And the past lay back there
Not a prologue of anything really
Non-linear, random
It seemed
Considering where we all were now.

The Cruelty of Strangers | A Poem by James Diaz

Some cannot hold their anger
when it roars
it’s mostly blinded inside
unable to say one true thing about itself.

“I find it sad,”
you once said to me
“How people can learn to be so petty,
hold grudges, burn others
with unkindness.”

“They didn’t learn it,
they chose it,”
some other part of me
on a bad night
might say.

Benefits of doubt
can easily be wasted.

I too have stood at the edge of things
water towers bathed in light
across the field.

I am no one’s villain
the loneliest road
the one that you feel so sure of
packed away beneath
what cannot be named
cruelly or gently.

We will survive this
one world
wounded and bitter to spite selves
sharing only shatters,
unattended –
unloved in their core.

And Then | A Poem by J. K. Durick

We fall through the cracks,
disappear; invisible folks,
our story becomes so thin
it slides between the pages
of the book they’re writing,
marginal at best, fading away
drifting, jetsam afloat, adrift,
some derelict debris, down,
forgotten, so forgettable,
and then we blur, we become
background, some shadows,
we’re easy enough to forget,
we recede, weaken, dwindle,
we wilt, wither, shrivel away,
fail expectations, diminishing
returns, get to play out, pay out,
live this quietly, out of their way,
and then, and then, finally, we…

Grades, Keeping 2-S | A Poem by J. K. Durick

I remember when grades were posted
on the wall outside the dean’s office

sometimes typed up, others filled in ink
a bit hard to read, always hard to take

just a letter up by our initials or number
alphabetical order was easy to figure out

we knew how we all did, comparison was
built into it, an easy way to measure us

nothing inflated, nothing debated, roll of
the dice, had to roll with the punches

too often we’d limp away, some shaken, in
the late sixties, we still had ‘Nam going on

grades kept us safe or shook us lose, kept us
around, watching a war, fighting off boredom

grades waited outside the dean’s office, land mines
firefights, we learned the words, fearing our turn.