Issue No. 20 | Spring 2019

Quaker Meeting House

A mother sits with her thoughts

and doesn’t notice her boy

squirming next to her on a bench.

In this spare room of silent adults

someone stands to praise Martin Luther King. 

Another rises to warn of nuclear war.

It was always March or November

when fallen leaves lingered

mixing with acorns and squirrels.

We met every Sunday on top of a hill

in a house no bigger than a living room—

no deacon no pastor no chorus no choir.

Just a few souls who pushed for change  

and a child who wanted to leave. 

Smiles Matter

I used to listen to gangster rap,

wipe that smile off your face

some songs said, or they’d scorn

fake niggers and racist cops.

I wore a black leather jacket and a scowl

and wondered why I couldn’t make friends.

I have seen the discontented

how they melt in front of a smiling child;

hardened felons, the homeless and forgotten,

how they giggle and make silly faces.

Whenever someone smiles, I respond.

That’s the only way to break my defenses:

my leather jacket front,

my grimaces and frowns.


I am currently teaching part time at The New School in the MFA Creative Writing Program. I have published eighty-plus poems since 1990 in numerous publications. I recently published a poem in Peregrine, vol.XXXI, and In 2018 two of my poems appeared in Mudfish, vol. 20. I also have a forthcoming poem in A Garden of Black Joy Poetry Anthology.