a failed poet’s stolen love letter

the greatest testament

to the way you love me is this:
I, an ever-obliged poet,
have never felt compelled to say
thank you.
you are Samwise Gamgee,
except you follow me into the gloom
with no pretentious oaths to bind you.
you offer your arm so nonchalantly
I do not notice until I’m trembling
how far I’ve let you come along.
you love me like Mount Doom
is a sunny stroll through the park.
you are Sirius Black,
shrugging off my deepest shame
and asking what’s for dinner.
you are the antidote to a tied tongue,
all compassion and humor.
you shapeshift, stealthily, smiling,
and I no longer feel like something 
in need of fixing.
you are Will Turner,
and I, having long lacked the luxury
of choice or being rescued,
schemed fruitlessly to free myself
until you made me believe in a nobler love,
one that may yet move me to raise a sword.
on that day, amid the battle, back to back,
you will rally behind my brash and bold.
I know you, my dear escapist.
you dream of open seas and rum,
and I wish for our tale to end in the Shire,
lilting theme song, rocking chairs and all.
but even a glimpse of you
once every decade is preferable
to you dipping beyond that veil,
so I will not be greedy.
even if I cannot keep you close,
I intend to give you a thank you
worthy of your love:

we shall bicker about books
until the end of our days.
Registration photo of Emily Brown for the LexPoMo 2024 Writing Challenge.

Old Habits and Old T-Shirts

This year was different. I didn’t wear the same t-shirt
from the first day of school on the last. Instead, I had
participated in senior activities and the associated 
outfits. It was different. I had done my silly tradition
since sometime in middle school, but old habits can
die quickly. Today was different. I wore the same 
t-shirt I wore on the first day of the program I went
to last summer. That competitive one that all the smart
kids in Kentucky try to go to. Maybe it was because
it might boost my confidence or maybe it was simply
because it felt right to me. Last night, I was reading
a novel and one of the main characters died young.
Maybe it’s the poet in me, but today felt important.
I can’t go back, yet I’m still figuring out how to go
forward. Old t-shirts can only take me so far. It’s all
so clique, but today I felt like I was in the middle of
one of those major milestones of life. It was different.

Registration photo of Philip Corley for the LexPoMo 2024 Writing Challenge.

can i crawl back into plato’s cave now?

mere shadow has always proven much more comfortable
fleeting is the need to learn of light i will not miss
no need to see the forms that sometimes block said light
let me be content in minimalistic bliss

new light has before drawn me into exploring my existence
time and again i have let loose curiosity from elected chain
wandered upward to worlds beyond my humble cave
where i get repeatedly lost in realities most profane

my eyes do not adjust to the harshness of the sun
i stumble where others walk in cool confidence
they accuse me of thinking too much and of self-sabotage
becoming more of a hindrance to my own accrescense

then i behold a form of perceived beauty
unaware that color has not returned to my eyes
i did not grow up in knowledge of the ways of this world
every attempt to make sense ends in sisyphean surprise 

to learn is to burn and hold resolve through confusion
but the forms always melt in striking parallax
i wish i never trusted and wish i never ventured
hating the outside more for my collection of setbacks

in time i fall back into familiar cave knowing enough
to know that giving up is not so respectable
that to truly live means evolving from darkness but for now
mere shadow still proves to be much more comfortable

Registration photo of Stefan Delipoglou for the LexPoMo 2024 Writing Challenge.


I read your inner thoughts
and remain unimpressed
like tin under halted hydraulics.

Pure poetry put in play
exists in the shade of flowers—
behind beauty
lies the bed of chaos
like a necrotic dowry.

You, there, in rose-tinted glasses
make narrow passes
on by—
biases as astigmatic
and yet astrophotography
could not scope
the tiny filaments
in desolate abysses
I plant my roots in

Registration photo of Shaun Turner for the LexPoMo 2024 Writing Challenge.

Parlor Talk

Jenny used to take the cows in
to the concrete block milking house,
its whitewashed walls now paneled off.
She took them into her arms there
in the dark. Together, they expressed
a labor I will never know–sometimes
in drowning bands of rain, in frost that cut.

I think of her as I lean over the arm
of my inherited sofa–expressing ill.
So little I have now is my own
except this pain in my leg, my belly:
a poison place I give to you again.

It threatens to crest forth–
bellows out to you, even now.

Registration photo of EDL for the LexPoMo 2024 Writing Challenge.

Her name is Trauma

I don’t remember when she moved in,
and swallowed parts of me,
I won’t ever see again.
She knows me better,
than all the others.

When I fear something,
she shoots at it,
making sure,
I survive another day.

My navy admiral she is,
leading me safely,
through the roughest waters.
Still, I drown.

In the parts of me she slaugthered,
she stole my ability to rest.
I’m not who I used to be anymore,
and I will never return to shore.
Remembering who I was.

The old me is dead.

Registration photo of Alora Jones for the LexPoMo 2024 Writing Challenge.

“Gentle Love and Care”

Fragile labeled boxes,
responsibility labels
on top of alcohol bottles.
We label the material
to take care of it and ourselves,
but we forget to label
the most important thing,
the hearts we wear precariously
on our sleeves.

We do this out of an essential need
to avoid autophobic nightmares
and incur welcoming dreams
of belonging, of acceptance,
of possibilities endless,
of being acknowledged for who we are
but sometimes this ends us up
with ugly scars.

Why are we not born
with cautionary labels
alerting people to treat us
with gentle love and care
instead of shoving and baring
angry teeth, mauling us down
until we are incomplete.

No wonder mothers would leave their daughters
in the woods with wild bears
than leave them with your “tender love and care”
because they would at least take care as they feast
but you mistreat and eat and eat and eat
even when the word “stop” is on repeat.

In the end, bears would not leave anything to clean
they, at least, eat all the flesh
but you leave them an irreparable mess
to pick up the pieces on their own
and find a new place
for their heart to call home.

Registration photo of Deanna for the LexPoMo 2024 Writing Challenge.

What happens when you don’t know the number for poison control?

All my childhood a typed list
of important phone numbers
lived next to the beige phone
attached to the hallway wall.

Friends and neighbors’ names
beside five digit numbers (family nine)
Separate numbers for fire and
ambulance and poison control.

Today’s phone always in reach
lists contacts by name and often image
the algorithm declares importance
with frequency and recency bias

My favorites are Noah…Tod…Mom
and most frequent is Melini Cucina
Fighting for top billing with co-workers.
That sounds about right.

We recently received an alert that our local 9-11 service was down. It was down almost 24 hours. I was not worried as I have a magnet on my refrigerator left over from my reporter days with a direct number for the local police. But I am just a little worried given the state of the world that I do not have the number for poison control.


It Doesn’t Come Easy

On days like today,

it doesn’t come easy.

The poetry lodges itself

somewhere inside me

and refuses to come out.


There are emotions

strong and deep

but no words

worthy of them.


There are days that the poetry

flows like water from a tap,

like wine from Jesus’s fingertips,

like lies from a politician’s mouth.

Smooth and quick.


There are days

when I write one line

and the next line comes to me

and the next

and the next

in a flash,

all born from a worthy title.


And then there’s today.

All the fear

and the sadness

and the anxiety

and the joy

and the comedy.

And I can’t capture it all

in just a few stanzas.


There are days I can

write a poem at will

from nothing.


And then there are days

when I have poked the darkness too much,

when I have taken my time machine

too far back into the past.


And nothing can describe that.


Poetry is my friend,

my comfort,

my partner,

my lover.

But she doesn’t always come easy.

Registration photo of Elizabeth Beck for the LexPoMo 2024 Writing Challenge.

I think of you

every time I brake at stop sign,
smile that I do not listen
to your advice to roll through
because who rolls through
but you, which makes you
exactly who I love, reminding
me of who I once was when
we joined arms freshman year,
lab partners in Biology turned
to life-long friendship and isn’t
it the one who knew you then
knows you best? Does anyone
ever change that much, despite
our best efforts to grow, learn,
shift, mature? It’s true, laughing
together now, evidence some
things never change, even as I

step on the brake.