Worn Out


Photo by Hasan Almasi on Unsplash

Get me off this planet!


I’ve had enough

I must make friends with Elon Musk

He has the gear to get me out of here

I’ll take my chances on Mars

At least I’ll know there is no chance of contracting Sars


Are producing carbon emissions like there is no tomorrow

I keep seeing single magpies an indication of sorrow 

So even if this virus goes away

We will still have to deal with the earth getting warmer every single day

Trying to carve out an opportunity to get out of this mess

Dreaming of a trip to Barbados to find some redress 

Inner Peace


Photo by Candice Seplow on Unsplash

Peace is such a hard thing to find

Especially when it comes to peace of the mind

Inner turmoil often the order of the day

Sometimes the only thing left is the avoidance of decay

A constant state of unease and distraction

Where one is crying out for some kind of action

A sensation of fluctuation and change

A hope one day to wake up without feeling strange

The search for inner peace goes on

A wish some day all the pain and suffering will be gone

Trying to carve out a more meaningful existence

Where hurt and anguish are no longer so persistent 


A small fiction

Photo by Hao Pan on Unsplash

The busy streets are filled with noise. Colors whizzing by mechanical and humanoid. Indistinct conversations and the smell of exhaust. Chance finds me here waiting for what I think is a bus. But chance has other plans this day.

To my left another bench now occupied by a creature so beautiful I dare not look completely for fear of going blind. Glimpses of mahogany shined hair and porcelain skin. Lips the color of cherries. Wrapped in cream.

The sound of the city drowning out my heartbeat but only barely. My hands feel hot even though it is quite cool today. And I try to sit in some sort of cool pose to match the weather and her coolly reflected beauty. I feel I am failing miserably.

Does one start conversations with strangers without a cell phone these days? What would I even say? Hello does not seem to convey the desire I have to hear her voice. Talking about the weather would be so contrived. What does one say to such a thing of beauty?

I imagine that I somehow found the words to begin a conversation and that she turns her body slightly towards me on the bench. Looking wholly on her exquisite face and then into her eyes. I imagine myself falling into them body and soul. I imagine asking her for coffee and that she agrees to go both of us abandoning the bus trip we were here to make.

Lost as I am in this dream I fail to notice that she has gone from the bench to where I know not. Nor is it likely in a city of many millions I will ever know. And my hands are cold.

My Forever Valentine

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

In the way you watch at the window waiting for me to arrive home

coming out to walk me in when the path is icy

flowers for no particular reason except that you love me

and my favorite wines that just appear

The special nickname reserved only for me

and I love you spoken many times over each day

letting me watch a series over and over without complaint

and finding tear jerker movies for us to share

Reaching out to me with texts and calls throughout the day

and understanding my need for silence after stressful work

making sure I have all that I need and so much more

and keeping me safe always

Making me laugh so many times in a day

easing my fears no matter what they may be

happiness in an overflowing heart

my forever valentine

Guarding The Fishes

By A. M. Stein

Photo by Gerard JJ Hopuu on Unsplash

“the thrum of the lake water, lapping, in hypnotic pulse, at the lakeshore”

I have had a lot of jobs conducive to writing. William Faulkner wrote his gorgeously lyrical novel, As I Lay Dying, in six weeks, while working the night shift, as a security guard, at a power plant. That is what I mean by “conducive to writing.”

I, too, once worked a security guard midnight shift (which, technically, started at 11:30 p.m.) Saturdays through Wednesdays, on a ferry boat dock in Burlington, Vermont, on the shore of Lake Champlain.

I was “guarding the fishes,” as I thought it to myself, but in fact I had been hired to “keep my eyes open.”

“Can you do that?” my soon-to-be boss asked bluntly during my job interview. “Can you keep your eyes open? The last night guard could not do it. She might have had that sleeping disease, whatchamacallit, but if she did, she hadn’t informed us of that up front, so to us the sleeping on the job was pretty much as it seemed to be. Are you with me?”

“Narcolepsy?” I suggested, to show I had been following.

“Yes, that is what she was claiming afterward,” agreed my soon-to-be-boss, “when we found her asleep, among flotation devices, in a storage closet. So, you can understand how I might be interested in your answer to my seemingly over-simple question.”

One midnight shift, around 2 a.m., few months into my employment, a silent alarm must have gone off, because there was a pounding on the glass door of the dock’s modular office building where I was sitting at my work desk drawing in a notebook.

The noise startled me. I was made further insecure, when I went to investigate, by the sight of a serious-faced police officer shining the thick beam of a flashlight at me from the other side of the glass door and rapping it insistently on the glass.

Once I had let the officer inside, she examined my badge. “Are you on duty?” she asked, shining the flashlight directly into my face, scrutinizing my blemishes, as I supposed. 

My duties were minimal but I was on them, so I said, “Yes.”

I guessed she was asking why I wasn’t wearing some kind of identifying uniform. I had a good reason, but I didn’t volunteer it. The reason had to do with the money bags I transported from the ferry docks to a nearby commercial bank at the end of each shift.

Next, the officer investigated my work desk where my notebook lay open. I had been drawing a dragon flying over some sort of temple. The dragon was a dragon, but it was also a symbol I was trying to unpack. So, for that matter, was the temple.

Almost immediately, upon beginning my solitary night work on the ferry docks, I had begun having sweeping and specific visions of a monastic grounds near a meadow. Full of waterfalls and haiku insect life. Maintained by a cadre of beatific and begowned monks.

Maybe it was only the thrum of the lake water, lapping, in hypnotic pulse, at the lakeshore, but something had triggered my imagination. I caught brief sightings of unfamiliar (yet, somehow, familiar) persons and places. I frequently heard snatches of phrases and even, long, distinct conversations, riding in on the lake winds.

Part of this was, probably, just the entering, of poetry, into my subconscious.

Drawing from the A. M. Stein Archives

“You drew this?” the officer asked, of the drawing.

“Yes,” I acknowledged.

“Are you writing a kid’s book?” the officer asked.

I didn’t want to tell the officer I was working out a new, visionary poetic, so I agreed that, yes, I was.

“My kid identifies with Max from Where the Wild Things Are. You know that book? You remember Max? Sailed away from family and home and became king of the Wild Things? Let the wild rumpus begin. Max was the one who said that. My kid says it every day. Every single day she says it to someone.”

“Max became king of the Wild Things by taming them with the magic trick of staring into all their yellow eyes without blinking once,” I offered.

“That’s right,” the officer agreed. She shined her flashlight beam, once more, around the office. “Might have been a squirrel,” she suggested. “They sometimes trip the alarms. God knows they have nothing better to do.”

Next, she radioed some code to a dispatcher who returned the favor with more code.

“You have a safe rest of your night,” the officer said, departing.

I locked the door behind her. 2:25 a.m.

I sat back down at my work desk.

The drawing meant something, there was no doubt about it. But what? It was crying out for my discernment.


Photo by Japheth Mast on Unsplash

Winning can be about victory in competition

it can be about trophies and awards

it can be about money and fame

it can be about championships and titles

it can be about legacy

it can be about history

in the end though

winning is truly ever, always

about one thing and one thing only

how are you better from one moment to the next

what have you overcome in yourself

to find victory of your mind, body, and spirit

what parts of yourself have you discarded

to become stronger, more confident, powerful

in the end it is only, ever, always

about just you



By Liam Flanagan

Photo by Max Letek on Unsplash

Roll Up Roll Up
Boy do we have some entertainment for you today
A ringmaster from Cork
A teacher by trade
No qualification to run the country I’m afraid
A health minister juggling many balls in the air
Trying to convince he is going to get us through this nightmare
The Greens are walking a tightrope
Balancing calamity with messages of hope
Leo is yearning for a night on the town
Realizing now he is surrounded by a bunch of clowns
Mary Lou is doing acrobatics to avoid any blame
Yet the situation up North is to their eternal shame
So spring is here we are all staying home
Like trained animals in our cages
Whilst all around us the virus spreads and rages

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