Jennie Scalisi


Her long sturdy bones

      once walked miles to serve 

      and provide comfort to family and friends

Now enfeebled by chronic illness

     she lies immobile 

     days turn to endless nights

     with but a thread bare blanket to cover 

Her malnourished and atrophied limbs 

       draped in parched withered skin

       abandoned in a dark musty nursing home

Assistance is required for feeding, bathing or repositioning 

       demeaned with no control of bodily functions

Formerly a pastor her strong oratory voice

      commanded respect at the First Baptist Church

Now muted, sad sunken eyes communicate deeply

          with a slightest perceivable grin

          a faint crease etching her smooth ebony features  

An all knowing gaze follows me across the room

          where I visit my mother in the next bed

A single tear takes form then gently falls 

        And I soon realize that it is mine

  HANDS (1-10-2022)

As a newborn, my hand grasps around your finger

My fingers soon discover a mouth, a belly button and toes

Hands reach to explore faces, food and moving objects of color

Hands play with clay, small toys and hug a puppy

Hands develop the skills to draw, write script or calligraphy

Hands engage in baseball, bicycling or rock scrambling 

Hands learn to sew, crochet and create macramé

Hands practice the disciplines of martial arts and yoga

Hands read books, take school notes and filled in circles

So that hands could provide compassion while examining 

       young and old to help the sick or wounded 

Hands that love to garden gently stroke lavender, rosemary and      

      coriander so as to savor its fragrance 

Hands patiently nurture the soil, plant seedlings then 

       grateful to harvest nature’s offerings

My hands hold your now aged ones still soft and warm

Your hands, which continue to hold me gently 

        comforting daddy’s little girl  

Despite tendons that would tighten and cramp or 

        gradually lose dexterity from swollen joints

My hands are still holding yours as I am flooded with memories 

Yet in stillness they become phantom limbs 

        as I sit in deep meditation

Hands along with body and mind have now

finally come to rest

Leslie Bijoux

For Kara

Come, take my hand and walk with me now
Let us gaze upon the earth from the edge of the sky at dawn
Let us feel humbled by the vast oceans and the majestic mountains Let us bask in the beauty of all the living things
And when we see that there is great pain and suffering
We won’t need to be afraid or look away
Let us just bear witness to everything we see
And surrender the need to judge
Come with me now and lay down your head
For the seductions of the earth are no longer your burdens to bear Just let the deep dark night wash over you
Lift up your soul to the heavens and
Let all the light of the universe shine in your heart
Let yourself feel the peace in knowing
That you will be forever loved
and your soul is forever free.

What to do When A Disturbing Yet Intriguing Character Appears

Of course you want to run and scream.
Of course you want to hide.
Don’t run don’t hide don’t look away.
There’s a razor-beaked bird thieving eggs from a robin’s nest, A dismembered Barbie shouting obscenities,

A grubby and very hungry boy clutching your ankles. It’s ok. They have gifts for you.

Secrets to share and treasures to unearth. So here’s what you do:

Keep a journal by your side always.
Now when a gang of angry marionettes appears
Or a laughing gull starts pecking at your head you’ll be prepared.
Don’t be afraid or annoyed at them.
Instead, invite them to supper.
Ask some questions.
Usually the birds will speak. Children, not so much.
Don’t worry. Ask anyway. Listen carefully. Keep watching.
Now find a blank page in your book,
Pluck the blood-stained feathers from your teeth and stick them in there.
Spit out the broken bones and the wounded hearts,
Collect the oddities and absurdities and everything that makes your skin crawl and
Put them all in your book.
Good. You can keep everything there until you’re ready.
Have patience, my friends, patience.
It could be a week but it could be twenty nine years.
One day you’ll pick up your book and it will open to some random page, only it isn’t random at all.
That lonely and woeful child once so reluctant to speak will have a song for you so joyful you will weep. All you need to do now is listen.

Full Table

Eleven years
Plus five months ago
Mothers and fathers
Sons and Daughters
And friends of friends
Squeezed elbow to elbow
Knee to knee
Around the new table
With the extra leaf.
We added one long folding table and
One card table,
Cobbled together enough chairs, Although some weren’t really chairs at all. Two cats prowled underfoot
While a sister wrestled a
Twenty two pound bird in the kitchen. Three bottles of wine or maybe more Opened, consumed, discarded.

A father
A brother
A daughter
A friend.
Both cats.
Some deaths were slow and painful Others sudden and tragic
One was not known for quite some time. A wife and a friend
Moved one thousand miles away, Though not together and
Not at the same time.
Three millennials,
Sons of the sister, scattered.
Another son drifting, lost.

A son’s girlfriend is now A daughter
Some might add “in-law” But I don’t need laws

To tell me who is family

And who is just passing through. A granddaughter
Takes her place by my side
No extra leaf

No extra table
No mismatched chairs.

A small gathering.
A full table nonetheless.


This day broke Ugly
Cold and

The feeble
Light of dawn Revealing remnants of Rage.
Any hint of hope Shredded.

This day broke Me nearly in two I speak to
Not a soul
I just crawl
Inside myself and Howl
Coiled around my Belly
I hold it there Breathless. Godless.

This day. Today.
I am broken.


That faint jagged line you thought was the shore Was claimed long ago by the sky
You have no bearings now
No sure footing and nothing to hold on to You’re unmoored

Adrift in the fog.
Can you feel that needling under your skin?
That’s fear
Welling up from deep in your belly
Threatening to consume you.
Resist the urge to flail about
Just close your eyes and
Let your mind wander where it will
Under the dusty debris of abandoned dreams
Behind the crumbling walls of angry insults
And into the deep canyons of lives lost.
Just notice these things and let them be
Move on gently without judgment.
Notice now, too, the welcoming call of the garden path Lined with bountiful boughs of lighthearted laughter And the comforting innocence of a child’s smile.
Can you feel that little flutter in your heart?
That’s hope
Encircling you with love and light.
That’s what you hold on to.
You hold on to hope.

Secret Losses

Under barely a moon
I buried my
Secret losses
Next to the tall
Purple Coneflower and Brazen Yellow Tickseed

Beneath a carpet of Sweet Alyssum
In the crevice of a Rock wall I

Tucked tiny slivers of Unspoken sorrow

Unshed tears
Like an early snow And in the
Hushed silence
I wonder
What will grow now,

What will grow?