Mark A. Murphy


Every night you open in me a fountain

of forbidden words,

words like love and sadness and freedom

and though none or few

(too few to make a difference)

shall listen to those troubled words,

the words must be written

lest the present should ever be forgotten.


While the generals celebrate

and the rulings of state empower the rich,

we are never far from the troubled lives of the poor,

or the boys in uniform, the uneasy killers –

who write their final letters home.

It is not possible to say when the war will end,

or count the dead in such a way

as to bring any comfort to the living.


You say, ‘get up, do not be afraid,

write your poems, my love.’

And there it is again, the struggle

to be one’s self, the customary carnage,

the struggle to speak the truth.

What man will raise his arms in defiance –

raise his head above the hole

he has spent years digging for himself?


Every night you free me

from the disapproval of my fellow poets

whose ancient belief in the natural order of things

condones the ‘war of all against all.’

And so we return once more to forbidden words,

words like peace and justice and brotherhood –

even these words must be written

albeit against the stream.



please see Author, Mark A. Murphy’s bio in his additional works for CWPJ and on the Author’s page.


Of Looking Glasses

Kristen Scott


I would drink the drink of strychnine

to push the hurt of you out of my mind


I never knew that look before

I never knew   orange

blossoms departed from your eyes


oh, to look at me in such venomous

strikes  –

I never thought to see that through

the roses of mine


could Shakespeare have written

such a fantastical ending

to a wide-eyed passion?


ah, the glorious dying from love

the fables and witchery of wonder

secret potions, eyes of newt, and

fairy dust.


but, alas, our love wasn’t born through the

looking glass – I just never knew


until now.



Kristen Scott- see author’s bio in additional works and on author’s page.

Primal Touch

Lisa Suhair Majaj


My newborn’s skin was so satiny to the touch
I worried my hangnails would catch and rip her.
I bent my face to her downy head, touching my lips
to the soft curve of her skull, bones soft
and unmolded, hair wispy and damp,  the odor of birth
still emanating from her as if from a new-baked loaf,
musty and sweet. I could have spent forever
with my lips pressed to her infant flesh, but hunger
had other agendas. Her wail pierced my body,
sent electric cramps through my still-open womb,
milk sparking through my nipple, as her toothless gums
clamped down and pulled, tugging milk fiercely
from my deepest core, flooding us both with the essence
of life. It’s the primal touch we don’t remember
that shapes us.  The first time my daughter opens herself
to another’s caress, will her body recall that first flooding of love,
light touch of lips and hands,  life-force expanding in a milky rush
as I drew her body to my body and gave suck?



please see author’s full bio in additional works and in the Author’s Page.