An Artistic Challenge

I gave myself an artistic challenge this month. It started with a picture. I thought how fun it would be to write an inspirational quote to. Why stop there? Why not write a small piano instrumental inspired by the quote? Nothing crazy, nothing perfection, just raw art. And thus, I decided to see where this could take me, if for no other reason than it would be fun to get creative juices flowing.

Do you have any artistic challenges that you have given yourself? Feel free to tell me about them in the comments below!

Take a look at my first completed picture/quote/music combination:

Oriada Dajko – LTNC Series


In your world, inside your country,
in your town, inside your house,
in your family…
… strangers came around.
Even inside you…
Language was never found.


Artist & About the Piece:

Oriada Dajko

This is a short poem that talks about the boundaries people set between them. Creating boundaries with others also creates boundaries for oneself. This poem is dedicated to the power of language in society.

Patricia Walsh – LTNC Series


Addled algorithms, a season on ecstasy,

heartfelt persuasions know no limits,

built-in adolescence drives the insecure

sleeping in doorways a superior curse.

Crystalline palaces under shared beds

protection from prying hands before bedtime,

produce what you can, on pain of obsolescence

shame to jettison what engenders failure.

Inferior complexes the hardest in the book,

complicated questions show their ire,

holding one’s own in a mess of radio buttons

true or false or otherwise, screeching demise.

The eerily judgemental speeds the plough,

burning all and sundry to keep things sweet,

incentivise work like never before,

no amount of apology can dissuade that.

More fussy about alcohol, good, ill, otherwise

cursed to sleeping rough once time passes

safely passing that hurdle, standing alone

cutting swathes across examinations in due course.

Returning to the fold, simple massacre permitting,

the producer’s helper finding the darkest hour,

clock-face on the mortar forgives everything,

a call for proper order a proper champion.

Watching Us Burn

The morning’s red sky speaks atrocities.

Rare though it is, beckoning sheets of rain,

washing efforts at painting at nought,

seeping clothes on the dry as recommended.

Never thinking of a local drink to soothe,

enough alcohol to go stale on the sly,

ghastly though it tastes, disbelief at alcoholics

resurrecting examinations in due course.

Swimming in technology for a greater good,

exiting down the side alley once vacated,

actions like milk spilt over camaraderie

misplacing a step where the affairs overtake.

This invisible mind cuts for a better deal

sit down and be quiet, that’s all I ask.

Pay attention where due, on a straightened path,

retiring at a slow pace, artistically rich.

Tomorrow bodes even worse, a sportive adventure,

darkened features have no one to blame,

half-empty glass snugly prising its gun

maturity being tough, at the best of times

an elusive state of affairs, still undefined.

Life-changing excuses, taken out with the rubbish,

burning tantalising magazines out of spite.

Too adventurous for some, even if all in the head,

fantasy without guilt in love with the impossible.

My Minion Book

Getting up from seats to satisfy various groups,

vacating the naked lunch, never again,

shot without mercy after taunting tears

the sated crowds get their own preferences.

Sports injuries is no fault but your own,

twinkling lights shine on without a care,

more important than life or death, of course

regular drives home a cause for gratitude.

Weaving funny stories, in a haze of mistakes

feeling shame from my work unhorses me,

eating from production-heavy glasses

sacrilegious condiments through a gravy boat.

Playing continually in red, intractable future,

drinking alone is a joke no one can cure,

being watched from various angles, scrutinised,

hardly redeemed from one’s loneliness.

Tracking devices eventually kill us all.

The shame of existence wiping the floor,

searing the deficit paid out to society

unfulfilled friendship hardly registering.

Hurt at the time of writing, something was up.

Theories of demise milked beyond recognition

lifelong embarrassment resonates through anger,

a public diary, however brief, still incriminates.

Wild Life & Low Life

Scuppering another’s music as you do best,

black eclipse on form a requisite standard

a pinnacle of pain falls short of closure

crassly sucked, on demand, inconsequential

worming into a life grossly all right,

introducing the dark side of a job well done.

Sleeping under demands, requests futile

of places to stay, clothing notwithstanding,

waitress on guard to see you off safely,

loved, not liked, as her parents wished

scanned demands make politicians laugh,

persecution simplex explains their rule.

Promising redemption on the back of a laptop,

nicely groomed to its use to an optimum,

frequenting the gingerbread house on every occasion

an unlikely rehab from top to toe

spare cuts do the business, a tea-based lifeform,

straws breaking backs miss their chances.

Now, I am alone, before smart phones and revenge porn.

Ultimate sacrifice no more than a whimsy,

laying down in peace, a pardoner’s pole-vault

sleeping though you are now, a luxury of soil

on your own sword of drugs and alcohol,

probably missed, by whom I have forgotten.

Subtle you were, like the quick brown fox

jumps over the lazy dog, perchance.

Stale as it is, pumping alcohol as directed,

slowly imbibing was you watch from afar.

An exit strategy hardly beckons,

pointing out classic hits over the tannoy,

disembodied photographs grace the stairwell,

playing games where provided, entertaining.

A hardly crafted tattoo graces your neckline,

barely covered under buttons, displayed all the same

closed-circuit conversation of no consequence

looking strange a price to pay for solitary.

Hooked on decent manners, a prolific swing,

born-again criminal over suitable drugs,

championing one’s talent for better reading,

on condition of including you in my canon.

Bare shoulders reveal a wealth of fashion

crying only for yourself, incarcerated again,

slotting in sex wherever possible

deceiving nurses with your extravagant poverty.

An astringent collective, drinking unfashionably

moving far away it a hard-worn guilt.

Opportune drugs defining your life

dying in perfect time, a wrong proved right.


Patricia Walsh was born and raised in the parish of Mourneabbey, Co Cork, Ireland.  To date, she has published one novel, titled The Quest for Lost Eire, in 2014, and has published one collection of poetry, titled Continuity Errors, with Lapwing Publications in 2010. She has since been published in a variety of print and online journals.  These include: The Lake; Seventh Quarry Press; Marble Journal; New Binary Press; Stanzas; Crossways; Ygdrasil; Seventh Quarry; The Fractured Nuance; Revival Magazine; Ink Sweat and Tears; Drunk Monkeys; Hesterglock Press; Linnet’s Wing, Narrator International, The Galway Review; Poethead and The Evening Echo.

Acoustic Librarian – LTNC Series

We crawl to work in metal shells

Fueled by burning dinosaurs,

Our planet slowly cooking in the smoke.
Waves of heat soar higher;

The Golden State’s on fire;

Though some say global warming is a hoax.
Melting polar icecaps

,Disappearing glaciers

Lead to the rising of the sea.
Hurricanes grow stronger;

Rain and floods last longer;

A bad time to live in Miami!
Is this progress?

Is this progress?
Scientists have warned us

Of rising CO2;

Still we keep cutting down the trees.
Water grown acidic

And tangles of plastic

Poison the creatures in our seas.
Farmers lose harvests

To harsh, changing weather,

Reaping drought and famine for the poor.
They migrate for survival;

Labeled on arrival,

Invaders teeming on our shore.
Is this progress?

In making America great again?

Will you speak truth to those in power

Who bury their heads in the sand?
Is this progress?

Is this progress?
Smirking politicians

Mock the Green New Deal,

But whose is the costly fantasy?
To keep on doing nothing

Will end up costing trillions

In plummeting worldwide GDP.
Will we work together,

Make the painful changes

Needed for our world to survive?
Or follow blind guides

To the edge of the cliff

On a path to collective suicide?
Is this progress?

In making America great again?

Will you speak truth to those in power

Who bury their heads in the sand?
We need progress

In making our planet well again.

Let’s cause an uproar

‘Til we can’t be ignored;

Don’t bury your head in the sand.
Is this progress?

Is this progress?

Is this progress?


Acoustic Librarian

Katherine Gotthardt – LTNC Series

Latino Community Unravels

“With Latinos fleeing the combined effects of the construction downturn, the mortgage crisis and new local laws aimed at catching illegal immigrants, Latino shops are on the brink of bankruptcy, church groups are hemorrhaging members, neighborhoods are dotted with for-sale signs, and once-busy strip malls have been transformed into ghost towns.”  (

Why is this store so empty?
The cash girl’s eyes are caves,
inward turned, downward turned,
downward toward her laces,
loosely bound, blind eyelet sets,

the red, white and blue stained sneakers,
industrial woven canvas, the rubber

if she has to run.

Work at home, work at the store,

bathe Abuela tonight, scan for cans

to pile here, keep one ear out for the doorbell—

as if listening will bring people in.

These are the braids of her living now,

between metal aisles and shelves,

no customer now, no jangle now, might as well

sweep again. Pick up the corn-husk broom,

clean like there’s business tomorrow,

in this old store, ethnic store, clean away the Spanish.

Bleach the tiles twice today, power-wash her skin,
beg her body to look like the powerful–
at least until payday again.

You Made Me Feel Illegal

You made me feel illegal
the way you eyed my hair
too-long-too-dyed-for-work hair
too-third-world-take-care-of-kids hair
too-got-to-clean-the-house hair
too-too-much-chat-about-the-family hair.

You made me feel illegal
my Wal-mart pants and blouses
my too-this-isn’t-how-we-dress-here clothes
too-cheap-to-even-work-here clothes
too-girly-to-do-your-job-here clothes
too-back-to-the-slum-with-you-dear clothes.

You made me feel illegal
pointing out my jewelry
“too gold” you say, “too gaudy”
my too-don’t-show-your-face-in-the-lobby jewelry
too-you-know-nothing-about-our-country jewelry
too-go-home-to-anchor-babies jewelry.

You made me feel illegal
like I’m too-you-can’t-speak-like-we-know how
too-got-no-right-to-talk now
too-got-to-go-and-wash-sticky-floors now
too-better-go-cook-in-a-filthy-kitchen now
too-best-sweep-up-the-dirt-you-see now.

You made me feel illegal
too-nothing-more-than-low class
too-nothing-less-than loathed
You made me feel illegal.

You should be illegal.


To write poetry,
you must untrain
your brain,
forget the rigidities
of relationships.
Where is the mug

of Cuban coffee
you made me a moment ago?
Here, in the sunlight,
keeping it warm.
I’d like to stay here.
Sip it.


Katherine Gotthardt, M.Ed.

President, Write by the Rails

InsideNova’s Best of Prince William Award-Winning Author

Read About this Artist’s Activism:

Ruth Kozak – LTNC Series


On the beach at Naxos,

It isn’t just the mothers who care for their children.

I see fathers tenderly cradling babies,

Rocking them gentle as they pace the shore.

Another holds his tiny daughter tight,

A mother hold her toddler’s hand on their morning stroll.

Here on Naxos

Sun-browned, naked nymphs frolick at the waters edge

Children everywhere, romp in the summer sun.

Happy families together on the beach.

On another island

A child’s limp body is lifted from the sand,

The shoreline strewn with abandoned life-jackets, back-packs and debris

A father grieves for his drowned family,

A mother screams in terror.

These parents care for their children too,

Have risked their lives to escape to a ‘safe’ place,

Leaving the horrors of war behind

To crowd onto over-loaded rubber rafts

For a sea journey to safety.

How many of them have drowned on the voyage?

How many have lost their children

Those children they wanted to bring to a safe shore

To enjoy a future in a place where there was no war?

On Lesbos Island,

It isn’t just fish the sailors catch in their nets

Brave men dive into the sea to save those who are floundering

Village women bring warm blankets, food, offer comfort.

Strangers come from afar to embrace the rescued ones.

Yet there are those who would not welcome them.

“Go back home!” they say. Home? There is no home.

It has all been destroyed, and already too many lives lost.

I sit on Naxos’ shore,

Watch the happy parents stroll,

Hear the happy cries of children

And I think about that island, not too far from here

Where a frightened mother cradles her baby

And a father cries for a drowned son.

Dedicated to the memory of little Alan Kurdi (2015)

Artist and About This Piece:

Ruth Kozak is a published historical fiction writer and travel journalist. “I wrote while on the beach at Naxos, Greece.  I was thinking of the island not far away, Lesbos (Mytelini) where so many refugees have landed over the past couple of years, and in particular this tragic event when one of the boats sank.”

Ruth Kozak also writes some poetry and instructs writing classes. Her novel (about the fall of Alexander the Great’s empire) is available in two volumes on  SHADOW OF THE LION: Blood on the Moon (vol 1)\and SHADOW OF THE LION: The Fields of Hades (vol 2)  and is also available (full volume) in amazon Kindle.
She lives in New Westminster, British Columbia Canada.

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