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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Richard Wells – LTNC Series

Hungry Water

Strolling past

like Christ on a Crutch

Everything he owns

cloaking his battered-ness

or in a shopping cart

Contact or greeting

a baited hook in

hungry water

Reverse fishing

make the cast

become the catch

No current strong enough

to allay, “can you spare…”

I can and do

with smile and eyes

and see:

black white brown

native asian

he she they

all of us

in the stark reality

of the world

that none of us

are free.

Artist and About the Piece:

Richard Wells: “I consider myself a poet/journalist reporting from the streets and the universe between my ears.  I live part time in Seattle, WA, the other part in Guanajuato, Mexico.  Recently I wrote and produced a 50 minute work with 5 readers, 2 of them musicians, that explored intersections of the environmental catastrophe and immigration.  The name of the work was:  Sideways Through Zion:  Field Notes.  This is a short piece from that performance.”

Lynn White – LTNC Series

Help Me Over

Help me.

Help me over.

Help me cross.

I can see the sky 


by debris,

by rocks,

by wire,

by dereliction.


by sharpness and

impenetrable barriers.

I want to see it clear,

clear and unblemished

creamy white

and pink and blue.

Help me see it.

Help me over.

Help me cross.

I want want to see it

framed by trees,

I want to see

the rocks become



Help me.

Help me over.

Help me cross 

to the place

where the birds are singing

breaking up the sky with flight.

Does it still exist, this place?

I must think so.

Help me find it. 

Help me.

Help me over.

Help me cross

First published in Armageddon Issue, Pilcrow and Dagger, February 2017





can you hear them?

The sounds that went before

the wall was built.


I can hear them.

Not the wall builders,

no, not them,

but others who also

don’t want to see

what lies beyond.

What lies on the other side.

Others who will build walls

in the future.

But listen,

we can hear them.


Listen for when the cracks appear,

then push.

First published in Praxis, April 2019


Separate Development

We must develop separately, you and I,

you on your side, me on mine.

The wall between us




They built it so.

We must undermine it, you and I,

you on your side, me on mine,

Burrow beneath  

the rocky foundation,

scratch away,

one stone at a time.

Wall fall down.

First published in Art Of Peace Tyler Poetry Anthology – ‘Intertwined, Poems of Shared Endeavor, September, 2015


Running On Empty 

We take care how we fill our shoes.

Our trainers and boots.

Our flats and heels, stilettos and cuban.

They may match our mood, specially chosen,

or be eternal representations of our unified self.

So surely something of us must remain

when they are emptied.

Not just our smells and mis-shapes,

evocative as they are,

but something more fundamental.

Something spiritual.

Something symbolic.

See here

empty shoes

laid out tidily in rows.

Blocked together on a grass field 

or concrete yard.

Rows upon rows of them

that once contained the school children

now shot dead,

our children.

See here

empty shoes

piled high in untidy heaps.

Heaps and heaps of them, 

that once contained peaceful people

now massacred, bombed, burned.

Our people

spanning place

and time without end.

First published in Tuck, June 2018



At school there was a weekly collection 

for charity.

I saved up my biscuit money

so that

I did not seem different, more impoverished

than the rest.

And so that I had something to give to those

less fortunate.

I knew what charities were, you see.

Well, except for the one called


I did not know what refugees were.

This was 1956.

Only six years after the ending of a war

creating millions

of refugees

and I had to ask what they were

several times.

Even then,

I didn’t understand.

It made no sense to me.

I didn’t understand.

First published in Tuck Magazine, February 2018

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Lynn White

DaRell Pittman – LTNC Series

The American Family

Like bamboo shoots

after the storm,

they are resilient, undefeated

and persistent, growing ever stronger.

Their roots run deep

to support aspirations soaring high.

          This is the song of Leuane and Chanty,

          the Mukdahanhs … refugees of Laos.

Two young lovers facing the unknown,

straddling cultures.

They are fearless, without hesitancy.

They stand hand in hand,

hands holding children,

fleeing the land of ten thousand elephants,

seeking refuge in a land of ten thousand lakes.

From rain forests to blizzards

they hold on to their dream

like they hold on to their children

and their … love.

Standing hand in hand

in this new land,

they continue to … dream … the American Dream.

A dream that promises, freedom and prosperity

through hard work and sacrifice.

They had come to America

embracing hope and offering respect

to neighbor and stranger alike.

Leuane and Chanty arrived dreaming …

the American Dream,

where hope springs eternal.

But it had become “Winter in America.”

And too many of our people had become cold

and could not recall the birth of their own dreams.

So, seeing themselves superior,

these uber-americans,

these super-americans

built an economic and social fortress

of solitude

to isolate the immigrants.

But the Mukdahanhs had been forged in the land

of Suriyothai queens and kings,

farmers and builders, philosophers and scholars.

They came from generations of a people

who tamed the jungles to build temples

and foster beliefs of love, peace and enlightenment.

The Mukdahanhs were not afraid

of adversity nor obstacles.

So, they held on to one another

and continued to seek their dream

of a better life for their progeny,

and a place to live out their love.

So they worked.

They worked hard.

Educated their seed.

Lived their lives honest and true,

withstood tempests and maelstroms,

bigotry and misfortune.

All the while remaining a family … an American family.

Then without fanfare nor opulence

they did more than simply find

the American Dream …

they became the American Dream:

“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses

  yearning to breathe free”

because they are the chosen ones.

They built this country

and are still building our country.

Let us never forget

that the global immigrant

is the well spring of our nation’s wealth.

The American Dream

is a dream of immigrants

and it always has been.

Let us celebrate

the two young Lao lovers

who crossed jungles and rivers,

faced soldiers and camps,

fought poverty and racism,

all for a chance to … love,

raise their children

and grow old … together.

This is the song of

Leuane and Chanty Mukdahanh …

an American family.

Artist and About the Piece:

DaRell Pittman: “The poem is a testament to the love, persistence and faith of my in-laws. They overcame tremendous obstacles to simply stay alive in Laos and Thailand. Then once here in the United States, they were forced to continue to have to stand against injustice. My father-in-law, Leuane Mukdahanh is one of my heroes and I wanted to pay tribute to “The Mukdahanh story.”

Hanalena Fennel – LTNC Series

Tall Tales

When I was a child

America was full giants

Of a huge man with an axe

That left footprints as lakes in his wake

Ate through logging towns

Felled entire forests with a single swipe 

Worked better alone

But always had his Babe 

The cowboy was never filmed with cows in the same shot 

That was left for offscreen vaqueros 

American Cowboys got stars and big guns 

Never missed

Never left the shoot out to find those clapboard houses offer no protection for the family cowering inside

The child in the gingham dress is still corpse no matter which gang shot her

The Hammerman we loved for his size

He’s “too dumb to quit” even as it killed him 

Nobody worried about the teaching his big black hands a skill

We just cheered on from bandstands in the desert as America sacrificial gladiator fought the machines were meant to save him 

As a child the only thing I learned of giants is 

           they kill everything they love 

          die alone 

Sleep giants. 

Rest on the earth as mountains.

You were never really here

 And our gingham dressed daughters have someplace to go.

Upbringing: A found poem of quotes from Donald and Ivanka Trump

Providing an Order of Succession Within the Department of Justice 

If being complicit means…1 

Locker room banter 2 

You have to treat ‘em like shit 3 

And when you’re a star 4 

Grab them by the pussy 5  

Perhaps I would be dating her 6 

Quality for me is key 7 

My father values talent 8  

Low I.Q. crazy 9 

A special place in hell for… 10 

You are a pussy 11 

Hard to be a ten 12 

Gosh, I sound like my father 13  

That’s part of the fun 14  

1 Trump, Ivanka. Television Interview with Gayle King. ​CBS This Morning​. CBS. April 5, 2017  

2 Trump, Donald. ​Campaign Statement​. Donald Trump Presidential Campaign. October 06, 2016  

3 Trump, Donald. ​Told to friend Philip Johnson according to ​New York Magazine​. 1992 

4 Trump, Donald. Video Recording with Billy Bush. ​Access Hollywood​. NBC. 2005 

5 Trump, Donald. Video Recording with Billy Bush. ​Access Hollywood​. NBC. 2005 

6 Trump, Donald. Television Interview. ​The View​. ABC. ​March 6, 2006 

7 Trump, Ivanka. Online Interview with Andrew Bevan. TeenVogue. March 28, 2012 

8 Trump, Ivanka. Listed as Headliner. 2016 Republican Convention. July 21, 2016 

9 Trump, Donald. Tweet. Twitter. June 29,2017 

10 Trump, Ivanka. Interview with unnamed reporter from Associated Press. ​Ivanka Trump says child tax credit ‘not a pet project’ by Catherine Lucey​. Associated Press November 15, 2017 

11 Trump, Donald. Video Recording with Billy Bush. ​Access Hollywood​. NBC. 2005  

12 Trump, Donald. Radio Interview with Howard Stern. ​The Howard Stern Show. ​WXRK. September 2005 

13 Trump, Ivanka. ​The Trump Card: Playing to Win in Work and Life.​ Touchstone. April 20, 2010 

14 Trump, Ivanka. Interview with Rachel Gillett. ​Ivanka Trump describes her life as the daughter of a potential US president, running the Trump empire, and building her own brand​. Yahoo Finance. March 17, 2016 

About the Artist:

HanaLena Fennel is a Jewish-Hawaiian American poet. She has writtten a book, Letters to the Leader, published by Moon Tide Press in response to the numerous executive orders issued during Trump’s term in office.

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Kushal Poddar – LTNC Series

African Myths And Lore

I mislay my book of African Myths & Lore,

vaguely recall one most burrowing that makes me sore –

about a civilian Government and nakedness,

albeit I may make a mistake; this recalling process

is like the body of a refugee swept ashore.

In the milieu drums the sea.

Our eyes smile in white.

Gulls’ aerobics loop a muss.

Where else can I misplace a book but on the shelf of conscience? 

Artist Bio:

Authored ‘The Circus Came To My Island’, ‘A Place For Your Ghost AnimalsUnderstanding The Neighborhood’, ‘Scratches Within’, ‘Kleptomaniac’s Book of Unoriginal Poems’, ‘Eternity Restoration Project- Selected and New Poems’ and now ‘Herding My Thoughts To The Slaughterhouse-A Prequel’ (Alien Buddha Press)

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Author Page –


Love Thy Neighboring Country (LTNC) – Continuing Series

In September I had started a series, Love Thy Neighboring Country.

I am so excited that this month I am able to continue that series and share it with you all for the month of November!
Wonderful artists have put together heartfelt work to shine their light into darkness.

Their pieces are in efforts to promote the celebration of all countries, to humanize cultures who have been dehumanized, and to show support of those suffering due to racism. It is also a peaceful protest against the inhumane treatment of immigrants and refugees happening in the U.S.

This is not about politics, but about making humanity the priority.

Join us in spreading these arts of love by liking, commenting, and sharing these upcoming beautiful pieces.