Escort Service and Other Poetry by Mike L. Nichols

To What We Lost – Mike L. Nichols

In captivating rawness, Mike L. Nichols expresses his experience of losing his mother. His words pull you into an understanding of the loss of oneself within such grief.

Escort Service

I didn’t expect a weathered man
my age wearing a Stetson hat,
one thumb hooked in the pocket
of filthy jeans, to come drifting
from behind the rusted yellow
dumpster in the back-alley of the
Blue Moon Gentlemen’s Club.
My grandfather, who drank himself
to death twenty-five years before my
birth, escorting me to the next plane
when the bullet torpedoes quick
through my whiskey soaked brain.

Who makes these assignments,
some cherubic bureaucratic being?
Probably not God. He’d have bigger
things to see to, what with tsunami’s
and hurricanes washing people away.
Unattended toddlers tipping into
irrigation canals. But it could be He
purposely picks who the escort will be
just for a laugh at the look on the new
ghost’s face when a stranger floats
into view. Why wouldn’t God have a sense
of humor too? He must get bored, telling
the same old jokes to the angelic host.

 “A pirate stumps into a bar . . .”

As it was, I couldn’t stand by and watch Mom
waste away, age two decades overnight and die
after the last round of chemo was several
months behind. Instead, I stood on the other side
of her bedroom door while she sank,
awash in a private sea of pain meds.
Maybe she didn’t show at the Blue Moon
out of resentment for all those days I hid
doggy-paddling through bottles, drifting
off on a stone pipe’s smoke. Leaving her
before she could leave me.

Proximate C.O.D.

I followed the simple set of instructions
promising power over death while
offering nothing for the alternative.
No means to cork the shuddering
grief at graveside.

Dehydration’s the danger.
If I can just plunge the nutrients
and some water into her
throat every 2 – 3 hours
there’s cause to be hopeful. Life doesn’t
feel like an illusion
when I’m wiping the shit
from her ass again.

Random stars twinkle
coyly at me while I wait for
some sympathetic or sagacious
presence to shout back from
the blackness that’s
swallowing me.

Magic Number

The threshold of sunsets looms at
Against my will, I circle toward it.
When I cross over, how can she be
my mother any longer? Her death
will be renewed. Her existence growing
cobweb thin. In perpetuity younger than me.
To be a child older than your mother must
violate some rule.

I was driving yellow trucks across
the carpet when I heard her hymn
coming from the ironing room
and for a moment I was frightened,
believing an angel was singing.
Drawn by the sound I stood and scuffed
my feet across the carpet toward it.
Fear of silencing her song held me
peering in at the threshold.

I wasn’t listening whenever it was
that I crossed the verge into adulthood.
I missed the moment. I vaguely believed
some secret knowledge would have been
instantly imparted. An understanding
greater than a child’s. A defining equation,
16 – 48.7 > 17,782

When they cart away my coffin
will all things be equal?


Mike L. Nichols is a graduate of Idaho State University and a recipient of the Ford Swetnam Poetry Prize. He lives and writes in Eastern Idaho. Look for his poetry in Rogue Agent, Tattoo Highway, Ink&Nebula, Plainsongs Magazine, and elsewhere.

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Marble Rolling & Other Poetry by Patricia Walsh

To What We Lost – Patricia Walsh

December is upon us! We have Patricia Walsh carrying us through the beginning of this month with rich poetry to savor. Look below to sink your teeth into it!

Marble Rolling

Marble rolling along the floor, perfected
Punctured preferences following suit,
Walking in a heightened show, laid on thick
Crying on bilateral shoulders an obvious trait,
Called-upon to dusk the husk of a tired unison.

The creeping expense, poisoning the back pocket
The high moral ground awaits its garden
Showed with wanton recollection rebelled
Cutting the alcohol with some sensical traits
Toxic association swollen in a hard-won smile.

Raging against closing time, manners forthcoming
Never holding a flashbulb to the ready-made,
Caught on high, too fall to sunder,
Access some arias till the recidivist squeaks
Tinctured through inclusion of another’s aside.

Scarred as needed, read from the bottom
This technological product behoves it’s gait.
Not permitting this mistake, willed as a wanted
Penny dropping into the well of softened need,
The necessary blood siphoned through suffering.

Coffee dropped down to you, courteous, satisfying
Wishing for the other side of the bar, clothed
In the cloths of heaven, this easier time,
Gone into pursuit of rarefied blood
The darkened whistle unheard, as if wanted.

Trapped Nerve

Needing a seat like any other, price already paid.
The acrostic beginnings burgeon on well
The rancid oasis beats to the sound of the converse
People wanting less to do with whole numbers.

Wanting more food, expenditure allowing
Watered-down prizegiving strip-lighted away
A turnover of friends meet and greet over snacks
Burnt and activated a fad contrived.

Watching over rainfall, the height of fear,
Aware of what is done, guilty in paperback,
Mourning simple losses as if life depended
Intercepted through sunlight, stranglehold overdone.

Ripped clothing over wealth, perennial fashion
What is not understood is recycled by the book,
Popularity in mid-road crushed in bed
More useless the better, impressing the singular,

The criminal proceeding, high-wire jewellery
Watched through competition, fingers in pies,
Aggravated eyelashes a pulchritudinous mess,
Fed rubbish through the gills a slotted burn,

Scruffy out of love, criminal affection aside,
Fed every sort of theory at the going rate
Persecution laughably easy, turned into affability
Not seen or sought for, ever again,


No mannerly dichotomy can save us now
Karmafied baby dykes renege on form,
The mangy dog stands guard, for free,
Suited and booted, surveying the detectives
This luxury goes forth to asuage the few,

Ample brains being cooked, fed upon,
The unrequited feast dangles to oblivion,
Selecting broken hearts to disintegrate
The disinnocent going fast and easy with the times,

Streamlined blood, eating with another purpose
Reflexive sorrow bends back all supreme
Asked-for littering too glorious for some,
Sized against airstrikes on another country
Remaining in the news, God-feared like that,

Arrested improvement, go home and go to bed,
Intrusive conversation relaxed and enjoyed
Layered with accusations on how it was done,
Rattled into invalidity into seats being taken,

The overly serious disposition, dispatched home.
Finding massacres where the room does lie
Novelty dye jobs erupt the binary position
The better to offend, audition to high heaven
Seeing to burn-out the disciplinary station

Corrugated Walls

Glorified sweetness comes home to squawk,
The proper exits go through over written joy,
Exhuming sadness that goes through publication
Heard through corrugated walls, watching the money.

Giving glances a break, glossing over guidelines
The blighted handwriting matched for its colour
The ascertained corners run through your hair
The holy vocals singing hallelujah gone through.

The foreigners speaking native tongues
Gone home to suburbia, spectating where needed,
Writing at a loss to weaken the fingers,
No longer a typecast that determines the weight.

These defunct riches, faltered beyond recognition,
Advertising the divorce on a solemn counter
Clockwise, working perfume on tenterhooks
Elusive maturity stands its own guard.

This disgusting currency, spent out of glory,
Going through motions to fall once again,
Priced out of the market by the entertainment
The tin being needed again to be returned.

Needed to cry, whatever reason should suffice
The dismantled lover stalls the merry dance,
Hibernating from the scars of useless fashion
Relating to, hardening the thin walls of guidance.


Patricia Walsh was born in the parish of Burnfort, Co Cork,and educated at University College Cork, graduating with an MA in Archaeology. Her poetry has been published in Stony Thursday; Southword; Narrator International;  Trouvaille Review; Strukturrus; Seventh Quarry; Vox Galvia; The Quarryman; Brickplight, The Literatus, and Otherwise Engaged. She has already published a chapbook, titled Continuity Errors in 2010, and a novel, The Quest for Lost Éire, in 2014.  A further collection of poetry, titled Outstanding Balance, is scheduled for publication in early 2021. She was the featured poet in the inaugural edition of Fishbowl Magazine, and is a regular attendee at the O Bheal poetry night in Cork city.

Flowers for the Dead – Poetry by Joan McNerney

To What We Lost – Joan McNerney

Welcome back, Ponderbots! Picking up where we left off, we have Joan McNerney bringing us moving poetry. Her imagery is bittersweet with its honest reflection of sadness and hope.

Flowers for the Dead

This is the way

I see your face.

O you are dead

your face frozen

and moist.

I love you and search

for you everywhere as

light dims to darkness

and darkness brightens

to light.

We once arranged our

days in that small

vase of time given us.

I see your face

reflected there now

in a vase full of

flowers for the dead,

reeds of tears.

O your face facing me.

Tears flowering from me

until my vase of time

spills over and we meet

in that season called



Joan McNerney’s poetry is found in many literary magazines such as Seven Circle Press, Dinner with the Muse, Poet Warriors, Blueline, and Halcyon Days. Four Bright Hills Press Anthologies, several Poppy Road Review Journals, and numerous Spectrum Publications have accepted her work. She has four Best of the Net nominations. Her latest title is The Muse in Miniature available on and

No One Fucks You Harder Than Time – Poetry by Yvonne Brizula

To What We Lost – Yvonne Brizula

Time is a funny thing. It passes with or without our consent, and we are left to manage it in how best we can. Yvonne Brizula takes a good look at it, addressing the losses, hardships, and beauty of existence.

No One Fucks You Harder Than Time

  • Ser Davos, Game of Thrones S7 Ep. 5
    By Yvonne Brizula

Getting old is getting old.
Birthdays come with consequences
Like calories and hangovers
And disappointment
From unfulfilled wishes.
It’s a long walk through 365 days.
Every week, a tortured mile
That brings a new ache
A twinge in the knee, a pain
In the back, a broken
Heart. Every recovery is longer
Than the last.
Winter comes
To carve another letter
Of his name into my face
And the light of Summer
Dapples my skin
With her indelible ink.
When I was young I’d hear
“Oh! Look at those cute freckles.”
Now women whisper in corners,
“She really should see a dermatologist.”
You start losing the only people
Who truly loved you.
And you come to realize
Those who never
Really loved you at all.
But at least they could testify
That you were once


Yvonne Brizula is a rising poet and writer from Southern California.

Cocoa – Poetry by Erica Abbott

To What We Lost – Erica Abbott

Come read the sweet writing of Erica Abbott. She walks through the painful emotions of losing a pet, while portraying the wonderful amount of love for it.


The day you died, it took everything
not to beg for a dose of that solution

for myself. I took a pre-bereavement day
just so we could spend a few extra hours

together. I held you in my arms and ended
up falling asleep to the sound of your ragged

breathing. The doctor entered your home
and you defended it one last time. An intruder

who would break your family, you knew. A tiny arm
left shaved to make way for the needle and your tuft

of cocoa-powder brown hair placed in a plastic bag
before one paw was printed into some lifeless clay.

Not to be outdone in memory, the grease stain
in your shape sat on the white wingback chair

you had stolen as a bed. Before the poison
was injected, I removed the red collar the color

of blood that poured from your nose and kiss
the little spot between your eyes before they

closed for good. I knew you were already gone
despite the lack of stethoscope around my neck

and you were wrapped in a blanket of our collective
grief and carried away in a cardboard box of memories.

Your death was a tragic trespasser that broke us
and still there are some nights I look to the living

room floor to see the outline of your little body
before it was turned to ash—
made to be scattered
like sweet cocoa powder.


Erica Abbott (she/her) is a Philadelphia-based poet and writer. She has been writing for over 15 years and her work has been published in Toho, perhappened, Flora Fiction, and other journals. She is the author of Self-Portrait as a Sinking Ship (Toho 2020), her debut poetry chapbook. She works as a volunteer for Button Poetry and Mad Poets Society. Her work focuses on mental illness, hope, and love. Follow her on Instagram @poetry_erica and on Twitter @erica_abbott.


Chapbook link:



Loss & Other Poetry by Lynn White

To What We Lost – Lynn White

Lynn White gracefully takes us through scenes of grief. They are so intricately and beautifully told that you will want to be sure to read each and every poem.


The door was unexpectedly locked.

He found an open window

and climbed in.

He found her


on the bathroom floor.

He tried to revive her

but she was already


“I’m sorry for your loss,” they said

but the greatest loss was hers,

the one who was


He knew then that irony

was still alive.


All those lost souls wandering sadly

in the space of their imaginations.

Where are they?

I can’t find them,

can’t help them.

All those lost socks swallowed.

by the washing machine.

Eaten up


Where are they?


but I can’t find them.

All those lost words tumbling

through the dictionary.

Sometimes I find a few

and catch them

hold them,

write them down.

Then, sometimes

a few more find me

and I grab them too

and rearrange them all.

Sometimes they are worth reading

found and picked up for keeping.

First published in Silver Apples Issue 9, People We Left Behind, 2017

To The Passing Of The Nightingale

Where are the songs of spring?

Where are they?

Well, Mr K,

they are harder to find

than they were in your day.

Gone with the nightingale,

Gone with the meadows,

the hedgerows,

the woods,

The habitats lost,


Destroyed like the food

that people call pests.


Predated by farmers,

one way or another,

the countryside’s guardians,

that’s what they say.

The spring singing has ended,

almost over and done.

Aye, you might well ask, Mr K

The singing is not as it was

in your day.

First published in Anti Heroin Chic, August 2017


 Lynn White lives in north Wales. Her work is influenced by issues of social justice and events, places and people she has known or imagined. She is especially interested in exploring the boundaries of dream, fantasy and reality. She was shortlisted in the Theatre Cloud ‘War Poetry for Today’ competition and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize and a Rhysling Award. Her poetry has appeared in many publications including: Apogee, Firewords, Capsule Stories, Light Journal and So It Goes.

Follow: Find Lynn at: and

Let’s Meet for Tacos – Poetry by Yvonne Brizula

To What We Lost – Yvonne Brizula

Yvonne Brizula carries us through the loss of relationship that was and could’ve been. A pain all too familiar put so eloquently.

Let’s Meet for Tacos
After Diane Seuss
By Yvonne Brizula

Let’s meet somewhere outside time and space.
Where I’m not 53 and you’re not 41 and she’s not 22,
And your breakup with her no longer hurts.

Let’s meet where gravity doesn’t exist.
Where my breasts float up to my chin just like they did when we went swimming,
And I feel comfortable being completely naked all of the time.

Let’s meet where there’s no pain.
Where my knees and my back don’t cripple under strain,
And I can go from sitting in the grass to standing in a second, quietly and without humiliation.

Let’s meet where there’s no such thing as money.
Where we never have to worry about work or who pays the bar tab,
And we can dance all night and lay naked in bed all day eating chicken livers on toast.

Let’s meet where no one else finds you attractive.
Where your eyes don’t wander and wink and women never get your number,
And you no longer feel compelled to sow your oats.

Better yet –

Let’s meet where I’m the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen.
Scarlett Johansson is the name of a disease and Padma Lakshmi is a dish of lentils and rice,
And you only want to be with me.

Let’s meet where there’s no recollection of stupid things I’ve admitted to doing.
Where everything I do is endearing and motivated by love and not jealousy,
And I never need to stalk you online or drive by your house late at night.

Let’s meet where there are no complicated relationships or broken hearts.
Where there’s no such thing as friends with benefits,
And you can fuck me senseless and love me wholeheartedly without differentiation.

Let’s meet where it is completely acceptable for you and me to be together.
Where it doesn’t matter who knows that we’re together,
And you still want to be with me.

Better yet –

Let’s get tacos to go.
And eat them on my bed at 3 in the morning,
Like we did that sexy night so many months ago.


Yvonne Brizula is a rising poet and writer from Southern California.

Bottom of My Heart – Poetry by Lois Perch Villemaire

To What We LostLois Perch Villemaire

An amazing homage to grief in this stunning poem by Lois Perch Villemaire. Like honey to tea, her words bring a sweetness to the bitter.

Bottom of My Heart

First published by Truth Serum Press, Glow Vol. 6

The bottom of my heart is crowded.

It’s where condolences wait to be shared.

Where love for my family resides.

Where I feel emptiness for

Special ones lost,

Who will never be forgotten

or replaced.

Where there are empty spaces

That ache

Where regrets weigh heavy

Even though I forgive myself.

Where optimistic faith nests

When the world is in turmoil.

Continuing to believe

Words I heard as a child,

“Everything will be all right.”

Where memories glow,

Preserving my parents

Forever, reflecting the best of times.

Where feelings are buried,

Bubbling up when least expected.

Where I find the inspiration to write,

Excavating to the very bottom,

Searching the deepest cavern,

Making certain it can expand.


Lois Perch Villemaire lives in Annapolis, MD. She writes poetry, flash fiction and memoir. Her work has appeared in Potato Soup Journal, FewerThan500, The Drabble, Pen-in-Hand, Flora Fiction, North of Oxford, Flash Frontier, and in Glow Vol. 6 Truth Serum Press.


She blogs for 


Telling the Bees & Other Poems by Joan Leotta

To What We Lost – Joan Leotta

Joan Leotta bravely writes about the unfathomable loss of losing children and a mother. Her heart shines through these incredible words of love.

Telling the Bees
By Joan Leotta

First published in Writing in a Woman’s Voice, July 2019

Dear little creatures,
as I look out the window today
I send these thoughts to you—
may you be blessed on this, his day.
I have no hive to shroud
in mourning cloth so
I pour honey on my toast,
libation to our connection.
Take my love to him, my sweet boy.
On the day he was born,
this day, 37 years ago, I could not
taste honey—no food allowed before the birth—
yet I tasted of his sweetness when
I kissed his soft baby cheek
as they placed him on me
newly taken from my womb.
Now, he rests, and I know you visit
his place, feasting on the clover
flowers sprouting up among the green
where he was laid, near 20 years ago.
Some people think that grief has a timeline
ending, they want no talk
of tears, time when he walked among the bees.
So, I greet you, dear ones,
honey sweet as he,
dear to me,
take the touch of my lips to him,
remind him that a mother’s love
is forever.

Bottle Cap
By Joan Leotta

This one was first Published by Snapdragon 2017 and deals with the loss of our son—selling his car and finding something that has become a cherished momento

We finally sold our
green and silver
Chevy Blazer,
our son’s chariot of choice.
Together they galumped
over potholes, blared his music
screeched into parking lots;
arrived “just in time”
for his summer job.
At least once a week
in the days after he died,
I peered into the now
silent car, the
detritus of his last drives—
burger and candy
wrappers, notes, ticket stubs,
testifying to his former presence.
At last we decided to sell.
A shopvac would separate
our son’s spirit, or at
least his trash
from his metal steed.
Whirr of the machine
cleared crumbs from
flooring and seats.
I held it above the wrapper-filled
cup holder and something
began to rattle
as the hose tried pull it out.
I snatched at the offending
metal—a cap from Hanks,
a premium root beer.
“Nothing like the tang of sassafras and
sugar, ” Joe once told me.
Squeezing the cap’s
crimped metal edges
tightly in my palm, I
dropped the cap into my Buick
sedan’s cup holder where his
Hanks bottle cap now spins
and rattles–
Joe rides with me.

What I Found When I Lost My Earring
By Joan Leotta

First published on Silver Birch, 2017

Settling into my window seat
after running to catch my connection,
at Atlanta-Hartsfield,
I reached up remove my earrings.
Left ear’s shiny metal clip-on daisy
easily slid into my hand.
Reaching for its twin, however
my fingers found a bare lobe.
Immediately I realized the
probable moment of loss–
when I hastily slung the
wide-strapped bag at my feet,
hard over my shoulder as
I ran for that connecting gate.
Likely the strap brushed my
floral clip-on off
away from the garden of my ear.
I fretted over the loss on the flight,
upset in disproportion to that
daisy’s dollar cost.
While at my destination.
a recurring dream roiled
my sleep, bringing up a memory
—how, against advice
I had foolishly worn and lost,
my mom’s aquamarine ring,
that her father had made for
her upon her graduation.
In the dream, once again
she said it was “all right.”
But I could still see
and sense her sadness
in across the plain of death in my dream.
Was this why I now mourned
loss of a shiny metal clip-on, a
thrift shop bauble bought for a dollar?
Determined to find redemption at
Least from this loss, on my way home
I stopped at the Delta Lost and Found.
I described my lost item
to the blue uniformed- woman.
She checked her list .
“No , no one turned it in.”
I sighed and said.
“Guess I should know
better than to wear something I like
when traveling.”
She reached over the counter,
clasped my hand.
“Remember this,
things are just things
If you like something wear it;
enjoy it while you have it.
Do not blame yourself
for what you cannot control.
Things are made to be used.”
That very night
I dreamt again of my mother.
She was smiling at me. On her right hand
She wore her aquamarine ring.
In her left, she held my lost daisy clip-on.


Joan Leotta
Author, Story Performer
“Encouraging words through Pen and Performance”
Giulia Goes to War, Letters from Korea, A Bowl of Rice, Secrets of the Heart.historical fiction in Legacy of Honor Series
Simply a Smile--collection of Short Stories
WHOOSH! book from THEAQ You can download a mini-chapbook of my poems at

Find out more about my work at 

and Facebook:

Ode to the Casualties – Poetry by Vanessa Escobar

To What We Lost – Vanessa Escobar

Incredible imagery in this poem by Vanessa Escobar. It is well worth your time today to take a break, fill your mind with her words, and let the relatability of her story remind you to breathe.

Ode to the Casualties

I’ve learned that a vine is surprisingly resistant. Still thrives
no matter how many times I’ve forgotten to water it.

That a cactus will be fine in a desert but die by your hands
in three months. Rotten at the root. You try but you can’t fix it.

Succulents come and they go. The orchid was merely a visitor.
It was foolish of me to name it after our love.

White petals of hope. Stem snapped at its neck. I left it dead
on my desk for two months until my therapist said I had to throw it away.

I put everything of hers in a box. I washed the bedtime shirts.
Even folded the one sock left behind. Collected her board games

and hair products. Dropped them off at the coffee shop where I had
the chance to turn around and ask her to stay. But I didn’t turn around.

And she didn’t stay. I named the bromelaid Julia and the kalanchoe Zoe
Cruz thinking this would make them last. But Julia was already browning

at its tips and Zoe shriveled up under the sun. The croton almost died
but I found a way to bring it back. Wandered in the September heat

at the plant shop again. I found a calathea and asked it if it was mine
and I knew it was when I couldn’t let it go.


Vanessa Escobar is a 32- year-old queer Latinx poet living the corporate America life but always dreaming of something more. She’s in love with the city of Houston despite no desire to live in the South. She has a nefarious escape artist dog named Stella and is currently at work on her first book of poems.


You can find her at