VerseWrights Welcomes Poet EJ Koh To Our Pages
I browsed CIA.gov
On the online application
I marked spots for
Intelligence Collection Analyst
The text said:
Be prepared to undergo a thorough investigation
examining your life’s history, soundness of judgment, freedom
from conflicting allegiances, protection of sensitive information,
potential to be coerced, and a Polygraph test.
[The CIA spied on me for twelve months]
I watched more porn than most women.
I wrestled and, upon demanding an opponent twice above my weight class,
was publicly humiliated.
I drank a cup of holy water at a wedding.
I cannot hold my bladder past two hours, making me uneasy
in places where a bathroom is not readily available: subways, banks,
bars, liquor stores, boats, elevators, parks, outdoor malls, small offices,
beaches, buses, waiting rooms, and funerals.
I lied about speaking French.
“How to disable a bomb” in my Google search history.
I pass international customs with suitcases full
of red meat, greens, and seeds into the country.
no drug use in the past two years.
my elementary teacher asked why I’d try for the spelling bee,
she asked what the biggest word I knew was
so I said “masturbation” and she sent me home with a red card.
I lie to people older than me
and tell the truth to younger people.
a Davis high school baseball team bullied me
by flipping my chair and making squinty eyes
I tried to choke one of them
and was removed from class.
I laugh at racist jokes.
I feel responsible for the death of my two parakeets
and my grandmother.
I never litter.
I was fifteen when a Korean hairstylist proposed to me
inside a McDonald’s in Tokyo, Japan.
I danced for a Hip Hop team for two years
by whom I felt largely betrayed.
my mother worked a shopping mall cart and fainted
when a customer stole an expensive makeup kit.
I believe in God.
I’m not particularly smart.
The CIA called
to say I passed
my security clearances.
Only the very best of the men and women comprise
the Agency’s workforce to safeguard some of the nation’s
most sensitive information and highest standards of integrity.
Read the poetry of EJ Koh
Read a profile of EJ Koh
VerseWrights Welcomes Novelist and Poet Christina Strigas
No matter what expression I hide
you read my mind
like a best-selling novel
and highlight the parts of me
that fall through your grasp.
I am a Nicholas Sparks book
you flip me on my stomach
and leave me transient
frozen on the word “but”
you decide the weather
is just perfect to plant tomatoes
the ozone means pebbles to you.
I concentrate on typing
suddenly the loud French broadcaster
argues about hockey players
this echoes into my sentences
I slam the door shut
lower the damn thing
I wonder what is worse
tomatoes that do not sprout
or my life open on the kitchen table
for everyone to read.
Read the poetry of Christina Strigas
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A Whisper And A Scream From Poet Paul Sands
are you the whisper keeper?
when clouds extend a warning and
miracles broil your scruples
does your finger hover and sweat
or give birth
to lead and brass?
who travels with me through this
amongst the thorny portraits of hollow girls
and brown tongued dupes
are you the conspiratorial ghost that holds
my hand and animates the hairs
along my spine?
or will you be happier
once you turn off the lights and leave behind
this unfurled assembly of doodled
a single bright needle
picks apart the forget-me-not cloth
then stitches it back together
with a chalky yarn
so swiftly run that
the scream doesn’t come
Read the poetry of Paul Sands
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Leslie Philibert's Newest Poem; A Reading By Eusebeia Philos
A Blind Man Looks at the Sea ☊
Let me be sighted in the sea wash,
late waves, back water
that curls as foam under the Moon,
my face pulled to the tide,
my eyes brothers in salt,
no startlight, no endlight.
Gulls sing at the first
slight wind that changes
direction in my ears.
Let me drink all this;
ebb and flood, wind and sea,
sea and wind, flood and ebb.
Now on VerseWrights: Rita Lange Severino
I listen still
in the pre-dusk
hearing only the specter
of your presence in the walls
silent echoes on the floor
Dinner is ready,
a banquet of if-onlys
A table for one,
your five o’clock shadow
A single birch leaf
holds the secret of falling
and resting in peace
Read the poetry of Rita Lange Severino
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Cheryl Snell Debuts Her Poem, "Insomnia"
I stand guard over your fitful sleep. Heat rises, mixes
with your sweat while I watch your fever rage.
It’s almost midnight. Planets blink, offer neither clue
nor compassion. The hour’s breaking shivers with
draws me to the window below the shingled wings
of the sloping roof.
A bird tunes its throat, swells a single pitch
from the quavering source. Shapes from a far branch
answer, the motif embellished as if caught in a lie.
Notes loosed into an imitation of flight remind me of all
that must not happen in the dark: a soul slipping away,
all vigilance forsaken.
I turn back to you, pulse quick with dotted rhythms
and count out the time left to us
under your vein-mapped skin.
Read the poetry of Cheryl Snell
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An Encounter: Rowan Taw's "He Nods"
He was an acquaintance of friends, but
he and I have never been introduced.
He gives a casual nod of the head,
a fleeting, passing acknowledgement that
he’s seen me hanging around before.
With a shrug, I nod back, as
we both turn from each other.
I remember the first time I saw him,
when I learnt his name, but he
doesn’t seem to know mine…yet.
I bear him no malice or ill will.
I wonder when we’ll formally meet,
when will that day come when I hear
my name on Death’s lips?
Read the poetry of Rowan Taw
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Two New Poems From Poet Jacqueline Czel
My Criminal Record
Trumped up charges,
oh, my eyes accused,
my vision called in
for cold questioning,
my interest abused,
by another's worries,
his insecurities; but
how do I plead, me?
A woman, who can
very clearly see the
beauty which catches
my eye at every turn,
but I've been unjustly
profiled, my passion
and my sincerity
and bested by officer
Doubt who's got me
ready to be booked,
jailed for committing
the crime of expressing
affection, yet again
I, a repeat offender,
have been arrested.
They are buried beneath the sand,
from what I can already see,
some hidden treasures and
a few unholy terrors, his salty
eyed subconscious keeps
somewhere under layers of silt,
inside a gilded Pandora's box,
I know from his wandering gaze,
that journey hardened stare,
it's better to not be the one,
to locate the X on his mental
map and turn the black skeleton
key inside his heavy lock.
Read the poetry of Jacqueline Czel
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"Cloth Dreams," A New Poem From Kim Talon
You hold the fabric tenderly
pins glinting in the lamplight
spilling over your shoulder
the needle flashing in and out
tattooing the cloth
fingers-worn making stitches neatly
you prick your fingertip
under your breath
vermilion staining sepia fragility
you're trying to mend cloth dreams
overlooked and neglected
tugged from the antique trunk
in the dim corner of the attic…
trying to hold them fast
against the approach of oblivion
but the cloth dreams
refuse to be pieced back together
tattered, the fabric tears
even with your gentle handling
removing the pins
dropping them into the hand-painted bowl
with the wreath of pansies glowing like jewels
in the lamp's warm light
bits of sepia blood-stained cloth
scatter on the floor at your feet
fluttering in the draft from the open window
I tiptoe across the room
to kneel in the remnant-dreams
using a piece of threadbare cloth
to wipe the droplets of blood from your fingertip
I swear that you are weeping
but I hear no sound
and see no tears
Read the poetry of Kim Talon
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Two Short Poems From Poet Marsailidh Groat
The sounds we chase
Give us life
And questioning this
A thought arpeggiates
And here, we play
A loss, a love, as our own.
We hold our
Calloused hands, our wooden
Lovers, and sing
Our vows. We didn’t
Choose this, but
I clapped my hands to a mirror
and waited for understanding.
Skipping ropes swung
as I waited for last night’s lipstick
and a taste in my mouth.
Grown ups asked
Questions, and I waited to know
how to respond. Hair and sweat and spots.
I waited, passing time with
ladybirds, treasures in my
schoolbag, we fed the fairies
and painted snail shells, still
waiting for red nails and
Convolution. That glamour
I saw, when I was too
in love to be happy.
Read the poetry of Marsailidh Groat
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Mikels Skele Ponders The Nature Of Canines
What dogs lack
What dogs lack is perspective.
There are no dog priests.
No dog poets barking rhythmically at the hollow moon.
No dog inspectors, no dog police.
A sniff is just a sniff, a scrap is just a meal.
They fill no days pondering the meaning
Of the star- rooted sky,
Or why a corpse will disappear
Slowly, like yesterday’s breakfast.
There is nothing sacred or profane,
Nothing indelible stamped on the
Hide-like souls of dogs.
They eat. They shit. They sleep.
They’re in heaven or hell, one the same as the other,
They see no difference between
A special day or no particular day.
You can’t sell a dog an insurance policy.
They like the warmth of a human body,
The sound of deep sleep,
The feel of an embrace across the depthless
Helix, as distant as love, as close as touch.
If there’s food, they will eat all of it.
Read the poetry of Mikels Skele
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Natalie Keller Gives Us Two Short Lyrics
There is no poetry to
be given to poetry,
that cannot sit bathed
in candlelight by a desk
For all things I have pity;
lightning paths in her eyes
like stained glass windows of
a cathedral, unknowingly holy,
she sits upon her consciousness
like a pebble in a stream,
a thing without lungs gasping for air,
and there is no telling her of
the beauty of swimming.
It is strange that the aroma of a rose
drawn up in thought should be
much sweeter than
the flower I hold
in my hand now.
Imaginings are too often
better than their realities,
as these ancient dreams do tell,
so I’ve made up my mind
to stay here, splayed out
amongst everything unreal,
with the aerial scent
of roses on my fingertips,
to imagine the world
Read the poetry of Natalie Keller
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Marianne Paul's New Poem, "Obsession"
My connection to you is like imprinting
the first thing a bird sees is its mother
and there is nothing to be done
the neural net is knit
whether the mother is even the mother
does not matter reason cannot reason
away the connection
you are pressed into me
like a hand pressed into wet mud
fingers spread wide
Read the poetry of Marianne Paul
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New Haiku, Tanka From Poet Alegria Imperial
a rumour about the sun
into a drum silence drops
in a fall sale
of dead grass on her skin
louder than cries
but muted on pillow clouds
shifting in shapes of mercy
Read the poetry of Alegria Imperial
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"Slime Monday" from Poet Johannes Bjerg
discussing the significance of skid-marks in a self-proclaimed prophet's underwear theorists reach a point where for a king to be a certain and named king who died in a joust for him to be that king which is supposed to be the one mentioned in a certain prophesy he must have been someone else if we don't take into account that just by putting this vision onto a page and publishing it thus making it spread to thousand of living vibrating minds in itself will influence the future in such a way that the king wasn't king or even a human being but an apple with two cores ...
I zap on to another programme where a man back in the 1970's win 64.000 kroner by answering a question about rare stamps
of the Fool
(not mentioned in the calendar)
a lead snail sucks up
of the sky
Read the poetry of Johannes Bjerg
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Rosa Saba Connects To The Virtual With "Internet Strings"
I have this visual interpretation
of the internet,
where we are all connected by strings,
nylon and shining and constantly entwining themselves
with each other,
electricity shooting through from my fingers to yours
in the space of a second,
a lifetime of words.
It’s beautiful, I think,
like a painting
or a photograph,
surreal and captivating,
probably in artsy black-and-white.
But this image of myself,
hair tied back,
one hand scrabbling at the side of my face,
waiting for an expression to take hold,
and the other chicken-pecking out the words
that is so funny
while one foot falls asleep
under the weight of 1 am,
as 2 am falls lightly on my shoulders,
settling like an uneven blanket of dust
and I cough, ignoring the symptoms
of sleep deprivation,
rubbing at my eyes as if to stretch the sockets,
open wider the windows to my soul,
take all of me-
this image is not quite so beautiful.
Read the poetry of Rosa Saba
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Two Poems From Foster Cameron Hunter
What Id Is
A velvet skin serpent, fangs perfectly formed
to pierce and inject venom, it rattles
in the shadow cast by corporal sensation.
The flesh, a many headed hydra,
stalks the halls of human frailty.
From the cranial cage a coiled python
strikes, wraps around the prey then hisses,
Hurt so good—whispers, Sleep. Sleep.
A devil in drag, the flesh covets the ins,
the outs, the musky in-between,
slithers in the lust for pleasure
and wholly swallows the heart of life.
The flesh puts the Id in idiot.
I would challenge
the specter of death,
wring the neck
of the Grim Reaper
and bring you
his head on a lance.
I enjoy the ride--
the emotional gamut
from A to Z.
Read the poetry of Foster Cameron Hunter
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Poet Ann Neuser Lederer Joins VerseWrights' Pages
On the flat of our yard,
Dad shoveled until
the dark, crusted grass showed.
He packed the dirty snow onto the edges,
then hosed and coated
the whole mess until it froze.
I remembered all this
from the black and white photo
with scalloped borders:
three rag-tag girls
in hand-me-down skates,
on their very own rink.
In my mind, I still nimbly swirl
and turn, slamming into
the rocky rim to stop.
Stopping was always the hardest,
especially in dull double runners strapped to boots,
or heavy boy's hockeys with crumpled ankles.
Though I never got good, I was joyous,
nights particularly, alone sometimes
in the shadows of swaying porch light
and ringed moon.
The blade's cut was a long sigh, a melody;
the sleek surface renewed by the spray
like an empty lake soon scissored by a swan.
Read the poetry of Ann Neuser Lederer
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Two New Poems From Poet Eusebeia Philos
By the treachery of Delilah,
her mythic man
of outrageous deeds
on the fields of war
and the beds of pleasure
was caught up by
enemies of his tribe
and relatives of his victims,
made bound, cured
of his animal instincts,
and the eyes that found
Delilah right and pleasing
were gouged out,
lust for lust,
blood vengeance for those
who had fallen by
Samson's angry hands,
which now blindly felt
in the darkness for
the pillars that would
give the mighty man
a last epic victory,
a rally for his tribe,
a satisfying death -
falling by the violence
of his own hands,
rubble for his grave.
and strained faces
Read the poetry of Eusebeia Philos
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Mary Anne Rojas' Latest Poem, "one day"
one day ☊
one day i will have a good day,
enough to call my own doing--
my fault for everything going
so well. i will call no one nor one
thing a savior, but my courage.
i will make me survive, become
survivor of my mess and dirt. no
more days to pick up a day of dirty
work. i will be worth too many
days for just one. one day. i will
recall the teetering of a smile, sincere
and relieved of faulty attempt to
be mine. it will dance on my face
like the hesitance of a tear, unafraid
to admit it comes from broken,
misbehaved behind skin, so i will
let go—set awake a filthy wanting.
to be a good day—unkempt and deserved.
Read the poetry of Mary Anne Rojas
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See this poem in the PoetryAloud area
A Haiku Collection From Joan McNerney: "Winter Notes"
From "Winter Notes"
Deep winterset night.
Sleepless stars glide through heaven
in aerial ballet.
More starling than
that windowpane red with sun
are your ice blue eyes.
tonguefulls we lap laughing
as sparks pinch my face.
In our frail world, even meteors,
the eyes of heaven fall like dust
from God’s hands.
The three I love now
silent cool darkness.
Will it be so when I die?
Read the poetry of Joan McNerney
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New Haiku From Poet Christina Nguyen
blue eyes clouded
with glacial dust
Solstice: A Haiku Triptych
the last day
the divorce papers
the long howl
of the black dog
Read the poetry of Christina Nguyen
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"Dove Season," A Poem From Kathleen Everett
My people were dog people.
Hunting dogs, mostly,
Shorthaired pointers, lemon and red
With royal names, Duchess and Princess
English setters, liver and white,
Each successor named Zip.
September was dove season-
Guns would be cleaned
Trips to the leases planned.
Daddy and PamPa, with uncles and brothers in tow,
Leave in the dark morning
With dogs, guns and coolers in the trunk.
Late afternoon with the deepening dusk,
The hunters arrived home
Smelling of fields and gunpowder and beer.
Small still birds spilled from canvas bags,
Tiny feathers and the scent of blood
Float in the air–
A pitying of dove.
Read the poetry of Kathleen Everett
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We Welcome Poet Juliet Wilson To VerseWrights
When her divorce came through
she spent hours browsing old photos
as if they could tell her secrets.
She stares at one of her and her brothers
playing in the snowy garden
when they were very young.
She and her husband used to laugh at this photo,
at her strange flowery anorak and how
there would never be winters like that again.
Two heavy winters later
she realises we can never know
the future ice and snow.
the changing colours
of the cherry tree.
Read the poetry of Juliet Wilson
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A New Poem From Michael Lee Johnson
Picture, Cap and Gown
Cap and gown
minor in math-
the maple tree,
bright red leaves,
but the times don’t show it;
a full face grins.
There’s a shadow
below your nose
above your lips,
it settles into
a gray mixed day.
You stand on farm land
with no plow in hand
or in the distance bare-
no damn cows to be seen
no red barn or damn homestead
just open acres of space-
and downed fences-
and some idle brush
blending with quill feathers
flushed within a background
Life is a simple picture.
Life is a simple picture,
repeating with tree shadows
hovering around leaves.
Dirt in the background
it’s here your memories are folded,
into prairie winds.
You are still framed
in solid black and white-
you can’t leave this space on your own,
from now to your own eternity,
to your salvation or your grave.
Your whole life now has spots
and spaces behind it.
Did you grow older and have children?
Did you marry a man of the plow
or that chemist you had the brief
affair with in agricultural school?
Did the graduation certificate
rolled up in your hand
like a squashed turnip,
donut, or dead sea scroll
fade by moisture and sun
or wind up cursed with sand?
I pull down your life
and frame it here
like a stage curtain
handful of future,
present, passed, and pasted
in a space dimension of
3” x 5” tucked beneath
a simple footnote in time.
Read the poetry of Michael Lee Johnson
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Steve Green Brings His Verses To VerseWrights
Piercing the darkness on a gloomy night
Weary pilgrims are drawn to the light
All ye faithful flock to beacon bright
To worship at the alter of this sacred site
Baby Santa lies away in a manger
Swaddled in consumer currency
Surrounded by merry elves and reindeer
All doing their part for our economy
The doors swing open at midnight
The assembled masses storm in
Seeking the salvation this sale brings
Prices so low they seem like a sin
The Fallen Angel proclaims to all,
“Welcome to my Bargain Nativity!”
“Christmas may be the domain of God,
But Black Friday belongs to me!”
Read the poetry of Steve Green
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Two Poems From Poet Laura Madeline Wiseman
You might pay the girl across the street
or let it grow a little wild,
but most weeks you mowed unfailingly
like the others in the neighborhood,
passing the baton of noise
in a relay that ran all summer.
I folded the laundry or weeded
the garden as the engine advanced
and then receded, carving lanes
into the lawn, a million ribbons
that broke around you and fell
as you sweated and pushed on.
I watched with a kind of bemusement
this maintenance of sidewalks
and driveways in the winter,
the raking of leaves in the fall,
and the lawn mowers moving
like a masculine excuse
to soak up sun. Or prowess
as muscles flexed and gleamed.
Or a white noise to fantasize in
as the dog pranced and butterflies whirled.
After, you’d come in with shoes
flecked with green confetti,
perspiration on your brow,
and lean against the kitchen counter,
drinking ice water, letting some slide
down your neck. You’d say each time
in a voice never winded, but husky
and strong, a riot, a tease, It’s hot.
Varnished to appear cherry, like teenagers
who bite their cuticles in the front row,
and with a face mottled and hidden under glass,
like the eyes of the far-sighted who see
what marches toward them through the hills,
but not what holds steady right before them,
the clock opens in the back to reveal
the brass cogs within and the rusted key
you placed there to wind the hands.
Sometimes it will count the seconds
until it stills into a distracted silence,
like all of us who try to measure the future,
unable to tell how little of it there is or how much.
Read the poetry of Laura Madeline Wiseman
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Two New Poems from Poet Heather Feaga
Maybe it's time
To hang the words
From snow covered branches
Listen to the sing
Of stretched twine
Writhe and swing
Maybe it's time
To choke air
Out of words
Until they lay
Lifeless on my lap
Of paper thread weaves
To stab at skin
The ball point feels
Rivulets down blue
Shredded paper whites
Flowering in the weeds
Petaled pigment twists air
The braided rope
Bone crushed coo
Small birds flutter the sky
She crushed too
End to end
Read the poetry of Heather Feaga
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Bernadette Geyer: A Poem From The Warsaw Ghetto
What Barbara Told Us
She waited until we finished
our self-guided tour of the husks
of buildings that endured
in the former Warsaw Ghetto.
She waited until we had shot
our fill of photographs, switched out
rolls of film. Our steps were caught
in the molasses of history when she
began to speak: It was never a moral
question—bribery and stealing. If
the Polish stole, it was from the Russians,
or the Germans, or the Austro-Hungarians.
If the government was cheated,
that was okay, because it wasn’t theirs.
She offered this not as apology
or excuse, but fact, just as
the bullet-pocked wall would not
apologize for its blemishes
as we skimmed our fingertips
over its marred, but proud, skin.
Read the poetry of Bernadette Geyer
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Danielle Favorite Shares Her Newest Poem
I wrote this while waiting for you
The halite moon
is quieter than the other moons;
my eyes reflect
its salty gaze.
You talk about titanium
and teeth whitening methods
(strawberries crushed with baking powder).
Tonight, the moon is soft,
a snake egg left unattended
and you are red from too much whiskey.
I once stepped on a small chunk of dry
ice. At first, nothing, then a demanding,
searing burn. I kept walking.
You would not recognize the urgency
of misting ice;
you are never bare-foot.
Reader, I've been where you have,
tasted the same light.
This paper is my palm. Press it
against your bare chest, warm it with your heartbeat.
Together, we will whiten the moon.
Read the poetry of Danielle Favorite
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We Welcome Poet Angie Werren To The Pages Of VerseWrights
am I dust to you?
am I ash?
a gasp swirling in gravitational pull?
a cloud of sloughed off cells
am I blessed to you?
am I a pulse?
in this instant
in this shared ride
in this unbalanced slide into blue
(when you slap me do you feel my wings?)
Angie Werren lives and writes in a tiny house in Ohio. Sometimes she takes pictures of things in the yard. Her haiku, poetry and photographic manipulations can be found in places such as tinywords, haigaonline, cattails, the zen space, Haiku News, A Hundred Gourds, right hand pointing, and Red Ceilings. She was very surprised to have a poem appear recently in an issue of Mushroom: the Journal of Wild Mushrooming. Angie believes that poetry is all just smoke and feathers, and words are what she uses when she doesn't have a camera handy. She has several blogs, but her favorite is called feathers, on Wordpress. Read.
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