Quiet With No Peace

I have been confused by the human race
since I was a project boy
who loved the creek
that ran along the street before cutting away.
I would stop walking before the switch,
before walking into the concrete tunnel
that ran beneath the street.
Climbing up the bank, lacking
the courage to go through the tunnel—
my fear of tight places remains—
I would feel the chaos approaching
from the other direction, the one I
had come from, and I’d begin to
slink back down the bank because
I was a fool who had forgotten
to stay in the valleys and gulleys
as I attempted my escape,
convinced that if I were seen
by the faceless faces I was certain followed me
I would be lost forever and dragged
like an orphan kidnapped by the forces
always conspiring to hoist me
away to their island where
I’d spend my life waving giant fans
and washing the feet of tall men
who never showed their faces.
I slipped back down the hill,
faced the tunnel with the opening
that grew smaller the longer I stared,
until I had no choice but to turn,
walk back to the tiny brick duplex
filled to the boozy brim with humans
who told me they were the adults
I had to obey, to disregard my own understanding,
to stop wondering why, and why I knew
they would never find a way to escape
the insides of the dark half-a-house.


John Riley is the founder and publisher of Morgan Reynolds, an educational publisher located in Greensboro, North Carolina. He earned a Masters in English Education from the University of North Carolina–Greensboro. His poetry and fiction have appeared in Smokelong Quarterly, Connotation Press, Fiction Daily, Willows Wept Review, Dead Mule, St. Anne’s Review, Metazen, and many other anthologies and journals both online and in print.

Photographer Steve Warren is a veteran, recovering addict and peer specialist who became a self taught Naturalpathic self healer. He changed his diet, started dancing, took to writing and performing poetry, and hasn’t stopped healing since.