Issue 20 - Sept 2022
Brian P. Kalfus
Mollie F. M. Bera
Founder’s Favourites | Sept 2022—Issue 20 | 1
Issue 19—June 2022
Time’s Woven Garden 6
In The Eyes of a Survivor 11
Brian P. Kalfus
The Last Day of School 14
Where Do Rainbows Go 12
I Hope 3
Dream Marriage 5
Dancing Like Leaves 7
Typing in the Dark 8
The Buttress and the Fortress 10
Mollie F. M. Bera
London 1978 13
The Pedestal in Piazza Venetia 21
Time’s Woven Garden (p6) Such a peaceful
submission. In the Eyes of a Survivor (p11) I can
relate to this poem. That’s why it’s a favourite
Brian P. Kalfus
The Last Day of School (p14) I think people can
relate to this story. My stomach lurched when I
got to the end and I thought, “Please don’t end
Where Do Rainbows Go (p12) Reading this
made me want to chase rainbows and ask
questions like in this poem. Choices (p12) I felt
tired by the time I got to the end. Choices are
enigmas of life.
I Hope (p3) This was definitely a heart-tugger.
Well done, Glory.
Symbiosis (p4) I thought I was the only one who
had conversations with trees and such. It could
be tailored to fit my magazine Perspectives.
Dream Marriage (p5) The first stanza made it a
favourite, and then reading the ‘awake’
Dancing Like Leaves (p7) I like the honesty
here. Typing in the Dark (p8) I was feeling fine
until the end. Darn... The Buttress and the
Fortress (p10) The icy beginning and ending
drew on my emotions.
Mollie f. m. Bera
Crepusculum (p22) I love the title, first of all.
Secondly, the last stanza made it a favourite.
London 1978 (p13) The second stanza visual
and the phrase “re-landscaped heart” made me
want to publish this. The Pedestal in Piazza
Venetia (p21) I like the music of this poem.
Founder’s Favourites | Sept 2022—Issue 20 | 2
I hope there’s a heaven for us:
for everyone who cried over the girlhood
the boyhood, the genderfree, genderfluid childhood
they were denied and will never get back.
I hope we get to play as the kids
we never got to be.
Everyone who longed for a tutu,
or to roll in the mud,
or to hunt for lizards,
or run fast and play sports,
or look sharp in polka-dotted bowties,
or twirl in aprons and bake,
or frolic shirtless beneath the sun,
or model pretty make-up and high heels,
or rumble trucks and trains,
or don a flower crown,
or be a warrior, or knight, or queen, or king,
or witch, or prince, or princess,
or any combination of these things,
I hope we get to play together
without being dragged away
and scolded into being proper ladies and gentlemen.
I hope the girlhood, boyhood, childhood
gets to be ours eternally,
and each tear we’ve wept
has watered a secret garden just for us.
abeer muted | Pixabay.com
Founder’s Favourites | Sept 2022—Issue 20 | 3
Knowing the names of trees
makes me feel as if
those very same trees know my name.
My walk is a conversation
with oak and birch and maple.
“Where were you born?” asks the balsam fir.
“Who were your parents?” the yew wants to
I inquire after the hemlock’s flat striped needles
and the tamarack’s egg-shaped cones.
All are curious as to the shoes I’m wearing
as I am to the depth of their roots.
Every time I enter the forest,
trees rustle and I tingle,
with recognition, anticipation.
There’s a kind of symbiosis
that we both struggle to define.
We’re all so new to being old friends.
Jaynes Gallery/Danita Delimont | stock.adobe.com
Founder’s Favourites | Sept 2022—Issue 20 | 4
So here I go, eyes closed,
arms spread wide,
I'm flying in the Alps,
just about to smash into the Matterhorn
when I pull my head back,
lift my chin skyward,
soar through clouds,
over that finger-like peak,
and down into the forests,
the valley, the farming country,
on the other side.
And there you are, at my side,
as reported to me next morning,
rushing off to another critical college test,
shoeless, dressed in your pajamas.
"How was your flight?"
you ask me next morning.
"How did you do in the exam?"
is my response.
By the time the details
recede into the dark parts of the brain,
we only know that we survived
and are back in reality.
As marriages go,
we're all high marks, little turbulence.
Freelancer | stock.adobe.com
Founder’s Favourites | Sept 2022—Issue 20 | 5
Time’s Woven Garden
I want to be the flower
petal that grazes your chin,
the stem that holds me
closer to you, the center
where my love unfolds;
our hearts in the rhythm of
the wind, and together we
free our souls. I praise
the morning light, time’s
woven garden for our
union, the gentle caress
of the sun as my petals
find the curve of your chin
and we live in a world of
blissful tomorrows, our
firewings | stock.adobe.com
Founder’s Favourites | Sept 2022—Issue 20 | 6
DANCING LIKE LEAVES
I’m older and graying and sadder
As I watch you from the distance,
Dancing like leaves in the whirlwind
So far beyond my grasp.
I knock on the window,
Stooped, eyes yellowing
And you wave at me,
Your teeth gleaming,
Not even sure who I am
Or why I exist.
Just being polite
Like the nice young lady
That you are.
Hans und Christa Ede | stock.adobe.com
Founder’s Favourites | Sept 2022—Issue 20 | 7
Typing in the Dark
Typing in the dark
And listening to the Alamo Jones Show,
Waiting for the Buddy and Jim Show to come on.
Bob Wills and the Texas Playboys, then John Prine,
Then Lucinda Williams, then Norah Jones.
Sitting in the heat of this peculiar hell
And remembering the snow that covered the streets
Outside our window that night we drank beer and listened to music.
How many years ago now? Three? Four?
You got drunk and fell asleep on the floor where we sat cross-legged,
The snow coming down and the music playing.
I looked down at you curled up there and goodness!
How I loved you then,
How I love you now.
How I loved to look at you
And think about you when you were not with me.
Drinking and drinking now but not drunk,
Listening to Buddy and Jim playing the Rolling Stones
And then Gram Parsons,
All the time wishing, just wishing
You were here
And wishing I could be really drunk
Because that is when it’s easiest
Vladislav Kutepov | stock.adobe.com
Founder’s Favourites | Sept 2022—Issue 20 | 8
Accepted contributors will most likely write
about things that are emotionally moving.
Content contains anything I find memorable,
creative, unique, visual, or even simple. If
you want your book in the next author
spotlight (page 3), email me at
foundersfavouritesATgmail.com with the
subject line “Author Spotlight—Title” and
tell me how I can get a pdf or physical copy.
Not sure I will like your submission or book?
Take a chance! You have nothing to lose.
You may end up being among the founder's
Founder’s Favourites | Sept 2022—Issue 20 | 9
The Buttress and the Fortress
she mentally extricates herself
for a moment
from her swollen world of noise
and allows herself to close her eyes
hot and cool thoughts of him.
his sad open face,
his wild and buttery words,
the solemn consistent
of his soul.
he thinks of her, too.
she breaks through
the intrinsic loneliness
of his day
to smile at him
and tell him he’s wanted, he’s loved.
her languid eyes in emerald flames,
her complex hands like birds
flying into his,
making him calmer and simpler.
the deep hush of her words
humbling his demon,
bowing it’s head in remorse,
as she allows him to enter,
just a short time,
the beauty and wonder
of the cracked but uncrumbled
of her soul.
there they are In the distance
kissing, so close,
as the snow falls on the beach.
the icy water speaking to them,
the wind consummating their embrace
with repeated small sighs
the tears turning cold
as they emerge and mingle on their pressed
tragic and weary
Mi.Ti. | stock.adobe.com
Founder’s Favourites | Sept 2022—Issue 20 | 10
In the Eyes of a Survivor
Don’t let anyone steal the glow
of light in your eyes away, but
make decisions like I did so
carefully constructed and hidden
away. I relied on my second
thoughts and in my most secret
heart I learned how to stay alive
by tracing the right paths to take
and how to think better given
only a tiny drop of hope; if
I hadn’t I would’ve died long ago.
Escape from the ones who make
you feel less than you are, who
want to shut you away from
the world. To survive rely on
no one but yourself and don’t
let the dark swallow you whole.
A light is out there; you just
have to find it and never let go.
Founder’s Favourites | Sept 2022—Issue 20 | 11
Where Do Rainbows Go?
Where do rainbows go
After they fade away?
Is there a land of color
And parades of chocolate cake?
Do leprechauns go bowling
Or skate in pools of rain?
Do milkshakes last forever
In a never empty glass?
Why does raspberry sherbet
Melt upon the tongue?
And is there always laughter
Where tiger cubs go to play?
Are stories to remember
When gray hair covers heads?
Or does childhood last forever
In the hearts of those who’ve understood?
Choices can be
Which way to go
Hither or yon
When to say yes
When to say no
What to do now
What to do next
When to stay busy
When to do nothing
What to work on now
When not to work
Plan for the future
Live for today
Open your mind
And try new adventures
Does playing it safe
Mean living in a rut
Choices can be
The enigma of life
pyty | stock.adobe.com
Founder’s Favourites | Sept 2022—Issue 20 | 12
I walk toward Hampstead
on streets named Narcissus Lane
and Shoot Up Hill,
pass a tree with pink blooms
that turns everything rosy.
A jolt of pure joy.
A Beethoven concert
next to my English lover,
serious and handsome in his dark suit.
Steeped in glorious music,
euphoric with having made love
before we arrived.
Where I mourned a death
but wished never to leave
even while yearning for home.
Where being happy and free
was honed by the gleaming awareness
that I was happy and free.
A long time coming, this joy.
Too many barren years
before this plot of land
re-landscaped my heart.
beataaldridge | stock.adobe.com
Founder’s Favourites | Sept 2022—Issue 20 | 13
Shona | stock.adobe.com
The Last Day of School
Brian P. Kalfus
A young political activist tries to overcome a simple, honest
mistake from childhood that grew out of proportion and made
him into a person he didn't want to be.
I doubt when they bury me someday, my funeral will be like
the one I just witnessed. My friends and family won’t paint
over everything bad I did in my life. But, Mrs. Nelson’s
eulogizers did just that about her eighty-one years. They
extolled the positive impact she made on the lives of everyone
she met. Their words brought tears to many eyes, including
mine. After such an emotional reaction, I concluded I had
overcome the prolonged grudge I held against this precious
woman, posed in the ornate, mahogany coffin. She would have
been touched at the huge turnout.
I recognized some people from Brookline Middle School,
where Mrs. Nelson taught, and I was her pupil many years ago.
I saw Mrs. Peterson, my sixth-grade science teacher, and
Rodney, a former classmate I had not seen since transferring.
After the minister completed the ceremony, the mourners
gathered in a reception room, where I met Mrs. Nelson’s
widower. He revealed a shocking fact about his beloved wife.
I wanted the funeral to be a cleansing experience, washing
away the residual bitterness for the hell she put me through. I
was ready to move on. But her widower’s revelation barred
any chance of the closure I sought. I couldn’t put the past
behind me if I had the past all wrong. Now that I knew the
truth, I wondered how the last decade-and-a-half of my life
would have been different.
Mrs. Nelson died soon after I left prison for assaulting George
Hill, a librarian. I worked now as a landscaper, the least
humiliating occupation I could find. Mowing lawns and
spreading weed killer was a far cry from the job I held before
incarceration. A felony on my record changed all that. I won’t
lead political campaigns or try to bring peace to the world. I
lived now with low expectations for myself and my country.
George suffered serious injury, but didn’t look that frail the
day of the attack. I didn’t know my own strength, nor how
Founder’s Favourites | Sept 2022—Issue 20 | 14
repressed rage could bring out the beast in a person. I have
pinpointed when that rage began. It was fifteen years ago, and
I remembered it well. I had been suspended from school for
cursing out Mrs. Nelson, my seventh-grade math teacher. The
problem I had with her, or the problem she had with me, I
should say, had begun the prior school year, a few weeks
before the end of sixth grade.
The school chorus was performing in the stuffy gym, where
the student body had assembled to hear the school’s finest
vocalists sing golden oldies. I sweated bullets in the audience
with my classmates. We winced as a male quartet croaked
“Every Breath You Take” and the girls boogied to “Dancing
Queen.” I used the applause breaks to stand and peel my thighs
off my folding chair. After the chorus’s star singer finished the
concert with his solo of “Stairway to Heaven,” I was eager to
return to class. The school crooners vacated the stage, and Mr.
Rivers, the principal, tramped to the microphone. He was a
hulking, mustachioed gentleman with a baritone voice, who
rarely smiled. He called the assembly to attention.
“Students, I want to let you know about the new hallway
policy I’ve put in place. As we have gotten closer to the end of
the school year, teachers have informed me that many of you
have been goofing off, like being tardy and wandering the
halls without permission.”
Some students snickered, whom he reciprocated with a
forbidding glare. I knew Mr. Rivers was not talking to me,
because I was an “A” student and my teachers loved me. I
never asked to leave class, even when I had to go really bad.
The principal continued.
“I don’t want any student assuming the year is already over.
Some of your recent test scores have slipped an entire letter
grade. That’s why I’m implementing this new policy.”
I wondered what Mr. Rivers meant by that. The school already
had a strict procedure for that kind of thing. Whenever a
student had to be excused during class, a teacher signed a
yellow hall slip, which the student carried with him.
“Even though your teachers won’t allow you to leave class
unless it’s absolutely necessary, when you do leave the room
you must show your pass to the hall monitors that I am placing
around the building for the rest of the year.”
I hated following rules the school implemented for goof-offs.
But I knew that the staff had to enforce them with everybody,
even the good students. Such was the case with this new
policy. Mr. Rivers assigned the hall-monitoring duties to his
teachers, who played watchdog during their planning periods.
These pseudo-security guards were stationed everywhere. And
no one got away with anything.
Finally, the last day of school arrived. I was glad to be rid of
all the idiotic policies, old and new. And I was just about to
finish another semester of straight A’s. At recess, my friends
and I shot hoops on the basketball court as usual. The intense
June rays shone on the playground like a welcome mat to
summer adventure. We planned to play basketball in the
mornings and swim in the afternoons. At two o’clock, we
entered our homerooms for the last class of the school year.
My teacher announced: “We’re all getting together in the
cafeteria, where you can have your friends and teachers sign
your yearbook. Anybody who doesn’t have one can take a few
minutes now to make their own out of construction paper.”
The Brookline Middle School Annual, as the yearbook was
called, was just a pamphlet full of photographs and corny
captions. I didn’t buy one when the journalism class took
orders in January. The books got delivered in May, and I
regretted not having my own. It featured a spread of my soccer
team, with a cool photo of me in action. But it was too late to
buy one. All I could do was slap together a lame booklet of
stapled construction paper.
There must have been about eighty students in the lunchroom.
The atmosphere was like a food-fight without the food. Even
our teachers seemed adrenalized by the upcoming vacation.
They ignored our rowdiness and horseplay. I spent the next
forty minutes gathering signatures from my teachers and
friends. They scribbled some cute stuff, particularly my
science teacher, Mrs. Peterson. She wrote, “Goodbye, David,
don’t work too hard,” her trademark advice she voiced
throughout the year. I enjoyed this inside joke from my
favorite instructor. If only it wasn’t contained in that makeshift
Then the intercom blared. The crowd shut up quickly enough
for me to decipher the office secretary’s message: “We are
selling extra copies of the school yearbook for $10 each.
Please come to the office if you are interested.”
“Now they tell me!” I shouted to no one in particular.
After confirming I had enough money in my wallet, I bolted
from the cafeteria. The fastest way to the office was via the
seventh-grade wing, and I had almost made it through when a
hall monitor, seated at a desk, motioned me to stop. The petite
lady sitting before me had snowy, curly hair, reminding me of
a mini-Barbara Bush. She was Mrs. Nelson, one of the seventh
-grade math teachers. My older friends described her as a
friendly, down-to-earth person. So I was surprised to see the
scowl on her face.
“Where’s your hall pass?” she said.
Of course I didn’t have one. Knowing that we were only
twenty minutes from the end of the school year, I figured Mrs.
Nelson would give me a break.
“I’m just going to the office to buy a yearbook.” I spoke
politely, as I did to all adults. But this one didn’t know me, so
the dirty look never left her face.
(Continued on page 16)
Founder’s Favourites | Sept 2022—Issue 20 | 15
(Continued from page 15)
“You still need a hall slip from your teacher.” Mrs. Nelson had
the demeanor of a prison guard.
I tried not to convey my exasperation. “My teachers are all in
the cafeteria,” I said. “I don’t think they have those down
Mrs. Nelson still did not relent. “Please go to the office and ask
for a book of them. You can have a teacher in the cafeteria sign
one for you.”
I dutifully marched to the office, asked the secretary for the
book of hall slips, retraced my steps to the lunchroom, had
Mrs. Peterson sign the slip and, fighting whiplash, returned to
Mrs. Nelson’s “post.” She was satisfied enough to let me go
buy a yearbook. With my copy in hand, I scurried out of the
office ten minutes before the bell. I slowed my pace as I passed
Mrs. Nelson. There was no change in her expression. She
didn’t seem to recognize the silliness of it all, but I figured no
hard feelings would remain.
I stuck around past the bell to have my teachers sign my real
yearbook, and heading home I laughed at the absurdity of the
whole situation. Mrs. Nelson would likely be my math teacher
the following year. She would see that I wasn’t the kind of
student to goof off, and we would develop mutual respect.
Sure enough, they placed me in Mrs. Nelson’s math class, the
one for advanced seventh graders. On the first day, I arrived
early to class, entering before any other student. I chose a desk,
and greeted Mrs. Nelson with a pleasant smile. She did not
return it, so I countered her frown with, “Good morning.” This
time she did reciprocate my greeting, but it sounded forced,
and right after speaking she looked away and welcomed the
other arriving students with all the warmth she lacked with me.
As class began, I reflected on the encounter I had with this
woman a few months earlier. Was she really holding a grudge
over that silly misunderstanding? Did she think I was a
troublemaker? Or maybe I had just imagined her coldheartedness.
I participated in class, and although she didn’t
smile when acknowledging my correct answer, she didn’t
scowl either. I didn’t think about her anymore that afternoon. I
had a satisfying day, math class notwithstanding. My other
teachers seemed to like me.
But as the first month of seventh grade wore on, I never could
seem to break the ice with Mrs. Nelson. Even when I scored
100% on three consecutive math tests. I had quickly proven
myself to my other teachers. I always did my homework and
received A’s in every class.
Mrs. Nelson’s iciness got even worse one day in October. At
lunchtime, I headed toward the cafeteria through the sixthgrade
wing. I spotted Mrs. Peterson in the hallway, who
motioned me to join her in her chat with Ms. Linscolm, my
sixth-grade social studies teacher. Together they fawned over
me, saying how much they missed having such a diligent
student. Although embarrassed, I was used to it. As my former
teachers fussed over me, Mrs. Nelson trudged by. As she
passed, I noticed her sneering at Mrs. Peterson and Ms.
Linscolm, who had their backs to her. Mrs. Nelson’s
expression had a “how could my colleagues have anything to
do with this delinquent” look. I knew then there was no way I
would ever get Mrs. Nelson to like me.
So I stopped trying. It wasn’t easy. A nice kid like me found it
difficult to refrain from pleasantries or class participation. But
I succeeded. I never raised my hand, smiled, or made eye
contact with her. And that seemed just fine with her. My
friends asked me why the sudden change, and when I told
them, they refused to believe it.
Then Friday, November 17th arrived. It was a day to forget,
but couldn’t. At my locker before math class, I procrastinated
as usual, leisurely gathering my homework and textbook. I
plodded through the empty hallway toward the classroom. Mrs.
Nelson was just about to enter. She had reached the door,
gripped the handle, but let go and pressed her hand against her
chest. I sprinted toward her.
“You okay, Mrs. Nelson?” I tried to make eye contact with her,
but she looked down, still clutching her chest. Then she
wheezed a little and raised her head.
“I’m fine, David,” she said. “I just need to catch my breath.
Please go inside.”
I hesitated, then reached for the door handle. She began
wheezing again, and then stumbled toward me. I grasped her
arms, stopping her fall. Her arms felt bony, so I may have hurt
“Let go of me!” She expressed a worse scowl than ever.
“Leave me alone.”
“Okay,” I said, immediately entering the classroom. After I sat
down, Mrs. Nelson came in, looking recovered. I gave her a
concerned look, but she ignored me. She then conducted class
Later that day, during seventh period English, Mr. Rivers sent
for me over the intercom. The class let out a silly chorus of
“Oooh!” as my cheeks turned red. I hurried to his office,
wondering what the principal could want with me. The only
time we ever conversed was when he substituted one day for
my English teacher. He led the class in a discussion of Mark
Twain’s The War Prayer, and I stunned him by explaining its
theme better than he did.
“Mrs. Nelson just told me quite a disturbing story about you,”
said Mr. Rivers.
“What?” I said, swallowing hard.
He looked at me grimly. “She said you tried to assault her
before class today.”
Founder’s Favourites | Sept 2022—Issue 20 | 16
My fear turned to fury. It was my turn to give a dirty look. “Is
that what she told you?”
“Yes, Mr. Wilcox,” he said. “Your teacher wouldn’t make up
something like that.”
“I was keeping her from falling,” I said. “I thought she was
having a heart attack.”
“That’s not what she told me, son. She said she repeatedly told
you to leave her alone, but you didn’t.”
“I was just trying to help her,” I said, raising my voice. “How
could she think anything else?”
Mr. Rivers glared at me for a moment, not speaking. He looked
down at some papers on his desk, then resumed his stare.
wnk1029 | Pixabay.com
“Seeing that you have a clean record, I’m willing to give you
the benefit of the doubt. I’ll let Mrs. Nelson know that I’m
letting you off with a warning. But you can do well to behave
better in her class. Like an altar boy.”
I left the principal’s office with rage building. It was true what
they said about “seeing red.” I actually saw dark blotches
before my eyes. Instead of returning to seventh period, I ran to
Mrs. Nelson’s classroom and barged in. She and every student
turned to stare at me.
With fists at my sides, I looked directly into my teacher’s eyes.
“HOW COULD YOU TELL THAT BULLSHIT TO MR.
RIVERS?” I slowly approached her. The classroom was dead
“Get out!” Mrs. Nelson pointed her finger at the door. I left.
Mr. Rivers suspended me. I told my parents the truth. They
believed me, but weren’t overly supportive. My dad said,
“According to your principal, Mrs. Nelson has had great
rapport with her students for all the twenty-plus years she’s
been teaching.” They decided to transfer me to the other
middle school in town. There, I had to spend two weeks with
real troublemakers in all-day detention. My grades plummeted
for the rest of seventh grade. And I lost all my friends from
Brookline. Throughout eighth grade and high school, I got
decent marks, played football, and captained the wrestling
team, but was always suspicious of my teachers. Whenever
one of them grimaced or sighed, I thought they were about to
bad-mouth me or take advantage in some way.
My distrust and bitterness didn’t subside much in college. I
bickered with my professors a lot, like when my chemistry
instructor curved the midterm grades. I received the highest
score in the class and earned an “A,” but the professor gave the
same grade to students who didn’t even get fifty percent of my
score. “You cheapened my ‘A,’” I told him during class. My
classmates groaned, and kicked me out of their study group.
After three semesters of college, I was dead set on becoming a
biologist. But then my country invaded Iraq, labeling its
mission “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” Ignoring the United
Nations, it sent soldiers to die under false pretenses. I didn’t
want to let my education distract me from current events, so I
mixed the two by majoring in political science. It was a lowpaying
career, but standing up to injustice was more important
than money. I couldn’t let history repeat itself with another
unwinnable war. I proclaimed my disgust during campus
protests, and delivered several passionate speeches about our
country’s senseless lust for violence. My future boss heard one
of them and suggested I work for her organization. After
graduation, I accepted the position of Campaign Strategist. I
earned a low hourly wage, but I was excited to make a
difference in the world.
The Americans for Peace & Prosperity’s mission was to
promote nonviolence and elect politicians opposed to
Operation Iraqi Freedom. My duties included spearheading
antiwar protests, one of which received national attention. I
helped reelect a congressman, who said he wouldn’t have won
without my efforts. I designed his campaign ad comparing the
Iraq War to Vietnam, which received lots of airplay in his
liberal district. His challenger never had a chance.
I had everything going for me until my assignment working on
Sarah Youngblood’s senatorial campaign. Sarah was a young,
enthusiastic candidate trying to unseat the conservative
incumbent who had sat in Congress for twelve years. Our
campaign got off to a great start. I arranged a town hall
meeting where Sarah answered questions tactfully without
backing down on her convictions. Afterward, I drove to the
county library to conduct some research on Ms. Youngblood’s
opponent. I wanted to see how he had voted on 2 nd
(Continued on page 18)
Founder’s Favourites | Sept 2022—Issue 20 | 17
As I entered the lobby, I made eye contact with the librarian.
He was an older man, probably in his forties, and looked tired
“Can I help you?” he said.
“No, thanks,” I said. “Just here to do some research.”
“You’ll have to come back tomorrow,” he said.
“How come?” I asked.
“Because we’re closed.”
I glanced at the clock. 5 p.m. “Oh! Because it’s Friday!” I had
forgotten that libraries closed early just before the weekend.
“Yes, because it’s Friday,” he mimicked.
Mr Doomits | stock.adobe.com
“Sorry, sir,” I said, before leaving. I completed the research on
my home computer.
Sarah Youngblood got trounced in the election. I knew she was
a long shot. It had been my strategy to spotlight Sarah’s
support of common-sense gun control, instead of slinging mud
at her opponent. But the constituents were quite settled in their
ways. They lapped up all the hyperbolic propaganda the
incumbent mailed out. It described Sarah as unpatriotic for
supporting the ban on assault weapons, which President Bush
let expire. She conceded respectfully, praising the victor and
his supporters. Afterward, I got an extended hug.
Following the election, everything slowed down at work, so I
requested three days off. I wanted to read and relax, so I
returned to the county library. This time I made sure to visit
I spent a few minutes in the vestibule examining the bulletin
board. A flier from Sarah’s opponent hung in front of me like a
bully rubbing my nose in dogshit. Besides being posted on
public property, this circular pissed me off because it
exaggerated more than any I’d seen before. Although angry, I
had no regrets for taking the high road in my campaign
strategy. The incumbent’s tactics may have won him the
election, but I had no intention on stooping to his level in
future campaigns, not even to save my job.
I took a deep breath and entered the lobby. The same librarian
from my previous visit stood behind the checkout desk. We
made eye contact. I smiled. He scowled. I froze. His attention
turned from me to a guest checking out a book. The two of
them chatted while I approached. I saw red again. I dashed
around the desk and tackled the librarian. I pinned him down
and pummeled his cheeks and forehead. It took four people to
restrain me. The librarian was still unconscious when the
police arrived. His name was George Hill, and suffered a
concussion and sprained neck, along with multiple contusions.
I sat in city jail for two days after my arrest, before my father
bailed me out. He retained an expensive attorney. We
discussed options of pleading guilty or going to trial. I was
forbidden from contacting George, but to my shock, he called
me from his rehab facility. He said he’d like to get together. I
told him he was crazy because it violated the restraining order.
But he insisted on the visit, and if all went well he might not
sue me. I made him promise not to tell my lawyer. We met in
the rehab cafeteria.
George wore a neck brace, and his facial bruises had barely
started to heal. I bought him lunch. After we sat down I said, “I
know you will never understand why I did what I did.”
“Maybe not,” said George. “I never did anything to you.”
“I’m not a violent person,” I said. “I just lost it.” I reached for
his hand across the table, and to my surprise he gave it to me.
He said, “I heard you are a gun control activist who protests
the war we’re fighting.” His voice was calm and his expression
sympathetic, as if he agreed with my stance on the war.
“My activism is over now,” I said. “Soon I’ll be off to jail. And
when I get out, my criminal record will hang over me for the
rest of my life.”
“So what will you do then?” asked George.
“I don’t know. Maybe I’ll write a book.” I grinned. “About
why humans fight wars. Ha!”
George looked dead serious. “You can write in prison. Lots of
people have authored books while in jail.”
We shook hands afterward. Driving home I wondered what it
would be like to be a librarian. I had thought of it as a boring
job, but in a way I envied George. It would be relaxing to work
in a quiet setting all day long, without much conflict. The next
day, George phoned to say he wouldn’t sue me, a miracle in
this sue-happy country.
My lawyer negotiated the plea bargain with the prosecutor. I
stood up in court and confessed to assault in the second degree,
Founder’s Favourites | Sept 2022—Issue 20 | 18
and received the minimum sentence, two years in prison. I
entered the penitentiary, endured the cavity search, donned the
prison attire, and stepped into my cell. The formalities
concluded with the sliding steel door slamming shut in my
I worried about solitude eating away at my sanity, but I
overcame the loneliness by reading newspapers and magazines
cover to cover. I didn’t follow George’s advice about writing a
book. With Americans so hawkish about war, they would
recoil from my philosophy on nonviolence. I concluded that
pacifism was a losing battle, so to speak.
I made parole three months before the end of my sentence. As
expected, I couldn’t find a dignified job. Most employers
refused to hire convicted felons, something the judge warned
me about at the trial. My career as a political activist was over.
Americans for Peace & Prosperity said it would be antithetical
to their purpose if I continued my employment.
I thought about starting my own business, but didn’t have the
entrepreneurial spirit. I refused to flip hamburgers or bag
groceries, so I took a job in my father’s landscaping company.
Soon after beginning work, I found out Mrs. Nelson had
As I have said, I attended Mrs. Nelson’s funeral to expel the
latent resentment. I hoped the mourners would help me do that,
such as Mrs. Peterson. I sat close to her, but she didn’t
recognize me. Neither did Mr. Rivers, who delivered the
keynote eulogy. He looked remarkably well. He still had his
hair, even though it had turned gray, and spoke as forcibly as I
remembered. I made eye contact with him while he
Ashby C Sorensen | Pixabay.com
sermonized, and paid close attention to what he was saying:
“We are all here to celebrate the life of a fine public servant,
who contributed thirty-two years of her life toward bringing
our children into fine standing with the community.”
After pouring myself coffee in the reception room, I
reintroduced myself to Mrs. Peterson. Her eyes widened, then
she offered a lukewarm smile. Rodney, my former schoolmate,
looked so different from the last time I saw him, right before
transferring. The straight-toothed, clear-complexioned adult
who greeted me was not the awkward and ugly kid I
remembered, whose parents had spent a lot of money on
orthodontia but very little on dermatology.
“I didn’t expect to see you here!” he said.
“I just want to pay my respects, Rodney.”
I conversed with several other mourners. None of them
mentioned my troubles with the law. As the crowd thinned out,
Rodney and I introduced ourselves to Bruce Nelson, Mrs.
Nelson’s widower. He was a short, pudgy man, and gave us a
charming smile, despite the occasion.
“I’m sorry for your loss,” I said.
“Thank you, son. How long ago were you Betty’s student?”
“It’s been about fifteen years, I guess.”
“David is a good guy,” said Rodney. “The incident he had with
your wife was just a misunderstanding.”
I felt the urge to bellow at Rodney, but kept quiet. It would
look bad if my parole officer found out. Besides, with Mrs.
Nelson dead, I wanted closure, and was interested to hear what
her husband had to say.
“What incident was that?” said the widower.
Rodney began to answer, but I interjected. Recounting the
event, I finished by lamenting, “I couldn’t get her to like me.
And I couldn’t believe it when she accused me of assaulting
her. She was staggering and holding her chest. I thought she
was having a heart attack.”
Mr. Nelson looked confused. “When was this? I never heard
about a student assaulting her.”
I looked at Rodney, who seemed just as dumbfounded as me. I
wasn’t sure if Mr. Nelson was playing dumb or just senile. He
didn’t look like he was either. “I’m surprised she didn’t tell
you,” I said. “I got suspended and transferred after the
accusation. It was November ‘95.”
“That was about the time she started having chest pains,” said
Mr. Nelson. “I made her see a doctor. He found blockage so
they gave her an emergency bypass. It saved her life.”
“I never knew that,” I said.
“Yeah, Betty insisted on keeping it quiet. She asked Mr. Rivers
to tell her colleagues and students that she threw her back out
and needed the semester off.”
(Continued on page 20)
Founder’s Favourites | Sept 2022—Issue 20 | 19
(Continued from page 19)
I felt a bitterness I hadn’t felt in quite some time, so much I couldn’t say anything else. Mr. Nelson seemed to notice I was upset.
“You say all this got you in trouble?” he asked. “She would have mentioned if someone assaulted her. What did you say your
name was again?”
I didn’t answer. I scanned the room for Mr. Rivers, but couldn’t find him. I hurried over to Mrs. Peterson and asked her where he
“He just left,” she said.
Matam Ray Visel | Pixabay.com
I rushed out the door and surveyed the parking lot. The retired principal was seated in his car at the lot’s exit. His window was
open. I shouted his name. He ignored me as he turned onto the four-lane highway. I started my car and bullied my way to the exit,
cursing at the elderly drivers. I entered the highway and floored the accelerator. My tires screeched. In the distance, the traffic light
turned red. Mr. Rivers halted at the intersection. There was one car driving between us. I saw an opening in the adjacent lane,
swerved over and back, and slammed on my brakes right behind Mr. Rivers. I honked. He closed his window. The light turned
green, he made a left, and I did the same. I followed him down the highway and off, making lefts and rights, with no intention of
letting him get away.
Founder’s Favourites | Sept 2022—Issue 20 | 20
The Pedestal in Piazza Venetia
In a plaza surrounded by chariots
during the reign of Augustus,
the traffic pedestal now at its hub
now employed as the podium for a conductor—
not in tuxedos and tails but silver buttons on navy blue:
a constable bringing tempo and cadence
to the discordant roar of vehicular traffic.
Each one with a signature style,
movements as graceful and fluid as dance.
Each in official white gloves
in place of a maestro’s baton,
gloves that draw shapes in the air:
a visual language that finger-beckons
or halts with stiff outthrust palm.
Among the traditional cohort of men
on the pedestal for the first time
stands a figure with long wavy hair:
a woman directing the music.
xbrchx | stock.adobe.com
Founder’s Favourites | Sept 2022—Issue 20 | 21
Mollie F. M. Bera
when comes the
i think at last i’ve lost you,
though for you i stay
when comes then
i find you in the planets,
kissing me goodnight.
pincasso | stock.adobe.com
Founder’s Favourites | Sept 2022—Issue 20 | 22
Bobbi Sinha-Morey's poetry has appeared in a wide variety of places such as Plainsongs,
Perene’s Fountain, The Wayfarer, Helix Magazine, Miller’s Pond, The Tau, Vita Brevis,
Cascadia Rising Review, Old Red Kimono, and Woods Reader. Her books of poetry are available
at Amazon.com and her work has been nominated for The Best of the Net Anthology in 2015,
2018, 2020, and 2021 as well as having been nominated for The Pushcart Prize in 2020.
Brian P. Kalfus has a lifelong love of reading. He enjoys literature for the emotional power of a
perfectly written scene. After working many office jobs, Brian rekindled his love of stories by
writing his own. This is his first published story. In addition to literature, he enjoys reading
popular fiction, history, and The New York Times. He resides in Missouri.
Bruce Levine is a 2019 Pushcart Prize Poetry nominee, a 2021 Spillwords Press Awards winner
and the Featured Writer in WestWard Quarterly Summer 2021. Over three hundred of his works
are published on over twenty-five on-line journals including Ariel Chart, Spillwords, Literary
Yard; in over seventy print books including Tipton Poetry Journal, Halcyon Days and Founder’s
Favourites and his shows have been produced in New York and around the country. Visit him
John Grey is an Australian poet, US resident, recently published in Sheepshead Review, Stand,
Poetry Salzburg Review and Hollins Critic. Latest books, “Covert” “Memory Outside The Head”
and “Guest Of Myself” are available through Amazon. Work upcoming in Ellipsis, Blueline and
International Poetry Review.
John Tustin’s poetry has appeared in many disparate literary journals since 2009.
fritzware.com/johntustinpoetry contains links to his published poetry online.
Mollie F. M. Bera is an eighteen-year-old author and poet who is currently double-majoring at
Liberty University in Psychology: Counseling and Writing. A native of both coasts of the U.S.
due to her family’s military background, Mollie is passionate about language, coffee, and the
Iberian Peninsula. She is outspoken about personality typology and enjoys making people believe
she can read their minds. Interested in contacting Mollie? Email her at
Sharon Whitehill is a retired English professor from West Michigan now living in Port Charlotte,
Florida. In addition to poems published in various literary magazines, her publications include two
scholarly biographies, two memoirs, two poetry chapbooks, and a full collection of poems.
Founder’s Favourites | Sept 2022—Issue 20 | 23
Issue 20 - Sept 2022
Thanks for spending time
with my favourites.
Founder’s Favourites | Sept 2022—Issue 20 | 24