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Founder’s Favourites

Issue 20 - Sept 2022

Bobbi Sinha-Morey

Brian P. Kalfus

Bruce Levine

Glory Cumbow

John Grey

John Tustin

Mollie F. M. Bera

Sharon Whitehill

Founder’s Favourites | Sept 2022—Issue 20 | 1

Founder’s Favourites

Issue 19—June 2022


Bobbi Sinha-Morey

Time’s Woven Garden 6

In The Eyes of a Survivor 11

Brian P. Kalfus

The Last Day of School 14

Bruce Levine

Where Do Rainbows Go 12

Choices 12

Gloria Cunbow

I Hope 3

John Grey

Symbiosis 4

Dream Marriage 5

John Tustin

Dancing Like Leaves 7

Typing in the Dark 8

The Buttress and the Fortress 10

Mollie F. M. Bera

Crepusculum 22

Sharon Whitehill

London 1978 13

The Pedestal in Piazza Venetia 21

Founder’s Feedback

Bobbi Sinha-Morey

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

it here!”

Bruce Levine

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.

Glory Cunbow

I Hope (p3) This was definitely a heart-tugger.

Well done, Glory.

John Grey

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’


John Tustin

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.

Sharon Whitehill

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

Glory Cunbow

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

we’ve mourned

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


John Grey

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

Dream Marriage

John Grey

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

Bobbi Sinha-Morey

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

eternal Eden.

firewings | stock.adobe.com

Founder’s Favourites | Sept 2022—Issue 20 | 6


John Tustin

I’m older and graying and sadder

And duller

As I watch you from the distance,

Dancing like leaves in the whirlwind

So far beyond my grasp.

I knock on the window,

Withered, forlorn,

Stooped, eyes yellowing

And you wave at me,

Your teeth gleaming,

Eyes gleaming,

Skin 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

John Tustin

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

To pretend.

Vladislav Kutepov | stock.adobe.com

Founder’s Favourites | Sept 2022—Issue 20 | 8

How to

become a



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


Submit today!


Founder’s Favourites | Sept 2022—Issue 20 | 9

The Buttress and the Fortress

John Tustin

she mentally extricates herself

for a moment

from her swollen world of noise

and chaos

and allows herself to close her eyes

and think

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

of affirmation,

the tears turning cold

as they emerge and mingle on their pressed

and blessed

tragic and weary


Mi.Ti. | stock.adobe.com

Founder’s Favourites | Sept 2022—Issue 20 | 10

In the Eyes of a Survivor

Bobbi Sinha-Morey

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?

Bruce Levine

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?


Bruce Levine

Choices can be

Forever perplexing

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

Frenetic involvement

Zen understanding

Choices can be

The enigma of life

pyty | stock.adobe.com

Founder’s Favourites | Sept 2022—Issue 20 | 12

London 1978

Sharon Whitehill

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

as usual.

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.


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

Amendment issues.

(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

and irritable.

“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

before closing.

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

passed away.

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.

The End

Founder’s Favourites | Sept 2022—Issue 20 | 20

The Pedestal in Piazza Venetia

Sharon Whitehill

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


of blinking

golden rays;

i think at last i’ve lost you,

though for you i stay

when comes then

the resurrection,

of silent

shady night;

i find you in the planets,

kissing me goodnight.

pincasso | stock.adobe.com

Founder’s Favourites | Sept 2022—Issue 20 | 22

Contributor Bios

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

at www.brucelevine.com

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

Founder’s Favourites

Issue 20 - Sept 2022

Thanks for spending time

with my favourites.

Founder’s Favourites | Sept 2022—Issue 20 | 24

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