Poetry Breakfast

Serving a little poetic nourishment every morning. Start your day with our new expanded menu. Poems, of course, are our specialty. But we will also be serving a fuller menu that includes poetry book reviews to feed poets' and poetry lovers' souls.

Adding Something Heartier to the Menu

Amidst the angry political debates and petty trolling social media feeds, I set out to make Poetry Breakfast remind us of our common humanity.  Touchy topics were avoided.  Social statements rejected.  The goal was to connect us through the emotional and life experiences we all share.

This approach has been a respite to many.  I’ve heard often from our readers that they look forward to the morning poems as a break from the turmoil and bitterness we are bombarded with daily.

But this past week, I realized, we are in a way putting our heads in the sand instead of standing up during such a crucial moment in history.  For the first time I broke my rule of not publishing my work in Poetry Breakfast.  I have never wanted to promote my poetry here.  However, my conscience forced me to publish “Because of the Clinic, I am Alive to Tell You This,” a poem about my personal experience with abortion.  It appeared in Poetry Breakfast the same day that the marches for women’s reproductive rights took place throughout the United States.

As a result of that, I’ve come to realize that Poetry Breakfast needs to have the courage to speak up on issues personal, political, and social.  We cannot afford to avoid these realities anymore.  We have a responsibility to face today’s challenges.  Yes, we.  Not just myself as the editor, but we, the Poetry Breakfast community, both poets and readers.

With that in mind, our menu is expanding to welcome poetry on important issues.  What will not change is the gentleness and compassion that is the soul of Poetry Breakfast.  We will tackle social and political issue with strength from the heart, not from the ideological fist.  Take a look back at one of the few social issue poems that did make the menu, “Gray River” by Patricia Biela. 

This is not a complete change of the menu.  Just an addition.  Most days you will find the poems you have come to expect, but now, on some mornings, you will wake to a social issue worded with compassion and sincerity.  The heart of Poetry Breakfast will always remain the same.

Ann Kestner, Editor


Red Light, Green Light – A Poem by Laura Foley

Red Light, Green Light
By Laura Foley

An ambulance pulls in front of me,
siren shattering the still winter night,
flashing red light I follow,
along the unlit country road,
for miles, toward home—
where I planned an evening
with my beloved: dinner,
log fire lighting the hearth,
coziness in bed.
Forgive me—
for the joy that rises in me,
as the red lights turn left,
into someone else’s night.



About the Poet:  Laura Foley’s seventh collection of poetry, Why I Never Finished My Dissertation, is due out in September 2019.  Her work has won the Common Good Books poetry contest, the Joe Gouveia Outermost Poetry Contest, The Atlanta Review Grand Prize, Foreword Review Poetry Prize and others. A palliative care volunteer in hospitals, she lives with her wife and their two dogs among the hills of Vermont. and

Inevitability – A Poem by Teresa McLamb Blackmon

By Teresa McLamb Blackmon

Waiting for the spotted dog beside me
to be gone, skinless bones buried
under yard trees in perfect grass
we mow and mourn.

Waiting for the father down the road
to finish his fit, at 87,
draped in a flag, tagged out
as if in a game of catch.

Waiting for endings of all beginnings
to wrap our lives in
garments whole and safe as armor,
shielding from the naked chill of loss.



About the Poet: Teresa McLamb Blackmon is a retired high school English teacher who spends her time on the farm with adoring animals. She graduated from NCSU in 1984 with a MA in English. She graduated in 1995 from NCCU with an MLS. Her poems have been published in “Toasted Cheese,” “Absinthe,” “The News & Observer,” “Poet Lore,” Nochua Review,” “Cellar 101 Anthology,” “From the Edge Review,” “Floyd County Moonshine,” “Main Street Rag,” and “Olive Press.”

crescent moon – A Poem by Linda M. Crate

crescent moon
by Linda M. Crate

the moon sang to me
i did not have to be whole in
order to shine,
and i couldn’t help but
this week has been sullen and somber but to know
as i was
i was perfect made a real difference
to my heart—
i have always had a fondness
for crescent moons
their arching arms of longing resemble my own,
and somehow in that moment
i didn’t feel so alone
the loneliness was washed away by the tide
of the cerulean waves of night.



About the Poet:  Linda M. Crate is a Pennsylvanian native born in Pittsburgh yet raised in the rural town of Conneautville. She is a two-time Pushcart nominee. Her poetry, short stories, articles, and reviews have been published in a myriad of magazines both online and in print. She has six published chapbooks: A Mermaid Crashing Into Dawn (Fowlpox Press – June 2013), Less Than A Man (The Camel Saloon – January 2014), If Tomorrow Never Comes (Scars Publications, August 2016), My Wings Were Made to Fly (Flutter Press, September 2017),  splintered with terror (Scars Publications, January 2018), More Than Bone Music (Clare Songbirds Publishing House, March 2019), and one micro-chapbook Heaven Instead (Origami Poems Project, May 2018). She is also the author of the novel Phoenix Tears (Czykmate Books, June 2018).

Because of the Clinic I am Alive to Tell You This

Because of the Clinic, I Am Alive to Tell You This

I have come here almost alone, with only my self
and my dying baby. It is too early to be this sick.
No woman could survive a pregnancy like this.
There is no crowded waiting room here,
and yet the room is so full of energy and emotion
that the air seems compressed and hard to breathe.

A woman is crying, sitting at the edge of her chair,
her head bowed. In front of her a man speaks
in a language I once tried to learn but never did.
He towers over her like a fierce giant
waving his arms, his legs spread like a boxer.
One does not need to understand the words.
If she keeps the baby, he will kill her.

They call me back, gently, to a calm and quiet room.
I sit beside a woman draped in scarves with a religion
I have heard of but do not know much about.
While I wait for the ibuprofen to take effect
we talk like old friends, like we are sitting in the living room
sipping tea in the afternoon. She has five babies.
She has nothing left for another one. She has no more
to give, or really, nothing more to be taken.
If her husband finds out, he will kill her.

There is a little stir from the nurses over how
weak and swollen and sick I am. They determine
I am well enough for the procedure. I am
comforted and cared and loved through
this lesser of two tragedies.

This is not what I feared it would be.
I am not judged. I am not injured by this act. I have
arrived here already wounded and in need of this care.
There is a saving grace here. There is an undisguised truth here.

Here with one woman who would be killed for keeping the child,
one that would be killed for not having anything left for another child,
and I who would be killed by a pregnancy no child could survive.
Here is not a choice we have made.
Here is where our lives are saved.
This is life.


Poem by Ann Kestner, Editor of Poetry Breakfast.

While Poetry Breakfast usually stays out of political issues and controversy, I could not keep quiet today.  I am not able to get to the marches, so I am marching my words here. I will also be taking the poem out to read at an open mic tonight.  Our voices, those who have had abortions, need to be heard.  The world needs to know we are not killers.  We are good women.  The poem is autobiographical.  I’ve not written anything more than what truly happened that day.  Many debate and make this political, but this poem is the true story of three woman at an abortion clinic one morning more than 15 years ago.

#StopTheBan – Ann Kestner


Poem has previously appeared in Mobius: The Journal of Social Change.

Kill Your Darlings – A Poem by Kirsty A. Niven

Kill Your Darlings
by Kirsty A. Niven

The page rejects my words,
aborting them from papery wombs,
spilling them onto the floor.

Their inky fingers claw at the air,
begging to be saved, to survive;
pointing out that I’m to blame.

Malformed and disjointed,
I couldn’t nurture them properly
in such a hostile environment.

I try, in vain, to resuscitate them;
the pen puffing more oxygen
into their iambic lungs.

The darling words die.



About the Poet:  Kirsty A. Niven lives in Dundee, Scotland. Her writing has appeared in anthologies such as Landfall, A Prince Tribute and Of Burgers and Barrooms. She has also featured in several journals and magazines, including The Dawntreader, Cicada Magazine, Dundee Writes and Word Fountain. Kirsty’s work can also be found online on sites such as Cultured Vultures, Atrium Poetry and Nine Muses Poetry.

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