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.


social issues

How Long O Lord – A Poem by Dana Hughes

How Long O Lord
by Dana Hughes

Because they were DOCTORS she said,
I believed they would help me, believed
in their knowledge, in their experience,
their Hippocratic oath, our common humanity,
for God’s sake.

They saw me arrive full and leave empty
again and again through years of trying
to bring just one child into the world
and they shook their heads and shrugged,

something about how these things happen,
it’s normal, nature’s way of taking care
of what isn’t meant to be, but after number
nine fell out in the fifth month, it seems they
might have seen

a pattern; done an exam before the end began
instead of after. If my color matched theirs,
they might have said CERCLAGE instead of SORRY
but we weren’t

and they didn’t, and my hands that ache to hold
the one thing in all the world that I would give
my life for are clenched rather than clasped
in prayer as I beg the Lord to forgive whatever it
was I did

to make those babies slip from my womb’s grasp.
I think of Sara, Rachel, Hannah, and Elizabeth,
and wonder how many lives they lost, expelled
in a field or by a stream, not because they were barren,
but ignored.

*”Cerclage”, also known as a cervical stitch, is a treatment for cervical incompetence or insufficiency, when the cervix starts to shorten and open too early during a pregnancy causing either a late miscarriage or preterm birth.


About the Poet: Dana Hughes is a wife to one man, mother to three grown and perfect children, a minister, knitter, quilter, potter, and gardner, and who takes delight in arranging and rearranging words like a quilt being pieced of bits of this and that until the pattern appears.

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


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