The empty prison in Lebanon has become the cold winter hotel

of women and children who ran away from the burning bullets,

the splatter of fire, the heavy bodies.


They have come to the only shelter that the torn curtain

(Sunni, Shiite, Christian)

can bring.


The children break down and cry for their lost fathers.

They cry for milk and warmth.

Here in Wisconsin the heavy, wet snow piles up, dripping water.


In the dark gray twilight I look out the window

while our Arbor Vitae sway with the gusts of wind.

There’s the drooping, mournful birch, the tired, brown oak.


A cable of black wire gives me light, and keeps our house warm.

Then the lights flicker and go out. The furnace stops running.

I sit in gathering dark


and I can feel the house getting colder and colder.

In Lebanon there’s little food and no promise of heat.

There is not much I will do. There is not much I can do.


John Sierpinski

John Sierpinski has published poetry in many literary magazines such as California Quarterly, North Coast Review, and Spectrum to name a few. His work is also in six anthologies. He is a Pushcart nominee. His poetry collection, “Sucker Hole,” was published in 2018 by Cholla Needles Press.

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