A collection of poems by local authors. Submissions have come from our workshops and events.



Walk It Out

by Jeanette Louise

I used to stroll the streets
Little melodies
would come to me
Horseshoes on the pavement
Matched the sound of my boots in stride
rain slips off leaves and find me
These little melodies with words would please me

Oh I used to write songs
Now all I do
Is think about tomorrow
And what the babies will be like when their older

Such a mindless activity
Somewhat alert in my feelings
Seeing things like bumble bees in wisteria on iron gates clears my delirium
On my long walks I’d sing

Oh I used to write songs
Now all I do is think about tomorrow
And what the babies will be like when their older

The little leaves of early spring
The wren nests I’d never seen
Although I’d walk these streets a thousand times
There would come another rhyme

Oh I used to write songs
Now all I do is think about tomorrow
What will the babies be like when their older

Working too much on all the wrong things
They are right if you think money is king
Trying to find that place between
Where creativity and economics breathes
How can we have both and still be free

I’d like to write songs
I want to be like the child skipping down sidewalks in Sunday’s best
Every moment in the moment
mind at rest, playing songs
With bells ringing over the city I love



Kumquats & Jasmine

by Jean Catherine Hubbard
Sun kissed and fuzzy pink
Basking in the after-glow
Like the way the kumquats hang
From the trees below

Tart and sweet
Is the space
Where our eyes meet
Growing firm and round
Orange and supple
Until they hit the ground

They roll and they rot
As the jasmine fills the air
Another place, another trace
Of you with me there

The sun bakes and filters through the leaves
Watching over our favorite trees
The jasmine reigns this time of year
And the kumquat carcasses scar the Earth



This City Was My Only Love Before You

by Jean Catherine Hubbard
The old Cadillacs guard the drives
The tube TVs man the streets
And the houses keep watch
As the night falls
And the still washes over

This is the city that does not love you
Does not allow you anything but her unbridled beauty
Which is to be admired
And never obtained

Oh all the stories to be written
Of all the old houses scattered about
All the unheard voices of times past
Lives left suspended in the paint chipped walls
And the broken shutters
And the decaying rot
In the very foundation
Of the once grandeur

Devour all that this city can give
For this is Charleston
As it is now




by Jackie Morfesis

What is your mystery?
What magnetic pull do you have over our lives?
Why do I say that I am able to leave you?
Yet, you know the truth.
Why did my soul incarnate here,
in this beguiling place?
What sounds, what visions did you impress upon me
at such an early age
that I cannot release?
I remember my grandparents’ home,
at the corner of Morris and St. Philip Streets,
above their old grocery store.
I remember
the antique furniture,
warm, dark, and rich,
curtains of satin
and bedspreads of pink taffeta.
She loved the color pink.
Everything was so magical.
The rocking chairs on the porch
where grandfather would read his newspaper,
the bannister,
the wooden stairs, so steep,
down to the street.
I remember everything.
I remember Daisy,
who loved me and I her.
She was my first word, Daisy,
and the only one who could stop my tears.
And I remember leaving
as if pulled from the womb,
moving back to the northeast
and only visiting in the summers.
I remember Folly Beach,
spending my days as a merchild in the ocean,
and being serenaded by her soothing songs at night.
I remember a boy,
whose oh so blue eyes follow me in my dreams.
you know the power you have over us,
as if you are a lover
that we can never truly have.
You always keep us wanting,
and never, never
reveal your true self,
only allowing us to see you through veils.
Or is it just me?
You pulled me back to care for my father,
and then for my mother.
And now, will you care for me,
and show me why I am here?
I say that I am leaving you,
but you and I know that is not true.
I can no more leave you
than leave myself.


Sweet Holy City

by Michael Rentz

Oh, the things you have done.
The eyes don’t do it justice.
But the feeling is there

Not a feeling I can relate.
But a feeling, nonetheless.
Not one, or two, or three,
It’s me and you, forever.

But I’m back you see.
You knew it all along.
To rescue you.
To slay the dragon. A dragon?

For there are many riches here.
Not gold, or virgins,
But value you see. Not me.
But us, it’s us, forever.

You look so different.
But you feel so much better
Maybe your older courters have abandoned you
Maybe you grew up

Maybe it is time for the world to see you
Maybe history has played you well
But it is time that wins in the end?
You are time, and I’m fine.

With that you know,
You’ve treated me poorly in the past,
At least I thought so,
But “at least” isn’t real.

What is real is how I feel,
And the time is now.
Food and wine, crime and time,
What is ours? Forever?
Both yesterday and today.

But tomorrow may never come.
Ah, but it will.
And we will still,
Be together, you and me.

Sweet Holy City,
Your steeples are markers
We worship in the street,
At night, waiting for tomorrow.

I’m sorry sweet friend,
For both of us,
But I am back,
And you were right.

Today is the day,
Sweet holy city,
Thank you.



The Way of Spring in the South

by Ellen E. Hyatt                                          
On old Plantation Road, the jasmine
is newly yellow on vines that twirl
around weathered posts.  Leafy tendrils, 
are tossed about by a passing breeze.
But the trumpets, tiny and not yet
bee-ready, hold fast, drink sun, 
save notes of reveille to rouse trees
and those of us still in winter sleep.
 (First printing:  as winner of the Archibald Rutledge Prize in  the 
                                 2004 Yearbook of the Poetry Society of South Carolina) 



On King 
by Ellen E. Hyatt

The woman checks for expired meters.
She tucks yellow slips on windshields,
chalks tires, and warns gently, “Desmond,
ten minutes before the police 
come ’round.” Desmond will move on, 
just as he did from a doorway
of a restaurant opening for dinner. He’ll

find some part of himself at another spot
and lose the parts he no longer wants
in the brown bag hugging cheap bourbon
that warms the oncoming winter night. 

By Joel Sadler
Oh Charleston,
why do I try so hard?
For all your “progress”
you’ll drown soon anyway.


“Holy City”

J.Buga (Milton Lewis)
There’s no saving this town…
Body after body piling high in the streets…
2 murders in one night at least 5 every week…
Friends killing friends mothers dying from the hands of the weak…
Scared to settle it like men so they pick up a gun…
A girls life gone all because she wanted to have some fun…
The war on racism and hatred is taking a turn and it ain’t us who won…
We killing eachother so the others say why bother…
We losing this fight with every bullet that pops…
Police killing us too so it’s muthafuck a cop…
Being here 10 years of my life made me into a totally different person than what I set out to be…
All this violence, backstabbing, and murder tells me to live for only me…
Like I said there is no saving this town…
The ignorance still lives and breaths…
The government will supply everything we need…
Guns, knives, crack, cocaine, heroine, weed…
Just as long as we keep it up and eventually self destruct…
Keep the jails full and the school system corrupt…
Making sure nobody makes it from the town in which we grew up…
Lil Dayday may be here today but boy he may be gone tomorrow…
For the mothers that lost their children my heart is filled with sorrow…
I know that there is time that they wish they can borrow…
Just so they can wake up and see their kids tomorrow…
Charleston, South Carolina…
One of the first places they brang African slaves…
Over 400 years ago yet we still live in those ways…
Poisoning our communities day by day…
Blood stains the streets because it’s violence we crave…
No different from the Willie Lynch theory…
Keep the body take the mind…
We’re not too far from crossing those lines…
What can a man do to make you end his time…
Cut short what God has blessed him with and make him flatline…
Then walk the streets with the thought that you’ll be just fine…
Women degrading themselves on Social media dulling the bright light that shines…
This is not just rhythm and rhymes…
This is real life and we live in these times…
No solution given…
Cold cases every week encourage us to take the law into our own hands so a solution is something we never seek…
I can go on and on for weeks…
Welcome to Charleston…
The Holy City…

by Matthew Hartford
Charleston is a city of History
A city where houses built in 2019 stand side by side with houses built in 1719
A city where the cobblestone roads built by the hands of unpaid labor and the modern highways built by their descendants occupy the same narrow canyons
A city where shots rang out to start a war, and where the division only halfway healed
Charleston is a city of division
A city where the gap between rich and poor grows as the land values rise
A city where as more new settlers move in, the old inhabitants are forced out
A city where even today, the issue of race occasionally causes violence and bloodshed
Charleston is a city of God
A city where the steeples rise on every corner
A city where nearly everyone claims a religious affiliation
Charleston is a city for me
A city where I live
A city where I grew up and continue to grow in.
Charleston is my home.


Still my girl

 by Francisco Douglass
With strong features you face east, the wind in your face and the Atlantic at your feet.
Your Natural beauty is undeniable, Helen of Troy would agree.
We don’t agree on everything but would that be true love? True love exposes the good and bad, layers of ourselves released into the trust of the other. And in each other’s embrace , we stand toe to toe but only because we’ve stood side by side.
Charleston you’re still my girl.


Dealing with Charleston

by Jack Tracey

Well, first of all, how much time do you have –

because after six or eight years,

and you’ve gotten a grasp of

how to get invited to the better weddings

and, of course,

are set to be invited for the next twenty five years

to the very best parties and avoid the finest funerals;

and been kissed by a couple of other gentlemen’s wives

and found out all about the guy

that kept kissing yours that New Year’s Eve;

and done the community outreach thing,

raised money for the AME east side churches,

served on an executive committee

for multiple or muscular whatever;

and you’ve bought the Mayor a slice of coconut cake;

and sat with Francess on her porch mid-winter

watching the boats float until sunrise

when the girls finally put breakfast out,

even though they were so hungover;

and then, again, walked the year’s first art walk

admiring the freezing cleavages

wondering just how on earth these women from the Midwest

get by at these things without a proper jacket;

and have twice torn your pant legs tripping

on the goddamned sidewalks, yet still haven’t sued the city;

and marveled how many truly crazy names

the women from here are hung with,

and that is not even counting all the hyphenated black girls;

and you’ve sat on the edge of a statue smoking,

though you were supposed to have quit,

and been scolded by that biddie walking her Pekingese

for flicking your cigarette onto the lawn;

and lost a house in the hurricane;

and have done the black tie galas

for Southeastern so many times

that you don’t even eat the food anymore

but just mindlessly mingle;

and you’ve quit reading the paper – on principle;

and rescued some thirty something ex-deb

whose car breaks down where it shouldn’t be

in the dead middle of a rainy Sunday morning

and she’s dressed in her Saturday night clothes

almost weepy still that her mother’s second divorce

precluded her from finishing up at Ashley Hall

and she was stuck at Bishop England

for those last two painful years;

and learn how fascinatingly intertwined one can get

into how many lives just by crazily going

to five Spoleto evenings in a row

and staying out all night on three of those evenings;

and sat on the Board with the boorishly brilliant

transient doctor that rose to meteoric self importance;

and done the College basketball boosting;

and the politics, of course;

and always went to at least one or two games each season

for the Royals, the Rainbows, the Riverdogs

and made polite conversation with someone from Hanahan

and kind of enjoyed it that one time;

and listened to the news anchor ladies,

drunk and avoiding disorderly

as they spill their life story and dissatisfactions

all over the untouched pancakes at the three a.m. Huddle House;

and by the time everybody thinks that you must know everybody

and have gotten the thank you note, on the really thick paper,
for whatever it was that helped those people at the shelter

or the hospital or that center for the troubled whomevers;

and you’ve made friends with at least one fragile, ancient thing

just off Broad, that has way too much money

and far too many fair weather friends,

and worked in her garden,

and helped her hang drapes,

and then stopped by to chat and found she had just passed,

and you successfully skipped that funeral too;

and managed the big benefit event,

and have been interviewed by Bill or Debi,

but preferably by both

and under separate auspices;

and you own your fourth powder blue seersucker suit ….

maybe then,

you can take a crack at dealing with Charleston.