That gift
Sits below my wrist,

Left obvious
Despite her absence,

After breaking now
Before mending
What beads
Still remain intact –

Counting sins
Aligned like charms
Across these strings
We’ve woven
Where tested knots
Prove tightest
Pulling cords
With every curse

And heated words
Which tear
Those twisted lives
Left tangled
Below these fingers
For the hands that once
Clasped back,

Seeking reason
To sport this cuff

Or get back up
Lacking worry

As another day
Misses your presence
Reminded by palms
Showing wear.

Those symbols
Hiding our scars
Gain merit
Through daily usage

Facing waves
Of frequent erosion
Much how life
Endures such pain,

Placing ornaments
Over each wound
So injuries earned
Provide meaning
Through countless scuffs
Upon metal
Holding wooden spheres
Along threads.

Some bracelets
Last beyond death
Even if their bindings
While being used
During lifetimes
Where wars were waged
Winning trust –

Merely in length,

But adorning
Damages taken

Finding beauty
Shimmering brightly
For a time
Only real love shines.

  • J. Pigno

No hero
Should run and hide
When the villain
Becomes their shadow
But engage
Those reflected demons
To translate fear
Into hope

As they shape
What legends believe
All worthy change
Isn’t judgment
When mirrors break
Throwing punches
Likes stones we cast
Fighting back –

Each shattered piece
Cutting deep
So every scar
Provides reasons
For claiming hate
Without purpose
Or drawing lines
Between friends,

Worried peace
Means dreaming alone
While surrounded now
By accusers
Whose obvious threat
Peddles justice
Through riotous words
Left unchecked.

How such ignorance
Carries out crimes
More than hearsay
Buries our innocence
Since sinfulness
Echoing arrogance
Chisels gravestones
Gaining applause –

These monuments
Most will forget
Yet eternally cast
Upon victims
Over nothing
Obscuring importance
Behind faces
Listening less.

This world needs art
That ignores
Such countless lives
Keeping silent,
Proving valiance
Spoken expression
Which dares defy
Every risk

Most poets learn
Donning capes
Sporting phrases
Dangerously honest –
Tempting failures
Only forgiven
If God Himself
Offers strength.

  • J. Pigno

Doesn’t make sense
When life itself
Is a program
Like another game
Based entirely
On perfection lost
Long ago –

Our divinity
Digitally drawn
Leaving hands obsessed
With discoveries
Which find us
Retracing patterns
Never forwards
But stuck in reverse,

As fingers type
Writing laws
Over loops that lead
Towards confusion
From equations posed
Needing answers
But inventing gods

Since staring still
At these screens
Seems our liturgy learned
From inception
Watching parents slave
Behind keyboards
Thinking miracles
Can be reset.

This sacrifice
Simulates ease
While boredom waits
Fearing silence,
Feeling right
Until we have noticed
Today has passed
Between texts –

Gaining levels
Expertly played
Before heroes die
Facing riddles
Such numbered moves
Employ daily
Forcing mystery
Where there is none.

How happiness
Shadowed by doubt
Lacking save points
Holding my progress
Proves experience
Fabricates meaning
During chapters
Worthily failed.

  • J. Pigno

How happiness
Steals our words
In ways no pain
Can fathom
While boredom
Removes all reason
For existing
Beyond this pen,

As suffering
Nourishes faith
To elicit
Substantial purpose
Which provides us
Colorful language
Only passion
Could ever evoke

Since conjuring
Something real
Across each page
In waiting
Means creating verse
Bearing substance
If the feelings prove
Too strong.

Even fantasies
Always agree
That losing sleep
Is required
So bleeding out
Becomes special
And reality
Smothers each dream,

Waking up
Besides more threats
Making daylight
An enemy gleaming
Choosing sunshine
Over more darkness
Leaving tragedy
Easily seen.

Trauma lives
Through loves unfair
Like breath long gone
During kisses
Building phrases
Upon those moments
Quickly passing
Without much thought,

Failing senses
Fleeting at best
Disconnecting now
From forever
Held between these joys
Growing empty
Among chapters
Writing themselves

By meeting lies
Creeping close
Behind poems
Such comfort excuses
Pushing fallen truths
Beneath footsteps
Treading honesty
Thinner than glass.

  • J. Pigno

All I want
Is to be acknowledged
In the ways
Sincerity dictates
Through thoughtfulness
Shown by discretion
To discern
My words as true –

These vestiges
Learned by mistake,
Hearing ghosts speak
Intimate wisdoms,

Leaving trails
Along crumpled up pages
Beneath desks
Where agony sits

And takes this form
Given flesh
By inadequate means
Always dreaming
For better release
They’ve inspired
Till escape seems real
When it fails.

Each triumph
Besides that wish
Leaves lingering fears
Never questioned,

Only doubts
Now fostered entirely,

Trading stares
Between faces grown old.

How success
Will never prove earned
While boredom builds
Over decades
Spending idle time
Watching reruns
Of another day
Lived so wrong,

Not maturing
Despite those wills
Or protests stood
Writing brashly
But playing fate
Chasing muses
No God worth love
Would employ.

Let’s admit
Such dangerous expressions
Are an excess gift
Best kept secret,

Hiding shyly
Behind closed bindings
Within studies
Souls never see –

Hidden tomes
Amid libraries lost,
Merely begging
Those eyes which wander

Like lines whose phrases
Sit there

Praying soon
Validation comes.

  • J. Pigno

Dear John,

I’m afraid to admit I forget how your struggle alone should remind me that death itself is a catalyst for changing life on a whim.

I chose prose instead of careers, idle daydreams over real toil.

I do not regret fleeing labor, as your pain made passion my goal.

It’s embarrassing doubting these words, every time I seek motivation from an outside source reading excerpts of a gift so few would enjoy – or appreciate and acknowledge as fair, like the ways I’m forced to relinquish each moment we’d spend trading reasons for moving past how we eventually split.

The irony of trying your best is a man whose curse was his blessing, believing cash your vocation and passing young despite hope.

I’m not that good of a worker, and lazier still than you hated – calling me out on my bullshit even though your anger was fair.

You ended each phrase with a smile, your freckles bright when you giggled, always mentioning pain was a virtue as you wished my views quickly changed.

At your bedside, your mother had asked if I’d be there after you left us, to which you replied how we’re different though friendship will linger if true.

She said of course I’d be “weird”- after all, I was always writer, and you a skeptical genius who understood what hurt made us tough.

We survived a similar rearing, a trial by fire of loneliness – opposites in ways that were obvious, kindred through means we endured.

I recall that summer distinctly – the one just before you had vanished, when the weeks dragged on playing music and video games signified cause.

Your disease was never that cancer but the plague of a world begging jadedness, and its only cure was enjoying another night laughing loudly with friends.

We ate so much we got sick – burgers and fries before nachos. Then brownies and sundaes at parlors which closed not long after that.

We wandered the parking lots driving, doing circles and chasing new sunsets as the dusk set in over strip malls where again I might see your face – waiting for me by your car, electronics in hand as you tampered with a gadget you swore was important and anything else was just trash.

You strived for the promise of “soon” or tomorrow being mankind’s constant with potential mounting towards progress you’d agreed was faith worth belief.

Our last conversation between us had me mentioning God every minute, telling you none of this mattered except Him where your soul would soon go – high above me near angels in heaven, mocking every choice I would muddle with women, jobs, and then poems I suspect you read to this day.

See, John, that season persists – for me it never quite ended. I’m 20 and reading bad comics, afraid no girl may appear – not 33, married and scared, scouring lies for some meaning in the midst of an ongoing virus that’s ravaged what world we had known.

You insisted I’d find my true love, though she wouldn’t be quite what I’d pictured. That joke perhaps was your funniest – she’s here now, and better than dreamed.

I’m certain you sent her while watching, seeing me beg as I stumbled through relationship to wayward relationship where parts of my being stay lost.

How I wish I could tell you much more, but then what’s the point of expressing how your entire journey inspired me inadvertently while dealing with grief – praying silently under my wails, thinking back to times staying innocent, held inside me shielded from numbers or statistics claiming your fate.

The purpose of art is reflection, to perceive how mirrors are fluid and shift with age through experience to encapsulate stories long gone.

This letter’s need is just that – allowing me space to recall you, to honor and convey whose legacy brings tears with sparks which redeem.

Most people abandon their fire, or forget how embers are kindled.

I don’t worry about truth ever fading.

You’re burning with stars.

I’m beneath.

Your buddy behind you on Earth,


People will
Often pick sides
When they’re never
Easily taken
Without learning
Lines drawn distinctly
Become what shapes
We have feared,

Facing swiftly
Partisan rules
And agendas backed
By divisions
For causes made
Spewing hatreds
Like laws obsessed
With defeat –

For both parties
Trading their blows
Thinking answers grow
From exclusions
While its us against them
Always fighting
But ignoring flesh
All the same

If you really look
Beyond glares
Into eyes so deep
Hiding damage
Or past whose lives
Seem more varied
Than circumstance
Wrongly suspects.

I acknowledge
Difference is real
Though emphasis
Placed on experience
Can bridge those gaps
Needing context
To alleviate
Distances shared

Which begins new trust
Felt unsure
Losing privileges
Marring perspective
Building platforms
Over expanses
Very vast
Where questions remain,

Despite newsmen
Peddling answers
Through big networks
Garnering ratings
Choosing barriers
Offering voices
Making noise
That blocks out our own.

Only chaos
Assumes every change
Should follow rage
Still accepted
Asking families
Facing each other
Why progress
Must not forget.

  • J. Pigno

Across the parking lot came vagrants, people braving the wind and pollen to make their way towards an effigy of everything the weekend was – a place where materials dwell and money is spent religiously, a fixture of useless objects and marginally overpriced goods.

They all seemed to face the sun as each person carried baggage, whether pocketbooks or personal items on their journey come that Spring.

These pilgrims oddly marched as each footstep hit that pavement, though their vehicles broke its silence with migrations brought by car.

I was certain there were reasons for their haste and wayward smiles, though my wife appeared unsettled by how many had no mask. It wasn’t that I felt elated knowing crowds would never listen, but it somehow eased my tension seeing humans be themselves.

For a year, I dared not enter any dwelling outside my comforts, meaning shopping would never happen – especially on days like these.

Despite my apprehensions, I kept pushing her to enter.

Then I remembered all those reasons, sickly wandering empty halls – even prior to this virus, when my heart would beat so strangely, calling ambulance after ambulance just to realize help won’t come.

The folks who brought me aid only ended up making me anxious, judging hope with their authority which I apparently still lack.

But life’s joke is purely on them, since “new normal” forced us to realize most have never understood depression from experience found in a cage.

My existence before this trauma had its perks beyond obsessing over health and every heartbeat my pulse missed from sensing truth – how routines below God’s heaven weren’t meant for man’s successes but enjoyment always squandered by requests of cash and sin.

Churches ask for daily tithings. Governments demand our taxes.

But has divinity ever expected anything from us other than love?

I was pondering this myself while we exited that market, catching an answer almost unnoticed out of the corner of my eye.

The woman was dressed in rags, though their appearance proved mysterious – her tattered blanket wavered with each passing gale of dust.

Her mouth, unlike the rest, was shrouded beneath a covering, dirtied but held correctly above her nose which slightly curved.

Heavily, she exhaled, staring longingly at each customer, wishing guests would pay attention as she weakly shook her arm.

I realized begging for change wasn’t exactly considered saintly, yet in that moment, there were halos hovering gently above her head.

Perhaps Christ Himself had sent her into our midst as a staunch reminder how real hope was often needed by the ones whose chances pass.

I had never been in her shoes. I was guilty of being privileged.

For that, I took five dollars and folded it into her cup.

It was nothing, merely a gesture. If possible, I’d have given a hundred.

It just left me sad and empty since no one else had stopped.

She said “thank you,” and we walked -my spouse soon near close behind me, charging away from that busy building hearing her coins bounce to and fro.

Those bricks besides her echoed with the sound of rattling faithfulness – calling out to those who listened or believed good will endured.

I prayed tomorrow told her that graffiti spelled out gospel, and asphalt riddled with potholes offered seas of endless wealth, counting faces far more lost since her plight allowed her spirit to be found a true example of how suffering made her rich – in ways I thought I’d learned, locked at home without much purpose but agreeing pain was certain for such souls who can’t achieve.

Her glance, it taught me trust. Once more, that tomorrow lingered, inevitable though elusive – and worth what chaos loomed.

Pandemic or personal choice. Trauma or tragic endings.

I don’t count what blessings give me. I savor what they exclude.

  • J. Pigno

I’m afraid
This isn’t me
Or perhaps
Some sudden reflection
Of what fear can build
Through chaos
Knowing perfection
Doesn’t exist,

As appearances
Speak their truths
When our souls
Remain too silent
Like these agonies
Told by signals
On new clothes
And shortened hair –

That strange image
Staring back
While we gasp
Before wet mirrors
Within bathrooms
Steamed from showers
So damn hot
We hope they kill,

Feeling off
But looking right
If ignoring those
Who tell us
Every subtle change
Has meaning
More important
Than perceived.

This whole image
Just seems wrong
Though appropriate
Since agreeing
With old demons
Judging shadows
Casting figments
For real men

Among masses
Most will gauge
Still believing
First impressions
Yet neglecting
Better pictures
Told with words
All actions tell.

There is safety
Standing out
Watching fashion
Hide afflictions
Every mental wound
Has festered
Over years
Spent insecure,

Seeing small flaws
Become big
Letting flesh
Fixate regardless
Cutting strands
Off smiling faces
Only proving
Style screams.

  • J. Pigno

Has anyone actually heard our demise beyond the static?

Listened closely to such chatter which we translate by excuse?

The ending feels so close, but alas, I cannot seize it. I’m allowed to merely suffer while depression leaves me deaf.

I’m noticing indifference building lies amid confusion self-imposed by sheer denial or the fact some suffer less – which I doubt was God’s intention, though our laws and actions structure how society begs compliance based on answers hate has sown.

Across the board we’re greedy, even when it means existing alongside one whole damn planet slowly choking from these pills – what bad medicine nature swallow’s off the hands still claiming order held in place by business ethics shallow spirits think are fruit.

Their hunger means much more, without context they could fathom – such true needs are only serviced through creation left untouched.

But that wouldn’t count for excess or what joy this arrogance peddles as successful, though deliberate, while pursuing aimless thrills.

That radio keeps on blasting every song God warned was dangerous, rousing tunes which vie with envy for what chart their bias tops.

And the anchors keep on speaking as their hair waves in that picture, with long faces shown on TVs during hours spent at work – eating frozen foods accepted without family near but calling via cellphones placed on tables so they multitask at death.

We’re teeming with statistics to the point they’re actually screaming – eliciting cries now whirring in the background of our pride.

Forgetfulness murders reason by what language whines delightedly over discourse still acknowledging human shrieks that no one stops.

That’s the truth, as loud as it gets – a roaring cannon of ignorance drowning out those low-pitched demons while we raise our voices loud and pretend that silence lingers when tomorrow feels too heavy or our burdens grow existential beyond quotas fear upholds.

People die and pray for quiet. Not for change, but faint suggestions for improving easy bias on those terms their comforts yield.

I’m sick of white noise roaring before every powerful speaker. It’s time some colorful music yells it’s melodies long unknown – shouting anthems all can trust and enjoy without distinction drawn from stories shaped by limits across borders ballads break.

Simultaneous conditions aren’t how these strains were written, yet our harmonies soon supported helps agreeing orchestras play.

Melodies then prevail.

Improvisation triumphs.

We’re sounding better together, though behind us cymbals crash.

Tackling everything, all at once. For some songs are hard to focus.

I say we’ll always have to if we long to dance again.

  • J. Pigno