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Double Exposure

By Samantha Terrell


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The poet gives first publishing credit and her immense gratitude to the following:

America, America' was first used by Poets Responding to Senate Bill 1070

Awkwardness-es was first published by Anti-Heroin Chic

Domestic Disturbance first appeared in DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts

Don’t Call Me Names was first published by Algebra of Owls

Enough is Enough first appeared in DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts

Exoneration first appeared in DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts

Exposure was first published by KnotLit Magazine

Fellowship Halls was used with permission by Unity Presbyterian Church; Clarksville, IA

Green Ball, Center Pocket was first published by KnotLit Magazine

Humble Me was first used by Poetry Super Highway's 18th Annual Yom HaShoah Issue

I Always Try to Look Up was first published by Dissident Voice

Light and Air was used with permission in Ft. Myers, FL school district

Linguistics was first published by Literary Orphans

Manners was first published by LaBloga Floricanto

Moral Character first appeared in Poetry Quarterly

Ocean was first used in conjunction with Roberto Cerini Photography

Pandemic first appeared in Ebola, a chapbook by West Chester University, Pennsylvania

Poverty first appeared in DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts

Refrain first appeared in DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts

Sacrifices first appeared in DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts

Seasons first appeared in DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts

Self-Awareness was first published by The Piker Press

Self-Worth was used with permission by The Republic Monitor; Republic, MO

Taken for Granted was used with permission by Writing for Peace

These Are My Trophies was first published by Dissident Voice

Upside-down World first appeared in the Poetry Explosion Newsletter; Pittsburgh, PA

Vacant Visionaries was first published by Dissident Voice

When Time Reveals Itself was part of an online project at Visual Verse

Don't Call Me Names

I am not Muslim.

I am not Black.

I am not gay, lesbian,

Or transgender.

I am not



I am not Hispanic or Caucasian, Protestant or Catholic.

I am not

An alcoholic,

Nor am I mentally ill. It doesn't matter whether

I am

Or am not

A member

Of the NRA. It doesn't matter how, or where, or when I was raised.

My growth is exponential

Only to your hate.

I am not an atheist. And, I am not a fool.

For, I can find

Ways to teach

Even the most unschooled.

Fear is my great benefactor,

But I am not the rich.

And I am not the poor.

I can be elusive, but I am not the truth,

Though I cannot be denied.

Try to name me,

If you want your proof.

Green Ball, Center Pocket

In the moist basement

Of our youth,

There was a pool-table

With its relentlessly obtuse

Angles, thwarting

Boredom between

Family meals.

But the naïve

Are short-sighted,

Ignoring the warnings that fertility

Exists for growth. And, soon bright

Orange and green billiard balls

Would be forever sunken in

Our memory’s pockets; a filled in foundation.


Child, as you yearn,

The adolescent strains,

Adults strive, and

Elders wane.

How I would spare you

Hurt and pain, but

To do so would spoil,

And rob you of life's toil

Which teaches all,

Regardless of age or race;

So with each season,

Know the burden is this:

Accept, and embrace.


Good deeds done

Need no accolades;

Even money well-spent

Is just spent money,

And patting one's own

Back can cause strain

Sometimes a gift

Isn't in the giving;

Though a well-timed

Word takes work,

A parent's nod

Can mean more than scolding,

And sometimes, to give,

Means withholding.


While politicians nit-pick,

Lobbyists lobby,

Workers work,

Parents provide,

And monastics meditate,

Justice journeys on,

The innocent inmate,

Watchful of a world

Working actively against it,

Patiently awaiting pardon;

Until that hour of

Quiet redemption comes

When acquittal arrives, and

The face of the once-condemned,

Is graciously made known.


I’m sorry,

Please, and Thank you;

You forgive me,

I’ll forgive you.

For people that have

Come and gone,

Wars that have been

Lost and won,

Deeds that have been

Done, undone

We say

I’m sorry,

Thank you, and Please;

I’ll forgive you,

You forgive me.

Say goodbye




Make way for

What was once-called

Common courtesy.

Fellowship Halls

I’m a long-standing member

Of that church

Of peeling plaster

Walls; and cob-

Webbed corners,

And sob-

Filled souls; with a basement room

Full of cold folding-chairs,

And a piano that’s out of tune,

But the genuine faces

And fresh coffee

Make warm spaces

(Away from mega-church throngs)

In the small church,

Where I always belong.

Domestic Disturbance

Your privacy was invaded


When your car stalled outside


Window. You didn't know I saw you, though I wasn't trying to hide;

You just didn't have time

To notice me while your soul was busy

Shrinking into all that was left of it to be,

In shadows cast by the hulking hostile presence

Of your husband. And, through my office windowpane your half-profiles danced to the violently Silent disturbance

Of this quarrel. Until I make out something you say,

That you're sorry and you love him. And then he goes away.

I'm curious why he was mad at

You, but does it really matter?

Then the irony

Of that shiny

Thing catches my eye....

A peace sign

Dangling innocently from your rearview



I’m embarrassed to tell you

We spent $100 U.S. dollars

At our corner market today.

Your corners have no markets,

No wells,

No faucets.

Your child

Has no bath,

While I scold mine

For too much splashing on the floor.

So much excess…

What’s it all for?

Our children see fireworks shows

At theme parks.

Yours flee gun-fire and smoke.

And now I really must rest my head

(we bought a new mattress, and bedroom set).

But tonight I wonder, where is your bed?


Before the lamb

Lay down with the lion,

The cub bit the sheep

And wounds ran deep.

The fawn and wild boar

Bedded-down not

Upon forest’s lush floor,

Without nature’s

Painful consequences

Showing true colors

Once more.

As final, futile acts

Before a peaceful

Course set; today’s

Pacts, preceded by


Shameful fits.

Enough Is Enough

An herb is no better

Than a shrub,

A turnip no less lovely

Than a tulip, but while

Nature provides beauty in

Abundance and variety,

Humanity insanely seeks

Plentitude through sameness;

Challenging creation, its

Creatures walk in ignorance

Working stubbornly

Against the greater good,

As though inherently better;

Rather than accepting,

Enough, trumps much.

Taken for Granted

Tonight, my sons

Eat pizza that I pulled

From my electric oven

With a hot blast in my face,

Transporting me to our own youth

When oven heat from

A floor-vented furnace, sent

Our pink nightgowns billowing up

In clouds of warmth.

We giggled, and sighed with relief

At the security of that heat,

In our childhood home;

Even as, Mother Nature has presently,

Simultaneously, stolen

The comfort of your homes

From both of you

In your respective struggles,

I worry over you from a distance

With overdue gratitude for

A family home,

A source of heat, and the

Laughter of sisterhood.


When I was all I had,

And the leaves

On the ground

Were damp and brown,

Our home phone would ring

At Six each evening

As we sat down to eat

Our green beans and milk and meat.

But I kept a book,

Where worries rested,

Beside my bed,

In their only home outside my head,

And I would lie awake sometimes ‘til Three,

To write, and read, and find

That all I had,

Was all I’d need.

These Are My Trophies

Would that


Become my

Trophies, heard

By contemplative




Seek that

Which I fear I cannot give,

But am forever after

Trying to; as the pensive

Reflection tells me anyway,

In this, my computer-screen trophy case.

When Time Reveals Itself

When history


Come flying

Off shelves, it may

Be natural

To try

And stop

The clock

That sits so solidly atop

The bookcase of humanity,

Complete with the

Knowledge of our ancestry,

But heeding,

Rather than


Time, could hold the clues

To stop the world from

Crashing down around us.

Vacant Visionaries

Empty eyes


A looking-glass to see


That’s fabrication,

Making images to suit the occasion

Finding what isn’t


And using false

As a witness.

To say nothing of (lacking) fact,

These glassy-eyes reflect falsehoods, diverting truthful impact.


I do believe,

By happenstance


(And quite because of

My own selfish greed, I'm sure), that life is but a

Mirage of sorts, seeming to grant us control of a situation,

When actually, though it counters intuition,

We're really only ever offered awareness...

And just enough,

To cause the questioning soul in us to stir; and when it does,

We can vaguely see, the human mind's

A most unusual kind

Which leads us to believe

We control certain deeds;

And as a matter of fact, I did just write this sentence!

And yet,

I can spare myself regret,

In that to lose and to gain,

Though they hardly seem at all the same,

Can be likened to exactly that,

In the eyes of the omni-present.

Upside-Down World

Too often we look emotionally

Upon that which needs objectivity

And too often we look objectively

Upon matters of the heart

Why do we walk past

Our neighbors in need,

With more mouths

Than they can feed?

How can we neglect

A friend who is sick?

Why is a note or a phone call

So hard to make?

And why do we often

Let fear

Drive our finances?

And our cars, frustration?

Work-places and politics

Driven by vague feelings,

Don’t make for strong nations;

We’re upside-down.

Let’s take the emotion

Out of our honeymoons

And put it

Into our marriages,

Stop over-thinking


And basing decisions

On raw passion

There is a place for the heart

To be cautious, and

There are times

For acting on impulse

But ultimately,

Hearts are made to feel

And we think

With our heads;

So let’s stop hanging


And be right-side-up


‘America, America’

Playing in traffic

We gamble with

Our children’s future,

Our own already threatened.

We are adolescent


Sophomoric in our

Reasoning skills

Unwilling to admit

We might be wrong:

Wrong foreign policy,

Wrong economic policy,

Wrong social policy.

I tremble in the boots

By whose straps

I am supposed to pull myself up

I want off this

Carnival ride

But the crowds keep cheering it on and on,

Until all I can do is pray:

‘America, America’

God spare us from tragedy

Bring home our troops

Bring back our jobs

Bring healthcare to our needy

‘America, America’

God spare us from tragedy

And crown us again

With dignity

‘From sea to shining sea.’


As sickening death


A wanton cry


"Be more! Do more!"

It begs,

Prove that compassion

Is not dead--

A privilege reserved

For the select.

For, in a generation

Whose great iniquity

Is the practice of


The true pandemic

Threat, is Apathy.

Moral Character

How can he hide

From himself

The actions required

Not of ego,

But of self;

That which dislodges hate,

Befuddles the smug,

‘Pulls one over’

On oneself?

Decrying his past,

And hers,

And theirs,

Leaving only to last

A self-centered purpose

At worst,

A purposeless act at best,

Character must thrive

In order to be at rest.


Should’ve known…

The directions

To that party

Were complicated,

And we had heard there

Would be a banquet

But it was just appetizers.

Plus, we stuck out

In our formalwear, with

Everyone else in flip-flops.

Never mind though,

“Meet the host!”

We were told.

But he was preoccupied.

Making the best of it,

Ignoring broken promises,

And looking past


We kept dancing,

Until feet swollen

And music fading,

The air became stale

As we broke a sweat,

Trying unsuccessfully,

To be gracious guests

While onlookers

Breathed down our necks,

Making it plain

We were not welcome, and

The only question that remained:

Why were we sent an invitation?


A nearby baby cries, my heart’s nerves

Reach out longingly

To console her,

Then retract,

Resuming the practical.

He jumped up

To help an elderly man who’s falling. I’m relieved

Though my own actions got stuck;

Words are caught in,

Bits of dried-lip skin.

An Hispanic

Couple doesn’t dare cross the cop

Who gave them a ticket,

Though it’s obvious

They were not at fault.

She pats

The politician

On his pompous back

For accolades

Received (and only given, it seems) by the vain.


My monolingual tongue’s

Great muscle-mass

Made brittle, stiff, is broken, doesn’t speak.

But my multilingual heart rarely fails to listen, see.

Humble Me

Baptize me

In your

Red Sea,

So I may know

What you know,

That I may go

Where you


Make a way,

Away from the waves

Of humanity’s woes,

That we

Might undergo

A transformation

Of peaceful collaboration,

Admitting over and over again,

That we must drown

Our own hopes and sins,

To ultimately keep each

Other afloat, in this world of waves and deep.


Loud and large,

Overwhelming, slapping--

Waves, water

Calm, then clapping.

Find rest by my side

As you listen to the tide;

A reminder of who you are

As I rush near, far.

Rush away, like me--

Keeping ears and eyes open

That you may hear, see.

Don’t vacillate

In my vastness,

But rest

Even in my restlessness.

Then, steadfast and serene

I will lull you to sleep.

Away, Towards the Sun

Turn the plants

Gently away


The sun.

They’ll grow up, that way. Be mindful


Of the water.

Leaning in too closely

Towards the light



Takes away growth,

With its

Weighted focus.

Though, too far away

Into the damp is dangerous,

Where the warmth

Of light is hard to remember

As cool, moist threatens

To set in too far, to recover from.

Turn only gently away then, to grow towards the sun.

I Always Try to Look Up

When feeling downcast,

A museum’s temple exhibit,

With an ornate cathedral ceiling

That I almost missed, is uplifting--

In contrast to the unknowns

Of relics, minds, and bones

That take our attention

Away from the wisdom

Of fellow onlookers,

Whose sage words

Are more relevant

Than that

Of a curator

Or counselor,

In offering gentle advice such

As, “I always try to remember to look up.”

Light and Air

When I sit, content with a

Moment in time, and

All I am is air and light;

A minutiae of universe

Made to briefly help reflect the day or night,

I am wholly

Here with you, but also

At the beginning of things known to me,

And/or anyplace my mind

Chooses to be.

It seems, at once, clear

That we are all not only just somewhere,

But also, here, and also, there,

At that far off destination

When we become light and air.


Why, when clouds

Float by above--

Does one see

Butterflies and elephants,

While another

Conjures up cell phone

Towers, guns,

And drones?

Or, are those

The real things

In our modern skies,

Rather than envisionings?

And all this time, I was told--

We emulate that to which we are exposed.

Double Exposure

Smashwords Edition

S. Terrell (2019)

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