Week 15 is a poem submitted to the Kurt Vonnegut Museum and Library’s “So It Goes” literary journal “designed to bring together work from veterans and civilians, established authors and virtual unknowns, high school students and nonagenarians.

Since I was 16, I have submitted yearly to “So It Goes”, cherishing each rejection because, as so many of the writers I admire have expressed, rejections are necessary to writing. And thanks to “So It Goes”, my rejection collection grows and so do my writing skills. For this, I have such gratitude.

The theme for this year’s “So It Goes” edition –civic engagement– is inspired by the 2020 elections. Week 15 is a reflection of my personal experience as a person who has been civically engaged my entire life; is a reflection of my personal experience growing tired and feeling a little afraid in these times of change and challenge; is a reflection of the hope walking beside me in every moment.

The Tired Passers-By
By Nadia Daniels-Meohle

The world is tired
having spun for millenniums,
past histories, lives, moments,

past presents turned past
while our animally instinct
grows disoriented,

while the little girl burns with hope
listening to a promise of “we”
watching hands offer a promise of future.

A future that reaches her,
a fear strewn present
not belonging to her

but to the greedy sad fingers
tipfingering between truths,
slashing the promise of “we” in half.

If she closes her eyes, listening
to the street corner man
beating on plastic buckets,

to those reverberating sounds bouncing
between buildings
and chests walking by,

she can hear the child

hidden within each chest who dreams
of fingers melting into palms,
of palms stretching out to greet one another.

If she closes her eyes,
she can hear the dizzy planet’s patience:
it has always known

the future is no more
or less than

And as the girl’s flames deepen to embers
as the bucket-beating hands grow cold,
one by one, the tired passers-by

begin to listen.

Ears catch first, burning slips of paper
as heads go up in flames
hands reach out

within cupped palms,
fragile and demanding like a baby,
rests all they are, all they can give:

the promise of now.