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Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner

by Martha M. Feliciano, 2024

Winner, Winner, Chicken Dinner 

Poetry, essay, story, play 

I’m not sure which way to sway. 

Make it shorter, make it longer 

Not sure which way will be stronger. 


In the future or in the past 

Which one is the best to cast? 

Which to choose, I know, Wow! 

I’ll make it in the present, Now! 


Will it be love, or an adventure? 

Just not sure which way to venture. 

Pride, or greed, or virtue true 

Still not sure which one to do. 


And to the characters, should they be 

Happy, sad, or just angry. 

Should they be really good, or really bad? 

Or maybe they’ll just be half mad? 


Now I’m thinking as to whether 

They should even be together. 

Away these two could be carried 

Maybe even to get married. 


Is it really such a crime 

If my story’s not done on time? 

Should I leave my story due to time 

Behind and change it all to rhyme? 


I’ll start again, I’ll watch the time, 

Yes, I’ll make it up in rhyme. 

OK, I’m ready to start again, 

Oh, my goodness, where’s my pen? 


So, I look both far and near 

There it is, behind my ear. 

Now for my glasses a search is lead 

Yes, that’s right they’re on my head. 


I’m settled in, ’bout to begin 

On my face there is a grin. 

Getting ready, about to see… 

Can’t believe, I gotta pee? 


Yes, I know it’s not a crime 

If this isn’t done on time. 

At least I know I can’t get fired 

‘Cause finally I am retired. 


Finally, all settled in 

Then my clock starts chiming in, 

“Read the plaque upon the wall. 

Where it says for one and all. 

In this home there are no winners, 

If they don’t get their chicken dinners.” 


The clock ticks off, as if to say 

Not to waste your day away. 

Wasting time with indecision, 

just get started in that kitchen. 


I call out, “You’ll be just fine, 

All I need is one more line.” 

A voice calls back, “Don’t worry dear, 

I’ll get myself another beer.” 


I work and work on line by line 

Everything seems to go just fine 

And everything does seem to rhyme, 

But don’t forget to watch your time. 


On my leg I feel a paw, loudly now my cats do call. 

“You must know that it’s a crime not to feed your cats on time. 

In this home there are no winners, 

if we don’t get our chicken dinners.” 


When I called out one more time, 

“Not to worry, you’ll be just fine, 

All I need is one more line.” 

Then I heard the clock strike nine. 


Could someone else please be the winner? 

Just this time to get their dinner? 

Heaven help me if I’m wrong 

To have written until dawn. 


Ahh, I’m feeling a little stronger 

But can I hold out for much longer? 

Is it really such a crime, 

Just to search for one more line? 


Ohh, I know it’s getting worse, 

As I search for one more verse. 

I tell myself I’ll be just fine, 

If I can get just one more line. 


Tried to stop on the next day, 

but the words won’t go away. 

Haunted me, “you’ll be just fine, 

All you need is one more line.” 


Yes, I know it’s not a crime, 

If my work’s not done on time. 

But, my family’s getting thinner 

Should I start their chicken dinner? 


I hear a voice I know quite well, 

Coming through clear as a bell. 

“Eine Frau darf nicht vergessen” (a wife must not forget) 

“Um zu leben, muss man essen.” (To live, one must eat.) 


Kirche, Kinder, und die Küche 

(church, child, and the kitchen) 

Simply means to stop your bitchin’ 

And get back cookin’ in your kitchen. 


As the plaque says on the wall, 

There it states for one and all, 

“In this home there are no winners, 

If they don’t get their chicken dinners.” 


Now they say, “She is much thinner. 

She should have made their chicken dinner.” 

They hear my voice come from my grave, 

“What do you mean, I can’t be saved?” 


Surely it is not a crime, 

Not to have things done on time? 

I thought that I would be just fine. 

I just needed one more line. 


The people call, “She is a sinner. 

She should’ve made their chicken dinner.” 

Cause of death was not a crime. 

Death was due to too much rhyme. 


They hear my voice one more time, 

“Can I get off with just a fine?” 

The Cat Court hollered in this time, 

“Let the punishment fit the crime.” 


They thought and thought and did debate 

What would be a true fair fate. 

“Let the punishment fit the crime. 

Take away her one last line.” 


“Now it’s left to her decision, 

Can she truly now envision, 

That her life can be just fine 

Without finding one more line?” 


“Or will she lead a life of crime, 

Tellin’ her family they’ll be just fine 

While searching for that one last line. 

As her family gets much thinner 

Waiting for their chicken dinner.” 


As time did tell, and we all knew well, 

That the writing on the wall, stated there for one and all, 

“In this home there are no winners, 

If they don’t get their chicken dinners.’ 

Full Circle

by Barbara Progebin Graffe, 2024

The March wind blows on gray, chilly days

As shriveled, brittle and faded orange leaves

Fall on the softening, tan blades of grass.

Small green buds start to appear

At the end of bare tree branches

And pretty, purple crocus

Begin to grow as their petals

Peek out of the softening soil.

Some days clear blue skies are seen

And others gray skies are the day’s color.

Birds return to sing their beautiful morning songs

As geese come back honking.

The clocks spring forward bringing more light to the day

And the night sky appears much later in time.

While the sun gets warmer and stays with us much longer

Children’s voices shout with delight and

The echoes of “Play ball” are heard

And scooter wheels are rolling fast on the sidewalks and


Spring is back with all of its growth

And life has come full circle.

An Artist

by Barbara Progebin Graffe, 2024

I paint with blue pens and a keyboard that is back lit

I craft my markings on heavy white paper

Or thin pages filled with butterflies or flowers.

These pages are filled with printed letters and others with curves.


My paintings are seen by my eyes first

And then eventually by the eyes of others.

These markings flowing from left to right

As I fill many pages or just one.


When I read, these markings are given sounds and inflections

So that others can hear my different voices.

Ones that may be loud, others that may be screams

Or some that may go up and down like a roller coaster

And the gentle voices that reach from my heart and soul.


I am a writer of poems and essays

That spill from deep within me and pass from my lips.

I share by voice of words with all who will listen

Hoping they enjoy my beautiful paintings to see and to hear

For, I am an artist of words.

Brooklyn’s Echoes

by Barbara Progebin Graffe, 2024

Children’s voices in the alley

Tag your it

Throw it to me

Echoes of laughter everywhere.


Come in big Barbara

Little Barbara come home

Women leaning out of windows

Echoes of mothers voices calling.


Parades down Eastern Parkway

Marching bands heard

People dancing during celebrations

Echoes of steps in unison on pavement.


My neighborhood was Crown Heights

Greetings from those walking to stores

Ebbets Field not too far from home

Echoes of crowds cheering on clear days.


My Dad’s voice singing songs

Reciting children’s rhymes

His words of encouragement always

Echoes of “I love you forever”.


Brooklyn’s echoes are with me always

Bringing smiles and laughter

Fond memories to my heart

And warmth to my soul.


by Charlotte Heotis, edited by PM Heotis, 2024

A huge graying woodchuck owns my hill.  He peeks out from blackberry thorns—eyes the play yard up and down.  Then, casually waddles out. His fat loose skin waving over his short legs.  Spying a tender dandelion he munches its leaves until he spies others he thinks more tender—thus he proceeds up my hill stopping innumerable times to take stock of what’s around.  Making sure he’s in full ownership of his territory.  Should he even get a glimpse of my shadow in the window he streaks for cover.

Then guess what—I saw him yesterday sitting up under my apple tree—a small green delicious apple in his two front paws.  Nibbling away.   It must not have been tasty because he did not eat much.  Off he ran to his woodchuck hole.  Me being very curious went out to check his tooth marks in the apple. Hope he doesn’t get a tummy ache-I surely would.