teach a man to fish . . .

a broken prisoner
back bent like an old willow
skin as rough as bark
believed restorative justice
society’s rejection

© 2017, poem and illustration, Charles W. Martin

#what more do you expect

i am pleased to say .

that it has been a good day. that i said something when she said we had no money. pointed out that we have food, shelter and heat .



that we have our comfort and honest work.                           #whatmoredoyouexpect?


i am not righteous, though my breakfasts are sad now, by design. the cream is off.




i am pleased to say i wrote the book, bought the book, told the story of my life today.




© 2017, poem and art, Sonja Benskin Mesher


. verdict.

seems the punishment is cancelled.

pat says some folk paid the price

we hope he is right. what benefit is

there are leaflets to explain. in the


other power houses.

i visit regular without no ticket.

the formal compaint has not yet
been realised.

it was well over a week ago.
i read daily.

© 2017, Sonja Benskin Mesher


She sits opposite him gazing over the bare table
realizing he’s only the same age as her son
his eyes hold fear beneath the glass that covers
all his emotions, it’s the protective lid he’s
hidden  beneath for years to survive but now
is raised as he faces her and finds she’s like his Mom.

She has one question that he cannot answer
which holds the key to his heart and life
why did he go to that kitchen drawer
before he left for school that morning
why didn’t he take the lunch that he left behind.

James was sitting on the campus bench
quietly eating peanut butter sarnies, muffins
not bothering anyone, alone!  He sat beside
and suddenly stabbed, he took a bitten sarnie

and the cops came as James was dying
and now Sally sits opposite needing
his answer, he mumbles “sorry, I don’t know
he was just there and I was hungry”.

She knows there can never be reparation
for her son will never walk through the door,
she’ll never know his wife, or children
for he’ll never meet her, they’ll not be born

but she’s confronting this boy discovers
why he went to that kitchen drawer
needs to stop him and others like him
from following the fashion of the blade

she’ll know James will live in others
unknown boys who will grow in to men
with futures unscarred by the blade.

© 2017, 
Carolyn O’Connell

The Sacrificial Lambs?

Searchlights strafe the night blocking out the stars
while inside boys search sleep, perusing dreams
that conjure memories of innocent pasts, they’re
back in homes where mothers and sisters danced:

this is but a transient relief – too soon
the dawn slips through window bars bringing
steel’s clang to rouse the day, the stink of men –
no woman comes to bathe a fevered brow.

A judge who didn’t know them, a lawyer duty bound
presided over their futures, turned the page of fate
were they guilty or in the wrong place – no matter?
Now they’re behind walls subject to the system

turning innocence to depravement – no escape
for all around older, wiser know the game
survive by bringing new blood to the flock:
This flock thrives by bending all the rules
the rams impregnate all the new lambs
teach them, turn them into wolves and serve

the new shepherds guiding this interned flock.
All is contained by consent of shepherds whose
duty is to guard, but they are weary of the task
for they know there is no redemption; the stars

are set by race, creed, and class for money rules.
Those without the right profile are sacrificial lambs.

© 2017, Carolyn O’Connell

Hope and Faith in Restorative Justice

This video speaks volumes about why I have such faith and hope in restorative justice.


– Gail Stone, Law & Justice Policy Advisor, King County Executive Dow Constantine