Reflection: I didn’t come this far to join the chorus. I’m here for the solo.

I Can Feel It

I can feel it
Your fear

The long, narrow fingertips of your voice reach out for me
Me… and others like me

In years past, those fingers simply tapped me on the shoulder
But more recently, their grip is strong
And the persistent shaking, undeniable

Your mouth moves, but the words are lost in the chorus of others
And as my eyes move from face to face to face,
All lips synchronized, all bodies tense,
The words no longer matter

The fear is there
In the sea of faces
In the oceans of sweat and tears and blood
In the low hum of mothers crying
And the loud roar of those seeking justice

And as I place my hand in yours,
I can feel it
The fear turns to courage
The pain to strength
And together,
We move forward.

Tori Burris Inkley

I heard
The droplets fall
Filling the space with clean, with fresh, with new

She felt
The droplets spray
Filling the space with gray, with sick, with despair

He watched
The droplets run
Filling the space with red, with defeat, with death

Tori Burris Inkley

It is possible that we all have different views of the same thing…

July 2020

We Are Taught

It runs deep
Generation after generation
Lie upon lies
Children are taught to hate
Taught to not care
Taught to oppress
Taught to abuse

We are not born this way
We breathe in the tainted air
And we are taught…
Taught to judge based on skin color
Based on religion
Based on gender
Based on wealth

It is not natural
It is learned
It is not right
It is wrong
It is not good
It is bad
For everyone

Tori Burris Inkley

The Fog

Sit with me in the mist of this foggy morning
Earth cleansed by recent rainfall
Air as thick and unclear as our world

Feel the tiniest droplets on your skin
Cool and light
There, then gone
Like a word, a thought, a breath, a life

Do you feel it?
The uncertainty
The gray
The potential for both blue skies and storm

Are you willing to sit with me in the mist?
Breathing in this unpredictable air
Wrapped in the world’s unsettled arms
Listening to its undecided voice

Let’s be uncomfortable yet determined together
The sun may shine
The rain may fall
But only after we wander the fog

Tori Burris Inkley

In the Pause

In the pause
I sit
I breathe
I regenerate

In the pause
I come back home
I give myself a break
I find my peace

In the pause
I remember every moment counts,
Every breath is beautiful,
And life is not a race

In the pause
I return to my values
I return to my priorities
I return to my center

In the pause
I find my compassion…
For myself,
For others,
For the world

In the pause
I give recognition to our interconnectedness,
To my Self in Others,
To the Us in Them

In the pause
I acknowledge that all people matter,
That compassion is not hierarchical,
And that pain and suffering abound

In the pause
I resolve to receive, yet serve,
To be vulnerable, yet strong,
To be steadfast, yet change

In the pause
I am found…

Tori Burris Inkley


Flutter and fall
Flutter and fall

and dive
and glide

Flutter and fall
Flutter and fall

The earth stands still
The sun shines down
The wind decides
The fire burns out

But you…
You flutter and fall
Flutter and fall

Out of control
In control
No map
No plan
No dream
No goal

Just flutter and fall
Flutter and fall

Tori Burris Inkley


Do you hear them?
The church bells
Ringing across small town America

Listen closely
As they play the happy sad chorus to which we’ve all become accustomed.

I sit and listen as the carillon plays…
A sound I’ve heard for many years now
Only blocks from my home.
A sound that used to make me smile,
Used to bring me comfort
Used to fill me with hope.

But now the familiar tunes fill me with sadness,
Fill me with doubt,
And on occasion… fill me with anger.

For on this and many other Sunday mornings,
As the processionals continue
As the hymnals come out
As the voices are lifted to the heavens…

Mothers are burying sons taken from them through senseless brutality
Husbands are burying wives stolen by a virus some still believe to be a hoax
Men and women are cast aside because of who they love or how they love
Children leave home with friends never to return
Homeless starve while the wealthy feast

The red calls out the blue
And the blue calls out the red
And the black and brown still suffer

Listen closely to those bells my friends

What are they saying to YOU?
Are they calling you to act?
Are they calling you to pray?
Are they calling you to do nothing but turn a blind eye and a cold heart?

While I may not be sitting in a pew,
Those bells speak to me too…

They beg me to open my eyes wider
To love my fellow women and men, no matter their skin color
To never blindly follow a person or a religion or a political party
To cast aside societal norms and use the brain
AND the heart I’ve been given
To do right by others… ALL others…
Not just the ones who look like me,
Talk like me,
Think like me

We must do better my sisters and brothers…

The church bells are telling us to…

Tori Burris Inkley


want better than a mean spirit
from years past

a beautiful race

no hope

lost love and trust
these qualities being in all


swept out of the path
so telling


Tori Burris Inkley

[Blackout Poetry – excerpt from The Prince and the Pauper by Mark Twain]