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]


I have noted what I have gained
and have composed, as fully as I can,
what can be
and if

My fancies ought not displease you

I will be able to tell

I am still enriching and polishing

Mental influences changed for some unknown reason

Whether it be received
is still disputable

I have neither slept nor idled
reaped experience
kept faith

I cannot change nature

Tori Burris Inkley

[Blackout Poetry – excerpt from The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli]


neither craven nor valiant
an indifferent air
calm and collected
all invited
within easy reach

the end

for everyone

Tori Burris Inkley

[Blackout Poetry – excerpt from Moby Dick by Herman Melville]

My Dad

So I’m not terribly close to my dad. I suppose. At present. I used to be… when I was a little girl. A little less as a teen. A little less still in college. And then after I married and moved to California, we basically maintained a telephone relationship, seeing each other once every year or so. But for over a decade now, we haven’t seen each other at all. Even the phone calls ended somewhere along the way. And then the coup de grace came around the end of November 2016 when I found I just didn’t have the energy anymore.

Let me make it clear that my dad is not a bad man. In fact, I truly believe at his core, in his heart, he is a good man. It’s just that he and I are polar opposites when it comes to many of our beliefs, and we hit a wall we couldn’t get around/over/through. The distance had been growing for years, but on this last issue, my own anger became so fierce that in order to save myself, I had to cut ties. So I did.

I guess it doesn’t really matter what the last straw was. It’s enough to say it was huge. And we were both headstrong enough to not back down. Social media was not my friend, as I took quite the virtual beating from some of his pals. So I made the decision and I broke free from the situation. I’ve honestly never regretted that. My heart and soul and peace of mind required me to do so. I’m grateful I had the strength to follow through because the anger and negativity was eating me up.

So after almost four years, we haven’t really found our way back to each other, although I finally began answering his texts a few years ago. The messages between us are short and factual and almost formal in nature. Oddly though, they always end in “I love you”. You see, I never stopped loving my dad. Even though we grew WAY apart… he’s my dad. Two years ago, when my oldest daughter was planning her wedding, I decided to extend the olive branch and invite him and my stepmother to the wedding. I’m not really sure what response I was expecting, but they RSVP’d with a “No”. Part of me was relieved I suppose, but part of me was incredibly sad. I guess in the excitement of the upcoming wedding, I had envisioned a happy reunion and some sort of rekindling of a father-daughter relationship.

In the two years since, we have continued to text. The subject matter seems to always revolve around someone’s health and doctor’s appointments. Boring and predictable, but at least it’s some sort of contact. My love for my dad continues, and I have no grandiose ideas that things are going to change much. This morning I found out that he’s been admitted to a rehabilitation center due to some health issues. I’m worried. I’m sad. I’m wondering how it will all turn out and if he knows when I text “I love you” that I truly do mean it… even though we haven’t really spoken in years.

I’m not terribly close to my dad. But he’s still my dad.

Note: My dad passed away around 2AM this morning (6/4/20). And I’m so incredibly sad. I truly did love him. He was, after all, my dad.

The Tide Turns

The tide turns…
Coming in…
Coming in…
Going out…
And I relish it.

The energy and the spirit flow to me
And I drink them in…
Every drop

This is a welcome change

Will the world stop if I take a moment for myself?
… if I care about myself
… if I focus on my own energy
… on my own balance
… on my own soul

I smell the sea in my nose
Taste the salt on my lips
Feel the sun on my shoulders…
Yet I’m miles and miles from an ocean

Instead it was given to me…
By me…
In a thought
In a word
In a feeling
In a wish

I am the ocean
I am the waves
I am the energy

I am
And I am

Tori Burris Inkley

Breathe In, Breathe Out

Breathe in, breathe out.
The rise, the fall.
Breathe in, breathe out.
Be proud, stand tall.

Relax, relax.
Slow down your pace.
Relax, relax.
Smile on that face.

Wake up, wake up.
No time to sleep.
Wake up, wake up.
Promises to keep.

Faster, faster.
We need it now.
Faster, faster.
We don’t care how.

Breathe in, breathe out.
The rise, the fall.
Breathe in, breathe out.
Now do it all.

Tori Burris Inkley

Shout Out To Us

I watch
And I wait
Worry and wonder

Surely they’ll see
Maybe today’s the day
But the hate continues
The divisiveness remains

Blind eyes turn once again
Ears refuse to hear
Or upon hearing, refuse to listen

These are our sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, CHILDREN
Skin is skin is skin…

The human plight is OUR plight
The crumbling country is OUR country
The hopeless suffering is OUR suffering
The uncertain future is OUR future

What once seemed a joke, is now simply sad
And the anger roars and the words cut
And suddenly the truth doesn’t matter

And suddenly the truth doesn’t matter?

When did this happen?

How did this happen?

Why did this happen?

The fear
The fury
The “faith”
The future?

And suddenly the truth doesn’t matter?

Tori Burris Inkley




high wall
great power
feared by world

woman standing looking
fresh and green she longed for
desire increased
woman knew she could not

husband worried
our house shall die

man loved wife
no matter the cost

In the twilight
he climbed over the wall
and took his wife

longed for more

her husband once more
was afraid

How dare you thief?
You shall suffer
frightened husband
have mercy, I had to
My wife would have died

baby daughter
in fear
took away

beautiful child
shut in
no doors
only a little window
she stood beneath the window and cried

she heard voices
in her loneliness

we cried

we cried

frightened man began to talk
his heart stirred
no rest
no fear
he was kind

I will go away but how

we shall escape together

the young child
separated from the world
lay on the ground
she cried

dearest she
beautiful bird
no longer singing
in despair
with life, but the thorns pierce

the dearest roam in misery for months
no happy and content

Tori Burris Inkley

All Yours

Be at peace, dear child
Let the grass tickle your toes
and the sun warm your shoulders
This life is yours
All yours
Only yours

The laughter
The love
The tears
The heartache
All yours

Do not shy away from the hard times, dear child
For those are the times you discover who you are
The laughter and the joy are magnificent
But in the salt of your tears you are found

Use every moment of this beautiful life, dear child
To learn to stand on your own
And if while standing, you discover how to run,
Or to fly,
Or to just breathe,
Then every single tear was worth it.

Tori Burris Inkley

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