Last week, I fenced you and your neighbors in. By the end of the coming week, I will have earned my freedom from the work force. June 3rd is retirement day. So whatever you perceive as freedom, make it the impetus for your poem. Freedom is not free. It carries quite a cost. Tomorrow, honor those that won that prize for you and remember their sacrifice as payment for the freedoms we enjoy!



She drips eloquence,
but her needs, desires, and core
are not free to speak.

© Marie Elena Good, 2022




Hidden in the darkest reaches
of a mind bursting with plans
and schemes; dreams that you never had the heart
to start expressing, lest you show your hand
and your soul. Lest you lose control.
In the end you stayed within.

Over the years, it was a sin
to really deny your true vision, wishing you could reach
the masses without being an a$s or classless dolt out of control
of emotions you never felt comfortable showing. Your plan
to stay silent failed miserably when your hand
took pen to page, opening a vein directly to your heart.

You had the words and the heart
but weren’t sure where to start; where to begin.
Your decision to ply your hand
with the brand of poetics that would pull you out of the breech
sounded like an outrageous plan.
But it was a salve to soothe an aching soul.

So, you were given control
to dispatch your words as sparks of the heart,
an inferno brewing, stewing within this man
and releasing the man within.
No star too far, no meteoric rise out of reach,
no thought held too long within hands

longing to be free of the burden. A poet’s hands
holding the power to move and cajole,
to elicit a smile or groan, any guttural moan, to reach
someone else’s senses. To touch their hearts.
And so it starts. Words are merely words when sequestered within.
They become the guiding light when allowed to shine. Any man

or woman seeking to be free must first release these fears as this man
has. Take your words and destiny into your hands
and disperse every wild notion of thought, the din within
your own expressive mind. Find your voice and take control.
Rip open your soul and rend your heart.
Shout “Free at last, free at last…” to all within reach.

The plan has always been to reach
every heart with a tender hand
by wresting control of the poet within.

(C) Walter J Wojtanik - 2022

142 thoughts on “PROMPT #388 – THE PRICE OF FREEDOM

  1. I’m sure I will tinker more with this one another day, another week, but here for now is my look at Freedom.

    The last school bell has rung

    We dash out the door
    ready for a cool dip in a pool
    an afternoon of reverent reading
    no morning alarm clocks
    no toting school lunches
    -I never liked sandwiches anyway

    I wander on my road home
    thinking over the last day
    goodbyes to friends who won’t be back
    and others unavailable all summer

    Freedom comes with losses too
    unfulfilled beginning friendships
    the last earnest discussion in class
    with a listening teacher
    who’s heading for a new school in September

    My essay in autumn
    what I did on summer vacation
    will feel much different
    than last year
    because I too
    move on to a new school

    © Carolyn Wilker May 29 2022

  2. Hello all. I will likely tinker more with this one, but for the moment, here’s my take on freedom

    The last school bell has rung

    We dash out the door
    ready for a cool dip in a pool
    an afternoon of reverent reading
    no morning alarm clocks
    no toting school lunches
    -I never liked sandwiches anyway

    I wander on my road home
    thinking over the last day
    goodbyes to friends who won’t be back
    and others unavailable all summer

    Freedom comes with losses too
    unfulfilled beginning friendships
    the last earnest discussion in class
    with a listening teacher
    who’s heading for a new school in September

    My essay in autumn
    what I did on summer vacation
    will feel much different
    than last year
    because I too
    move on to a new school

    © Carolyn Wilker May 29 2022


    Not all prisons are physical in nature.
    The small window enables us to see
    what life would’ve been like if we had
    normality without strife, or adversity.

    Sometimes the prison bars are the scars
    we wear to indicate that we are inmates
    of life’s inevitable squabbles. Restrained
    in fulgent orange jumpsuits, yet detained

    within dank, dark cellars where our voice
    is not heard. Except soft bird echoes of aching
    breaths reverberating off six by eight walls
    that return to the sender screaming—

    You are not free. You are forever a prisoner.
    Surrender, to the solitary confinement of
    the telltale song of miseries’s symphony.
    Not all prisons are physical in nature.

    © Benjamin Thomas


    I have the freedom of voice
    to sing, compose hymns of praise to my King.
    What else, would I rather do than offer
    the fruit of my lips in sweet worship
    to you?

    I have the freedom of choice
    to choose, I suppose, this world or my King.
    What else, can compare to you my dear Lord?
    For all is mire and dung.

    © Benjamin Thomas

  5. Never “not now,” I
    curl into the lap of the
    One who answers prayer.


    For me, this is the hands-down greatest freedom of all. ❤

  6. Walt: You already know how I feel about the sestinas you are able to write with a flow so genuine and flawless that the difficult form disappears from your words. Leaves me shaking my head in awe, and ahhh.

    It made me smile that we both wrote in our favorite form this morning … you with your sestina, and me with 17 syllables. 😉

  7. Wow, Walt; massive and majestic, not just for the form you used, but for the way you used it.

  8. Marie, your two seventeeners are like old-time silent shorts: they leave lasting visual impressions.

  9. I have the feeling I’ve used this poem before, in an earlier form, but what the hey….


    In lowered skies and misty air,
    I stroll down rolling rows alone
    to read the stories written there:
    the dates of birth; the dates of death;
    the ranks arrayed in frozen breath
    of immortality, in stone.

    Now and then I see a name
    that holds my gaze, inviting me
    to reminisce upon its fame:
    eternal yet ephemeral,
    an admiral or general
    shrugs off the shroud of history.

    But that was then and now is now.
    Most of the buried, row on row,
    have names that bid me wonder how
    they lived, made love, grew old, made do,
    for most have names I never knew
    and some have names that none will know.


    Cemeteries can make one feel
    but I sense accompaniment while
    I walk
    along the paths of this old city graveyard
    weathered and sometimes concealed
    and admire polished white mansions
    of stone.

  11. For Freedom

    My Uncle Bill who died in France
    My dear dad’s brother and best friend
    We didn’t meet, we had no chance.
    For freedom, he had met his end.

    I think of him, time and again.
    My cousins that have never been.
    And so, I keep his purple heart,
    And pray that World War Three won’t start.

  12. Feeling Free

    That day long ago when
    for a little while, I died,
    thought I was going home,
    no sadness, no more fear,
    no clinging to what’s here.

    That year I’d gone to war,
    all thrumming energy,
    rising above the cacophony,
    struggling beneath the fear,
    wishing mightily to be invisible,
    knowing I had put myself there,
    all the elements of ego
    so visible to God, 
    if not to me.

    Today, I have declared freedom 
    from fear and darkness. 
    Life is always present.
    Grief has had its time,
    in all its untidy dress,
    complicated and deep,
    feeling a lot like regret.
    Now, there is 
    less force, more flow,
    less stress, more ease,
    less fear, more Grace.

  13. Side Street

    I’m off the highways
    where I worked long days.

    I once stood by a line
    holding a stop/slow sign.

    Now with the early sun
    my new life has begun.

    In a spring breeze
    I find my ease.

    A stilled morning a recollection
    calls for a moment of silence and reflection.

    In the winds a soft refrain
    a chance to live my life in new ways.

    Away from the hustle of traffic
    I find times of contemplation and magic.

  14. Back in 2020, I wrote a poem of freedom on the day my abuser was buried… it was I am free… it is the first poem here, and the second poem I wrote today two years later…

    I Am Free…

    I am free in a way
    Most of you will never understand.

    I am free from the darkness
    That huddled in my heart.

    I am free from the fear
    That lurked in my mind.

    I am free from the prison
    That kept me chained to darkness.

    I am free as the wind
    That blows through my forest.

    I am free as the stars
    That dance on clear nights.

    I am free to sing
    Those songs of joy I tucked away.

    I am free
    And my life
    Is no longer owned
    By another.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    December 9, 2020

    Freedom took a long time…

    The scars are still there.
    It is hard for me to trust-
    But I do.

    It has been years since
    I woke up in the night screaming-
    But I still cry.

    There was a time
    When I would not go places
    Where I might see you-
    But now I go.

    Somewhere along the way…
    I remembered the time-
    I was kind to you
    Because none of us liked you.
    I was just a child,
    And I sought you out…
    As you sat alone
    On a porch.
    I talked to you,
    And you had a wasp sting me.

    You made lots of money,
    Because that gave you respect,
    But the hearts of those you harmed
    Gave you more hate
    Than you imagined.
    You used us, and
    Then sneered at us.
    Your money was
    Rotting and you
    Didn’t notice.

    Your death freed me.
    I didn’t go to your funeral.
    Most of us didn’t.
    People turned out…
    Words-false words-
    Were spoken about you…
    For I know you…
    Just as the others knew your true self…
    A racist, a rapist, an arrogant bastard.

    Forgiving you
    I had to break
    The chains you placed on me.
    I had to know that
    You never would hurt me again.
    I had to know that the God of love
    Would help me forgive.

    Someone said to me
    After you died
    That you probably split
    Hell wide open…
    That is between the God of love, and you.
    I just know who you pretended to be,
    And who you actually were-
    Someone broke your soul
    And I first met that broken soul,
    On our grandfather’s porch
    When I sought you out in kindness-
    And you repaid me with pain.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    May 29, 2022

  15. Roadblocks to Freedom

    What would inhibit your freedom?

    Violence (street and domestic)
    Forbidden words
    Stifled protests
    Banned books

    If you are truly free,
    you are fortunate.

  16. Of Hope and Freedom

    This poem is dragging the chains of
    sadness along behind it, trudging through
    mounds of news, gathering up heartaches,
    hoping for a moment of peace to come
    to its rescue, granting it freedom.

  17. Free Will

    Craving freedom
    from painful emotions,
    but suffering exists.
    All Buddhists know this,
    at home, across oceans.
    Feeling helpless,
    doing nothing.
    Would it help if
    I alone
    did just one thing?
    So I write,
    stay mindful,
    light one candle,
    pursue a personal freedom
    as I give my friends
    the love they deserve.
    I fall short, of course,
    but this is my path,
    so I continue on.

  18. Memorial Day is always a special day for me, being that I’m retired military and could have been one of the many that gave the ultimate sacrifice for this nation. But I was blessed to serve 21 years with very few scars, and none from war. God had His hand on me. But for those who did give their all, ten years ago I wrote this, and it’s still one of my very favorite tributes to the fallen.

    I Lay Waiting

    Row after row they all look the same
    Fading white marble with name after name
    Grass growing slowly, groomed by the week
    Occasional strangers; other names that they seek
    Lying in wait, no one seeks my stone
    No tears shed for me as I lay alone

    Alone with thousands of souls just like me
    Thousands who fell for the land of the free
    A land that I love, and gave all to defend
    And now I lay waiting for a loved one or friend
    Loved ones or friends that so rarely stop by
    Forgotten I lay here not understanding why

    I sacrificed it all to keep freedom alive
    My spirit cries out with a plea to survive
    At least in the memories of those left behind
    While I lay here waiting, entombed, confined
    Unable to do much more than reminisce
    About family and friends and everything that I miss

    My memory is sharp; my whole life I recall
    From the day I was born ‘til the day I gave all
    Thoughts run willy-nilly always through my head
    My body is wasting, though my mind is not dead
    But now I am saddened as I lay here alone
    Waiting for anyone to stop at my stone

    Earl Parsons
    Copyright © Earl Parsons 2012

  19. Row Upon Row Upon Row

    I entered the gate and was instantly transported
    Into another dimension that could not be explained
    What was the place that I had entered into?
    I did not know, but I felt so at peace

    At first glance it appeared to be rather small
    Just a place to gather with family and friends
    But there would be no gathering today for me
    I had a destination and an appointment to keep

    Five stone paths lead away from the entrance
    Each referenced boldly with numbers and rows
    My destination was straight down the east path
    My appointment was set for as soon as I arrived

    As I slowly made my way up the very first hill
    I was amazed to discover so much more beyond
    For hill after hill after hill there appeared
    Row after row after row of stone markers

    Each marker engraved with names and numbers
    Ranks and insignias donned most every one
    As I slowly made my way past row after row
    I felt their souls reaching out to welcome me home

    Then I arrived at a marker with my name engraved
    Freshly dug soil covered with synthetic turf
    So few were gathered there at my final sendoff
    Just the ones that truly loved me that I left behind

    They cried as I was lowered into eternal rest
    I wished I could hug them all and dry their tears
    And I prayed that one day we would all meet again
    For I knew that this grave would not be the end

    Then the hand of God reached down grabbing my soul
    Gently lifting me up to be with Him on high
    He let me have one final glimpse of those that loved me
    As He whispered a promise that we would all meet again

    © 2020 – Earl Parsons

  20. Freedom
    Is never free
    The payment’s made in blood
    by those willing to give their all
    for those they don’t even know


    Who is freer than the airborne bird
    who surfs the whirling winds incessant breath?
    Who pleasurably defies the arms of gravity,
    by her wings—and does not fear death?

    There’s liberty over the horizon, sailing
    well over the peaks of the mountain range.
    Yet the bird does not find it strange to be free,
    to be boundless, to see, the sights of true freedom.

    © Benjamin Thomas


    On the third, when our Walt will retire,
    there are some things that will not expire,
    for the clouds and the birds
    and Walt’s ways with his words
    will keep climbing on, higher and higher.

  23. Years ago, I was watching a show and this quote was read, and it struck a chord within me… The man the book was being read to was trapped in a body that was useless, and he had memorized the last few words of this quote, and despite his situation, when he spoke these words there was a joy. Whenever I go through a period when my iron is low, I remember this quote, and let it speak to me. I have long wanted to write a poem about it, but lately I have felt more normal, but in the last two months my iron drifted downward, and I have fallen into a depression…but it is not low enough to get an iron infusion, but when I woke up this morning this quote came back to me, and there was a freedom in knowing that though for now I am trapped, I know I will get better.
    “I can see the sun, but even if I cannot see the sun, I know that it exists. And to know that the sun is there – that is living.”

    ― Fyodor Dostoevsky, The Brothers Karamazov

    I know the sun is there…

    There are days
    When I sink into
    The grayness,
    And the light of the sun
    Seems hidden from me.

    It is the nature of my illness…
    That I slide into those gray days,
    And I am trapped
    With no escape.
    It is a fixable illness,
    But I have to get worse
    Before I find freedom,
    And I am released…

    It is vexing…
    And each time
    I take a turn downward
    To where the sun becomes
    A mirage teasing me
    Of its existence…
    I weep,
    For I have lost
    The presence of the sun…

    But I know the sun is there.
    I know that I am
    Still alive, and
    Seeking that light…
    Is where I travel…

    Looking out my blue gray curtains,
    The ones made for me
    By hands long stilled.
    I see the green of trees,
    And the blue of the sky,
    And the white flowing clouds
    Through the grayness of the curtains,
    And that is how I see the world
    These days…

    But the sun sparkles
    Through those gray curtains,
    And they seem bluer than gray,
    And for a flash
    I know the sun is greeting me.

    I know the sun exists…
    I know how it feels
    To walk in its light.
    I know how the sun
    Will warm my cold skin.
    I know that I will seek
    Its light, and I know
    That I am living
    For the sun exists.
    And I am free
    In the dullness
    Of my hours.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    May 30, 2022

  24. Battlefield Detritus

    I see the headline:
    what would happen if one
    woman told the truth about her life?

    and I hear that challenge to Freedom
    what e.e.cummings called a breakfastfood
    albeit surely tongue in tasting cheek
    the challenge then to taste or eat
    to tell or not to tell to stay inside the fantasy
    that somehow you were a survivor
    and that battle scars are just souvenirs
    from the journey and that the dead
    that litter the field of play were all
    enemies and not those you slayed

    that first night how you cut my hair
    and pinned it to the dorm bulletin board
    and what was I supposed to do but
    laugh and play along and later cry
    myself to sleep and begin that journey
    from hope to hate the gates clanging
    shut behind in front of to the side of
    until there was no freedom just the cage

    and no we never spoke of it later
    perhaps you pretended your cruelty
    was simply hazing jest your own shorn
    beneath the habit’s headpiece and
    was it the start then of you wanting too
    to leave it all behind and get your degree
    in advanced math and be a professor
    away from the lot of us trapped in the
    tangled mess of what you left behind.


    I wield the freedom of one’s own tongue,
    yet not as though young, or unbridled,
    nor without the gift of reins.

    I feel the freedom of one’s own blood;
    the merciful life-pulse flood deep within—
    making its course round about, again and again.

    I feel the freedom of one’s own breath,
    as though I’ve been mystically swept by wind,
    scooped up, sent, and returned again.

    © Benjamin Thomas

  26. I have long wanted to write a poem about being an old warrior retired from being a foster care worker…I think I have gotten close to writing what I needed to write….

    The Warrior brings freedom

    The old warrior
    Laid back to rest.
    She is weary
    And knew rest
    Would give her strength.

    Her mind wandered
    To the days of battle.
    Many had chosen the sword
    Of confrontation;
    She preferred the ax of truth.
    Her blade she sharpened
    By listening, by hearing,
    By caring.

    Her warrior’s heart
    Had many scars.
    There were other warriors besides her.
    They had their own scars.
    They were all broken
    By the time they had left the battlefield.

    There were few praises-
    More often were the remarks
    Of disdain, of contempt,
    Of scorn…
    Those were glued in her mind,
    And haunted her before she rested…
    She wondered
    If she could have done more.

    She closed her eyes
    And knew she could
    Have done more.
    There was always more
    She could have done,
    But she was a sentry
    And walked a lonely walk
    Between the world
    Believing it is safe,
    And the world
    Where nothing is safe.

    All the warriors did this
    Understanding this
    About each other…
    They were all sentries.
    They also knew
    There was more to do
    With less than needed…
    Less time,
    Less resources,
    Less money,
    Less energy,
    Less hope…

    For bringing freedom
    To the broken children
    Drained their souls.
    Each Monday morning
    They were ready
    For whatever came
    By Friday,
    There was nothing left,
    And they craved stillness,
    But one phone call
    And that stillness
    Was shattered.
    In hundreds of pieces,
    And that day of rest
    Became vapor.

    Sleep was elusive.
    Thoughts invaded the old warrior’s mind.
    Her troubles were small
    When she closed her eyes
    Seeing toddlers hooked up to machines,
    Hearing racist names spoken
    To teenagers that she loved
    For she saw the warrior in them.
    She thought of preschoolers
    Damaged beyond living
    And revived to live
    A life with little meaning
    To those who saw them…
    But she knew their value
    For she had been blessed by them.
    Sadly, death was the only freedom
    From their pain they lived.
    She knew that their freedom
    Came when they died.

    Yet warriors fight for freedom,
    When many do not.
    They stride into the battle
    For those who cannot,
    And those who will not.
    It is their voices she hears
    As she floods the air
    With her battle cry.
    She was often their voice,
    But now all of that is silenced.

    The old warrior needed rest.
    She also needed hope
    That somehow her life
    Still mattered…
    She has heard the voices of others
    Saying she is old,
    She just fills up space.
    But she knows this is not a truth-
    For her life mattered still,
    But sadly, she also knew
    That was not how all of them felt.
    It broke her heart sometime.

    The old warrior closed her eyes,
    Hoping she would sleep,
    But instead
    She felt the tears
    Slide warm from her eyes
    Leaving a watermark
    Of her sorrows.
    The largest of which
    Was that she knew
    That few would fight for her,
    But those that would
    She treasured
    Deep in her soul.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    June 1, 2022

  27. The last two weeks have been rough for me….

    What would freedom mean to me…

    I would wake up
    And not have trouble standing…
    Because standing up in the morning
    Makes me dizzy.
    It takes a few moments
    To adjust to being vertical.

    It would not take an hour and a half
    Just to make my bed.
    Each step I take,
    I have to rest to do the next step.

    I would not have to worry
    On my good days
    About slipping backwards
    Every day…
    Because I don’t want
    To feel the way, I do.
    I could enjoy
    That I am living.

    I have so much to do,
    But between sleeping
    I get what I can done,
    But it is never enough
    Before I feel I must sit down,
    And sleep for an hour or more.
    Freedom for me—
    Would be to get
    To a place…
    I never have to slip back
    To where I am now.

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    June 3, 2022

      • It is one… and thanks for realizes this… The iron patch has given me at least three months more before I started to go down, and that is a start. I did write a happy poem…

  28. Dancing in the rain…

    I got wet going to my car,
    And I felt the rains
    Make my hair curl…
    In ringlets, and
    I said, “Dang,
    When it dries it will frizz.”
    Again, I wished
    I had got Da and Joe’s curls…
    I got instead wavy frizzy hair.

    As I drove home,
    I hoped it was raining
    For I wanted to dance
    Under the trees
    In the rain.

    I hoped Lake Wilderwood
    (The mud puddles near my home)
    Would be full,
    And I would stomp in them…
    Splashing and singing
    For joy in the rain.

    As I drove closer to home,
    There was less rain.
    I hoped it would come later,
    But the storm took another route.

    I still felt joy,
    For though my body
    Is tired all the time,
    And I cry more than
    I should…
    I still felt the joy
    Of anticipation
    Of dancing
    In the rain,
    I would

    Mary Elizabeth Todd
    June 4, 2022

  29. “A poet’s hands
    holding the power to move and cajole,
    to elicit a smile or groan, any guttural moan, to reach
    someone else’s senses. To touch their hearts.
    And so it starts. Words are merely words when sequestered within.
    They become the guiding light when allowed to shine.”

    In this outstanding poem, you have conveyed exactly what poets wish to do.
    Bravo, Walt!

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