Compassion is the brand to build but sadly out of style.
It’s “build the brand” or “buy the thing,” both filling ears and eyes.
Measured breathing’s tonic calm takes time to open hearts.

A hug that eases trauma’s rare, a cherished friend confides.
Warm words from far by phone dismay like tepid tea.
I could look him in the eye on Zoom above a distance-tainted smile.

A full day’s trip divides us from a Broadway diner where we both
have been before. Waiters let us linger with toasted corn muffins
and fresh coffee toward incisive talk in a friendly setting contrast

With carnage from concurrent wars expanding, crushing
what is dear. The forced choice of sides defies careful thought
of underlying cause that could frame solutions saving lives.
May the wanton violence and abject greed abounding
be revealed as archaic autocrats’ last gasps. We perceive
shafts of sunlight piercing institutional decay.

Outmoded methods yield their withered ends.
History has cycles. We advance and then regress.
We reinvent the old, renew what we destroy.

Blood-drenching desperation as oppressors lose their grip demands we polish
our ideals, transcend the vengeance lust as we hold accountable the foe,
such that acting with integrity models what we know.
A better world is coming. We will not let that go!


Michael McQuillan, former US Senate aide and Peace Corps Volunteer honored by the Anti-Defamation League and the Brooklyn Council of Churches, taught history and chaired the NYPD Training Advisory Council’s Race Subcommittee. The Ravens Perch, The Write Launch, Tikkun and the Covid Rebels 21 Poets Anthology have published him.