Christmas in America 



I know you know 

about God‘s beloved 

shivering on the floor

Wondering how hope turned into terror 

Upon arrival in the promised land 


I know you know 

about swaddled babies 

ripped from their mothers 

born at the wrong time 

in the wrong place 

in the wrong skin 


I know you know 

about free flu shots 

waiting idle in boxes 

while the cough begins to spread

Among the Other 

Waiting idle in boxes


I know you know 

about the human crossing borders 

binding people into suffering

instead of protecting them from fear 


I know you know 

about our old lady 

Standing with the lamp 

Waiting for tired huddled masses 

yearning to be free 

needing to be White 


I know you know

about the stable 

Home to donkeys 

A new family 

And earthly bribes 

For a heavenly gift


I know you know 

about sanctuary in Egypt

A fearsome flight 

For first time parents 

hiding the light of the world

in Ill fitting clothes 

begging him to stay quiet

hoping for one more miracle 


I know you know 

Whether Mary would be safe 

In your care 

Or if you’d remind her 

That Jews don’t belong here 

Without looking into her eyes 


I know you know 

This is Christmas in America 




© Gayle Force Press 2019

A poem by Franklin Oliver




Spirit & Place

I’m grateful to have been asked to participate in Indy’s long running public festival!

Here’s a review of the program that includes two of my poems. Enjoy.

In the New World

I appreciate having an occasion to share this poem at the recent University High School Black Graduation event. These young people will be the creators of a new world.


You can feel the changes

As the people begin to move

From Earth’s every corner

Bringing with them hope and strength

Knowing their dreams can soon take flight

In the new world they will create

You can see the changes

As the people begin to rise

Loosed from the shackles of fear

Breaking the bonds of ignorance

Rejecting the power of separation

In the new world they will create

You can hear the changes

As the people begin to sing

Songs of courage and strength

New as a baby’s cry

Old as the language of life

In the new world they will create

You can be the changes

As the people begin to build

Bridges from one to all

Forged from peace and justice

Raised on love and truth

In the new world we will create

© Gayle Force Press 2008

Black Rabbit 

Black Rabbit 

There’s a hookah smoking caterpillar 

Dancing through my head tonight 

He told me he’s using a Zappa beat

Which makes sense because he’s moving

pi beats per measure 

I want to ask him to stop since I’m dizzy 

But I’m a little nervous that if he does

I’ll have to wake up 

And walk through the wonderland called America 

Where all the cards, cats, and queens want to remove my head 

I think I’ll keep searching my dreams

Maybe a black rabbit will help me find what I need 

The pill that keeps me small enough

Just small enough to stay out of sight 

Head down and attached

© Gayle Force Press 2021

When Tomorrow Comes

I’m seeing integration

It’s expressed in the million different ways 

that define America 

in the 21st century

Neighbors standing across a fence

my almostkindabuddy 

begging the little girl in his arms to smile 

while speaking to me 

Sharing stories of dogs and kids, 

potholes and the weather

The small, simple recognitions of community

I welcome the prophecy of transformation

Of renewed humanity in the outdoor thoughts 

of barbecue, teenagers and shrubs 

endemic to suburbia and TV shows

Fleeting, powerful moments of joy and recognition 

begging for sustainability and sanction

Oh, if only our churches 

and clubs and families 

would do the unthinkable, could somehow do

the impossible, next generation inevitable 

hard work of embrace

Ah, the sweet embrace that’s waiting

To be given and claimed

By your hog riding, beer swilling ‘play cousin’

and our lesbian aunt 

And my own White son, 

still learning to be a man 

Loving Keith Urban and Run DMC, 

Unafraid of judgment besides that of silly girls

And wise ones too

Needing to be told over and over 

that you are not alone 

because Michael Jackson was right 

and you, my child and most precious creation

for whom I would gladly die 

are the hope and future of our people, 

of all the people

It’s your innately earned righteousness 

That will lead us,

must lead us to the glorious shore 

of a future 

authentically prophesied 

with love and deepest understanding 

Mijo, you ARE the Dream

I only wish I could explain it, 

without crying

I’m still worried you might confuse my tears 

with sadness though really 

its all joy

So much joy 

for the man you will be

and the life you will live

My sweat mingles with those unavoidable tears

And my laughter and my envy 

and my love and my joy for you

I wish I could live to know it

I am free enough for now

but you will be the love 

I stand and proclaim 

For tomorrow, today

In the sacred vestment of love 

I am blessed to be the poet

Celebrating the poetry

Thank you for becoming a poem

Of the future

Even more than a prophecy

The clear vision of tomorrow

You will help to create

And manifest with your life 

And my hopes

And every today 

© Gayle Force Press 2014


The father of my children has gone mad. He’s spent every night for the last 5 weeks putting together a boat. A giant, absurd boat. Somehow he convinced Ham and Japheth to help. Thank goodness Shem is still willing to get water for me in the evenings. 

What I don’t understand is what’s gone wrong. Noah has been a good dad, a great farmer, and the best healer around. Now? He’s lost his mind. And I’m not even allowed to ask about his precious boat. Our kadosh is broken. 

 © Gayle Force Press 2020

The New Adam

Noah tells everyone 

He’s the new Adam

Father of an original world

What he never says out loud

The reason he drinks

Is because now

There’s only one murderer on Earth

Noah tells everyone 

He’s the new Adam

Noah knows he’s Cain

© Gayle Force Press 2020

Autumn Sky


After the harvest has been made

But before the frosts of winter have begun

The Midwest holds a special sort of magic


On nights when the moon takes its rest

Drive out to a small town

Then head away from the highway

And toward the darkness


When you realize that you’re nearly alone

The darkness seems friendly


As though it expected you

Whenever you’ve arrived


Far away from the dimming haze of light

You’ll discover endless universes

Represented in tiny, fantastically powerful orbs

That reach out singly to touch the whole of you


And wonderfully, graciously

This silent communion can last as long as you like

Or at least until the stars begin to fade.



© Gayle Force Press 2002.



As always, you can find Franklin’s books here.

From the Garden

Maybe we learned

The pleasure of sin

From Adam, not Eve


Maybe we learned 

The power of sex

From Adam, not Eve


Maybe Cain learned

That Abel could die

From Adam, not Eve


Maybe we learned

The earth could be tamed

From Adam, not Eve


Maybe we learned 

That wars could be ‘won’

From Adam, not Eve




© Gayle Force Press 2011

A poem by Franklin Oliver 

She’s Gone

I have lots of favorite days every year.

Rachel’s birthday, my first Drunk Day during summer break, 46118 Christmas… Those are all beautiful days for me every year.

Today is always the worst.

My mom died on October 1, 2005.

Rachel and I bought a car that day. It’s the first and only new car either of us have ever owned. We drove to my parents’ house where Rachel, my dad and I talked about the car, discussed the first six weeks of my new life as a high school teacher and had as normal a conversation as is possible when someone is dying of cancer in the big bedroom.

Dad and I spent part of the afternoon in that bedroom talking about our plans for the next stage of Mom’s care. We came to some helpful decisions and made sure Mom was warm; we shared lots of laughs and more than a handful of tears and rubbed Mom’s feet and arms; we talked about how well we could continue making good choices for her and discussed how we could take care of each other.

A couple hours after I left, Dad called to tell me Mom was dead.

My initial thought was confusion; I didn’t know what he meant. When he repeated himself (Even now I am sooo sorry I asked him to say it a second time…), I squealed. I groaned. I uttered a primal, urgent sound that I’ve never heard before or since. It was the sound of my soul being sucked out of my body.

Apparently I was on autopilot as I started driving back to Mills Road. I sped like I believed I could somehow manage to hold on to something of my mother if I just arrived quickly enough.

The last thing I clearly remember from that entire day was thinking how mad Mom would be if I killed myself driving recklessly on 465.

I think I slowed down.

In these fifteen years since, I’ve lived a wonderful life. I have been blessed beyond measure by gifts of love I didn’t quite know existed before they came into my life. And even the heartbreaks of continued living have reminded me how much I continue to love the people in my life. Those in the present and in the past.

And every single day, I miss my mommy.

Today is always the worst.