February 20, 2019 Poetry , POETRY / FICTION

Alan Kotok photo



Penn Kemp




At the State’s Expense: Cuba



Longing for summer long gone at home,

we trek nearly new clothes in our luggage.

Folks at the cheap hotel direct us to class.


We bag, then fairly and evenly distribute

paper, pencils and notebooks to pupils


at the school without supplies. But with

open windows to the ocean that swells

benignly in impossibly brilliant December.


These students study hard, we’re informed,

as they bend to their book in cotton shirts

bleached so white they gleam of sheer sun.


Outside seabirds screech plaintive freedom.


Our servers are doctors, engineers, Ph.Ds

without jobs in their chosen domain. They

wait table till their real work is recognized.


And send their kids to be equally educated

in the qualities of hope. And endurance.






Mary McDonald photo

Penn Kemp

Penn Kemp is the author most recently of Fox Haunts (Aeolus House, 2018) and Local Heroes  (Insomniac Press, 2018). New eco-poems, including her multimedia collaboration with artist Mary McDonald on www.riverrevery.ca, will be published as River Revery (Insomniac Press, 2019). Quattro Books has published two other works, Barbaric Cultural Practice, and an anthology Penn edited, Jack Layton: Art in Action.

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