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Up Against It


Digital photography

Philip Dykhouse


Norm Mattox

made from the fabric

of our hopes,

wisdom come

without experience.

speaking from knowing,

not knowing.

youth seeking their path,

asking questions about

how this works.

me listening to the echo,

how many times


asking myself

the same questions about

how this works . . .

a twist,

an inspired pivot,

moving forward,

when you used to

look back.

hoping for dreams to fulfill,

we've lived the nightmares,

fulfill them still.

like spells cast

on melanin pride,

worn like a badge of courage,

overcoming struggle.

every step over a wall

of my own ignorance,

or yours.

when i was wrestling with struggle,

after every broken heart

that was supposed to break me,

i put struggle on

like a coarse sweater,

every day of the week.

overpowering and enjoining

struggle with every breath

i am born to breathe.

living it,

because of it!

struggle ingrained

in my DNA,

embedded in rows of chromosomes,

after how many rows,

stretching across the big dip,

agonizing over dying,

and not dying.

challenge is an appetizer,

struggle is the chaser

on the menu

of dreams of dreams.

we still dream.

Norm Mattox is a retired educator living in New York.  His poetry tells a story of love and resilience in these times of challenge, struggle, and transformation.  Norm has shared his poetry as a featured reader and at open mics around the San Francisco Bay Area and Zoom spaces around the globe.  Norm's first chapbook, Get Home Safe, Poems for Crossing the Community Grid, was published in 2016. Nomadic Press published his second chapbook, Black Calculus, released February 2021.

Philip Dykhouse is the author of the chapbook, Bury Me Here (Toho), and his photo “The Gathering Crowd” appeared in Volume 1, Issue 2, of Toho Journal.