By Glory Cumbow

Bell Tower

The church bells trick me every time
their warm toll reverberates
in my tummy,
echoing an inviting sense of safety.

Foolishly, I allow a small blossom of hope.
I follow the ringing hymns
into the sanctuary.
Oh, the irony of that word.

I crave the breaking of bread at the welcome table.
I ache for the light streaming through
the stained-glass windows
to refract the light in me;

But when the prism of my colors show,
my invitation is revoked unless
my light is hidden under a bushel.
When I cry out to heaven for help,
no one cries back to the cavernous empty within me.

The Hurt

The Hurt in the house
is found in the hole in the wall
where the letters lay,
that are spilling with secrets,
that should have been burned.
And now it is too late,
because if you reach in 
to destroy the secrets
a hand reaches back to guard them.

The Hurt in the house
hides under the loose floorboard
that covers the knife, 
caked and rusted,
that has stories to tell.
When you step on the board
and it creaks aloud,
beware the whispers 
that rise from beneath.

The Hurt in the house
is buried in the drawer with a false bottom
that contains the locket 
with the tattered picture
that has been cursed for generations.
Hide the key,
do not unlock the drawer,
or you will inherit The Hurt. 


The wind plays with my hair,
loving the red strands with tender caresses.
The mirror gives me a kinder image 
than does my own imagination,
faithfully, gently
reflecting my profile without flinching,
beholding my face with pride and care.
The sunshine cups my chin,
as close as my very breath,
kissing me deep and sweet.
The flowers and grass 
hold my body close as I lay and daydream, 
touching my back, my fingers, my thighs.
The books tell me stories 
and whisper flatteries that make me blush. 
Loneliness is not perpetual
when one can make love with the world. 


Hey darlin’, 
I want to tell you something important.
I know you probably don’t like
getting advice from adults
who think they’re so smart and know everything,
but this will be fun.
Find yourself a sturdy box,
one without any holes or folded wrinkles,
preferably one with a lid,
and slide it on the top shelf of your closet.
This is your treasure chest,
and everything inside will be worth more than gold.
When you find a shiny-smooth rock,
a coin from another country,
a perfect, unbroken seashell,
or an arrowhead in the woods,
store it away in the treasure chest.
When your favorite music box breaks,
take out the ballerina that doesn’t spin anymore
and place her in the box.
Those friendship bracelets you made at camp?
In the box.
If your mom gives you a charm from her childhood necklace,
please hide it in the box before you lose it. 
Keep the class ring your first boyfriend gives you
safe in the treasure chest.
Try not to lose the boarding pass to your first flight
so that you can slide it into the box.
Your graduation tassel 
and your college acceptance letter
need to be kept inside the box. 
When your grandfather gives you a pocket knife
from his prized collection on the wall,
keep it in your treasure chest. 
Hang onto at least one of the many beaded
necklaces and bracelets your nieces and nephews make for you
inside the box. 
A copy of the key to your first house
should be in your treasure chest.
These are just a few ideas.
It sounds like a lot to think about now,
so don’t worry too much about it.
Just find a box that makes you think
about the special moments in your life
and keep it in your closet to collect the stuff
that makes your heart feel warm.


Speaking as a former teenager,
I don’t believe in the myth
of a rebellious teen.

Rebellion is an impatient, lazy
catch-all label.

Self-discovery is only rebellion
when the world rages
at nonconformity, authenticity, and autonomy. 

Coping with mental illness is only rebellion
when invisible suffering 
is belittled and perpetuated by willful ignorance.

Surviving abusive homes is only rebellion
when parenting places will-breaking
over teaching.

This is the truth I speak to heal the rebellious teenager
who still lives within me.

Sad Violin

Late into the evening 
when most folks are deep into slumber,
sleep may elude you
and the stars may be too dim to gaze upon.
This is when you should perk your ears
and listen intently.
In the distance, you just might hear
the mourning of a violin.
The weepy tune is rumored 
to be that from a fiddler 
whose love has gone unrequited.
Another legend whispers 
that this mysterious musician
is a hermit whose friends have all passed away.
Select few have been an audience
to this mythical recital,
but those who find themselves awake
at the late, unnatural hour
are gifted the sorrowful song
that slowly sweetens
into a heartfelt hymn 
because you have given the violinist welcome company
on this lonesome eve

Glory Cumbow is a writer living in North Carolina. She works as a strategist helping other writers to get their work published. She is dedicated to the arts and works with local theatres and sings in her community choir. When she’s not writing, she enjoys traveling, catching live shows, visiting art museums, and volunteering with Charlotte LGBTQ+ Pride

One thought on “Bell Tower and Other Poems

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