Sasha A. Palmer, ‘Connected’ – 1st Place Award


by Sasha A. Palmer

I’m Russian-born, live in the USA,
I’m Catholic, and Falun Gong to me—
A chain of cryptic hieroglyphs that say
Nothing of consequence; and yet I see—
Beyond the mystery—a familiar sight
As crouching tigers, hidden dragons fade
And all that’s left is people, whom I might
Have known forever, closely; should I trade
Places with them, would I remain steadfast
In my own faith? Would I refuse to bow
Before the human idols? Would I cast
My fear aside? I do not know. Somehow
    I know this: when another victim falls,
    Don’t ask for whom the bell of freedom tolls.

* * *


Note: “For whom the bell tolls” is a famous phrase written by the poet John Donne (1572–1631) in Renaissance England. At that time, the bell tolling (ringing) signified someone’s death. Donne says that all human beings are connected; therefore it is unnecessary to find out who died when hearing the bell toll. It tolls for you, he says.


Winner of the 1st Place Award in FoFG’s 2021 Poetry Contest

Sasha A. Palmer is a Russian-born writer and translator, who currently lives in Baltimore, MD. Her website is