roundtable comrades

roundtable comrades

by Douglas Hardman

Dear reader,

Embark with me now

For I will tell a tale

Of the bravest heroes

I ever did know

The quick-witted Lady Bonnie approaches

Steel-clad skin hides her generational trauma

War-torn from getaway cars and dirty politics

Yet, she still brings sunshine to my darkness

Favoring my laughter over the noise of it all

She smiles with me to conceal the pain

And I, in return, offer the same

Summer sun forevermore

A mother and a wife, she fights her battles every day

The emotional turmoil of her inner thoughts

Deep scars dug in by motherly scorn

A household divided by two ideologies

These metaphysical and metaphorical dragons

Never stand a chance against her arms

And still she finds time to remind me that she loves me--

A simple message in a bottle she sends every day

And my love for her remains eternal

Both a muse and a mentor

Her triumph inspires and nourishes my pen

Inscribed in my sonnets for the remainder of time

Summer sun forevermore


The Fire Ally with steadfast nerves awaits

Intelligent charisma emanating from her presence

Her travels have left her seasoned and nurturing to many

She was a constant in a troublesome sea

As a doctor and a friend,

She tends to my complicated woes and fair-weather foes

My knife wounds smoothed

With medicine of good company like a child’s favorite forgotten dish

Sage words soothed

Her balance grounds me in an ebbing sea

And she always shines fresh perspective

To my overthought plots

She beckons me to the rooftop to escape the noise

And it’s hard to not take her advice in the chaos

Cleansing the room and smudging out the negative auras

I learned quickly that black and white problems

Simply meant I was colorblind to simple solutions

Sage words soothed


The sharp-tongued Mother Crab beckons

Overly protective as if I were their own

He is emotional to a fault, but never has a non-sensible thought

He never once strayed from my side, even when the battle felt unwinnable

Two martyrs against an army of bad mistakes

And once the arms are laid to rest in the evening

The banter of two veterans bundled in their shared grief

Added more warmth to the drinks they were able to knock back

Gin for the soldiers

A friend, a confidant and an equal on the field

I never once worried what my words might stir

My darkest fears spilled into his ears

And I never felt like a burden he had to bear

He taught me to bite the bullet, against all odds

Even when I thought the war is done

It is never truly won

But having him by my side, stein in hand

We bravely march to the beat of our own drum

Gin for the soldiers


The fiercely authentic Madame Baddie arrives

Her saucy audacity always lit up the tavern

Sensual in her draws, rational in her execution

She found me alone in her territory and lifted me up

A former colleague now turned trusty companion

I have found a forever lover

Clandestine soulmate

Late night songstress, serenading me in busy bars

Dancing barefoot in the wild streetlights

Fresh espresso and cosmic liquors bless our tongues

Taking my hand and dragging me into the unknown

She reminds me life is meant to be lived

With her fearlessness, I never have to worry about being someone else

What once felt impossible or reckless

Now resides within me as core, mercurial memories

And I know I will keep her with me for the next night of debauchery

Clandestine soulmate


And now, a reservedly optimistic Brother Fish

Simple in his bashful mannerisms

Since the beginning of his time, he has only shown kindness

My complications with accepting a higher power unfurled

I was seeking something different, the past had left me lost

And I had the tools to search for it

He came into my life right when the world started to make sense

Trauma bonded tribe

We soon became forged in tequila and teardrops

Similar story structure, different plot points

A deeper understanding from a haunting, mutual experience

He never once let me down, even with my guard dropped

This type of brotherhood has always escaped me

And like a true sibling, I slung brash words with love

My reservations have started to dissipate

Because his honesty relinquished my undying anxiety

Onward, triumphantly, into a new pride

Trauma bonded tribe

Dear reader,

You may have remembered

The lost war of yesteryears

The foot soldiers I sacrificed

In an attempt to sabotage my life

I’ve made my reprimands

The graves have been dug

I’ve hung up my bayonet

I’m happy to inform you

This crop of fellows

Will not have to lift their arms

In my self-discovery

Those who have found me

New and old

Continue to mold me

And I hope they know

How much they mean to me

In the darkest of darkest times

They have saved me



Featured in our September 2022 issue, "Loyalty"