the sum of small things — book release

It’s finally here and I couldn’t be more pleased!

the sum of small things

The booklet featuring photography and poetry on a wide variety of topics: creative, challenging, introspective, uplifting–much like you’ve read on my feed for some time! Order yours today for $US 19.95 + s/h e-mail me at for information on how to receive your copy!


Photo credit (background to book): Olesya Grichina via


despite the cost

compassion threatens to
suffocate all who live to
extend it.

our hearts dissolve
directly proportionate to
our capacity to feel

a little of
what it’s like to
be you.

we could allow compassion
to bypass care, anguish,

and instead steer this
healing gift

the chasm of cynicism,
establishing permanent residency
in anger.

it seems safer there–
less painful, the
immediacy of

explosive release
building a temporary

but this hostile dwelling
is dark: cold without

serving only to further
the agenda of

from oneself or one’s
neighbor, offering
no space for community,

leaving us homeless,
dismembered, a mere shadow
of who we can be.

allow tears to flow,
hearts to feel,

to admit grief and
for only

then can the
dignity of compassion
be sustained,

rising as a shield against the
destructive forces of rage,

expanding to give birth to

warmth, welcome,
well-being, blossoming into
tangible embrace

for all humanity.

we shall offer love in place
of indifference, extend

instead of withdrawal,
carry within our

hope for our neighbor,
our human family,
despite the cost.


© Julia Penner-Zook, 2018
Photo Credit: Annie Spratt via
Twitter: @J_Pennz
Instagram: @j_penner_zook

baited, yet unabated

she rises to speak.

they continue with
faded phrases,
regurgitated rhetoric,
inflexible ideology,

every utterance
evidence of inner turmoil–
residue accumulated from sojourn on
a groaning planet.

neither demeanor nor language
suggests credence given
to speaker’s artistry,
journey, wound.

the root of bravado lies 
carefully hidden, cloaked with
rehashed words that flow
unreflected, unhindered.

we bristle as unruly interruption
increases, silently wary that we, too,
carry disquieting entrenchment in our own
self-declared righteous cause.

nothing will change
until we become convinced that we
who share our sacred
earth, all members of
one human race,

cannot continue to
classify each other as “them,”
distinct from “us,” labeled as
“antagonist” instead of “ally,”

for truly all of us are “we.”


Reflecting on a rally calling for thoughtful voter participation which was marked by significant heckler activity. Inspired by the rendition of poet and activist @GenesisBe, I choose a healing stance.

© Julia Penner-Zook, 2018
Photo Credit: Simon Buchou via
follow me on Twitter: @J_Pennz
follow me on Instagram: @j_jpenner_zook

travel with abandon

what were the paths worthy
of travel for women? in bygone
years each was meticulously
metered, measured, monitored, modified
to ensure promise of purity,
perfection in passage, and precision in

foolhardy journeys were deemed most unsuitable
for young women of dutiful upbringing,
deserting orthodoxy was met with
withering words, tattling tongue, flustered frown
— every one a roadblock for any
adventurous fledgling with wonder in
her eyes.

fanciful pursuits caused heads to shake,
arms to cross over buxom chests,
words to be whispered from one rural
party phone-line to another: this can never be!
for who would care for brood of offspring if
farmyard well were exchanged for trifling

frivolous designs: could they have grown
into vehicles transporting creator and viewer
into carefree spaces, ethereal places?
instead, they were disqualified
as meaningless caricatures without merit,
dismembered, discarded, relegated to the

where are you, o whimsical,
snuffed-out soul, long buried
as treasure in far-flung field?
you can—you must be exhumed from
repulsive tomb, revived despite rigor mortis,
resuscitated to travel yet uncharted course
with unabated abandon.


© Julia Penner-Zook, 2018
Photo Credit: Dariusz Sankowski via
follow me on Instagram: j_penner_zook
follow me on Twitter: @J_Pennz

dissolving dreams

diminutive shetland, muscles defined,
broad chested, refined,
stops for a moment, nuzzles in curiosity as
little one rides once, then twice,
but not again, watching in tears
as he gallops nobly toward misty

scarlet, tumbling maple
floats weightlessly down, down, down.
she reaches, eyes gleaming, but crimson beauty
glides just beyond her outstretched hand,
settling in the company of other wilting sisters,
nestling close to form a spongy carpet

in spring’s pre-dawn glow
tiny feathered oriole
delights her audience of one
with trilling notes of rapture,
promises of new possibility
dampened as symphony fades
to stillness.

soft showers, each minute droplet
offering hope for new life,
refreshment for parched soul
and seared landscape,
welcome drizzle, momentary relief,
healing caress,
abruptly gone.

they come in shapes and forms
not easily defined, yet disarmingly
captivating — each one appearing
ever so briefly, then fading
too soon,
form unfinished,
gift recalled,
hope fading.

dissolving dreams.


© Julia Penner-Zook, 2018
Photo Credit: Bronwyn via
follow me on Instagram; @j_penner_zook
follow me on Twitter: @J_Pennz

Sunday Blessing

May we rest from the cacophony that deafens.
May we allow ourselves to absorb beauty and find peace.
May we be gentle with ourselves and those around us.
May our eyes close with hope tonight.
Choose to bless and receive blessing, my friends.

#SundayBlessing #SequoiaNationalPark #ExploretoCreate #getoutside #staystrong
Photo Credit: Julia Penner-Zook
© Julia Penner-Zook, 2018
follow me on Instagram: @julia_penner_zook
follow me on Twitter: @J_Pennz

hello darkness my old friend*

it’s been hours,
maybe days, could
even be years — one loses track —
and my eyes
have not yet adjusted
to the darkness

of repeated violations –
assaults on body,
soul, and mind –
as light-less placating
exposes vacant existence
of empty souls,

their incendiary words, devoid of humanity,
incite hatred against the
very humans we must embrace
to be whole, a dismissive
disregard for every form of life
not directly bloating their bottom line.

we have come to expect this behavior,
frighteningly normalized, given casual
reference at best, while at every turn
and in every place the powerless,
some in dire poverty,
others unjustly convicted,

the huddled masses,
are rendered voiceless,
languishing as kleptocrats
violate human rights,
dismiss murders, scorn the mistreated,
conceal night-time minor-transports.

when pressured, their slithering
words may feign anemic
commitment to faux-justice,
yet their deafening inaction screams of
cruelty as more and more are lost,
depleted, separated, silenced.

toxicity and injustice
foment as a yeast,
bubbling and expanding
in the controlled environment
of the capriciously
self absorbed.

but, darkness becomes my friend
when my mind is released
from distracting minutia,
allowing an expansive moon of resolve,
resistance, and resuscitated fury
to rise with unfiltered illumination.


* words by Simon and Garfunkel, “Sound of Silence” 1963
© Julia Penner-Zook, 2018
Photo credit: Stacey L. Rhoades
follow me on Instagram: @julia_penner_zook
follow me on Twitter: @J_Pennz