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Creative Arts Show Goes Virtual

variety of creative arts

The 2021 VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System Creative Arts Show has gone virtual this year.

Entries are awaiting judging, with the winners to advance to national competition. Nationwide, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) medical facilities use the creative arts as one form of rehabilitative treatment to help Veterans recover from and cope with physical and emotional disabilities. The show is a celebration of Veterans’ artwork and creative achievements.

To see Veterans’ art entries, please visit our Facebook post

In the writing category, Veteran Debra J. Kinney submitted two poems, “Breathe” and “Trust.”


By Debra J. Kinney

WE began with the vanity of a privileged people - toasting the new & entitled

then the Virus grasped the vulnerable world by the throat - lungs filled with fluid & they cried “We can’t breathe!”

Respirators became a household word - “Wash your hands. Wear a mask!”

People wailed, “I can’t breathe!”

Rules! - Rules! Everywhere! Rules!

Victims - paid the price of our arrogance & ignorance.

Voices cried, ‘It won’t get us’ – ‘It’s not real!’

God, we wanted - needed to believe - then thousands fell.

Death came so frequently - we grew weary of his tally

The world shut down - no school bells rang - no choirs sang - no grind for the government. - the stores were bare

the bills piled high - the news decried all - fear & frustration overwhelmed.

“It’s too much to bear!” they screamed, - “We can’t breathe!”

Quarantined, confused - over & under stimulated

we hunkered & festered in our homes - masked by faces of anguish & suppressed rage

Then the Nightly News told of - yet another death -

a man in Minnesota- under the knee of a police officer

We watched…- 9 minutes of time - slip away with his life –

He muttered, - “I can’t breathe.”

We shuttered in our easy chairs & begged the broadcast be a lie

We cowered behind our social distancing & masks pleading…Don’t affect! - Don’t effect! Don’t infect me!

Still others cried out, ‘It wasn’t us! It’s not real.”

The arrogance & ignorance once again palatable.

Our temperature rose. - It wasn’t the Virus.

The gasp that escaped – as George Floyd died - as mute as a cold chill shudder

His last breath – barely heard. – yet - it echoes & reverberates.

His pleas ignited an eternal flame in free peoples’ souls - searing the coveted change.

They started marching to a cadence all creation heard.

“He cannot breathe!

              His name was George!

                          We swear by God

                                   His death will change this world!”

Take the burden of his life’s payment - Heed the lesson well!

No man should die ‘neath the knee of the Law

Resilient Lady laden with rusty scales - wields a tarnished sword in her shielding hand

– perhaps - she need swing it!

Lest like Justice - we be blind - people of truth & peace - Arise!

Take courage in the time to come - ‘2020’ cast a long shadow

- reflect and see -

ALL shadows need both Light and Dark - to be.

Instead of skewed perspective - & tilted tunnel-vision

With a fresh breath of clarity behold - 20/20 Vision.




by Debra J Kinney

Whether knowingly given as reward, - transferred by birthright or earned by noble deed,

The commodity trust - is in all too short in supply - but never absence in the need.

Robbed of my innocence - Deprived forever of my ancestor’s roles.

I have been raped.- and bear a weary soul.

Divested of my virtue, - a semblance of normalcy, - devoid of sensuality, - and any measurable self-esteem;

I have been shattered on a level that defies - living good intentions and childhood dreams. 10

I am damaged goods - placed on life’s markdown table –

reserved for second thoughts - and discount glances.

Though the internal wounds heal - external bruises fade - Doctors’ names forgotten;

The nightmare itself plays on an unbreakable reel in the attic of my mind

A symphony of sensory triggers - float innocently down through the ether prompting

internal sores to fester - with a life of their own.

A fever burns and a dark rage grows - malignancy spreads throughout my being

The hidden wounds hide the darker me - more so dangerous - that an unsuspecting world would know

Am I to forever carry this infection?

I cry for companionship - then - fail to accept it - I cannot find solace in despair.

Yet I fear it seeks me. I see the complications of love - and simultaneously avoid it

Yet I love. I love intensely

Ironically the idea of love - still enthralls me

but the physical caress of touch - eludes my damaged soul.

If I can touch it and it can’t touch me back.

I am safe from the demons grasp.

Tiny things long to be adored - but, don’t let them want to hug me back.

For if they do, I escape the loving party - I just cannot let them see me cringe.

My soul is waiting…for a silk touch which glides away

Coffee in china cups, sipped by blazing fires - old movies on silver screens - & conversations till dawn.

A Love with more strength than an oath – an allegiance of souls, prayers, hopes and dreams.

I pray he didn’t take those…

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