Crucible

What scene did she make?
The one we can’t
cut her out of
but not
It’s a Wonderful Life
a story written by
others
An orphan
she married the musician
artist and writer
Escaped into his script

He took work in the foundry
Forged a family
Kissed her with
factory blistered lips
Caressed her
with calloused hands
Sang her songs
Wrote her poems
After their day jobs
had captive all-nighter
utopian longings

Two roads converged
Their children grew confused
ignored
and tossed between
his creative soaring heart
and smouldering rage
against The Man
Unpublished work
engraved his closed walls
His genius wrapped in a shroud
of secrets and poverty
She began plying peace
at any price
Weary of schemes

Then left
and she could breathe
Found the right words
Heard
her children’s dreams
Saw their gold
cast pure and radiant
Told her amazed
new literary friends
who asked her
What scene did you make?
Being no martyr no hero
in that bed she’d made
simply said
I should have made one

 

children waves

Photos courtesy Flickr Creative Commons (top by Lance Cheung, bottom by Giuseppe Tripodi)

Who Hesitates

You in your universe
me in mine
approach intersections
we shy away from
We speak across
We nearly meet
and never infringe
out in the cold
“comfortably numb”
We hold our breath
greedy and hoping
to maintain borders
But suffocate ourselves

Sometimes we linger
in the chill
near warmer
boundaries
Look backward at
or forward to
outpost campfires
In singular quandaries
move closer toward
the edge of
our event horizon
“The hour is getting late”

Let’s inhale deeply
yes separately
all the air we share
Exhaust and park breezes
These streets
of wounded beauty
and pine forests too
are crossings now
where people can
gratefully intrude

Make plans for
birthdays
comings of age
farewells
the next holiday
a wilderness picnic
a block party
Welcome others
to a feast
of remembering
We make this together

 

broome-street-block-party-160

Top photo Oak Street block party NOLA, courtesy Infrogmation; Bottom photo Broome Street block party NYC, courtesy David Packer

 

Wake Up

Ants cope better
They revive
Being good scouts
determined
to adapt and
sally forth
to defy
insecticides
meant to rout them

Will they
inherit the dirt
they already inhabit
Will there be
a dearth of humans
when asteroids
predicted or not
traject directly
from unseen hands
to silence
the talking species
Will we hear ants
celebrate

Or will it be
“Not with a bang
but a whimper”
An untraceable
genocide
unrighteously conceived
but plausibly denied
by those who deem us
so beneath them
A blight on our planet

Ants can’t write poetry
to magnify reality
or dignify their plight
or dance pointlessly
under starlight
dreaming into
their lover’s eyes
or create symphonies
or paint

What they do well
is cooperate
navigate without
technology
Communicate
on top of
and below ground
They haven’t a clue
about quantum computers
nor take their cue
from statistics
spitting fear and
paralysis

Ants just find
those nooks
and crannies
where toxins
cannot arrive
And faith
reminds us
We do not mind
that there are
flowers
which only blossom
in the night

Night blooming cereus

AntBridge Crossing courtesy Igor Chuxlancev; Night-blooming Cereus by Ernie Murphy

Distance

From an old bench
while basking in
late Autumn’s sun
I notice something
not belonging
among a mound
of large white rocks
piled on the edge
of our spring fed pond
first enlarged
by town founders
Truckloads of boulders
to shore up its bank
have arrived from elsewhere
like me
who chose this village
twice as home
with then without
spouse

A slender stalk of corn
only ten inches high
sprouts among
the white stones
from seeds sown
too late in summer
This plant has no reason
to grow here and now
for me to wonder about it
But I do

A solitary mallard
swims in the pond
by way of a woman
poor, a bit unusual
and often ridiculed
by locals
She loves and cares
for animals of all kinds
especially illustrated
by flea bites
Scabs and scars
spot her arms and legs

She found that glossy
green-headed duck
worried and waddling
through neighboring yards
and placed him lovingly
in our pond
He soars away daily
to visit nearby waters
but returns
Soon his friends
come to visit
Some stay

A man from another town
drives over once a week
his workday finished
and scatters seed corn
to feed our ducks
and other birds
I’ve chatted with him
We’ve both spent time
with the duck lady
as she’s also known

Greedy squirrels
born here
don’t need to be fed
among plentiful hickory and oak
some of these planted too
The little hoarders
skitter and scamper yearlong
Today one glares at me
for an uncomfortable
amount of time
when I dare
to usurp a bench
she’s staked out
as her luncheonette

But no birds or squirrels ate
that particular yellow grain
faithfully scattered
on the grass
near water and stone
And I wonder
who else has noticed
this tiny futile stem
held “green and dying”

In our cherished park
meeting and greeting
each from afar
we can never
fathom the depth
of knowing how
the heart
never sows out of season

Clouds and corn

Top photo courtesy White-Rock-Lake Blogspot; bottom photo by Dani Simmonds

Special Thanks

Clanmother has very graciously included my poem titled Sleight in her Sunday Evening Reflection with her lovely video and outstanding photography. Rebecca’s reading evokes, even for me, those unforgettable moments spent in my little park.

Thank you, Lady Budd, for all your inspiration and support within our vibrant online community, which reminds one another daily that beauty and the arts are essential to life.

Sunday Evening Reflection with Mary Jo Malo

Sleight

Spring can be so
winter encumbered
I learn to walk again
layered in a long-sleeved tee
and hoodie sweatshirt
and bulky jacket
and thermals
and jeans
But the sun is hot
and will no doubt
spot and freckle
my hands and face
The old woman
I never saw myself
becoming

Far into the woods
tracing my familiar path
around the little lake
worried frogs launch
from their spawning shore
stir up muck and lurk undercover
Minnows dart beneath
woolly floating leaves
survivors of last Autumn
then frenzy back
into clear warm water
when I pass
They pull up short
out in the deep cold
murky center of the pond
where bigger fish await
to feed off their mistaken
direction

A giant carp slowly
trolls the shallow water
surrounding the island
roiling up mud and
purling water along its shiny back
Game fish lie in wait
and jump
to snap up bugs
I rarely see them hit
but hear the splash and
watch concentric circles
left behind
calmly disappear

I nearly submerge a memory
one you often asked me to remember
that pale yellow sundress
with little blue roses
and twenty tiny buttons down the front
You plucked a wild violet
from behind my ear
as if you could
keep me fooled

 

Common_Dog_Violet_(Viola_riviniana)_-_geograph.org.uk_-_421761

Photos courtesy Wikipedia Commons

(Top: Jorg Hempel, Bottom: Mary & Angus Hogg)

Through

The sun is
a weary yellow
behind flat gray sky
this December noon
Not like autumn
when that brilliant kingfisher
first came to our park
bluer than sky
diving in the glassy pond
rising with his juicy sustenance
Today he wings from tree to tree
eyeing the cold little abyss
rattling his dry raspy chatter
Flies away hungry

They say there’s danger
for the halcyon
as it plummets
from such high places
Birdwatchers tell the story
of a kingfisher
that dove into a lake
broke its wing and slowly
bled into the water
its mate frantic and circling above

I rise from my bench
solitary and free
wander off the path
with memories of green
Some leaves and twigs crunch
over mud not quite frozen
Blotches of thin ice
coat dark puddles

Sundress and straw hat
packed away for summer
bundled in my down jacket
I persist
Hobbling with a cane
twenty-six winters now
The invisible beacon
faithfully leads me on
I dream of spring

kingfisher autumn

Top photo courtesy J.J. Harrison; bottom photo by Andrew Mckie

Silver Cord

While everyone sleeps
I slip out into the night
and deeply breathe
the lilac air

I gaze at the crescent moon
worried at heart
begging
needing more time

Not one of us
escapes her pull
as she labors through phases
to bestow her faithful beauty

The lunar cradle
connects me to every tide and tremor
every person
lost and found

(Photo by Timothy Price used with permission)

Inconvenient Truth

Somewhere at dusk
light goes out of a baby’s eyes
The mother holds her son
to her dry breast
dropping her head
moaning dry words of comfort
rocking

Somewhere else
a son is dragged in the street
and left on the caked mud
his face contorted
in a silent scream
his still shining eyes
reflect the stars

Partisans reclaim the rope
Lamentations pierce the calm
and sputters of hatred echo
between quiet houses
suddenly lit
but hush toward dawn
when the sun ignites the sky

Wrapped in morning whispers
couples are moored to their hope
but when they separate
to begin their day
he’s recruited for the cause
that ancient failure of vengeance

Phoenix

When the indigo blanket of night
unfolds so softly and deep
over low silky clouds of lavender
apricot and the palest green
faint twinklings of starlight signal
new horizons of hope
I rise and grip my compass

Across this darkening desert
waves of hot sand swirl me
high above those statued saguaro
guardians of that wasteland
Cool breezes now whispering stories
laughter and music and dancing
I hear the ever green beckon

Near a cold glassy lake in a forest
where grasses are dewy and sweet
friends and companions are waiting
eager to share in our crossings
Sparkling eyes around the campfire
anchored beneath a wheeling sky
I sleep by this fire again

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