Blame Game

I’m carmelizing veggies while
I sip this hot concoction: old-

style tisane of elder, pepper-
mint and yarrow, ginger, clove and

licorice, rose hip and hyssop,
cinnamon and honey. Bleary-

eyed in this damp morning, rain
and still more rain to come.

My grandson’s teenaged sibling’s chain
a gift, he brought this link to me.

This tardy attempt to nourish
since my efforts to admonish

cover your mouth, wash your hands
betrayed by a sneeze–bless you

–right in my face. He’s three, he’s
innocent, if we must label

our intentions. I’m emptying
a kleenex box, clearing my throat

and coughing, heavy sighs as I
negotiate my breath. And this

just in: my father is choking
from the garlic I am roasting,

past and future generations’
circling irritations, try to

name the source of pain: here, we claim,
it started here, it’s all your fault.

Inspired by: Admonish, Nourish, Label, Betray and Sibling.


Oak Blessing


Shouldn’t my trauma be healed
by now, life on an even keel,

the wise untriggered matriarch,
deflecting your projections?

These arrows pierce a truckler child.
Cowering and shamed, open me

in this container, delving
ever deeper with you until

our dark resonance shifts us.
No one ever modeled an

evolutionary path, but
I see bitterness’ aftermath.

Prejudice calcifies bones.
My elders, shattered, demand

stiff drinks and little blue pills.
Donning the masks society

prescribes. Turning, I swear to mine
my depths, even if it hurts.

Never anticipating
this excruciating stratum.


I stand here, rooted by this
ancient oak, both of us damp

from tears or mist in this breeze.
A sudden sunbeam illumes

old scars and painful mem’ries—
ah, what I’ve lost. Still vowing

to sustain this heartsight, reveal
my tears and terror again and

again, each fractal of distress
moving my mighty limbs and yours

as we expand in our power.
I see now there is no end:

unremitting shifting as light
filters through shadowed branches,

touching what we have exposed,
tenderly or else

a burning blaze of these
dark places. You hold me, dear

knowing bubbles of
trapped joy rise up, released

my head held high, I
celebrate my shame.

Inspired by: Sustain, Mist and Breeze and this 400+ year old oak tree.


Beyond Our Ken

What do we toss aside as interesting but largely meaningless incongruities? ~ David McGowan

How do we stay awake, moments
and days choked by the woven

pattern which tempts us
to dream? We ignore strong

clues–coincidental anomalies–
for that comfortable snooze.

When I told my doctor that
I healed my fatal illness,

he never asked me how.
He called me noncompliant,

told me never to return.
I bounced past the ashen

patients in his waiting room.
Magic pills destroying them

(I tossed mine away and my
data left the mainstream so busy

counting cadavers.) Yesterday
my grandson stopped midplay,

running to cling to my legs.
Ghosts had claimed the room,

he needed me to sort it out
with my eclectic skills. I praise

the ancestors, investigate the
shadows. Openings at every step

if only we dare to be
present in this uncanny world.

Inspired by: Tempt, Dream and Eclectic.

Alone Again, Naturally

I sit just so to allow
the jealous child to emerge

and return to the scene.  How
far from nostalgic, seeing past

the captured smiles in photographs.
Compare and contrast, fall

off the high-expectations cliff.
Not good enough? Give your best riff

and be found
wanting, no fair exchange,

overlooked.  Unsung hero,
braced for the pain, condemned

by this voice inside.
Sometimes I’m steered into

tight places when the child
grabs the wheel, panicked,

fierce, misguided.  And so
I hold this container

ward off the oblivious putter.
No one to harm or blame, safe

waking with the melting steel.
A sweet embrace, a heartbeat

here invited
in and now I breathe.

Inspired by: Jealous, Putter, Nostalgic, and Return.

Bad Blood

Everything looked rosy, I was tickled

pink, laughing with my charming hosts

yet before I could blink, you called

me to the wilderness, you checked

my boldest boasts, insisting that I factor

in these ancient bleeding ghosts.

I’ll stand here while you shout

and scream your anger to the skies.

I’ll feel your pain and I’ll rejoice

you’re not like other guys.  You ask

me to claim a guilt for triggering

your pain, and once I would have done so,

but look, that is insane.  Next door

a child is loud at play, pow, pow, pow

pow, pow!  Then Mommy, look–she’s indistinct

–there are three children now, young, filling

the morning calm and my small unread book.

We want a map, a model, blind to all

that is around, insisting that our pain

right now engulf our heart and take our mind.

Summoning the mother, we try to break her ice

with furious mad tantrums, we refuse to be nice.

Inspired by: Factor, Pink, Wilderness, Charming and the Stream of Consciousness Saturday prompt “rhymes with rosy”  — the rules for the SoCS is it must be stream of consciousness writing, meaning no editing (typos can be fixed), and minimal planning on what you’re going to write. (And frankly, y’all, that no-editing thing is hard.)

Love Symbols

My heart is holding a bouquet

of deep red roses I have been

warned not to send, for fear

the thorns will prick

and tear into the wounds

left gaping by your passage.

I have been the scapegoat,

and this is no time for defense;

no need to paint the target

on my visage, at least

not any more than it is.

People who don’t believe

in the hard work deep in the night

close their eyes and cling

to the stories that burn

with every telling.  The flames

of anger fed by the need

for someone to blame.  Why

is this symbol so important

for me to share?  Our reconciliation

happened beyond space and time,

and I’m the only one

left to attest to our changes

of heart.  Who could believe

that love is the newly revealed

basis of our connection, after all

these difficult years?  Certainly not

these anguished survivors, intent

on rewriting history, content

to place the blame anywhere

it might land.  I’ll keep

changing and opening

to whatever emerges, certain

that our connections are

spacious in a way

we can’t fathom.

Just Noodle Around

The cowbird alights on the untended box
and the wrens squawk,
flying in from an undisclosed location
so where will she place this egg
she’s so anxious to lay?

I’ve been in a dark cupboard,
the doors closed until a hand
reaches in for a pinch.
Like baking soda, I’m a necessary
ingredient to this recipe.
See the outrage pour when the
tiny little teaspoon gets it in her
head to fly off, leaving
everything flat.

A burly house sparrow–incessant
cheeps–is squeezing
into the swallow’s house
and the air is atwitter
outrage meeting pure
tenacious settler mentality.

In other places, I am bubbly,
effervescent. Here, my forthright
boundaries are too much,
leaving a bitter taste
when everyone just wants sugar.

A green heron chases his sister,
a new arrival, into a tree. There can be
only one. She practices branch
poses, still and wary
as he collects his minnow meal.

As I leave, I carelessly strike
a match here in this house
of cards. It will all end in ashes.
The others scuttle in fear
watching my bold wind,
the walls fluttering and anxious
at the coming conflagration.

Inspired by: Noodle, Forthright, Match and Tenacious.