(War) good God y’all

What is it good for?  Absolutely nothing. ~ War, Edwin Starr

I confess to be an avid

collector, growing, of the myriad

faults in the parroted party line.

I’d plan my argument

against their ideology, just

a typical rebellious teen.

Now I grope towards

emotional maturity, that mysterious

platform hidden by my fog

of codependence,

like Bugs Bunny’s a-ha moment:

of course you realize this means war.

Letting go of resistance, not fighting

the warriors at their own

game — and yes, bombing and killing,

starving and stealing

is a rich man’s power play.

Nodding a fond farewell

to peacing out

which so appealed in my childhood

songs, the bombers turning

into butterflies above our nation.

How is it we ignore the years

of slavery, the genocide of First

Nations, the unprecedented imprisonment

of the poor?  How do we pretend

the violence paid by our taxes

is necessary?  We’re urged

to choose a side, when both parties

barely glance up from their grisly

feasting, mouths dripping with

the blood from our hearts,

as they dimly notice

the foundations shaking

when we understand the pain

of the bit and the reins

and their heels digging in.

Inspired by:  Avid, Collection, Ideology, and Plan.

Virtually Empty

We sink uneasily

into our corpulent bodies

bloated with excessive

ingredients that never satisfy.

Longing for relaxation,

to close our eyes

erase the schoolbus in Yemen

and the children dead by U.S.



means support.  How much do you pay

Jeff Bezos for slave labor?

There is no simple purchase

in this world.  The cheap

throwaway is detrimental

even fatal to another being.

We cruise virtual aisles

filled with pirated plunder,

exclaiming with pride

what a bargain,

uttering an oath

at a hint of true cost.

The one percent dine

on delectables snatched

from our local noses.

Guards patrol gardens

and we huddle, hungry,

at the entry gates

of the promised land,

heads bowed,

eyes glazed

as we enter the flickering

screenshots of a more

palatable feast,

one click away.


Inspired by:  Relaxation, Detrimental, Corpulent,  and Oath.

Naming What Counts

I devised my first pedigree chart

when I was 10, a project

in the Camp Fire Girls

which promised a bead

upon completion. I collected

these colorful wooden signs

of accomplishment with ardor,

sewing them on a felt

vest, so proud of its weighty

importance when I donned it every Tuesday.

Of course, a chart of ancestors

is never done, reaching back

into the mists of time.

It only dawned on me slowly,

the deliberate erasure

of women who bore all these

children blessed with their fathers’

names, while the one that proved

her bloodline was lost.

Here lies Jane, loving mother

and daughter. She gave up her

identity for food and shelter

graciously bestowed by her father

and then her husband. Her mother

doesn’t really matter, let’s forget

about her. Disappointing tombstones.

I have spent so many hours

meticulously searching

through church records, birth certificates.

Determined to find the hidden branches

of my family tree. While all around me,

cultures still swallow women’s identities,

insisting that it is a sign of true

love to abandon a birth name.

My inheritance from the patriarchy

is not worth

mentioning, dirty paper crowded

with archaic words and arcane symbols.

The matriarchy is where the true power

resides, the creative womb,

infused with nameless

magnetic vibrations. That inner stillness

inside beckons us to the truth,

as we unwrap these trappings

and escape the incessant myths

designed to enslave us,

and free ourselves to love.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: pedigree

Cat’s Outta The Bag

He wrote, “How ya been, you haven’t posted,”

and I had to think through all of the details

first.  You know that big gangly puppy

that bounds in from the backyard

and vomits all over the kitchen floor,

then licks up every drop and runs to the door,

looking back at you with a demented

tongue-lolling grin?  And you can’t let him

out fast enough.  Not like that.

Or the tiny dog who climbs into your lap

just wanting to snuggle

while you radiate healing vibes

to one another?  Nuh-uh.

Or the loveable Lab, lying

in a patch of winter sunlight,

groaning in her sleep before

struggling painfully to her feet

to celebrate your being!

Nope.  This is much more toxic:

an old dog, slinking

under the back porch in the dark night.

She’s been kicked around

with such careless unrelenting brutality

that there’s no reason to hide anymore

except this time the attacker was invisible,

a malicious assassin who is not afraid to enter

the dark, and delights in the gift

of suffering

like the evil man in a horror film

with a torture chamber.

She will not come out for food,

maybe water when the coast is clear

after throwing up discreetly.

She is shivering in her fever-induced nightmares,

but can you really feel so sorry

for someone sleeping in a lush fur coat?

And yes, I know that telling you this

reveals my deep psychological

blah blah blah, but that’s the one

I mean when

I bravely respond

in all honesty, “So sick.

Sick as a dog.”

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: toxic

The Art of Integration

For two years, they returned

to the bluebird house,

several times a season

to lay eggs and raise their young.

The male’s iridescence in the sun,

a deep blue sapphire blessing

with his mate, swooping over the water

in aerobatic dances with their dinner —

the insects that thrive here as well.

Such a noisy lake at times,

tree swallow chirps and gurgles amid

the eerie meow of the catbird,

the redshouldered hawk’s kreeya

and at dusk, the pure cacophony

of the ranids, the creaks and croaks

of toads and the tuba call

of the bullfrog.  And though

I try to heed the warning caw of crows,

I was deaf to danger,

only noticing they no longer came

to the nesting box, now inhabited

by sparrows.  The smell alerted me,

for the new birds had killed

the defenseless native mother bird

and built their nest atop her

decaying body.  Such savage cruelty

in my own backyard! Even though

it echoed the behavior of my ancestors

building a civilization

with the same complete disregard

for native life. I haven’t mentioned

the blares and sirens

from the nearby highway — it’s not poetic.

Rather than face

my own barbarity, I defend

these swallows, determined to trap

the invaders.  I cannot see a way

to integrate these two forces,

and here lies the root of

my society’s ills:  we fight and resist.

We clearly see the bad

in the other.  How can we

find a way to synthesize,

while the gene pool declines

and the hidden costs grow?

What tool will shine the light on the pain

we’ve never acknowledged,

the beauty destroyed in the act of creation?

When will I learn that only when I am most

triggered, appalled, enraged

am I close to the key — the aching

wound that I must admit

the true cacophony deep inside.

I can offer here

the words: I am sorry.

I am part of the resolution.

I am your most

valuable resource, the one you most fear.

Don’t turn away. Take me in.

In the heart of the destruction and chaos,

this is where we find ourselves.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: swallow

Facing Oppression

At the TSA precheck line, they allow me

to walk in my boots until

the alarm sounds and I have to retrace my steps,

submit my shoes and proceed in my socks

back to the line.  They have already divested me

of my other belongings, herding me into

a queue of similarly stripped beings.

We raise our eyebrows at each other,

share secret smiles to salute each other

as brothers and sisters or at least first

cousins, refusing to bend while they scan

our luggage with their insidious threat.

When I retrieve what I call mine —

but could easily be lost without ever harming

my heart — I walk to a bench

and put on my boots with ceremony

and dignity.  Only then I notice

a stroller with two young children

parked, no parents in sight.

Their yells summon their harassed

mother who comes running to plead:

stay quiet until they let Daddy

and I come back — forced to stand by the suitcases

instead of their young family.

I run after her, ask if I could stand

in the space of comforter and watcher,

and when she comes back with me

and tells them that I will sit next to them,

I ask if they know any spider songs.

They don’t notice her departure

as we move our fingers and

raise our voices in praise

of powerful eight-legged

creatures climbing upwards,

rain crashing down and always the sun

opening up new possibilities.

The brave sister shows me her bucket

filled with treasures, and my heart

rejoices at this simple gift.

The little brother watches skeptically,

hopefully, as we inspect a mermaid

with a tail encrusted with jewels.

As soon as he gathers enough courage

to show me his blue car,

his parents reappear, and we exchange

bye-byes.  Mine are the exaggerated,

excited waves of a grandmother

to her newly discovered grandchildren,

and it doesn’t matter if anyone is watching.

This is pure heart space:

recognizing what is needed and supplying it,

taking care of our children, claiming my role

in this world:  I am here.

I love you.  You are a part of me.

When you aren’t taken care of, neither am I.

As long as there is space and time,

our hearts recognize each other

and we lift each other into the space

of the sun that dries up all the rain

so that we can dry our eyes and climb again.

 Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: encrusted


You see, they taught me that to escape

was a sign of weakness.

Tough it out, bear it,

deal with it.

Don’t be a wimp.

But some contracts are signed too quickly

and the fine print reveals

conditions too onerous,

designed to beat down the spirit,

to enslave and stamp out inner fires.

And sometimes someone else signs for you.

Our civilization is like that,

rolling over entire cultures

with this crushing domination.

Schools were designed to wipe that smile

right off your face,

to make you sit without squirming,

to move you with bells

and fierce, loveless admonitions.

Rewarding you for fulfilling

the contract that makes you a good little citizen.

Look for the loophole!

Find the narrow window and squeeze through!

Pick the lock!

And then double back and help the others

who have been squeezed like lemons:

dried up, hopeless rinds.

Bring them water.

Give them the silent space

to find their strength

away from the bells, the little desks,

the rewards for knowing false things

and the punishment for being real.

Inspired by The Daily Word Prompt: loophole