water bouquet

Poetry: The Sparsest Truth

This is a collection of poems written about the experiences of love, suffering, violence*, wonder, and ultimately healing. Poetry is the sparsest form of truth-telling, encapsulating the individual and universal in a few stanzas. For the sake of readers who may be sensitive to the traumatic content of domestic and/or sexual violence, these poems are marked with an asterisk.

Between Eight Words

Don’t ask. Don’t tell.

Please ask. Please tell.

Imagine-
The multitude of stories
that live between
eight words.

Not just the one story,
but all the secrets
grief
unimaginable truths
that go begging
for release
left in silence.

Numbed by alcohol.
Coated in sugar.
Veiled by drugs.

Waiting for a whisper,
the opening:

Please ask. Please tell.

Stories on Ether

Look to the sky
for an ever-changing story
told in clouds and colors
rising, shape-shifting, setting
in textured moods,
flowing on blue canvas.

See today’s tale-
burgeoning swaths
of dark charcoal
all heavy-hearted,
but for the slim edges
of white,
one insistent wedge
of blue
hope.

Sounds of Darkness*

It began in the night,
piercing sleepy consciousness
loud cracking slaps
then the screams,
Mother screams
real ones
pleading for God,
(who if “hears all,”
chose not to listen).
As I, who was much closer
heard each fall
each terrified plea
each beg
to stop
and chose not to help.
A frightened child
trying to bury myself
in pillow, blankets,
shut out pain-filled punches, cries,
my own tears.

It returns to me now,
vivid memories etched
in black guilt,
embedded
reflected in bruised eyes
the dried blood of morning light.
Sadness in hearing
echoed screams go unanswered.
God and I
cowering children under sheets
just listening,
not answering.

Where are you now?
Sounds of the darkness?
God in the night?
Child of my tears?

My mother’s best kept little secret…*

wasn’t the Mikimoto pearls,
creamy, pink-rose encased in black velvet,
the $500 in cash stashed between fine cotton
and silk undergarments in her bureau
to deliver her out of Dodge,
or even the secretly coded love notes with “1–2–3”
tucked in drawers, left under pillows.

It was the grapefruit-sized bruises
intermittently appearing on a hipbone, upper arm
the split lip
matching shiners
the purple fingerprints
strung along her flesh
above the pearl line on her neck.

Other gifts
from the same man.

Cape Cod Return

Stretching through childhood
sanity was carved from nature-
the outdoor escape
into sun-blended scents
of bayberry and pine,
the imprints of feet on the beach
soft sand pressing between toes,
the delicate reach of pink and white
beach roses, petals riffling
in salt air breezes
that threaded through even
a melding horizon
of green sea and vast sky
each and every blossom, breath, vista
anchoring me to the safety
of landscape and solitude.

Imprints

You may know this
as I tell it to the heavens:
once I held you in my heart
and so an echo remains,
at times a pulse,
at times a flash of tears.
This is the truth
of having loved.

Shrapnel*

sex u al(l)
abuse or violence
like a B O M b
that ex — plodes
leaving
embedded in your psyche
memory frag ments
dissociated at first
in the blast
then working their way
to the surface
in nightmares
trigger-hair flashbacks
leaving you like a vet
shaking, catapulted into terror
when a car backfires unexpectedly
a smell, touch transporting you to the edge
of control
the ripples in your nervous
system
begging for release
waking you at 4:00 a.m.
to write

Life goes on…

and someday this will be
without me.
But as I brush shiny, brown bangs
from my five-year-old daugther’s
golden-brown eyes,
I say the prayer of all mothers:
Let it not be until
silver streaks her hair
and she has absorbed
what light and love
she needs from her mother’s soul.
More than enough
to see her through her last
spinning day
and breath.

The Art of Age

I remain
a clock without hands
frustrated
as second’s needle
sweeps on
and I relate
with no singular age.

I am child
perhaps two
seeking the touch
of warm fingers
in the chilly sheets
of a nightmare.

I am woman
awaiting completion
of spirit
heart-fire
flame to flickering glow.

I am old
weary, wrinkled thought
binges
hungering
for a space
second’s rest.

I am me
lost in my journey
to find
touch you
behind or beyond
words
touch to time
now
gone.

I am here
still-ticking.

Praying for Osama

Many may be outraged
or laugh
that I prayed for Osama
on a Sanibel Island beach,
waves softly lapping on the periphery,
brown pelicans with their massive bills taking flight,
a sandpiper skittering
out of foamy water’s reach.

It was after daily prayers:
gratitude for family, multiple blessings,
acknowledging privilege
that still surprises me
after early poverty.

It was after
prayers for our soldiers,
the Iraqi mother
holding her dead four-year old son,
after the Rwandans
who’ve lost lives or limbs,
after the Darfur orphans.

A prayer for Osama and his followers,
the creators of an incendiary mass grave
that wedged a permanent grief
into the American psyche.
A cataclysmic excuse for an untenable war
ever-spiraling into a myopic quest for
Homeland Security.

The surprising prayer came
as a slice of light,
an offering to the shadow and mirror
of our collective consciousness.

monarchs

two monarchs flit above
a green swath of milkweed,
their pink blossoms spilling sweet scent
orange and black wings
dancing, darting, swiftly caught
in a sudden gust, then righted in flight
two, three, then maybe eight butterflies
a colony of abundance
on their remote island home

two, nine-year old girls
coltish legs, sun-kissed cheeks and shoulders
on first solo adventures:
pedals whirring away to the store
crabbing off the dock
beachcombing along purple shell covered shores
first strokes cutting through cool water
to the pond’s raft

life apart
the mainland
all blue sky sunshine, the easy breaths
of bayberry-scented salt air
while orange wings soar
and float in peace,
sharing
a wild freedom

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Lyndon

Under The Same Sky: Writing and photos. Musings on the gritty and the beautiful that gets us through & more. Original content.