Friday, November 15, 2019

Re-Seeing the Obvious

When pregnant it was clear
I was along for the ride with a miracle.
Sure, I could eat organic broccoli,
walk and eschew caffeine,
but that was just taking care
of the vessel. Life itself
was doing the real work.

Imagine my surprise today
to realize I'm still along for the ride.
How did I ever kid myself
that I was in charge?
And oh, the bliss today
to notice anew these hands,
these eyes, these feet!
What joy to see them again
as the miracle they are,
to offer them in service to life.

Rosemary Wahtola Trommer,


I worry seriously
about only a handful of things.
Eyes to the ground
furrowed brow
beating heart

Then I remember
that I am here right now.
Here -
with good work and a big bright love.
With a dog who just had a bath
after running in the mud.
With a mother who gardens and does yoga
and a father who makes rosaries and reads books.
And my brother, my friend, with a sweet baby daughter.

And I have my legs
and they walk for miles when I am worried.
And I have my soul
and it is vast and kinder
than this wild world.
And I have books
with their strong spines and medicine.
And music, all the music
and there is the mailman
who delivers mail almost every single day
bless him.

And the market with wine and radishes.
And the flowers falling through my hands
trusting me to make bouquets.
And there is the green earth and the tall mountain
the water birds, seedlings, snowfall, the sound of rain, sun finally

The bed and the water.
The paper and the pens,
The bathtub and the salt.
And the food he made me
and the letter she sent me
and Spain, San Francisco
your bedroom, this kitchen.

It's all been so much beauty among
the worry.
And I have kept nourished
and alive
this way.

Jeannette Encinias, accessed on August 24,2019

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Canine Grace

Donnie attends church every Sunday morning.
He guides Chuck to a back pew,
lies down at his long-time companion's feet.
Sunlight through stained glass windows
gilds his blonde fur with rainbows.
He enters into an hour of silence,
his own realm of meditation,
or sleep. Just before the benediction
Donnie stands, shakes his harness,
his unique practice in the ringing of bells.
His expression is hopeful
as the two of them head toward
the Fellowship Hall. Will there be
a cookie, or perhaps a bit of left-over
communion bread?

Lois Parker Edstrom, Glint (MoonPath Press, 2019)


The way the dog trots out the front door
every morning
without a hat or an umbrella,
without any money
or the keys to her dog house
never fails to fill the saucer of my heart
with milky admiration.

Who provides a finer example
of a life without encumbrance --
Thoreau in his curtainless hut
with a single cup, a single spoon?
Gandhi with staff and his holy diapers?

Off she goes into the material world
with nothing but her brown coat
and her modest blue collar,
following only her wet nose,
the twin portals of her steady breathing,
followed only by the plume of her tail.

If only she did not shove the cat aside
every morning
and eat all his food
what a model of self-containment
she would be,
what a paragon of earthly detachment.

If only she were not so eager
for a rub behind her ears,
so acrobatic in her welcomes,
if only I were not her god.

Billy Collins, Poetry (August, 1998)

Friday, November 8, 2019

Airport Security

In the airport I got wanded,
though not by a fairy princess.

I had to remove my shoes,
prove they were not twin bombs.

But the strangest scene I saw
that day was where random checks

delayed the suspicious --
the gray lady in her wheelchair

and the toddler boy tugged
from his mother's hand, pulled

through the metal detector's arch.
She tried to follow but was

restrained by two guards who grasped
her arms as she yelled, "But I told him

not to talk to strangers!"
The child wailed bloody murder.

A female guard patted the boy
all over, although he did not giggle.

I myself went on profiling terrorists.
                   They were so obvious.

David Ray, The Death of Sardanapalus: and Other Poems of the Iraq Wars (Howling Dog Press, 2004)

The Death of Marilyn Monroe

The ambulance men touched her cold
body, lifted it, heavy as iron,
onto the stretcher, tried to close
her mouth, closed the eyes, tied the
arms to the side, moved a caught
strand of hair, as if it mattered,
saw the shape of her breasts, flattened by
gravity, under the sheet,
carried her, as if it were she,
down the steps.

These men were never the same. They went out
afterwards, as they always did,
for a drink or two, but they could not meet
each other's eyes.

            Their lives took
a turn -- one had nightmares, strange
pains, impotence, depression. One did not
like his work, his wife looked
different, his kids. Even death
seemed different to him -- a place where she
would be waiting.

And one found himself standing at night
in a doorway to a room of sleep, listening to a
woman breathing,  just an ordinary

Sharon Olds, The Dead and the Living (Alfred A. Knopf, 1984)

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Stroke Patient

Someone came in to ask
how are you

only I couldn't
quite hear the words,
I thought he was asking
who, who are you?

so I started to say
my name's Jordan
only I never
got past the vowel

I'm Joe
just Joe
call me Joe

then I stopped to think
maybe I really am
someone else
maybe all this never

my friend looked so strange to me
till I felt his hand --
his hand took mine
and my hand shook.

Rochelle Ratner, Someday Songs: Poems toward a Personal History (BkMk Press, 1992)