Monday, August 14, 2017

The Warrior (or After Surgery)

Reluctantly, I force myself
to stand before the mirror,
stripped of all artifice,
naked except for earrings.

Reminded of a warrior after many battles,
I note the scar stretching 
from sternum to armpit,
fading now but marking
where once there was a breast.

I feel unbalanced, bereft,
but then I see the head,
eyes watchful,
able to enjoy color and form;
ears, somewhat large,
but able to hear bird-song and blues,
Beethoven and Brahms;
mouth, lopsided and quizzical,
but able to converse 
and even sing a bit.

The top of the skull
is covered by wispy, graying hair.
Within it is a brain
with thoughts and emotions, 
and most of all
the ability to enjoy,
to appreciate, and to love.

So I honor the gift of my Maker,
who made me in Her image,
and the gift of time
to enjoy Her creation a little longer.

© Peg Latham,  1993

Mrs. Prince, after surgical removal of a breast
Watercolor of a woman operated on for breast cancer, 1841
from Wikimedia Commons
via Wellcome Images

Monday, July 31, 2017

Grooming the Herd in Spring

Beneath these gloved hands
Cowhide on horsehide inseparable
The winter coats fly off in tufts
Revealing the darker the sleeker
The more radiant summer skin.

Down flanks rubbing dried mud
From hocks and fetlocks brushing
Botfly larvae from cannon bones
This heifer’s hide gives its all
In an anointing of earth to earth.

Tonight out in the eastern paddock 
They graze on in watery darkness
Invisible yet shining with a patina 
That only open-handed love knows
How to coax again when the rain 
and the new mud come.

© Bill Prindle, 2017

Arab Simeon Stud
Photo by Jimmy Baikovicius
from Wikimedia Commons

Tuesday, July 18, 2017


(For the nine church members in Bible study murdered by a white supremacist)

Streaming blood, the Bibles flap their wings;
Pages become wings, the wings of strong angels.
The Bibles spray blood over the listening Earth
Like words we must read in order to survive.
The blood is like the trail made by dazzling jets:
The Bibles rise like thrones into heralding heaven.
Each Bible is a throne bearing up a wise victim,
A martyr singing of love and mercy
High over horror, the sanctuary defiled
Once again befouled, violated
By a blank secessionist for the country of blankness
Testifying to hate’s supremacy.
The flag of blankness must be honored
By minds that are blank, giddy with pride
In rebellion against the human, despising all color.
They turn the beauty of the city into old sad sin,
Its crime against the Union of love and justice.
Hate’s flag will not be lowered; love’s flag bows in shame.
Blankness must recreate the Confederation of inhumanity—
The sanctuary of color, of life is refuted.
But the church of mercy has changed into a chalice,
A huge chalice filled with the blood of the killed.
The church brims with blood like the wine of kindness,
The redness of blackness, the color of love.
Even in victory, the unloving stay unloving—
Exposed to kindness, he must murder the kind.
But kindness is sustained on the wings of those bibles
And the church is a chalice offered to heaven,
The wine of wisdom, the oblation of souls.
Our Union must be preserved by love and mercy,
By courage and justice, the strength of the kind.
Blood streams from those Bibles
In words we must read:
We are one in diversity, naked Union of hope.

The fragile city is beautiful,
But its sins have been horrible.
It asks to be forgiven,
But it must not sin again.
May rainbow people thrive
In the joyous color of its markets;
May the pastel mild elegance
Of the city survive.
For blankness is loyal only to blankness
And will stay desolate forever
In evil isolation.
The Union of love and mercy, color with color,
Justice with kindness is never alone.
Honor the redness of blackness, honor all color,
Kindness and courage, the song of the strong.

Note: The terrorist Roof, who had no sheltering roof yet could not accept courteous sanctuary, despising all affectionately protective roofs, deceived himself into thinking he was aristocratic white. In fact, he was blank. Blankness is not a color. All color is lovely—black or white shining.  Roof believed in the supremacy of gunlove, the sovereignty of ignorance. He expected that his hopeless blankness would grant him pleasingly grim self-justification, the light of the loser. He thought the murderous refutation of otherness is power. With skill-less urgency, he would paint his blankness in blood, giving his blankness the insignia of specious superiority. But his blankness gets blanker and blander as long as he dourly dubiously lives. This is gunlove, the emptiness of solipsistic ignorant sovereignty. Roof is not white. He is blank. Clementa Pinckney and his studiously charming martyred friends, are victorious in establishing a better city of kindness and justice, equally and delicately pastel as the beauty of the older sinning city. The amiably raucous color of its market will live, will thrive even more.  Terror over the Earth is unreal murderous rule, fake law , the rage of blankness. Only the blood of love, of courage and kindness, knows how to paint soul, actual art. The reign of dearth and fear over the Earth kills but is idiot illusion. Earth is the loveliest of unmurderous hues, the true spectrum of you, of thou. Relinquish killing animals, grass, people. Unpoison the air.
Acknowledge the gorgeous, ensouling, reviving, healing flag of the rainbow. Race is not real. Life only is valid hope and possible power. The tears of good humans are real. Accept the thrill of otherness, your gifted and giving self, the life of thou and I—joy. Everything that exists in this shattered light is holy. For it has conquered nothingness. Gather the shattered light.

      © Stephen Margulies, 2017

Four winged angels
Stained glass by J. & R. Lamb Studios
Wikimedia Commons

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Game of Life

It’s a game called life
With treasures lost
Loves, friends, jobs, opportunities
Ne’er to come again.

What went astray?
Perhaps to have played a piece differently
Just one small maneuver
Might have brought another outcome.

But we cannot make those changes
Yesterday’s chance gone..
So we breathe deeply and jump ahead
Preparing for more of the game.

© Shelly Sitzer, 2017

Four Gods Playing Checkers
from Sadao, Thailand
Photo by Photo Dharma
from Wikimedia Commons

Wednesday, July 5, 2017


This land grows language like another crop:
metaphors shining like daylilies against dark pines:

a man with a whiskey still is midnight farming

a Carolina credit card siphons gas
from someone’s tank into yours

river bottoms lush with similes:

I’ll get on you like stink on a skunk

useless as tits on a bull

compliments bloom delicate as honeysuckle:

smooth as a baby’s bottom

pretty as a speckled pup

alliteration twines round your tongue like morning glories:

tight as a tick

hotter’n the hinges of hell

He don’t know shit from Shinola

sharp nettles of judgment holding on among rocks:

crooked as a dog’s hind leg

not worth the salt to make his bread

thinks he’s too good for the buzzards

tall forests of hyperbole:

so drunk he couldn’t hit the floor with his hat

too dumb to pour piss out of a boot
if the directions was on the heel

He’d screw a snake if you’d hold it still

Like heirloom seed collected and saved,
the old varieties to be savored;
And crossbreeds, mutations, pure inventions:
come a good rain, new varieties would spring up
in unexpected places.
The old man smiled and kept busy
during the long quiet hours
when there was no one to talk to,
cultivating the dusty paths of speech.

             © David Black, 2017

Speckled Bluetick Coonhound puppy
Photo from River Styx Scent Hounds

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Revenge Play

In the creator’s brutal universe,
gentle exceptions seem abnormal.
I dwell on the fate of my departed friends,
live out their love affairs in my imagination,
bolt away when I hear their steps behind me —
the dead shouldn’t engage in my game.

My shiny hair is tied back in a ponytail,
theirs is unkempt and decayed.
They try to invent 
ways to be heard and revenged,
but I am uncommitted and detached,
now trying on their fates in my mental fitting room.

Nothing mysterious under the veneer of humans.
Prince Hamlet isn’t the only one
who speaks with his father’s ghost;
ghosts camp in my overheated head in the night,
complain, whine, and demand revenge.

I put a lot of stock in ghosts’ sermons,
but see no practical use for their revelations.
Burdening Hamlet with his pending problem,
using his son to get even with Claudius
makes the royal ghost an unreliable authority —
I renounce such a heritage.

The tide was in, the tide is out
on the shore at Elsinore.
We are all unavenged at the end.
Our sons are unburdened,
freed from our lament.

© Helen Kanevsky, 2017

Prince Hamlet kills King Claudius
by Gustave Moreau
from Wikimedia Commons

Monday, June 12, 2017

Who Is This Woman?

I am from Cinda and Fred who created the union
I am from my ancestors who brought me forth to enter the world of many dreams
I am from the joy of laughing clouds of energy that flow into the river of loving
I am from the world of loneliness as I seek to touch all that surrounds me
I am from women who had to bear burdens and children and those not meant to be
I am from another world that gave me life and many centuries of queens and kings
I am from nurturers of the world who seek the laughter of passionate tears
I am from souls who wander in the world to seek a place that feels like home
I am from the freeing spirit that must fly to seek the free flying winds
I am from words that must pour out and yet hands that prevent them from coming
I am from phrases thought but not placed on paper because the mind says not now
I am from you and me and us and we and all that is and will be
I am from the earth and the sky and wings of birds
I am from all that is and wants to be
I am from a place I called home and I will call home and a place I now call home
I am from the sunrise and the sunset and all that is in between
And only a moment in which I am from all that is and yet to be
And so it is that I am the woman who loves to be hugged and cared about
Who feels alone often and yet can walk among you
I am the woman who aches to be cared about but can’t ask
Who wants to reach out to the world but can’t take the step
I am the woman who wants to be there but not quite sure where
Who walks among you but doesn’t always feel there
I am the woman who feels gratitude for being and surviving
Who dances through life and yet needs to be rocked
I am the woman who wants to cry out loud but no tears will come
Who asks, “Who am I?”
I am the woman who walks with purpose but wants no goals
Who comforts but wants holding
I am the woman who knows how to give but can’t quite take
And so I am the woman that many know but don’t know who I am

I stand before you reaching out on paper
Because I am the Black woman who must hold up her world
But know that I am the woman whose strength covers her deepest pain
And so send me sprinkles of joy and laughter I can grasp
Each time I need my heart to sing
“It is well.  It is well with my soul!”

        © Hilda Ward, 2017

Birds on the wing
from Pixabay via Wikimedia Commons