Primitive Figures


(internet photo)

Her voice, a gentle breeze
softly turns my ears.
Her eyes, dark waters,
submerge her hard earned wisdom.
A newsprint roll is tucked under an armpit.
Primitive figures on colorful cards she is selling,
dance behind dirty plastic.
She brushes stray hairs from her face.

I smile across our class, our heritage, our histories.
We are two feet apart, miles away from contact.
She lowers her eyes. I squirm in my casual trappings.

I offer money to purchase her cards. I talk too fast,
smile too broad. My rabbit-hopping heart cannot
keep up to my whirling dervish mind. The heavy air is
difficult to breathe.

She chants gratitude, over and over, head bowed.
I tell her, “It is nothing, really, no problem at all.”
I leave, my center hollow,
nothing to redeem me,
nothing at all.

The Journey by Mary Oliver

One day you finally knew
what you had to do, and began,
though the voices around you
kept shouting
their bad advice – –
though the whole house
began to tremble
and you felt the old tug
at your ankles.
“Mend my life!”
each voice cried,
But you didn’t stop.
You knew what you had to do,
though the wind pried
with its stiff fingers
at the very foundations,
though their melancholy
was terrible.
It was already late
enough, and a wild night,
and the road full of fallen
branches and stones.
But little by little,
as you left their voices behind,
the stars began to burn
through the sheets of clouds,
and there was a new voice
which you slowly
recognized as your own,
that kept you company
as you strode deeper and deeper
into the world,
determined to do
the only thing you could do – –
determined to save
the only life you could save.

Cat and Mouse

It’s a game of cat and mouse.
You hide.
I seek.
You disappear,
and reappear again.
All while I am
one step

A magical illusion occurs.
I see a rabbit
lifted from a hat.
I fail to see where it goes.
I fail to see where it goes
when the magician releases the long ears.
When you stride off
I fail to see where you go.

I sigh with relief when I see your smile.
I think it is over
but off you go again.
The pattern repeats.
There is no end.
It is a game of perpetual motion
but I do not want to play anymore.
I am tired of chasing you
chasing dreams
chasing hopes for the future.

Rules keep changing to meet your needs.
Your hungry craving
to hide in the shadows
leaves me tip toeing
through muddy streets and
entering places I did not know
anyone could go.
I am scared you will
get lost and forget your way
out of the corner
that draws you
from the light.

I am afraid
that I will only fit
going in
and will not be able to wiggle
and slither
to the light of day.

It is exhausting.

I don’t want to play anymore.
You are so engrossed.

The game has taken on
a life of its own.


The pulse of a building
illuminates an inky night sky.
Lightening fast flashes
burst bright across a starless backdrop.

An undecipherable Morse Code signal
beams up and down the height of a skyscraper.

Flashing, flashing, flashing

A cry for help?
Or a beautiful electric melody
strumming to the beat of the building’s core?

The energetic light display,
seemingly erratic pulsing,
takes on a pattern.
A distinctive style mesmerizes,
a pattern holds attention
anticipating what will happen next,
a pattern hypnotizes with it’s unusual splendor.

Surging electrical charges deemed dangerous
must be brought under control.
Pulsing lights defy static,
unblinking form of surrounding buildings.
The rampant, pulsing life
needs to be reigned in,
uniqueness sacrificed.


Slip sliding
on wintry thin ice
trying to gain traction.

Bright pink running shoes
chasing from shadows.

Strategically placed lamp posts
circles of light
Islands of safety
dispersing shadows.

Bursts of fuchsia speed
pump technically clothed knees and arms.
Breath catches and releases.
Heart races faster
than rose clad feet.

stretch to touch,
encompass me.
Feet land and ricochet,
bound into next step
straining on slippery surface.

As door closes behind,
warmth of home
wraps me in a hug of familiarity.
Exhausted shoes
collapse on shelf.
Shadows fade
and are forgotten,
for the moment.

Falling Tears

Tears are falling all around me,
diamond sorrow beads
silently spilling over flushed red cheeks.

A room full of emotion
becomes a sauna as numb people gather.
Perspiration dots foreheads,
dark circles stain arm pits.

Words of comfort are spoken
while words of sorrow are swallowed
along with stagnant, suffocating air.

A youth walking
in the shadow of addiction
stepped across onto the wrong side
of the line.
In an instant his soul sped away.
Life evaporated.

Anger rises above grief.
Anger at the monster
that has come into our homes.
Anger at the beast
that has enslaved our loved ones.
Anger at the powerlessness
we have in the face of this horror.

Hot tears stream.
Heaving tears overflow.
Shocked tears splatter.

Tears are falling all around me
diamond sorrow beads
silently spilling over flushed red cheeks.