In days of plenty, when they pass the plate,
assorted fives and twenties fall, and these
can help, but donors shoulder little weight
of suffering from hunger or disease.

In seasons when the world is steeped in woes
and inequality exacts its due
with repetitious cataclysmic blows,
the needs of many overwhelm the few.

But that’s when public spirit kicks in gear
among the open-hearted; those who spring
into the void, rejecting the veneer
of halo’s glow — true colors taking wing.

Compassion is the radiating face
of membership within the human race.


cc-by-nc-nd  Mary Boren, 2017

This was my part of a collaboration with my friend Bill Keller, in which we were challenged to take opposing sides of an issue but write as one voice. We decided on altruism, and he graciously took the con side with a reverse Shakespearean sonnet in response. Our joint effort, entitled “Give and Take”, won second place in the contest.

Photo Source Unknown

American to the Core

I stand alone, disoriented,
penniless, displaced —
a victim of the vilest storm
the Texas coast has faced.

Though long before the floods begin
receding, men with boats
arrive en masse to rescue any
living thing that floats.

Unnumbered benefactors give
their money, strength, and speed
with no concern for politics,
age, gender, race, or creed.

And Mattress Mack’s the first to offer
shelter to the horde
of sudden homeless families
the Lakeway Church ignored.

With H-E-B employees working
endless double shifts
to haul supplies and open doors,
the city’s spirit lifts.

My mother died a year ago.
I cannot find my dad
to share the agony of losing
everything we had.

All thoughts of going back to school
are shoved aside for now.
The only thing that matters is
surviving this, but how?

I’ve never known another way
of life but hand in glove
with fellow Texans honoring
this country that we love.

I’ve never held a higher goal
than study, work, and strive
to gain my legal status
by the time I’m twenty-five.

Another dream is shattering,
all hope has been aborted.
The news arrives from Washington:
“Prepare to be deported.”


cc-by-nc-nd Mary Boren, 2017

Image Source This photo is actually one of the FEMA rescuers, who could just as easily be a DREAMer.


Communicating on the fly
with empathetic protocol,
I’d lob a thought and your reply
assured me that you caught it all.

The interchange of sparkling wit
between us was a smorgasboard
of lively parlance to befit
the range of topics we explored.

But suddenly…

Everyone began to mumble;
TV’s on, the walls are shaking;
sentence fragments feint and fumble
through the loopy route they’re taking.

Funny how, as ordinary
conversation grows abstruser,
now the tone is thrust-and-parry.
Hard of hearing? No! Not you sir.

cc-by-nc-nd Mary Boren, 2017

The Psyche Takes a Break

Transported to a long abandoned hill,
the vision through a classic poet’s eyes
allows reflective drops to crystallize
in images ascending from his quill.
And, for a moment, time lies hushed and still.
The blush of first discoveries arise
in panoramic sway across the skies
with vibrant colors bending to my will.
But then despair begins to overwhelm
my senses. What’s the use of fantasy
that clings to an ethereal caress
while suffering afflicts the tarnished realm?
Encircled by the world’s insanity,
the mind deserves a holiday, I guess.

After On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer, by John Keats

cc-by-nc-nd Mary Boren, 2017

Image Source

A Can of Oops

If I could wield a monumental can
of Oops! and travel back through space and time,
I’d circle ’round the sun like Superman
obliterating planetary slime.

I’d wipe the stain from any human heart
that ever felt unworthiness and shame
and wash the tongues of any taking part
in propagating hatred in God’s name.

The odious graffiti on the wall
would melt away and metamorph into
the artistry of nature over all;
an unpolluted, unifying view.

And after false perception is destroyed,
I’d hurl the dirty rag into the void.

cc-by-nc-nd Mary Boren, 2017


Self-forgiveness is a must
in your private sanctuary.
“Authenticity or bust!”
Giving up the load you carry,
free the shutters, air the room,
bare your soul and clean the windows.
Wave like dandelions in bloom.
Choose, above the innuendos,

cc-by-nc-nd Mary Boren, 2017

Photo Source

When the World Screams

Confluences of miscommunication
are nothingness intensified by twelves,
the deafening cacophonous vibration
of people who are strangers to themselves.

I’d rather listen to the sound of silence
with all the rich inflection in its voice
that renovates the soul and quells the violence
within the human heart — a winning choice.

cc-by-nc-nd Mary Boren, 2017

Image Credit

In the Neighbor’s Orchard

(With apologies to William Blake)

A parable of enmity
unfolds beneath A Poison Tree
as animosity withheld
evolves until the foe is felled.

The grievance that is unexpressed
becomes corruption manifest
in harvest that exacts its price
from victims who will suffer twice.

Another death to celebrate,
another seed to germinate
and flourish in a toxic mix
unless contrition interdicts.

“Poetic justice,” some will say,
but vengeance tends to ricochet.
When anger grabs you by the throat,
forgiveness is the antidote.


cc-by-nc-nd Mary Boren, 2017

Image Credit

Silence is Betrayal

“There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”
The words of Doctor Martin Luther King
hang heavy in the air. Intentions fail
to halt the arc of hatred’s brutal swing.

The centuries of organized oppression
are coming to a climax. You and I
must take a stand for justice. Shy discretion
is not a virtue when the stakes are high.

As hard-won rights are carelessly dismantled
before our eyes, the growing battle zone
erupting in the streets cannot be handled
with slacktivism. None should march alone.

Resisting with a vengeance, beat the drum
and shout in unison, “The time has come!”


cc-by-nc-nd Mary Boren, 2017


Imagining we know the score,
we’re suiting up to argue for
a noble cause, but harmony
eludes the grasp of “me me me”
engaging in a psychic war.

The value placed on “more more more”
instead of peace defies the spore
evolving in humanity’s

Civility’s esprit de corps
is fading like the dinosaur
but listen, learn, and love, lest we
become the people we abhor


cc-by-nc-nd Mary Boren, 2017