Descartes Before Dehorse

The mistress cracks a psychic whip, and he,
a blinder-fitted plodding workhorse bound
by honor, hopes to find a patch of ground
that won’t give way beneath his hoof. To be
or not to be, his sole identity
derives from someone leading him around
in circles, heaping judgment pound for pound
with unequivocating certainty.

He’d never think of putting up a fight,
for every time he jumps, she lifts the bar
to keep his motivation locked up tight,
convinced that it can never venture far
from her own brand of patent black-and-white
philosophy, “I think, therefore you are.”

 

cc-by-nc-nd  2001 Mary Boren

 

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The Preacher’s in the Parlor

I’m hidin’ in the barn. They’re droppin’ in
at suppertime and Papa’s lookin’ green.
Ol’ Skeeter’s broke his leash and fled the scene.
Deliver us from bible-thumpin’ kin!

Aunt Smerka Lott’s a vision: beehive hair
and buttoned up plumb shut from chin to sole
‘cep one long finger waggin’ through a hole
waist-high. (I wouldn’ guess what’s under there.)

Now Mama comes and drags me by the neck
into the parlor. Uncle Filler Buster
is warmin’ up to toss his well-worn cluster
of pearls before us pigs. Oh Holy Heck!

I pray, “Dear Lord, please hurry. They deserve
to be called home.” God’s workin’ up the nerve.

 

 

cc-by-nc-nd  2003 Mary Boren

 

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Job Security

 

Adaptable, dependable, designed
explicitly to fill a threaded slot,
you serve, content to be yourself. You’re not
a bolt, but when some nut gets in a bind,
you’ll spiral in if qualified. Maligned
and snickered-at behind your back? So what?
Opinions turn you neither cold nor hot —
that’s not the way your character’s defined.

For whether long or short or fat or thin,
or backing out or boldly pressing through,
the key is in the willingness to spin
according to the job one’s called to do.
Humanity could learn a lesson in
the perseverance of a lowly screw.

 

cc-by-nc-nd  2003 Mary Boren

 

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The Disappearance of Limits

“Somewhere in the cosmos, perhaps, intelligent life may be watching these lights of ours aware of what they mean… or do our lights wander a lifeless cosmos, unseen beacons announcing that here on our rock, the universe discovered its existence?” – Stephen Hawking

The mental giant in a metal chair
resided in a multi-layered sphere
beyond our grasp, as we who simply stare
into the heavens, wondering if here
is all there is. He brought the world a gift
enfolded in a cryptic paradigm,
unwrapped in subtle stages for a shift
in scientific thought on space and time.

The message of the multiverse is veiled
in gossamer and lace, with calico
and pleated velvet drapes that have assailed
our curiosity, but this I know:
Illusion born of suffering absconds
when consciousness is freed from mortal bonds.

 

cc-by-nc-nd  2018 Mary Boren

 

Image by Mitchell Toy

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To the Song of the Cosmos

Your melody’s transporting me away
to sunrise in a candy-coated land
where no one suffers at another’s hand.
You offer me serenity to stay.
I’m tethered to the protoplasmic clay
you fashioned from the void. I’ve always planned
to hitch a ride back home. You understand
my murmurings in spite of what I pray.

But I’ll decline the invitation while
my fellow travelers are left to grieve,
for who would sing your words if I should leave?
I’ve given them the only things I had
to share, a simple sonnet and a smile.
I’ll catch you on the flipflop. Don’t be sad.

 

 

 

cc-by-nc-nd  2018 Mary Boren

 

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Leader

"Namaste" by Thom Ricks

If you can set your biases aside
to champion what’s compassionate and just,
and value every member of your tribe
as if you’d given birth to each of us;
awakening to true community,
not rushing into battle unprepared,
but seeking out a path to unity
when sleepers’ predatory fangs are bared,
and forging through the darkness to the source
of light, replenishing your spirit when
the mantle sags, thus modeling the course
of energy infused with wisdom, then…

I’ll follow you with every nerve and bone
to places I’m afraid to go alone.

 

cc-by-nc-nd  Mary Boren, 2017

 

Painting by Thom Ricks

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On a Gusty Day in December

Atop a ladder, Jack, with hair askew
and frownful countenance, leaned in to fend
away resistance. Wrestling with the wind
to hang the Christmas baubles, temper too
acquired momentum. As his banner flew,
three letters pirouetted out to bend
around his backside, shining end to end.
A passer quipped, “Does JOY live there with you?”

I wonder, does it show that she has earned
a front-room space with me? A cozy bed
among the other beds, a comfy chair,
a plate — so little asked, so much returned.
In peaceful co-existence, Anger, Dread
and Sorrow hold their tongues when Joy is there.

 

cc-by-nc-nd Mary Boren, 2001

 

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Pride and Privilege

“Don’t tear that statue down! It represents
my heritage.” The Civil War still rages.
Although it ended, losers ever since
have sabotaged the bleak and bloody pages
of history. The altered facts we swallowed
have been exposed to light and judged a ruse
to whitewash the atrocities that followed.

The symbols we so carelessly confuse
with patriotic zeal across the board
from founding days are neither right nor good —
they’re remnants of a past to be abhorred
by those “endowed” with three-fifths personhood.

And liberty is just an empty word
until each citizen is seen and heard.

 

cc-by-nc-nd  Mary Boren, 2017

 

Photo source and more info on the history of confederate statues

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Origin

William_Blake_Eve_Tempted_by_the_Serpent

Did Planet Earth evolve from random bits
of space debris intensively colliding
in willy-nilly fashion as befits
the current state of omnipresent fighting?

Does the existence here of you and me
derive from Capricana’s first manned landing?
A Legend of Creation holds the key
for those demanding doubtless understanding.

Before a single footprint punched the soil
foreshadowing humanity’s uniqueness,
a serpent was positioned to uncoil
the moment opportunity met weakness.

The Maker softly sighed and shook Her head,
“I wish I’d fashioned something else instead.”

 

cc-by-nc-nd  Mary Boren, 2017

 

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Beneficence

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.

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