“Be a feather on the breath of God.” -Hildegard of Bingen

Breathed into being by God’s unbound
I am the essence of everything
in all creation,
destined to soar on an eagle’s wing
above the ranges,
gracefully drifting beyond the sound
of seasons’ changes.

I am a thread in the downy quilt,
beside my brothers,
sheltering nestlings from biting cold
when darkness hovers.
Pivotal, temporal tides may fold
but not destroy me,
borne on an aerodynamic lilt
to guide and buoy me.

I am the spirit of east to west
in acquiescence,
trusting the flow of the breeze that fanned
my holy presence.
Once I am given to understand
the art of sailing,
I will return to the place of rest
through God’s inhaling.



2006 Mary Boren
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Because of what you do for me,
I’m looking at the mystery
of life and death through cloudless eyes
as waves of gratitude arise
like billows on the sea.

Though once a hollow absentee,
because of what you do for me,
now present and accounted for,
I stand upon an endless shore,
connected to the tide.

All cares are jettisoned aside
to follow you, my friend and guide.
Because of what you do for me,
ineffable serenity
dislodges groundless doubt.

A transformation comes about
as miracles are measured out
with love in limitless degree
because of what you do.  For me
the difference is clear.

And should the shadows reappear,
you’re here to help me face down fear
and lead me home again. My flaws
are minimized to size because
of what you do for me.



2011 Mary Boren
View discussion.

Backup Plan

Come along if you’d like and we’ll roam,
but take warning, for I’m the exception
to folks with a sense of direction.
I’ll be lucky to find my way home,
but I’m thinking of sallying forth
with the front of the car facing north
so the south will be always behind.
If my formula’s put to the test,
there’s no option to veer east or west,
but as long as we’re focused, we’ll find
destinations galore on our quest.

So, while I and my passenger guest
are observing the roadway unwind
straight ahead, never stopping to rest
(with our knuckles and bladders compressed)
we will know we’re correctly aligned.
When we reach the Canadian shore,
we’ll reverse the procedure.  Once more
with the car pointing north on its own,
here’s a plan that will lead to perfection
as gears make their backup connection
clear down to the tropical zone.



2010 Mary Boren
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Aunt Crabby Speaks to the Officer

(With apologies to Robert Frost.)

Whose shoes are these? I’d like to know,
and whichaway’d that rascal go?
He left a soggy mess behind.
All dressed in black from head to toe,
he’d naught but mischief on his mind.
I saw him peekin’ through the blind
while I was gettin’ into bed.
When you investigate, you’ll find
he tripped across the sprinkler head
and lost his sneakers when he fled.

I watched the water spew and spew.
My garden’s trampled, roses dead—
there’s nothin’ left for you to do.
But if the fool comes sneakin’ through,
tonight, I’ll shoot his socks off too.
Tonight, I’ll shoot his socks off too.



2012 Mary Boren
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Image by hollykl  AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved



Close your eyes and feel the stillness,
stillness in the morning air.
Morning is for soft reflection —
light reflects without the glare.

In the glare of busy hours,
hours spent in toil and grind
grind to dust your mortal fullness,
fully binding bone and mind.

Mind the body. Sleep, awaken
through the wake of days before.
Soon, before today can claim you,
claim it for your heart and soar.

Soar above your active planning,
plans and thoughts aside, inhale
hailing blessings wrought in silence,
silently behind the veil.

Now, availed of inner hearing,
hear the robin, smell the rose.
Rise and face the day replenished.
Plenty clings to twilight’s close.



2011 Mary Boren
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At the Pinnacle

The lifting is assisted by a jump,
so eager is the package to arrive.
He’s landing on the platform with a thump
and smoothly shifting into hyperdrive.

As if to celebrate his two-year span
of time among the mortals, at a height
unprecedented, toddling Mini-Man
ascends the ladder to his launching site.

A sunbeam, filtered through his wispy hair,
cannot begin to match the light that’s dawned
upon his face. How better to prepare
a child for living, earthbound and beyond?

The joy inherent in a playground slide
is not the destination, it’s the ride.



2001 Mary Boren
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At the Clinic


She registered with casual aplomb,
then, with the other patients, took a seat
and, patiently as well, began to thumb
through magazines.  She never missed a beat.

Each jaw went slack; each eyeball turned to stare
in unison. They judged her overripe
for fundamental psychiatric care.
(An illness of the vegetative type.)

Her name is called. (To be pronounced deluded?)
As if she thought it proper to appear
in public thus: a celery stalk protruded
from both her nostrils, carrots from each ear.

Undaunted by this diagnostic plight,
the doctor said: “You’ve not been eating right.”



2000 Mary Boren
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An “If” for Elders

If you can smile when met with “How ya doing?”
and skip the vain recital of your ills;
can feed your body healthy stuff, eschewing
the couch when steps can take the place of pills:

If you can reminisce without digressing,
can listen to a fussy baby squall
and, flinching, still consider it a blessing
to hear and see and taste and feel at all:

If you can watch a younger person flounder
and not usurp responsibility;
if, judging no one, pimp or pulpit-pounder,
you trust the love of God to oversee:

Then disregard the ravages of time
and take a bow, old sage, you’re in your prime.



2006 Mary Boren
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Address to PTSD

As wounded soldiers convalesce
and diagnostic tools progress,
your menace, Post Traumatic Stress,
must be endured.
We’re seeing more and knowing less
on how you’re cured.

For though the body may be whole,
when memories exact their toll
on thinking, you erode the soul
with frozen screams.
Anxiety usurps control
of conscious streams.

O malady of modern days,
you paint a picture that portrays
demolished dreams, a deep malaise
that’s darker than
the radiance of hope ablaze
in heaven’s span.

But, lifting up each terrified,
mistreated child, each battered bride
and broken man to safety’s side
above the storm,
we pray that healing far and wide
becomes the norm.



2012 Mary Boren
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A Hand Up

A cattle trailer stops, my scooter swerves …
but not enough. Within a blink, my wrist
is shattered, zapping tendons, muscles, nerves
and ligaments—equipment sorely missed.
A hundred years ago, there would have been
two choices: cut it off or let it dangle,
a shriveled, lifeless paw. Now, skillful men
and women have the know-how to untangle
a royal mess. Through microsurgery,
the bones are reconstructed. Months and days
of exercise, massage and therapy
work wonders, proving optimism pays.

They gave a hand. I raise it as a sign
of readiness to serve. It’s God’s, not mine.



2009 Mary Boren
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I stand indicted, vilified, convicted
on fabricated evidence entwined
with figments of scenarios depicted
as gospel in the cauldron of your mind.

“I hate you” metamorphs into “Don’t leave”
in seven seconds flat, and back around.
A roller coaster ride without reprieve,
chaotic sand becomes the common ground.

And following the trail of devastation
along the tracks of torn relationships
that hinge on black-and-white evaluation,
the cargo’s tossed each time the balance tips.

But even through the worst you say and do,
I never will renounce my love for you.



2013 Mary Boren
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Filter’s Kilter

The booming Information Age presents
a private view of limitless terrain
to each who holds a keyboard. What’s to gain?
Enlightenment? Fulfillment? An immense
renewal of the spirit? Is the dense
uncharted undergrowth a deeper plane
or virtual excuse to feed the brain
at garbage heaps? What’s your experience?

Pretend, for fifteen minutes, what we do
is all suit up and gather on the court
of mental exercise (for health, for peace)
to think on “whatsoever things are true
and honest, just and pure, of good report.”
Do you suppose cacophony could cease?



2002 Mary Boren
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A Love-Hate Relationship

You wooed me with your promise that conveyed
an image guaranteed to please the crowd.
Your haughty head, as yet, remains unbowed
but flashy trinkets, trips, and games we’ve played
have given me a reason not to trade.
Can’t help myself—I’m programmed to enshroud
complaints in realism. (I’m not proud.)
You’re powerful and rich. You’ve got it made.

As Helen Keller said, “God never shuts
a door without a window opening.”
But fools like me won’t choose stability
instead of you because, confined to ruts,
we’re operating on a hope and wing.
You devil, Microsoft, you’re killin’ me!


2000 Mary Boren
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Out of the Mire

In the throes of a mid-life transition,
assuming the victim position
of nursing my wound
boomeranged and ballooned
to a doleful, disabling condition.

Though reluctant, I soon reconsidered
the lure of self-pity that glittered
like stars in the night
and I chose, through the plight,
to be bettered instead of embittered.


2011 Mary Boren
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Westward Ho Hum

Fort Stockton to El Paso is a band
of grey that looms ahead. The scenery
consists of asphalt, scrub mesquite, and sand,
unbroken by a sprig of greenery.
A panoply of mesas, bluffs, and buttes
stands sentinel in silent, treeless sway,
as if the elements are in cahoots
to spare the drowsy driver an array
of visual alerts. But don’t assume
this seen-a-slice-you’ve-seen-it-all terrain
should be avoided: Boredom might exhume
reflection. Minds that wander on the plain
can cycle unexpectedly when dials
are set for miles and miles of miles and miles.


2009 Mary Boren
View discussion.

I used to say the scenery in West Texas is all in the sky, but these photos put that assertion to the test.

A Baby Boomer’s Beat

I’m thankful for the freedom
and the wherewithal to do
some things that bring me pleasure,
such as being here with you.
The simplest way that I can find
to make my story clear
is offering examples
of the memories held dear:

The thrill of catching polliwogs
and lightnin’ bugs, the sound
of crickets on the riverbank
beside our camping ground,
my daddy on vacation when
he’d let his whiskers grow,
the shadows on the faces
in the fire, the afterglow.

My mama’s laugh, her stylish bangs
(like Mamie Eisenhower’s),
the way I learned to cook and sew
by watching her, the flowers
I counted on the bedroom wall,
the smell of line-dried sheets,
the poodle skirts, the hula hoops,
and soda fountain treats.

The 1950s musicals
where folks burst out in song
and dance right in the middle
of a dialogue, the strong
and rugged, square-jawed heroes
of The West whose sense of right
was always unmistakable
because their hats were white.

As simple things contributed
to who I would become,
a gentle rhythm underscored
each breath. (ta-DUM ta-DUM)
If everyone conversed in
metered rhyme, like me, I’d think
I’d died and gone to heaven.
Here, I’m resting on the brink.


1998 Mary Boren
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Categorized as All Poems

Use and Care Manual

If my body is a temple
for the Spirit of the Lord,
who’s responsible for keeping
every window, tile and board
in presentable condition,
as befitting royalty?
I’m that nonchalant custodian
entrusted with a key.

The deposit has been covered
with a waiver for the rent.
Grace secured for me a mansion;
I’ve disguised it in a tent.
Curtains sewn from silk and velvet
hang like tattered calico.
Lick-and-promise doesn’t cut it
in the faded afterglow.

It’s a partnership arrangement.
No decision is coerced
from an occupant who doesn’t
choose to serve the Owner first.
But the maintenance is easy
when the basics are obeyed:
His to flood the place with Heaven’s light,
and mine to raise the shade.


2002 Mary Boren
View discussion.

Pressure Tactics

(retelling a well-known parable)

“I don’t see how I’ll make it, Mom,” I whined.
“I’m sick of trying — frazzled, torn, and raw.”
(She never interferes or speaks her mind
unless invited.) All she said was, “Aww …

“… poor baby.” Then she spooned another egg
into the boiling water. Watching her
in quiet motion brought me down a peg.
My snivels dried. The carrots got a stir.

She poured us both a cup of coffee, then
proposed a riddle. “See what’s on each burner?
Well, how are they alike?” I scratched my chin
(to buy some time — I’m not the fastest learner).

So Mom explained: “When heated pressure surges
inside a pot of water, it will boil.
There’s nothing going through it that emerges
unchanged, unless it’s chicken fat or oil.

“A carrot goes in hard and comes out tender,
while eggs are just the opposite; they start
their boil with fragile guts, soft-shelled surrender
that toughens up. … But coffee bubbles smart.

“Its strength and color permeate the water
with flavor of its own — it steals the scene.
Now, sort things out and tell me, darling daughter:
Are you a carrot, egg, or coffee bean?”

2002 Mary Boren
View discussion.

Two Ears, One Mouth

Listening beyond the words,
catch a thread that runs the clauses.
Follow it between the sounds,
linger with it in the pauses.

Cast aside the certainties
born and bred of expectation.
Entertain the possible
in a gentle conversation.

Hidden in the openness
of a mind that ceases spinning
while it listens, quietude
leads to hearing’s true beginning.

Sentences find freedom when
ego’s lies have been suspended,
clearing space for love to thrive
in the safety net extended.



2014 Mary Boren
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Categorized as All Poems

A Wagon Without Springs

“Grim care, moroseness, anxiety,—all this rust of life, ought to be scoured off by the oil of mirth. It is better than emery. Every man ought to rub himself with it. A man without mirth is like a wagon without springs, in which one is caused disagreeably to jolt by every pebble over which it runs.” ~Henry Ward Beecher

There is much to be said for the value of squeaks
in the axles supporting the wagon
as an audible cry for attention that speaks
on the breath of a petulant dragon.

For unless we can pinpoint the source of the pain
that is causing the friction and scour it
with abrasive exertion, perpetual strain
on the bearing will soon disempower it.

Once the cleansing is finished, a coating of grease
is essential to keep the wheels rolling.
In the spread of the ointment, they find their release
and respond to a gentle cajoling.

Like preventative medicine, flexible springs
add a measure of stable protection
from the potholes and pebbles and gravity swings
that unbalance the cargo’s direction.

So be sure to maintain your conveyance with care
when you’re feeling especially rattled,
lest the unabsorbed shocks hoist the wagon midair
leaving riders completely unsettled.

2014 Mary Boren
View discussion.

Whine Not

Preparing for the journey, travel light.
Bring only what is needed for the day:
the music and its laughter at the height
of harmony with friends along the way.
Don’t take your troubles into town.
Whine not.

The baggage that is carried from the past
creates a stumbling block upon the road
as memories of hurtful things can blast
a heart to smithereens beneath the load.
Release your grudges, lay them down.
Whine not.

Tomorrow lies in wait, a subtle trap
that’s set to rob the present of its glow.
Entrust the future to the fates and lap
the nectar of The Now’s unending flow
above, below and all around.
Whine not.



2014 Mary Boren
View discussion.

Categorized as All Poems

The Young Foodie’s Alphabet

A is for an Appetite for scrumptylicious food
grown in sun and soil instead of stapled, sealed and glued.

B is for the Broccoli that looks like little trees.
Roaring like a dinosaur, I chomp their heads with ease.

C is for the Cinnamon that’s sprinkled on my toast.
All the other spices cry ’cause I love this one most.

D  is for the Dairy cow that grazes all day long
making milk and cheese that help to build my muscles strong.

E is for the Elderberry, fighting off the flu
like a little soldier in a uniform of blue.

F is for the Fava beans with pods about to pop,
bursting with the energy that makes me skip and hop.

G is for the Gardener who honors nature’s plan.
Earth cannot protect herself from fools, but humans can.

H  is for the Honeycomb that holds a golden treat
pretty as a fairy’s sunny smile and just as sweet.

I is for the Idaho potato someone found
on a farm in Kansas with its head still underground.

J is for the Juice of lemons, oranges and limes
perking up my mouth and puckering my lips at times.

K is for the Kiwi fruit that keeps my skin so creamy
I would want to kiss myself if no one else could see me.

L is for the Lettuce Leaf that makes a salad crunch.
(Only when it’s fresh enough; if not, have beans for lunch.)

M‘s for Macadamia, a heap of fun to say —
tough to crack but packed with vitamins like E and A.

N is for the other Nuts with names we love to mutter,
best of all when roasted, raw, or blended into butter.

O  is for the Onion with its layers paper thin
squeezing out their flavor for the dish we put them in.

P is for Persnickety, a word my mama uses
when I wrinkle up my nose at food that runs or oozes.

Q‘s the sign for Quinoa, packed with protein, low in fat,
bulking up a salad — I could go for some of that.

R is for the Rutabaga, something like a turnip
with a purple bonnet so its topknot doesn’t burn up.

S is for the Sweet potato. Nothing smells like heaven
half as much when two of them are baking in the oven.

T is for expensive Truffles. Those who can afford
pigs to go and dig them up are probably just bored.

U is for Unsaturated fat that comes from fishes —
better for the brain and heart and swimmingly delicious.

V is for the Vinegar that makes a zesty dressing
with a hundred other uses for the household’s blessing.

W‘s for Watermelon. Families who pause
for a summer picnic feel it dripping from their jaws.

X will mark the spot where other natural delights
wait to be discovered in a test of tasty bites.

Y of course, is You, the one who eats nutritious fare
offered by the world’s providers — those who really care.

Z is saved for last because it represents the noise
coming from the sleeping heads of healthy girls and boys.



2014 Mary Boren
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Feathers Don’t Fade

I want to be a feather in the cavalcade of art,
adrift or buffeted by bluster, never losing heart.

A mule can plow a furrow straight
with naught but fallow rows
awaiting fertile harvest while
its droppings decompose.

A school of fish can navigate
impenetrable lines,
but following the current draws
predictable designs.

So whether borne on eagle wings
or molted from a wren,
I’d rather drift aloft than be
attached to hoof or fin.

I want to fall as gently as
a whisper in the mist
delivering a summons with
a finger, not a fist.

Subjected to the elements,
a hammer head will rust —
its wooden handle petrified
of turning into dust.

But quills will still be moving in the metaphoric haze
as lanterns of enlightenment until the end of days.


2014 Mary Boren
View discussion.


In response to Grounded.

An old contented cow? There’s brighter news
today. The gloom of seven years ago
dissolved as exercise renewed the flow
of life, old pumps replaced by running shoes,
and dancing in the rain uncovered clues
to long-forgotten knowledge. Eyes aglow,
her feet find purchase on a new plateau.
Surrounding her are unobstructed views.

For being fully present is a choice.
She’s soaring now, aloft on silk and string,
skydiving on a sunny afternoon
and belting out an anthem in a voice
of gratitude beyond imagining.
The lyrics are as vivid as the tune.



2008 Mary Boren
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Hollowed Ground

A million years upon its course
the river flowed relentlessly;
unquestioning, unwavering,
it conquered all adversity.

How vain to think I stand prepared
to view the wonder Nature wrought—
this canyon in the making lies
beyond the grasp of finite thought.

Stretched rim to rim, it yet remains
a speck beneath the firmament.
Examining such depth, I feel
my smallness to its full extent.

I search my vocal repertoire,
superlatives exhausted now,
as from two lips that drip with awe
escapes a feeble whispered, “Wow.”



1998 Mary Boren
View discussion.

Having seen it only through the eyes of a child with my family in the mid-1950’s, I was privileged to return to the Grand Canyon in 1998 with family-by-choice, Bubba & Joyce.  We made a large circle through the western states to visit in person with some of the honorary “cousins” of  P.O.E.M.S., an online poetry group I hosted between 1996 and 2003.  It was an unforgettable experience on both counts.

Categorized as All Poems


I’m saving treasures in a dresser drawer:
a diaper pin, the little shoes you wore
with jingles in the laces, a barrette
still clasping strands of wispy hair. They whet
my hankering for things I can’t forget.

Before our paths converged, I held a view
of easy, unobstructed passage through
the challenges of motherhood. I knew
exactly what to do at twenty-two.

But that was long before my stumbling feet
were pressed into the coals, the searing heat
of constant battle forcing my retreat.
And though you’ve plunged my heart into despair
a thousand nights, I can’t forget to care.



2013 Mary Boren
View discussion.

Beyond Knowing

How I used to envy people
who, possessed with certitude,
soar above the plain and steeple
setting straight the misconstrued.

As a young adult, I traded
childhood spontaneity
for a rigid creed, persuaded
sure’s the only way to be.

Ultra-literal allusions
struggled to accommodate
metaphorical exclusions.
Feathers flew in hot debate.

Noisy flaps in lieu of balance
simulate a mighty whir
but, when gripped in zealot talons,
dogma’s merely tufts of fur.

Comforted by faith (the closest
place I’ve ever felt I stood
to the truth) I learned osmosis
wouldn’t make me right or good.

Soon the need for battle dwindled,
frantic worries losing steam.
Disencumberment rekindled
wonder in the Master Scheme.

Then, ostensibly regressing,
tender roots began to sprout.
I became immersed in guessing,
softly growing into doubt.



2004 Mary Boren
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Preamble to Limitless

The looking glass reveals a creaseless brow
transposed against her face to disabuse
the notion she is aging. Truth subdues
the vision. Like her hair, her youth somehow
is running down the bathtub drain, and now
her bearing and behavior (like her shoes)
are sensible. “The mirror is a ruse,”
she sighs. “I’m just an old contented cow.”

She’d planned on parachuting once, immune
to gravity. (Weak ankles redefined
the plan.) At times she cocks her head, intent
on hearing fragments of an uncaught tune
that blink and fade like fireflies in her mind.
She can’t remember how the lyrics went.


2001 Mary Boren


The annals of significance are filled
with those who like to think they walk the walk
of greatness; minds intelligent and skilled
discovering a better way to build
a world where altruism is instilled,
but few compare to Doctor Jonas Salk.

Before the halls of medicine became
a greed-infested maze, he dealt a blow
against a viral epidemic’s aim
on countless children’s lives, and in the same
unselfish act, renounced commercial claim
on steps to rid the world of polio.

He could have been a multi-billionaire
exerting his proprietary right
to patent the vaccine, denying care
to millions who could ill afford to bear
the cost. He chose, instead, to share
his brilliance like a candle in the night.



2014 Mary Boren
View discussion.

As one of the schoolchildren who benefited from the first wave of vaccinations in 1955, I am immeasurably indebted to this gifted healer and humanitarian.


GIGO Gossip Mill

“No one ever went broke underestimating the taste of the American public.” -H. L. Mencken

Call me obsolete and, if you must,
set me on a shelf to gather dust,
clinging to my Pollyanna view.
Clearly, it does not appeal to you.

Nonetheless, I’m honored to be placed
on the side of decency and taste,
asking only one concession here:
Close my eyes and face me to the rear.

No one should be forced to spend their time
watching people glop around in slime,
wallowing in cutthroat attitude,
sinking ever lower into crude.

I cannot abide that kind of stuff.
Heaven knows, sometimes it’s hard enough
clinging to belief the world still holds
for the most part, kind and gentle souls.

Though it seems perception’s gone awry,
fundamental principles apply.
Healthy minds subsist on what they’re fed:
Garbage In spills Garbage Out ahead.


2000 Mary Boren
View discussion.

Categorized as All Poems