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.


cc-by-nc-nd  Mary Boren, 2009



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.


cc-by-nc-nd Mary Boren,  2013

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?


cc-by-nc-nd Mary Boren,  2002

A Love-Hate Relationship

Silhouette Man Woman Window

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!


cc-by-nc-nd  Mary Boren, 2000

Public Domain Photo

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.


cc-by-nc-nd  Mary Boren, 2011

Photo Source

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.


cc-by-nc-nd  Mary Boren, 2009

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.




cc-by-nc-nd  1998 Mary Boren


Own photo circa 1958

View discussion on this poem.

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.

cc-by-nc-nd  2002 Mary Boren

Photo Source

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.


cc-by-nc-nd Mary Boren, 2014

Photo Source

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

A Wagon Without Springs

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.


cc-by-nc-nd Mary Boren, 2014