It Could Go Either Way

Imagine a life in reverse
through quantum entanglement’s grip
that’s moving from better to worse
aboard an impetuous ship.

Technology’s ready to fly
above the unknown for a cure
to human advance gone awry,
but what if we cannot endure?

Unless we start pulling together
in pooling resources to last,
the future’s unlikely to tether
our tenuous link to the past.

Survival is never a given
if progress is avarice-driven.

2023 Mary Boren
View discussion.

Inspired by the sci-fi novels of Douglas E. Richards and A.G. Riddle, who responsibly explore such themes as emerging technology, AI, the singularity, quantum physics, time travel, medicine, ecology, and human nature with an equal measure of despair and optimism.

Wealth vs. Worth

“We will all go together when we go.” – Tom Lehrer, 1959

When the seers and prophets of old
saw the future, they boldly foretold
of utopian dreams,
disregarding regimes
being bolstered by glorified gold.

Greater power and wealth manifest
has primarily guided the quest
in the barbarous march
under history’s arch
all the way from the East to the West.

In a world that has waited too long
to unite, the misfortunate throng
is unable to pass
the omnivorous class
that has gotten it horribly wrong.

So humanity lurks on the brink
of a terminal failure to link
all the money on earth
to a semblance of worth
as it circles a nuclear sink.

2023 Mary Boren
View discussion.

Loose Fitting Garment

“Wear your ego like a loose fitting garment.” – Buddhist proverb

My ego bows before us
neither witty nor astute
attired in nothing formal—
just a simple birthday suit.

For having shed the layers
of its standard-issue clothes
assigned upon arrival,
bluster cannot strike a pose.

Raw ego knows its purpose
is to pacify the id
while challenging the toddler
to outgrow the foolish kid.

And in that conscious effort
it will follow me through time
as mentor and protector
to facilitate the climb.

But often I’m too wimpy
to embrace what lies ahead.
I dress my ego gaudily,
and hide behind instead.

2023 Mary Boren
View discussion.

Resolutions Schmezzolutions

“May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions.” —Joey Adams

I wish you supreme mental health
in the pleasure of being yourself
for there’s nobody else who can do it.
May you boldly decide to come through it
unscathed by the false expectations
imposed upon new generations.

In the futile commitment to change
as if thinking alone could arrange
your unique DNA to work better,
there’s a trap that serves only to fetter
your link to the fullest extension
of you without vain intervention.

So before you fall prey to the guff
that your essence is less than enough
to equip you for finding fulfillment
released in the deepest distillment
of innocence, peace, and humaneness
within, just say no to insaneness.

2023 Mary Boren
View discussion.

Family Labor of Love

With hammer, saw, and simple plans,
our daddy brought the skillful hands
to build a cabin in her pride
plus all the furniture inside.

Our mama had a role to fill
in hauling lumber up the hill
as she and Uncle Buddy rode
on back to anchor down the load.

Once, perched atop the pickup bed
while Daddy drove full-speed ahead,
the lumber slid and so did they
for downhill surfing all the way.

With many hands, all work is light.
When time arrived to clear the site
of lumber scraps and small debris,
they all pitched in; not so with me.

For Daddy said that none of us
must help unwillingly, and thus
I once invoked the right to shirk
my contribution to the work.

But seated on a log I squirmed
as, soon thereafter, conscience burned.
I heaved a sigh and pursed my lips,
then joined the crew to pick up chips.

1995 Mary Boren
View discussion.

A Third Road

with apologies to Frost

America’s late poet laureate
once needled a buddy to simply choose
a passage exploring how far we get
with one or the other’s divergent views.
He wasn’t prepared for the aftermath.

For whispers of arrogance run beneath
our social conditioning to excel
by mounting a treadmill with gritted teeth
and, trapped in a circle of private hell,
ignoring the choice of another path.

And words have a way of their own to rake
a kernel of wisdom, then strip it clean
of nuance and humor to overtake
subliminal depth in an unforeseen
direction in terms of equivalence.

Though neither’s inherently right or wrong
a march to the beat of a broken tune
obscuring the music within the song
will squander a glorious afternoon
and that can make all the difference.

2022 Mary Boren
View discussion.

You’re probably misreading Frost’s most famous poem.

Wake-Up Call

Suppose the power brokers of the world
are not the politicians we elect
to do the people’s bidding on the stage?
What if instead, identities unknown
are hovering in shadows, pulling strings
in turn — precision choreography
perfected long ago on training grounds
unbound by borders. Privileged by birth
alone, they’d hold the legacies amassed
beyond the reach of fundamental laws.

If that’s the case, imagine how they’d stifle
the growth of motivation to awaken
the consciousness of independent thinkers.

2022 Mary Boren
View Discussion

Conversation Between My Eyes

“I see a healthy couple standing there
barefooted, soon to pace unsullied sands
along the peaceful shoreline, holding hands,
invigorated by the morning air.
I feel the love they share.”

“You must be daft! Delusional! Insane!
There’s nothing but a stretch of barren beach
as far as Eye can see. Beyond the reach
of colorless monotony’s domain
lies tedious terrain.”

2022 Mary Boren
View Discussion

Aqueducts

“Are you a cul-de-sac or a channel?” – Nancy Woods

A home is offered on a cul-de-sac
located at the bottom of a hill.
The carpet, furniture, and bric-a-brac
would be at risk in heavy rainfall; still,
it seems a pleasant place to live.  I’m told
the problem’s not the overwhelming type,
since rising water’s easily controlled
by channeling. The groundwork’s laid, each pipe
is needed in its place as, drop by drop,
the depths are filled to bring one thirsty plant
a crucial chance to flourish.  Dammed up top,
however, they won’t hold a trickle.  (Can’t.)

Imagine a supreme communal force
with every channel flowing from its source.

2002 Mary Boren
View Discussion

Surface Disburbances

A pebble skipped across a pond
incites a hectic scene
until the ripples spread beyond
the center of the screen.

An incident that floods a mind
with bitterness can dredge
impediments unless we find
discernment on the edge.

When stillness or resistance calls
between opposing views,
the shadow of perception falls
wherever people choose

2022 Mary Boren
View Discussion

A Different Box of Chocolates

The flavor of a box of candy tries
to overwhelm the message it delivers.
Don’t bring me one unless you want my thighs
to wear it as a clue to thoughtless givers.

Acknowledging that tryptophan succeeds
in tactics to manipulate emotion,
I’d rather know an item meets my needs
than artificially compels devotion.

So pay attention when the signs are clear
on who I am compared to what you thought
and (any day but Valentine’s) appear
with pieces of yourself, not what you bought.

Forget the standard candy, flowers, jewels,
and give me something useful — power tools!

2022 Mary Boren
View Discussion

To the Selective Hearer

It seems I can’t advance a smidgen closer
to clarify precisely what was meant.
While other speakers tend to wax verboser
in lieu of true rapport, I’ll take the hint.

If cluelessness precludes communication,
I’ll make a faithful effort to review
or paraphrase, but layered obfuscation
can dominate a player’s hearing too.

Ignore me if you must — pretend I stuttered,
then lay the blame according to your need.
My words will not be offered drawn and buttered,
or spoon-fed, tossed with dressing, fricasseed.

For even if I sweeten and de-fat ’em,
I cannot understand ’em for you, madam.

2022 Mary Boren
View Discussion

Don’t Let Go the Rope, America

While the churches keep turning a back
on compassion, condoning the pack
of unholy behavior
that summons no savior
for immigrants under attack…

and the health of the nation’s in peril
because of increasingly feral
resistance to glean
benefits of vaccine
to encompass the whole human barrel…

and the workers are saddled with debt
by the predator class who abet
exploitation of minions
by driving opinions
that fairness to all is a threat…

and with few on alert to the whiff
of the greedy tyrannical skiff
that’s engaging the motors
to overthrow voters,
democracy’s over a cliff.

Lest we lose any semblance of hope
while unrolling the last foot of rope,
tie a knot in the end
and let’s try to pretend
that we’re not on a slippery slope.

2021 Mary Boren
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Image Source

Circular Curriculum

We only have, on average, the span
of eighty-seven years to mount a quest
for wisdom steeped in life. The lesson plan
is stacked against the odds we’ll pass the test.

For some, the obstacles occur at birth
before the child has drawn a second gasp
and never cease, while others’ inner worth
is nurtured from the gate to final grasp.

But if distracted by the siren call
of fame and fortune, don’t expect to reach
the summit of serenity. The fall
of hubris supersedes us in the breach.

And any course curtailed before it’s done
will be extended for another run.

2021 Mary Boren
View Discussion

Can You Live Without that Gizmo?

For the season,
instead of rewarding the greed
in the shadow
of corporate gluttons who feed
on consumers like candy,
help someone in need.

With the message
of Thanksgiving lost on the grounds,
reconsider
the noise that unceasingly pounds
on the spirit of sharing
as profit abounds.

In the absence
of empathy, avarice thrives.
You are hoarding
enough for the legions of lives
who are trapped in the chasm
til justice arrives.

2021 Mary Boren
View Discussion

Liberation

When agents of oppression rise
like buzzards under cloudy skies
to sabotage you in the steeplechase,
remember cheaters can’t compete
with fairness in the final heat
so leave it up to fate to set the pace.
In time, you’ll either forge ahead

or abandon the rules of the race
and relinquish your rider instead.

2021 Mary Boren
View Discussion

Photo Source: As racehorse death toll continues to rise, Congress moves to salvage the ‘sport of kings’

Resilience

There’s a corner in the basement
where nocturnal creatures spawn
mortal fear that renders optimism sparkless,
but the balance born of nature
in the crucible of dawn
is reserved for those who waited through the darkness.

Human history is littered
with unspeakable events
that would justify eternal condemnation
but a nucleus of dreamers
rising up to love’s defense
can emerge from any faithless generation.

As the curtain falls on freedom
through the apprehensive night,
may a unifying spirit find us banded
with rejuvenated purpose.
Let it lead us to the light
where impossibility is countermanded.

2021 Mary Boren
View Discussion

What the Tree Taught Me

When I witness your existence
as you navigate the distance
from the origin of purpose to the peak,
I am humbled by persistence
past the line of least resistance
in your resolute pursuit of what you seek.

While invincibly curtailing
paralytic fear of failing
you are crushing obstacles along the path.
Does the mountain you are scaling
lead to summit views unveiling
the reward for struggle in its aftermath?

Let us climb the hill together
as we both escape the tether
of conditioning that binds us to our birth,
for the thesis isn’t whether
we are made of wood or leather
but how feathered faith can soar above the earth.

2021 Mary Boren
View Discussion

Momentum

If you’ve ever rolled beside an eighteen-wheeler
while the traffic signal’s hovering on red
then you’ve noticed how the driver will maneuver
in anticipation of the road ahead.

From his lofty vantage point he can determine
how to coax the engine into keeping pace,
when to shift into a lower gear or idle
as the looming obstacle demands its space.

His experience has taught that slight adjustments
can result in smoother passage through the scene
and with any luck he’ll correlate his movement
with the crucial moment red returns to green.

The imperative to keep the big wheels turning
isn’t just for show. It’s practical and wise
to elude a full-on stop, conserving fuel.
Starting over takes more energy to rise.

If the call of forward motion guides your quest,
may you never break momentum in your rest.

2020 Mary Boren
View Discussion

Trading Races

“When you have only ever experienced privilege, equality feels like oppression.” ― Adam Rutherford

Here’s Karen, captured from a foreign realm,
stacked in a leaky vessel through a storm
where all the crew, from cargo hold to helm,
were black and bold, the undisputed norm.

She’s told to buckle down and never whine
about the weight of sorrow on her back
from stolen heritage. “What’s yours is mine,”
they say, “we’ve set you on an equal track.”

But drowning in an ocean fraught with tears
or stranded in a desert parched with thirst,
the vestige of oppression through the years
can never fade until the tide’s reversed.

Why should it threaten them if she demands
a sign that someone sees and understands?

2020 Mary Boren
View Discussion

Cascadia, 2025

Shades of Twenty-Twenty vision
lie beneath abandoned cities
packed with disregarded lessons
of the centuries before.
Finally the veil has lifted,
there’s a purpose in tomorrow
and the memories are fading
from the year that brought the war.

Looking forward to commencement,
parties, proms, and lazy summer
leading into jobs or college,
we were only seventeen.
Some of us were undecided,
some had mapped a certain future
in the pattern of their parents.
Others saw behind the screen.

Since we entered kindergarten
we’d been tested, used, and herded
for political agendas
on the nation’s shrinking stage
so it wasn’t unexpected
when democracy imploded
in a world already reeling
from the chaos of the age.

Virus after virus followed,
claiming half the population.
News from other countries filtered
slowly through the riot zone
’til the power grid was severed.
While democracy imploded
we were scrabbling for survival.
Now we live on wits alone.

Here I stand, the single remnant
from a family of seven,
flanked by unified companions
whose intention can increase
coexistence with the planet.
Taking only what is needed,
with the help of one another
we will make a lasting peace.


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2020 Mary Boren
View Discussion

Stand Up and Be Counted!

Once to every thinking person
comes a moment to decide
whether to improve or worsen
life for those who share the ride.

In a culture populated
equally by right and wrong,
half are glorified; half hated.
All must rise to get along.

Those who choose the path of kindness
have a duty to the horde
lacking empathy whose blindness
simply cannot be ignored.

Never will the sound of silence
in the wake of cruel deeds
be acceptable. Nonviolence
doesn’t mean “abandon needs”.

Standing up for truth and justice,
quell the panic, lest we fall
for a web of lies that thrust us
straight into the devil’s thrall.

Citizen of earth and nation
striving for the common good,
raise a thundering vibration
over every neighborhood.

Only in a coalition
born of passionate desire
can a movement gain volition
going forward through the fire.


2020 Mary Boren
View Discussion

The two opening lines are borrowed from a hymn written by James Russell Lowell in 1845.

Hello 2020

A fading dream’s elusive silhouettes
dance softly on my window shade at dawn
to remnants of a half-remembered song
as if to nudge awake what time resets.

So down a labyrinthine corridor
I chase the animated shadow’s tail
with pure intentionality, yet fail
to reinvent the guise it wore before.

You say the pragmatist within me knows
its visage drips with jewel-studded strands
parading on the stage with sick demands,
but I reject the path that poser goes.

For January brings a reckoning
in rituals to renovate the soul.
With White Stone Meditation / Burning Bowl
the decade waits, its promise beckoning.


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2020 Mary Boren
View Discussion

Style and Substance

(After A. B. ‘Banjo’ Paterson’s “Ambition and Art“)

Style

I am the vessel that boldly glides
through seas uncharted,
lending a shape to the open sides
where craft is started.

Splitting the distance from east to west
in measured portions,
ride the peripheral ocean crest
without distortions.

Tossed near the shore of Eternity
where dreams are thrashing,
trust in the union of form and free
to keep from crashing.

Substance

Come to me under the stars and bring
your shining essence.
Nothing uncommonly bright takes wing
without your presence.

Whisper the secrets the angels tell
behind the curtain,
music and magic to gently quell
the lust for Certain.

Enlightenment voyages wispily,
its scent alluring,
bathed in the fathoms of mystery
that’s all enduring.

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2018 Mary Boren
View discussion.

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!”

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2017 Mary Boren
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Watchers

Eating popcorn at the movie,
gasping at the gruesome scenes
satisfies a dormant longing:
life by artificial means.

In the field of entertainment,
chaos brings its own reward.
Heightened senses lust for drama
manifest in gun and sword.

Watchers trapped within the frenzy
clamor in a common voice.
Re-emerging from the darkness
offers up a brighter choice.

When the world jumps out of focus,
squint your eyes and stand behind
someone with a crystal vision.
Let your lens be realigned.

Be the watcher watching watchers.
unaffected by the fray.
Pressing through illusion’s gauntlet,
live on purpose every day.

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2017 Mary Boren
View discussion.

Holy Instant

universe

Based on the teachings of A Course in Miracles

Behind each errant thought there hangs a thread
of continuity, a knowingness
that’s hidden by an unrelenting fear
of meaningless existence. Only in
suspended judgment can the truth emerge.
When ego is subjected to the light,
illusion evanesces. One by one,
each child of God, awakening, recalls
his rightful heritage of endless love,
for separation never has occurred.
Now, following the thread back to its source,
we see the world for what it is, a screen
projecting unreality, a blip.
The little willingness is all it takes
to conquer thought and matter, time and space.

———

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2012 Mary Boren
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The Captive

chipmunk

We crouched upon the forest floor in rapt anticipation.
Comrades and conspirators, we manned our secret station.
The object of our scrutiny was cleverly disguised:
a simple trap my daddy had ingeniously devised.

A dishpan borrowed from my mom was propped up like a lid
upon a stick from which a string led back to where we hid.
Beneath the pan, some cracker crumbs were scattered temptingly
to lure a woodland animal into captivity.

A bashful, bright-eyed chipmunk soon came sniffing at the bait.
My fingers trembled eagerly, but Daddy whispered, “Wait.”
Suspended in the stillness of the mountains’ magic sway,
I held my breath as, silently, we watched our timid prey.

At last the chipmunk ventured in — the moment had arrived!
I pulled the string and sprung the trap so cunningly contrived.
I bolted up. “We got him now!”  I squealed in pure delight,
“I’ll take him home to be my pet. He’ll sleep with me at night!”

The moment wasn’t shattered with a bossy “No, you can’t!”
This father’s skillful handling took on a different slant.
He wrapped his arm around my neck and, in a gentle voice,
began to talk about some things that might affect my choice.

That morning at the chipmunk home this scene might have occurred,
and here’s the conversation that we might have overheard:

“Oh, Mother, what a lovely day!
May I go in the woods and play?
A little girl named Mary Kay
is camping there along the way.”
I want to visit her to say
I’m glad she came and hope she’ll stay.
You say the word and I’ll obey,
but please, please Mother — say I may.”

“Now, son, I told you long ago,
you’ve got to learn to take it slow.
When meeting strangers, you don’t know
if you’ve encountered friend or foe.
But Mary Kay sounds nice, and so
I’ll take a chance and let you go.
Don’t give me cause for worry, though.
Be home before the sun is low.”

He then described the mother as she stood out by the gate
to call her kids to supper … but the youngest one was late.
And even at that moment,  unaware of what we’d done,
the frantic chipmunk mother would be searching for her son.

Before he got the last words out I felt so mean and low,
with teardrops streaming down my face I hollered, “LET HIM GO!

* * * * *

As we released our little friend,
I’m sure my dad suppressed a grin.
The maestro knew that, once again,
he’d played me like a violin.

His subtle sensitivity,
did more than set a chipmunk free —
it found the lock and turned  the key
to liberate the best in me.

The child in me will still refuse
a rigid list of don’ts and dos,
but what a difference in my views
when I’m allowed the chance to choose.

I thank the Lord for giving me
a father wise enough to see
the greatest gift will always be
extended voluntarily.

———

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1990 Mary Boren
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Ego Begone!

fluffy-weeds-1

When you’ve plowed up a furrow of doubt, dropped the seeds
of distress and despair in my spirit,
I’ll wager you’re proud of the fine crop of weeds
you have sown, daring peace to come near it.

Then you slink in the shadows, applauding your plot
as the proof of your own co-existence:
Illusion made manifest, wholeness forgot
while I struggle with human subsistence.

If my only device was a temporal mind,
then each falsehood might grow unrefuted,
but steeped in eternity, reaching behind
your disguise, it’s a snap to uproot it.

———

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2003 Mary Boren
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Calling

NASA-1996-sunrise_apollo

I have fulfilled my purpose
when I cease to wonder …

Why am I here?
Am I doing this right?
What does tomorrow hold?

… when I can sit in stillness
and lose all sense of self in …

the song of a wren,
the rustle of leaves,
and the colors of sunrise.

I have reached the fullest expression
of human experience
when I can …

fix nothing,
forgive everyone,
and let go of everything.

I have not been suspended in a body
to learn, grow, excel, repent, or conquer.
My sole purpose in this incarnation is simply …

to wake up.

———

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2011 Mary Boren
View Discussion

Window Magic

When smudges, smears, and streaks create
an outer-inner stir,
refocus on the garden gate;
let circumstances blur.

Decisiveness can train the eyes
to look between and through.
Beyond each imperfection lies
an unobstructed view.

So disregard the corner where
the creeping web is spun,
for only in illusion’s snare
can lies obscure the sun.

And peace awaits the mind that’s free
of misperceived reality.

———

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2006 Mary Boren
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Poof

“I am never upset for the reason I think.” – A Course in Miracles

When the hairdresser clips you entirely too close;
when your child shows a penchant for sass;
when the seminar speaker is waxing verbose;
when your hero falls flat on his ass …
and a flood of emotion’s creating a stink
in your mind, STOP! Consider the fact
that you’re never upset for the reason you think.
You can choose how you want to react.

If you scrape off the crust of resentment or rage,
you’ll uncover a cowering imp
that is clutching a plagiarized script. On the stage,
he’s an icon. Exposed, he’s a wimp.
His persona’s all hype — “too ferocious to tame” —
but he only appears to exist
in the absence of love. Simply call him by name,
“little fear,” and he’ll fade into mist.

———

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2010 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.