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

Soupe Au Lait

I didn’t choose a mealy-mannered man
who never makes me mad—the utter boredom
would do me in—nor would I want to can
resentments under lock and key and hoard ’em.

When tempers flare, we let the passion boil
like milk infused with onions, salt, and taters
until it nearly overflows. You’re oil,
I’m water: counterclockwise oscillators.

Then just as suddenly the flame subsides
in recognition of our equal freedom
to percolate with peeves, but love abides
in knowing when to cool instead of heat ’em.

I wouldn’t trade the flavor of the soup
that’s cooked with spices added by the scoop.

2022 Mary Boren
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The Unassuming Bard

I’d like you all to meet a fellow,
wise and witty, warm and mellow.
The story opens with the scene
of how he finally “came clean.”

Now, he’s not one to self-promote
but once I’d read the verse he wrote
in service of poetic art,
it struck a longing in my heart.
I hollered till my throat was sore:
“Please gimme, gimme, gimme more!”
So sometimes when he’d write to me
he’d dole one out reluctantly.

One day a note from him arrived
that almost left me sore deprived
throughout the week until I chanced
to turn it over, where enhanced
by simple words without fanfare
a splendid poem rested there.
I said, “Hey Buddy, what a feat,
but next time don’t be so discreet.”

Well sure enough, as time went by,
my uncle ceased to be so shy.
Next time the designated spot
was marked with arrows he had shot
across the paper’s forward face
as in humility and grace
he’d fashioned letters bold and wide:
“THEY BE A POME ON T’OTHER SIDE! —–>>>”

ooo000ooo

Written in tribute to my Uncle Buddy in the mid-1990s, when I learned to my surprise that some of the best poets of our time were related to me. I’m so glad I pestered them for their stories and poems before they died.

Selected Poems by M.E. “Buddy” Upchurch
Hal Upchurch Chronicles

My dad and his little brother, having been raised to never toot their own horns, wrote for love. It was in corresponding with them through pre-Internet years that I subsequently discovered the joy of connecting with likeminded poets online.

1995 Mary Boren
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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
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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
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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
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Cosmic Connection

“Not the ones speaking the same language, but the ones sharing the same feeling, understand each other.” -Rumi

The music doesn’t echo in a void.
It travels on a transcendental plane
that cannot be distorted or destroyed
and enters through a universal vein.

The magic doesn’t happen on the stage
when eyes alone are focusing on smoke
and mirrors, tricks impossible to gauge
when realism hides behind a cloak.

For only in the space between the realms
that camouflage the planets on their course
can kindred spirits forge a bond that whelms
our senses with connection to the source.

Communion recognized throughout the spheres
will ring when stillness penetrates our ears.

2022 Mary Boren
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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
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To the Unknown Poets Before Us

“I send my soul through time and space to greet you. You will understand.” -James Elroy Flecker (To a Poet a Thousand Years Hence)

Not driven by the world’s applause
your words were neither praised nor spurned.
You spoke or wrote them down because
the fire within you burned.

From chants to overcome the fears
encroaching on a native camp
to chronicles of current years
your words have held a lamp.

To each of you who heard the call
of feelings that demand release
through ink or etched into a wall,
the echoes never cease.

So whether gathered in renowned
Akashik Records or encased
in ancient caverns underground,
no words have gone to waste.

Millennia may come and go
before or since another surge
renews the link, but we who know
will let our spirits merge.

2021 Mary Boren
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Meet Me in Seattle

You said, “Don’t come when winter’s on the ground
in slushy piles of gray beside the road
from SUVs and eighteen-wheelers bound
for stations where a guy can drop his load.

“Don’t come in April when the yellow haze
of cedar pollen permeates the air.
Don’t come in shoulder season — humid days
are not conducive to a love affair.

“But come instead when everything is right,
when waves of magic cast a perfect spell
to cure the atmosphere of human blight
and all the people wish each other well.”

That’s when I knew your summons was a stall.
It’s clear that you don’t want me there at all.

2021 Mary Boren
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Meat and Spice

(in the style of “Fire and Ice”, with apologies to Frost)

While some are satisfied with rice,
however bland,
I much prefer to pay the price
for hearty fare that’s basted twice
to blend a tantalizing brand
of seasonings that suit my taste;
uniquely wrought, precisely planned
tomato paste
that’s fresh, not canned.

For when the pizza’s tossed by hand
and not in haste,
the cheese and pepperoni stand
like sentries poised to spark demand.
Ingredients don’t go to waste
and every sharply honed device
contributes to the flavor laced
through every slice
wherever placed.

2021 Mary Boren
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Poker Face

I met your ante, eager to involve
myself in overtrumping you. I flinched.
Your level gaze unsettled my resolve,
and now I find my thin composure benched.

No upturn-cornered rosebud lips betray
your boldness, perched in Mother’s shopping cart.
How can you be so blasted calm? I’m prey
to eyes with no propensity to dart.

I’m stuck behind you at the checkout stand,
you liquid-lidded angel.  Clear the aisle —
I may as well cash in my chips. (This hand
won’t help me make a brown-eyed baby smile.)

Your halo isn’t gold; it’s burnished red.
If stares were shards of metal, I’d be dead.

2002 Mary Boren
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Cosmic Crossroads

“Darkness will be preferred to light, and death will be thought more profitable than life; no one will raise his eyes to heaven; the pious will be deemed insane, and the impious wise; the madman will be thought a brave man, and the wicked will be esteemed as good.” -The Prophecy of Thoth

There will come a time, the ancients said,
when Planet Earth is severed from the Spirit.
As mystics strive to reconnect the thread
with sacred speech, the people will not hear it.

Redemption must go deeper than the words
to overthrow the pattern of stagnation
in human consciousness that undergirds
our currents of decline in co-creation.

For only when the willingness of one
and all anothers unified by reason
to forge ahead together has begun
will heaven manifest its winning season.

And each alone can activate the glue
that binds us to the cosmic retinue.


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2020 Mary Boren
View discussion on this poem.

“No I can’t stop that, but I can stop what I’m doing to contribute to it.”

Image Source Neil deGrasse Tyson is silhouetted against the birth of the cosmos – the Big Bang – at the inception of the Cosmic Calendar and its vast 13.8 billion years of cosmic evolution.

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

Enter Head, Exit Mouth

bouche-et-levre-de-chameau

Watch out for falling filters
as you navigate the maze
of dearly special people
living in a mental haze.

Spontaneous eruptions
of uncalculated word
can range from ultra-shocking
to adorably absurd.

(“You’ve got a booger hanging.”
“That’s an ugly baby!” Or,
“I need to lick your elbow
to authenticate the score.”)

Uniquely wired and cobbled,
limitless synaptic arcs
can reach beyond the norm and
leap to unexpected marks.

And though, in common circles
viewed as socially uncouth,
there’s magic in proclivities
to speak untethered truth.

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2016 Mary Boren
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,,

Pondering the Wandering

“You’d better let my people go!” he shouted
at Pharoah, ’til at last they gained their freedom.
Right off the bat, he then commenced to lead ’em
into a raging sea. (They balked about it
but followed nonetheless.) The trail was crowded
with hot and thirsty, weary folks who doubted
they’d ever find a home. The children needed
new shoes.  Fed up with manna, lost, defeated —
there was no turning back. The women pouted.

Anticipation of the Promised Land fills
the biblical account. Why God chose Moses
might well be moot today. In retrospections
on forty years of circling through the sandhills,
the fundamental question, I propose, is:
Why didn’t he just stop and ask directions?

———

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2002 Mary Boren
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Conversation with a Saint

“Let your women keep silence in the churches; …” – I Corinthians 14:34

I shall witness heaven’s glory,
learn the meaning of the story,
smell the sweet celestial roses,
have a dialogue with Moses,
meet the other saints and martyrs.
Whew! And all that’s just for starters.

After years of hugging Jesus,
I’ll go drifting on the breezes
over to Apostles’ Tower,
bastion of enlightened power,
where I might politely query
God’s devoted missionary:

“Brother Paul, I find it troubling.
Don’t you like us frilly, bubbling
girls? I mean no disrespect, sir,
but within the female sector
your instructions are a puzzle.
Women born to wear a muzzle?

To Corinthians and Romans
did you mean to say that woman’s
proper place is in submission,
or was that your own rendition
of the Spirit’s implication,
subject to interpretation?

Yield to men and mutely follow?
That’s a bitter pill to swallow.
Was that just how Jesus said it,
or should we give you the credit?
Well, at least I aimed to try it.
Sorry, though, I couldn’t buy it.

Was it really your intention
to encourage deep dissension?
Spouting rules in such profusion
generated much confusion.
Mightn’t things have turned out better
if you hadn’t mailed that letter?

Please excuse me. I’m confessing
ignorance, not second-guessing..
I don’t mean to be judgmental —
my opinion’s incidental.
I just couldn’t help but wonder
if you made a zealous blunder.”

… But before my last word’s flung,
He’ll cry, “Woman, hold your tongue!”

———

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1998 Mary Boren
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