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
View Discussion

Unflinchable Phonics

Once a species of linguishing wordlums
lay wait from their lair in the woodlands
to terrorize tourists
who travel with purists
protecting the language from hoodlums.

They would squirrel their quivers with missives
of contraband bits of what-is-its,
then hissingly curve ’em
with assonant fervum
to hurl in a rain of munitions.

In the face of unflinchable phonics
the forest would ring with harmonics.
The purists were silenced
and poets were licensed
forever to frolic with sonics.

2022 Mary Boren
View Discussion

The Swell of the New Con

(with apologies to Robert Service)

I wanted the fame and I chased it
    with purposeful, passionate verve,
leaving no opportunity wasted
    to enflame the acclaim I deserve.
I self-published a book and I based it
    on an ocean of rare expertise
from an Amazon link that’s re-pasted
    into Facebook promotions with ease.

Now I’m trending on Tiktok and Twitter
    riding high on the peak of the wave
in a viral commotion aglitter
    with the glow of devotion we crave.
To the losers and chumps who are bitter
    that I hoard my exorbitant fund,
I say God doesn’t favor a quitter —
    don’t give up ’til the masses are stunned!

2022 Mary Boren
View Discussion

83

Independent /
Off the rails /
Absent-minded /
Twice-told tales /

Leaky plumbing /
Creaky knees /
Toenail fungus /
Cottage cheese /

Diabetic /
Lows and highs /
Medications /
Exercise /

Pertinacious /
Battle scarred /
Scooter wheelies
In the yard /

Hard of hearing /
Booming voice /
No pretenses /
Still my choice /

Hunky hubby /
Silver-haired /
Dauntless spirit /
Love unspared /

2022 Mary Boren
View Discussion

A Godsend

When angels gather for their nightly nose count,
there’s one who ought to be there, but she can’t be.
She’s here performing ministries, and those mount
as presently she’s cleaning out the pantry.

Her chariot got sidetracked in our kitchen
and, once she’d seen the pitiful disorder,
a down-to-earth declutterizing mission
commenced today at noon. Can we afford her?

I’ll summon all my fortitude and scareful-
ly venture in the kitchen for a survey,
remaining ever vigilant and prayerful
of finding all the discards, sorted her way.

What havoc she can handily unwreak,
when Mama comes to visit for a week!

2001 Mary Boren

Image Source 

Preacher’s Pay

The year was Nineteen-Fifty-Three.
No matter how they fought it,
the serfs were at the mercy of
a revenuer’s audit.

With pinch-nose glasses, black bow tie,
and humorless demeanor,
he sorted through two shoeboxfuls
of records:  Lean Years/Leaner
“Aha! Looks like I’ve gotcha now!
the tax man squealed (excited).
“I don’t see any income claimed
for weddings.  Where’d ya hide it?”

The preacher said, “Let me explain.
I’ve made it a tradition,
when payment’s offered by the groom,
to hold my hand out, fishin’
as if I’m gonna keep it — then
as speedy as a rocket
I hand it over to the bride.
It never hits my pocket.”

“Tradition, humph — the bottom line:
You earned it, preacher.  Pay the fine.”

~ ~ ~

It was a new millennium.
A couple celebrated
their golden anniversary.
A trip was due; they made it.

Rejoicing in the fellowship,
like beans with macaroni,
they thanked the man who’d joined the two
in holy matrimony.
The erstwhile groom, a preacher too,
proposed a toast.  (He’d planned it
for fifty years.)  “Now listen up,”
he winked. “you’ll understand it.”

“I offered money once,” he said,
“for services well rendered —
ten dollars, half of what we had.
You turned around and tendered
it back to her.” (The woman’s eyes
were misty.) “We still owe it
with compound interest due, so here’s
a hundred bucks.  Don’t blow it.”

A proud tradition needn’t stop.
You’ve earned it, preacher.  Reap your crop.

2003 Mary Boren
View Discussion

Based on a true story involving my dad, who is shown in the photo with a different couple. More, including his own poetry, at Hal Upchurch Chronicles

Fickle Flight Plan

Well, if I ruled the world, all the fish in the sea
would have noses and fingers and toes
and each air-sniffing human that’s wishing to be
unencumbered by nostrils and clothes
could swim free.

And if I ran the planet, the stars in the sky
would be spelling out secrets in verse
as the passage through parallel bars on the fly
would empower the people of Earth
flitting by.

But with me in control at the helm, I suspect
unintended results could occur,
so let’s leave all the plans for the realm in effect
in the hands of The Maker. With her,
dots connect.

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

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
View Discussion

Marketing Maxims

Hold your horses, stop the presses —
online selling’s fraught with stresses.
Analyzing, advertising,
merchandising, supersizing,
pressure rising, trends and traffic’s
sudden swerves and demographics.

Camera ready? Check the lighting.
Featuring the most inviting
angles, shooting beads and bangles,
lock ‘n’ load and get to writing!
(How ya think yer gonna sell it
if ya dunno how to spell it?)

Auctions closing; buyers dozing.
Gotta beat the competition!
Handle with integrity,
pack it snug, and ship it free,
Savvy shoppers know the rules.
eBay doesn’t suffer fools.

2021 Mary Boren
View Discussion

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
View Discussion

A Figurative Analysis

The secret of peacock politeness
is keeping appearances plumed.
No horse ever entered the Preakness
without being properly groomed.

One’s laundry is judged by its whiteness
plus points for a three-cornered fold.
When windows are sparkling and streakless,
the housekeeper’s virtue’s extolled.

Affluence? The public will rate this
as, morally speaking, germane
and celebrate human uniqueness
according to obvious gain.

But…

A manifestation of greatness
akin to a solar eclipse
is proof of a dieter’s weakness.
It’s written all over her hips.

1999 Mary Boren
View Discussion

Social Pariahs

My friend’s a statistician. He relates
when I describe the aptitude we hold
to steer a train of thought that resonates 
enough to stop a conversation cold.

I once revealed my fondness for the craft
of poetry, and instantly the room
went solid. No one whispered; no one laughed;
each heartbeat thundered with a silent boom.

Comparing notes, my friend and I, in turn,
recount the times we’ve staked our standing on
delivering a topic fit to spurn,
and in the process stoked a common yawn.

For poets’ prattle absolutely numbs
his brain, and I’m averse to ciphered sums.


cc-by-nc-nd

2002 Mary Boren
View Discussion

Contemplation

With a weighty decision to make
I had better be fully awake
and aware of the options
lest short-sighted swaptions
compel me to make a mistake.

So I’m giving the matter the bulk
of my serious thought. Choices hulk
like a gaggle of guesses.
No’s prudent, but yes is
less likely to lead to a sulk.

If I go the direction I like
it will cost me an hour on the bike,
but this cookie I’m holding
is well worth the scolding
I’ll get from a blood sugar spike!


cc-by-nc-nd

2020 Mary Boren
View Discussion

We Come in Peace

I stand without apology
in offering this greeting
from Planet Ignalarious
where train of thought is fleeting.

Our version of your Earth giraffe
has fifteen toes and flippers
with purple hide that’s puncture-proof,
immune to flea-born nippers.

Our cabbage-flavored water flows
from pumps on all five corners.
Our blocks are round, our heads are square
with built-in lie dehorners.

We brought our ethnic orchestra
to serenade your breakfast.
Our champion freehand yodeller
will cue you to expect us.

We’re all completely certified
as pure non compos menace
without an ounce of enmity
to sour the pudding in us.


cc-by-nc-nd

2020 Mary Boren
View Discussion

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
View discussion.

Photo Source

Precious Metals

When I die and my worth is extolled,
it won’t be for the riches I hold
or my saintly deportment,
despite tooth assortment
of porcelain, silver, and gold.

I am being replaced by degrees.
With titanium joints in my knees
and the plate in my wrist,
I should clang when I twist
like a full set of prison guard’s keys.

I’ve got pincers and pins in my toes
for reshaping the elegant pose
of my hooves in their shoes,
and a stash of loose screws
rattles ’round when I’m blowing my nose.

If you’re secretly hatching a plot
to heat a gargantuan pot
and melt me down early,
don’t bother — you surely
won’t get twenty bucks for the lot.

cc-by-nc-nd

2018 Mary Boren
View discussion.

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.

cc-by-nc-nd

2016 Mary Boren
View discussion.

,,

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?

———

cc-by-nc-nd

2002 Mary Boren
View discussion.

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!”

———

cc-by-nc-nd

1998 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.

———

cc-by-nc-nd

2010 Mary Boren
View discussion.

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.

———

cc-by-nc-nd

2012 Mary Boren
View discussion.

Image by hollykl  AttributionNoncommercialNo Derivative Works Some rights reserved

At the Clinic

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.”

———

cc-by-nc-nd

2000 Mary Boren
View discussion.

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!

cc-by-nc-nd

2000 Mary Boren
View discussion.