Style and Substance

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


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,
I ride the peripheral ocean crest
without distortions.

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


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.



cc-by-nc-nd  2018 Mary Boren


Image from the public domain

View discussion on this poem.


If you remember me when I am gone
with any sense of clarity, ignore
the critic in the shadows who has drawn
impressions from an outline on the floor.

I never fit within the chalky bounds
of others’ expectations. Still, I tried,
until I was awakened to the sounds
of omnipresent promise amplified.

So when you picture me inside your head,
unhampered by the superficial sphere,
behold a ball of energy that shed
the cover humans wear when we are here.

And soon, in less than one eternal minute,
a burst of light will follow. You’ll be in it!

cc-by-nc-nd Mary Boren, 2017

Image Source

State of the Art


A baby comes with software preinstalled —
first generation code: Life One-Point-One
We don’t expect he’ll walk before he’s crawled.
He’s laptop-bundled, pure phenomenon.
Initially, a meg of RAM will do.
No operating system needs more stuff
than it can process, plug ‘n’ play when new.
A modest modem speed should be enough
to keep him wired. Increasingly, demands
exceed innate resources — that’s the norm.
As Junior’s drive capacity expands,
more popup/download options fill the form.

The coping patterns used in infancy
won’t last, but Life’s upgradable, for free.


cc-by-nc-nd Mary Boren,  2000



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.


cc-by-nc-nd  Mary Boren, 2011




In truth, I wasn’t looking when you fanned
the cards (nor did I count them, I confess).
Initially I held the better hand
but yours was played with preconceived finesse.

Oblivious to what was being dealt,
I met your gaze and honestly believed
in what I thought I saw and what I felt.
You never blinked; just played the ace you’d sleeved.

No use in looking back on burning trumps
or bridges. Though, of course, I’d never choose
to play if I had known, guess only chumps
keep staking what they can’t afford to lose.

I’m beaten. Mine’s the sorrow; yours the shame.
One’s leap of faith is just another’s game.


cc-by-nc-nd  Mary Boren, 2003


The Present


I questioned life at every turn,
compelled by acts and deeds to earn
a starring role
in mine. Control
tenaciously eluded me.

In time I found a stepping stone
beyond the ego’s comfort zone.
It marks the way
from yesterday
into the realm of now, to be.

No longer tossed by whims of fate,
I join the will to co-create
a vibrant here
devoid of fear
that thrives on peace and unity.

The present is a lavish gift.
It comes with hands to gently sift
the wheat from chaff.
Surrender, laugh,
forgive, and live abundantly.


cc-by-nc-nd Mary Boren, 2010




It dawdled on a hook eleven years
and never ticked a tock. Perhaps some dust
had lodged inside the brain and rendered gears
immovable, as if its wings were trussed.

Why fix what isn’t broken? Twice a day
it told the proper time and, looking good
around the clock, held loneliness at bay.
Its own true song lay dormant, cased in wood.

The day I left I moved it to a wall
across the room. The pendulum swung free
and rhythmical; stout heartbeats ticked for all
their reawakened value. Much like me.

A change of scenery can loose the flow
of lifebound energy. Get up and go!


cc-by-nc-nd  Mary Boren, 2003


Three Wheeling


Fantastic, insurpassable machine,
a marvel of assorted nuts and bolts:
you’ve always carried me in style between
the places I must go. Some jumps and jolts
along the way have left me shaken, stirred
and stupefied, but never pushed beyond
endurance, and where boundaries are blurred,
you somehow find a bridge across the pond.
Simplicity in motion, balance, sense;
you’re poetry from frame to handlebars.
A bike equipped for training won’t evince
the same aplomb or point me to the stars.

Still holding on, I trust my Big Wheel guide,
and pedal hard to give my butt a ride.


cc-by-nc-nd  Mary Boren, 2002

Cycles of Life


By morning’s glimmer, helmeted and gloved,
she’s primed and ready, pointed at the peak
that’s begging to be conquered. It’s a bitch.
Now huffing, puffing, standing on the pedals
and hunkered over handlebars, she’s pulled
by daily regimen with certainty
that, having sweated to the top, the ride
is worth it all. Experience will steer
her wheels away from gravel traps and ruts.
A tree-lined web of intersecting paths
that overlay the park extends a range
of choices: valleys, hilltops, shadows, sun.

It’s symmetry in sway as every climb
is answered with a corresponding coast.


cc-by-nc-nd Mary Boren, 2008