Vesting Equity

I write because my mental real estate
is limited. As thoughts accumulate
they spill into the yard at this address
like loose debris that chokes the grass unless
routinely raked and bundled up to wait.

The curbside pickup trailer’s seldom late
but long before the bags are out the gate
I’m filling more while sorting through the mess
I write, because…

without releasing space to allocate
for flotsam overflowing from my pate,
I’d hoard the weeds and lose the words to press
between the folds where brainstorms coalesce
with conscious clarity to contemplate.

I write. Because.

2023 Mary Boren
View discussion.

Synesthesia Stew

Panoramic interactions
filtered through the sound of struggle
mingled with the scent of silence
cast a shadow on the scene.
Eyes and ears and mouth and fingers
focus on the fellow feeling
filling designated spaces
all around and in between.

Swirling river bed’s aroma
steeped in energetic flavors
salted with a touch of kindness
constitute a hearty paste.
Add a pound of mountain cabin,
mother’s kiss and robin’s whisper
where a hint of moonlit forest
shivers in the aftertaste.

Senses stir beyond the blend
more than minds can comprehend.

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.

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
View Discussion

Up There

“If we look at the path, we do not see the sky.” – Native American Proverb

I learned to walk by trusting Mom and Dad
to hold me up, my hands attached to theirs
on either side, my fledgling vision clad
with confidence until I met the stairs.

Then common sense infringed upon the scene
as blunders, bumps, and bruises set me back,
convincing me that hazards lay between
each halting step, determined to attack.

But drudgery of living on alert
by counting obstacles along the path
in pebbles, roots, or topsy-turvy dirt
will sacrifice the magic to the math.

I’d rather fall a million miles than miss
the marvel of unmitigated bliss.

2022 Mary Boren
View Discussion

Wabi-Sabi Waits

The wearer who would camouflage herself
behind a superficial face will muster
resistance from the dreaded  bottom shelf
when flawless, creamy skin has lost its luster.

Strategic bits of plastic might extend
her fleeting fifteen minutes’ worth of glory
as frivolous embellishments transcend
the chance for character to tell the story.

She shuns the wrinkles; sages see the grooves
created in the crucible of patience
as surface grinding gracefully removes
the residue of youthful limitations.

For only in the artistry of lines
can wabi-sabi polish its designs.

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

Illusion of Separation

“The time that my journey takes is long and the way of it long.” – Rabindranath Tagore (Gitanjali, #12)

I looked through squinted eyes,
and begged to see The Mystery unveiled;
instead, without a word, you lifted me
with loving arms to set me in your lap
behind the wheel.

A primal burst of light
accompanied our launch through time and space,
and in my rattled, addled sense of self
I dreamed that I was traveling alone
without a map.

This lifetime lost among
inhabitants of unfamiliar worlds
obscured the memory of whence I sprang
but couldn’t kill my longing to return
before I die…

’til guided by a star
protruding from the edge of clarity,
I caught an echo of the lullabye
you sing throughout eternity to call
your children home.

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

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

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

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’

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
View discussion.

Cracked Pot on a Broken Road

(with a nod to the timeless fable and
apologies to Leonard Cohen, Rascal Flatts, and Joan Baez)

Democracy, your waterbearers’ burden
is woefully unbalanced as the schemes
of lords and ladies on the hill have hoarded
the vessel that contains our common dreams.

It may appear America is leaking
the essence of the best it might have been,
but “there’s a crack in everything”. A trickle
can nurture hope, “that’s how the light gets in”.

Your promise of equality and freedom
for all has languished in the hands of few
for centuries. We’re ready for our blessing,
“the broken road that leads (us) straight to you”.

As trampled seeds of progress line the shoulders
along the path, replenishment relies
on sharing distribution of the bounty
that longs to shower down from cloudless skies.

Let sunshine pierce the depths of every crevice
and justice flow like water to replace
the field of opposition in obstructing
“the president (who) sang Amazing Grace”.

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

Puff Piece

A canopy of cumulus projection
aligns itself enticingly and spills
its cotton candy succulent confection
across the canvas of the Texas hills.

A viewer, from the vantage of a hammock,
anticipates the daily matinee
with vapors in their drama-packed dynamic
of interactive whimsical display.

But, looking down upon the scene, King Cirrus
harumphs a haughty epithet, “The stage
is mine alone today!” And with the merest
regard he scatters all in jealous rage.

The lively cast of Comal County Clouds
will never fail to entertain the crowds.


cc-by-nc-nd

2020 Mary Boren
View Discussion

Halt, Who Goes There?

I see you coming, melancholy mood,
descending like a demon eighteen-wheeler
from out of nowhere racing to occlude
my passage through perception’s truth-concealer.

I’m drifting in bewildering terrain,
white-knuckled now, my eyes are turning glassy.
As wretched shocks dislodge me from my lane,
I can’t escape the damage to my chassis.

With wanderlust careening off the road,
it takes a heap of strength to hold the center.
The labored engine threatens to explode
before my awe-struck psyche starts to splinter.

But wait—I have a built-in safety pillow—
I’ll stomp the brakes and let the airbags billow!


cc-by-nc-nd

2020 Mary Boren
View Discussion

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.

cc-by-nc-nd

2017 Mary Boren
View discussion.

Perspective

There’s no degree of dominance
in hate or fear or guilt.
as each is fundamental in
the prison thinking built.

Beyond it is the vast unknown,
above it is the sky.
For me it sparks a sense of awe;
for others just a sigh.

Constructed of materials
that masquerade as strength,
it towers unassailably
approached by width or length.

Look closer! There’s a way around
or through, or simply this:
Tear down the wall that stands between
your yearnings and your bliss.

———

cc-by-nc-nd

2007 Mary Boren
View discussion.

Horticultural Anomaly

With healthy nurturing, a garden plant
bears fruit abundantly. If you’d impede
its spread, then keep it dry and let its seed
be trampled in the noonday sun. It can’t
get up and walk away or change its slant
from prone to upright posture. Thus the weed
encroaches like a zealot to a creed
as shallow as its source — no gifts to grant.

But I, a human bean, can make a choice
to situate my roots in fertile ground.
Protected, fed, and loved in every phase
of growth, encouraged by the Gardener’s voice,
I’ll soon be sprouting produce by the pound
and bursting with the joy of rainy days.

———

cc-by-nc-nd

2003 Mary Boren
View discussion.

Water Wise

An eagle shrieks. A pair of fledglings flee
the bluff. It crumbles with a crashing force,
careening down the hill without remorse
or mercy. Racing boulders and debris
arrest the river’s rush. Transcendingly,
as if awaiting orders from its source,
the water halts, then takes an altered course,
regaining its momentum, snaking free.

Life, help me take a lesson from the flow
of undefeated waterways. Instead
of flailing in frustration on the brink
of interrupted progress, let me grow
in wisdom born of setbacks, gently led
and buoyed by providence before I sink.

———

cc-by-nc-nd

2002 Mary Boren
View discussion.

Crossroads

crossroads-at-night-in-winter

“I’ve got the gift of goodbye.  It’s the tenth spiritual gift.” -T. D. Jakes

In the ever-continuing surge
of humanity, pathways converge.
Though the pattern’s unclear
from the middle of here,
some are destined to cross, some to merge.

So if some overshadow the rest
and you’re forcibly keeping them pressed
in the pages you write
while you’re dreaming at night,
ask yourself, “Are they loved, or possessed?”

The devotion we’re trying to show
can’t compare to the gift we bestow
on reluctant companions
through chasms or canyons
by loving enough to let go.

Simply bless everybody you see
in the cosmic mosaic. Just be.
They shall all come to pass,
not to stay. Raise a glass,
flash a smile, wish them well, set them free.

———

cc-by-nc-nd

2011 Mary Boren
View Discussion

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

2000 Mary Boren
View discussion.

Seams to Me

My skin’s an old recycled flour sack:
a would-be calico that barely rates
as simple unbleached muslin; basted, slack,
and hung where pocket lint accumulates.

My mind is made of seven yards of denim.
Utilitarian, these rugged genes
can take a lot of needlin’ with me in ’em,
and durably expand beyond their means.

My spirit is a bolt of silk—no cloth
more intricately patterned, finely spun.
Sometimes I am the worm, sometimes the moth.
I ravel when I’m cut, but seldom run.

Though seamingly my id’s all tuck and nip,
it’s written: “As ye sew, so shall ye rip.”

———

cc-by-nc-nd

2001 Mary Boren
View discussion.

Image courtesy of Bee Creative (Visit blog for more creative repurposing ideas.)

Cuckoo

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

2003 Mary Boren
View discussion.

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

2002 Mary Boren
View discussion.

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

2008 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.

———

cc-by-nc-nd

2006 Mary Boren
View discussion.

Transition

Deep within the hidden country,
down a road nobody knows,
lined in shades of mystic colors,
violets and indigos,
stands the bridge that spans a distance
wider than the river flows.
Can you read the cryptic marker?
Do you wonder where it goes?

Only audible in stillness
comes the summons, “Take my hand;
we will cross together.” Choices
dance around illusion’s strand.
Quickening, yet not awakened,
shedding scents of La La Land,
on the cusp of Dreamed & Doing,
step into the ampersand.

———

cc-by-nc-nd

2006 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.

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.

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

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.

2014 Mary Boren
View discussion.