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
I’d like to spend a morning in the boots
of Jedediah Smith out pioneering
before the carpetbaggers in cahoots
with industry showed up for profiteering.
I’d stand atop the continental peak
and whisper not a clue that it divided
a nation burgeoning with ripe mystique.
I’d plant a “Keep Out” sign before it’s blighted.
But how could I usurp another first
to scale a virgin summit as she crested
above a crystal lake and quench the thirst
for worth where never other eyes had rested.
The value of the vista they’d behold
transcends the weight of Rocky Mountain gold.
2022 Mary Boren
For those who think America’s history began with the arrival of white settlers. “After 75 years of obscurity following his death, Smith was rediscovered as the American whose explorations led to the use of the 20-mile (32 km)-wide South Pass as the dominant point of crossing the Continental Divide for pioneers on the Oregon Trail.”
In evolutionary terms,
a quantum leap is overdue
as callow human nature squirms
from murky embryonic stew.
We exited the primal cave
with harnessed energy enough
for all, then willingly grew slave
to needless manufactured stuff.
Like toddlers with flamboyant blocks
we fashion castles in the air,
then fortify our walls with locks
and selfishly refuse to share.
While streamers from our satellite
project an ostentatious glow,
unlike the fabled phoenix flight,
velocity is all for show.
Unless we rise victorious
as one, the looming cosmic crash
will leave behind no more of us—
an evanescent puff of ash.
2022 Mary Boren
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
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.
2020 Mary Boren
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.
2020 Mary Boren
As Winter mounts his harsh assault
does Nature cringe, assigning fault?
A sodden path serenely weaves
through barren trees without regret.
She knows regeneration waits
while metamorphosis creates
fulfillment in a promise met —
the aftermath of rustling leaves.
2017 Mary Boren
If I could spend a weekend with the me
who used to be, I wouldn’t waste a minute
dispensing admonitions bound to be
unheard instead of boldly bathing in it.
I’d load me, bag and baggage, in the car
blindfolded, like a hostage—scared, unwilling
to see the wonder in the way we are
and take a trip abundantly fulfilling.
Awaking to the pungent pull of pines
with mind immersed in joyous morning glitters,
I’d hold my hand to swing between the vines
and join the chorus of the woodland critters.
Alert to every scent and sound, aware
of all within our common jurisdiction,
no leaf is left unfluttered nor a hair
unsplit in separating fact from fiction.
Now guided by example, having flown
the strictures of illusion that have driven
my younger self within, I’d say, “You’re known
and loved. Unleash the laughter! Life’s for livin’!””
2014 Mary Boren
I’d love to travel astrally,
projecting past the sun and moon
into the realm beyond the bounds
of brick and mortar, blood and bone.
When carried on a single thought
aloft, my busy brain would cease
its constant chattering while I
enjoy the panoramic view.
But for the needs of day to day
existence in a mortal shell,
there’s no place I would rather live
than here at home on Planet Earth.
Let not her strength and beauty fade
because we failed to heed her cry.
2013 Mary Boren
Expressions of the human heart traverse a labyrinth.
The smallest thought can hold a thousand seeds.
A sigh, a burst of merriment, a kindness, or a prayer
is balanced on the crux of vows and deeds.
‘Neath petals of a dandelion that cluster round the stem,
inert until its power is released,
a dormant seed lies waiting to be scattered on the wind,
but only when the flower is deceased.
So wishing for a miracle and holding fast to hope
is nothing but a mental exercise.
The miracle occurs before a thought is fully born —
it’s letting go that sends it through the skies.
Secluded in a woodland glade,
the bunnies, fawns and squirrels stir
to mothers’ nudges. Silently,
they stretch their legs and fluff their fur.
The muted hues of dawn exude
seclusion. In a woodland glade,
no raucous horns intrude upon
the day’s impending promenade.
Along the misty river, birds
begin to fill the hush with tune.
Secluded in a woodland glade,
they celebrate til half past noon.
How often in the bustling world
assaulted by the noise we’ve made,
our spirits yearn for reverie,
secluded in a woodland glade.
2011 Mary Boren
In the soft lavender haze,
three does graze in the yard.
Heads down, of necessity;
guard lowered … never.
As I tiptoe to a closer vantage point,
my knee brushes the rocker by the window
and it protests with a gutteral creak.
Instantly, they morph
into a trio of lawn statues.
Seconds pass like minutes.
They leap the tall grass
in a single scattershot blast!
Moving in unison
on a primal cue,
they have melded into the trees
before I can remember to exhale.
Seated with my coffee, in the comfort
and relative safety of home,
curiosity sets in.
(It could kill the cat,
but lack of it can down a deer.)
Was there ever a time they knew trust,
or were they predestined prey?
Is raw fear the trade-off
for beauty, grace,
and direct communion with the earth?
Could humans adapt
to live in such a state
of perpetual anxiety?
Or have we?
2011 Mary Boren
I had an energizing dream about a peaceful morning
when everyone alive awakes renewed.
The air is pure, the water clean, no hint of global warming,
and no one lacks for shelter, clothes, or food.
The planet is awash with gratitude.
What happened to the weary world and all its weight of sorrow?
What monumental, unforeseen event
could render feuds forgotten as an ominous tomorrow
became today? By mutual assent,
nobody even wonders where it went.
But as the dreamer, watching from a cloud at twelve-eleven,
I saw exactly how the shift occurred.
It’s not like everybody had to die to go to heaven.
The earth turned upside down, imbalance blurred,
and in that moment, inner vision stirred.
So now it’s spring in Perth and autumn in the Rocky Mountains.
Affluence is devalued, hope annealed.
As fear is toppled to the bottom, overflowing fountains
of love ascend to trump the sword and shield.
The veil has lifted; heaven is revealed.
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 …
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.
Sweet southern hostess ladies, primly clad
and buttoned-up, how dare they call you wild?
As faithfully you line our roads, you add
a glimpse of simple beauty undefiled.
What wealth of wisdom might your prudent lips
reveal, if asked, to those of us who wind
our way past thistled shoulders on our trips
without an inkling of the task assigned?
Perhaps you’d tell of pioneers who flinched
at coyote cries that filled the midnight air
but never lost the ground they’d gained or inched
a millimeter closer to despair.
We thank you for the legacy you bring
to Texas travelers each hopeful spring.
2002 Mary Boren
When the daily news reporter
talks about the changing weather,
that’s our cue to sigh together,
“Years are growing ever shorter.”
Store the fans, unpack the heaters;
nippy mornings grace October.
Then, before the month is over,
stock the shelves for trick-or-treaters.
Holidays in quick succession
fill the calendar thereafter.
Giving thanks with food and laughter
leaves November’s last impression.
Autumn’s vivid colors given
like a sign of nature’s sequence
fade to grey. The shopper frequents
Christmas sales, consumer-driven.
Fall, my energetic season,
though I wish you’d linger longer,
still your buried beat grows stronger
in the hope of sense and reason.
2010 Mary Boren
On the river, life is sweet;
love abounds and time’s a trickle.
Occupants of one petite
newlyweds and puppy, Ted—
treasure days and nights together;
share a table, porch and bed
by the river.
In the morning, songbirds call,
eagles soar, and squirrels scurry.
“Easy,” says the waterfall:
“All is well, no need to hurry.
Here beneath the cottonwood,
touch the realm that knows forever.”
Peace of mind is understood
on the river.
On a lazy afternoon
from a hammock swayed by breezes,
our extended honeymoon
sets the schedule. If it pleases,
go canoeing from the park,
laughing, feeling not so clever
overturned at ten ’til dark
in the river.
After supper, by the fire,
ears attuned to night so thick it’s
teeming with the heart’s desire,
hooting owl and chirping crickets
underscore the dreamy mood.
Loving is a shared endeavor,
with a prayer of gratitude
for the river.
2006 Mary Boren
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.
2006 Mary Boren