“Space Oddity” Blues

“Planet Earth is blue and there’s nothing I can do.” -Major Tom (David Bowie)

Return with me to Nineteen-Sixty-Nine
when universal dreams were fresh and new.
The race was on; all bets were off on who
would lead the way across the finish line
as Russia surged ahead in the design
of Sputnik, spurring U.S. efforts through
the decade stepping up to mount a crew—
one man’s small step, a leap for all mankind.*

With science and humanity positioned
in love from Ground Control to Major Tom
and David Bowie looking like a geek,**
how hopefully the waiting world envisioned
a brighter color in the days to come
beyond this evanescent moody streak.

2023 Mary Boren
View discussion.

*Was Neil Armstrong Misquoted? (What he actually said was, “for a man”.)

**Vintage footage of David Bowie looking like a geek ...

On Quarks and Quirks

“There are two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” – Albert Einstein

When stardust, quarks, and mystery combine
to make a human, nothing can compare
to possibilities. Some say beware
of ultimate betrayal to confine
the breath of life where tangled roots entwine
with evolution. I can only stare
in utter wonder, blinded by the glare
of dazzling supernatural design.

For wedged between the elemental ash
and sentient entity, surprises lurk
in hidden crevices of every hue
across the spectral plane, and in a flash
all heaven is exposed. It’s but a quirk
the miracle of promise can renew.

2022 Mary Boren
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Through Native Eyes

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
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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.”

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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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
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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
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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

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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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Steve Jobs Reflects

A digital encyclopedia
finds followers who cling to shifting ground
above the swirl of social media
where fabricated adages abound.

With Morgan Freeman’s name below the quote
or what the Dalai Lama might have said,
a circulating myth could stay afloat
in perpetuity when they are dead.

The final words attributed to Steve
concerning wealth and power don’t ring true
about a man compelled to take his leave
exhausted by disease, without a clue.

In truth, as heaven broke across his brow,
he simply said, “Oh wow, oh wow, oh wow.”

2022 Mary Boren
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Fact check: Final words of Steve Jobs were not about wealth (Reuters)

The Heartbreaking Last Words of Famous People

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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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
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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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Circular Curriculum

We only have, on average, the span
of eighty-seven years to mount a quest
for wisdom steeped in life. The lesson plan
is stacked against the odds we’ll pass the test.

For some, the obstacles occur at birth
before the child has drawn a second gasp
and never cease, while others’ inner worth
is nurtured from the gate to final grasp.

But if distracted by the siren call
of fame and fortune, don’t expect to reach
the summit of serenity. The fall
of hubris supersedes us in the breach.

And any course curtailed before it’s done
will be extended for another run.

2021 Mary Boren
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The Universe Resets

Though critical conditions reach a peak
on Saturday and multitudes are troubled,
with only seven midnights in a week
the hope of Sunday morning light is doubled.

The cosmic calendar is not concerned
with momentary intervals between
the folds of time and space. Where planets burned,
an emptiness now occupies the screen.

The rise and fall of empires in the span
of savage centuries is but a page
from one recorded Chronicle of Man,
unnoticed as the sweepers clear the stage.

For when the music strikes another chord,
the balance of Eternity’s restored.

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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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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In Due Time

(with apologies to George Bernard Shaw and Robert Herrick)

You tell us youth is wasted on the young,
that we must gather rosebuds while we may
lest fragile opportunities be flung
like flotsam on the canvas of decay.

With body toned, thick hair and creamy skin
commanding adulation from the masses
the pattern of predominance will spin
its own cocoon around the rugged passes.

But I submit the opposite is true.
It’s adolescent angst that stands in need
of energy to busily pursue
agendas misdirected to succeed.

For only at an age when pride is purged
can artificial values be submerged.

2021 Mary Boren
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Trading Races

“When you have only ever experienced privilege, equality feels like oppression.” ― Adam Rutherford

Here’s Karen, captured from a foreign realm,
stacked in a leaky vessel through a storm
where all the crew, from cargo hold to helm,
were black and bold, the undisputed norm.

She’s told to buckle down and never whine
about the weight of sorrow on her back
from stolen heritage. “What’s yours is mine,”
they say, “we’ve set you on an equal track.”

But drowning in an ocean fraught with tears
or stranded in a desert parched with thirst,
the vestige of oppression through the years
can never fade until the tide’s reversed.

Why should it threaten them if she demands
a sign that someone sees and understands?

2020 Mary Boren
View Discussion

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.

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.


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2002 Mary Boren
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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.


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2020 Mary Boren
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Fasting for Lent

I’ve pledged to stifle negativity
for forty days. In striving not to judge
another for the treatment given me,
I’ll dodge the bait to whine or hold a grudge.

It shouldn’t be a challenge to achieve
an altered state of transcendental bliss
if I can find the secret to deceive
emotion with a promise and a kiss.

But Ego has a credo of its own:
“Don’t give an inch in sowing discontent.”
Perception hangs as heavy as a stone
between the poles of stuck and free ascent.

With thirty days to go, I’m half inclined
to chuck it all and speak my monkey mind.


2020 Mary Boren
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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!


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2020 Mary Boren
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Sustenance

Before she’s drawn a second breath or viewed
her mother’s face, a newborn seeks the breast.
No special training’s needed, there’s no test
for measuring a baby’s aptitude
or mother’s love. The cycle is renewed
as fed becomes the feeder, doubly blessed
with strength. Instinctively, we all ingest
the substance packed in life-sustaining food.

So why should care and feeding of the soul
be shrouded in enigma? Through the worst
imponderable doubts, our Living Guide
extends a standing offer: “Here’s a bowl
of hearty stew for free.” And with a burst
of sight, the inner cynic’s pacified.

o0o

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  2000 Mary Boren

View discussion on this poem.

Of Two Minds

A brain cannot absorb more than its mass.
I tell myself it helps to let it drain
in seeking to achieve a higher plane.  
How often, wearing blinders, do we  pass
the Buddha Image in a blade of grass
or shun the light beyond the windowpane
for fear its pull will render us insane?
My will is steel, my spirit tempered glass.

Yet there are times the mind will not be barred
from grappling with enigma.  Nonchalance
won’t turn the key to wisdom or prepare
the soul for nourishment.  Without regard
for tethered cognizance, my psyche wants
to conquer obfuscation in the air.

o0o

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2002 Mary Boren
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Choose Love

“We have before us the glorious opportunity to inject a new dimension of love into the veins of our civilization.” -Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The lifeblood of the planet is in peril
of swift extinction by exsanguination
from injuries inflicted by the feral
barbarians attacking its foundation. 

Physicians for society have proffered
a proven remedy through mass injection
of Zenicillin. Hordes, instead, have coffered
an arsenal of hate to breed infection.

But deep within the body, organisms
are gathering in overwhelming numbers
to spread the needle’s healing for our schisms,
awakening compassion where it slumbers.

The power of love is dazzling when it stirs.
Don’t flee before the miracle occurs.

o0o

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2019 Mary Boren
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Descartes Before Dehorse

The mistress cracks a psychic whip, and he,
a blinder-fitted plodding workhorse bound
by honor, hopes to find a patch of ground
that won’t give way beneath his hoof. To be
or not to be, his sole identity
derives from someone leading him around
in circles, heaping judgment pound for pound
with unequivocating certainty.

He’d never think of putting up a fight,
for every time he jumps, she lifts the bar
to keep his motivation locked up tight,
convinced that it can never venture far
from her own brand of patent black-and-white
philosophy, “I think, therefore you are.”

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2001 Mary Boren
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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.

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2003 Mary Boren
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Job Security

Adaptable, dependable, designed
explicitly to fill a threaded slot,
you serve, content to be yourself. You’re not
a bolt, but when some nut gets in a bind,
you’ll spiral in if qualified. Maligned
and snickered-at behind your back? So what?
Opinions turn you neither cold nor hot —
that’s not the way your character’s defined.

For whether long or short or fat or thin,
or backing out or boldly pressing through,
the key is in the willingness to spin
according to the job one’s called to do.
Humanity could learn a lesson in
the perseverance of a lowly screw.

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2003 Mary Boren
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The Disappearance of Limits

“Somewhere in the cosmos, perhaps, intelligent life may be watching these lights of ours aware of what they mean… or do our lights wander a lifeless cosmos, unseen beacons announcing that here on our rock, the universe discovered its existence?” – Stephen Hawking

The mental giant in a metal chair
resided in a multi-layered sphere
beyond our grasp, as we who simply stare
into the heavens, wondering if here
is all there is. He brought the world a gift
enfolded in a cryptic paradigm,
unwrapped in subtle stages for a shift
in scientific thought on space and time.

The message of the multiverse is veiled
in gossamer and lace, with calico
and pleated velvet drapes that have assailed
our curiosity, but this I know:
Illusion born of suffering absconds
when consciousness is freed from mortal bonds.

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2018 Mary Boren
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Image by Mitchell Toy

To the Song of the Cosmos

Your melody’s transporting me away
to sunrise in a candy-coated land
where no one suffers at another’s hand.
You offer me serenity to stay.
I’m tethered to the protoplasmic clay
you fashioned from the void. I’ve always planned
to hitch a ride back home. You understand
my murmurings in spite of what I pray.

But I’ll decline the invitation while
my fellow travelers are left to grieve,
for who would sing your words if I should leave?
I’ve given them the only things I had
to share, a simple sonnet and a smile.
I’ll catch you on the flipflop. Don’t be sad.

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2018 Mary Boren
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Leader

"Namaste" by Thom Ricks

If you can set your biases aside
to champion what’s compassionate and just,
and value every member of your tribe
as if you’d given birth to each of us;
awakening to true community,
not rushing into battle unprepared,
but seeking out a path to unity
when sleepers’ predatory fangs are bared,
and forging through the darkness to the source
of light, replenishing your spirit when
the mantle sags, thus modeling the course
of energy infused with wisdom, then…

I’ll follow you with every nerve and bone
to places I’m afraid to go alone.

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Mary Boren, 2017
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Painting by Thom Ricks

On a Gusty Day in December

Atop a ladder, Jack, with hair askew
and frownful countenance, leaned in to fend
away resistance. Wrestling with the wind
to hang the Christmas baubles, temper too
acquired momentum. As his banner flew,
three letters pirouetted out to bend
around his backside, shining end to end.
A passer quipped, “Does JOY live there with you?”

I wonder, does it show that she has earned
a front-room space with me? A cozy bed
among the other beds, a comfy chair,
a plate — so little asked, so much returned.
In peaceful co-existence, Anger, Dread
and Sorrow hold their tongues when Joy is there.

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Mary Boren, 2001
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Pride and Privilege

“Don’t tear that statue down! It represents
my heritage.” The Civil War still rages.
Although it ended, losers ever since
have sabotaged the bleak and bloody pages
of history. The altered facts we swallowed
have been exposed to light and judged a ruse
to whitewash the atrocities that followed.

The symbols we so carelessly confuse
with patriotic zeal across the board
from founding days are neither right nor good —
they’re remnants of a past to be abhorred
by those “endowed” with three-fifths personhood.

And liberty is just an empty word
until each citizen is seen and heard.

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Mary Boren, 2017
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Photo source and more info on the history of confederate statues

Origin

William_Blake_Eve_Tempted_by_the_Serpent

Did Planet Earth evolve from random bits
of space debris intensively colliding
in willy-nilly fashion as befits
the current state of omnipresent fighting?

Does co-existence here for you and me
derive from Capricana’s maiden landing?
A Legend of Creation holds the key
for those demanding doubtless understanding.

Before a single footprint punched the soil
foreshadowing humanity’s uniqueness,
a serpent was positioned to uncoil
the moment opportunity met weakness.

The Maker softly sighed and shook Her head,
“I wish I’d fashioned something else instead.”

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Mary Boren, 2017
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Beneficence

In days of plenty, when they pass the plate,
assorted fives and twenties fall, and these
can help, but donors shoulder little weight
of suffering from hunger or disease.

In seasons when the world is steeped in woes
and inequality exacts its due
with repetitious cataclysmic blows,
the needs of many overwhelm the few.

But that’s when public spirit kicks in gear
among the open-hearted; those who spring
into the void, rejecting the veneer
of halo’s glow — true colors taking wing.

Compassion is the radiating face
of membership within the human race.

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Mary Boren, 2017
View discussion on this poem.

This was my part of a collaboration with my friend Bill Keller, in which we were challenged to take opposing sides of an issue but write as one voice. We decided on altruism, and he graciously took the con side with a reverse Shakespearean sonnet in response. Our joint effort, entitled “Give and Take”, won second place in the contest.

Ephemeral

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!

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2017 Mary Boren
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The Psyche Takes a Break

After On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer, by John Keats

Transported to a long abandoned hill,
the vision through a classic poet’s eyes
allows reflective drops to crystallize
in images ascending from his quill.
And, for a moment, time lies hushed and still.
The blush of first discoveries arise
in panoramic sway across the skies
with vibrant colors bending to my will.

But then despair begins to overwhelm
my senses. What’s the use of fantasy
that clings to an ethereal caress
while suffering afflicts the tarnished realm?
Encircled by the world’s insanity,
the mind deserves a holiday, I guess.

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Mary Boren, 2017
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A Can of Oops

If I could wield a monumental can
of Oops! and travel back through space and time,
I’d circle ’round the sun like Superman
obliterating planetary slime.

I’d wipe the stain from any human heart
that ever felt unworthiness and shame
and wash the tongues of any taking part
in propagating hatred in God’s name.

The odious graffiti on the wall
would melt away and metamorph into
the artistry of nature over all;
an unpolluted, unifying view.

And after false perception is destroyed,
I’d hurl the dirty rag into the void.

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2017 Mary Boren
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Silence is Betrayal

“There comes a time when silence is betrayal.”
The words of Doctor Martin Luther King
hang heavy in the air. Intentions fail
to halt the arc of hatred’s brutal swing.

The centuries of organized oppression
are coming to a climax. You and I
must take a stand for justice. Shy discretion
is not a virtue when the stakes are high.

As hard-won rights are carelessly dismantled
before our eyes, the growing battle zone
erupting in the streets cannot be handled
with slacktivism. None should march alone.

Resisting with a vengeance, beat the drum
and shout in unison, “The time has come!”

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2017 Mary Boren
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