“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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
“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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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.
Mary Boren, 2017
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.
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.
We struck up conversation easily —
custodians with no apparent lack
of common ground. (It seems he has a knack
for working on transmissions.) Suddenly
his focus shifted momentarily.
Three names rang out, three children answered back.
His explanation made my jaw go slack:
“I need to hear their voices — I can’t see.”
He never saw my estimation rise
for one so fit, with miles and years to span,
whose handicap won’t bump him from the race.
I swallowed hard, then slowly raised my eyes —
two gluttons drinking in the scene — to scan
the playground, seeking out my grandson’s face.
Unjustly scorned, I fancied self-control
could somehow keep misunderstanding’s reign
from drowning out the music in my soul.
I’d only march along the sunlit lane
and never have to stumble, stoop, or bend.
The lessons in the dense and tangled brush
are difficult — who’d willingly extend
the season of their sorrows? I would rush,
but Father, keep me here until You’re through.
For laughter fades, and all is vanity
that doesn’t help produce a servant who
surrenders everything unselfishly.
It’s not the celebration, it’s the loss
that draws me to the shadow of the Cross.
“Go often to the house of thy friend, for weeds choke the unused path.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson
I’m waiting, fidgeting with doubt, between
your door and the familiar country road
that points the way back home. I felt I owed
an olive branch at last. Beyond the screen,
I see you darkly now — an awkward scene
looms imminent. Where hearts once overflowed
with easy conversation, seeds we sowed
lie dormant in a fathomless ravine.
I never knew the reason. Twenty years
ago, I’d meet you if I had to crawl.
What stifled camaraderie? Illusion?
Perhaps, if puffed resentment disappears,
we’ll stand on common ground. Along the hall
your shadow nears. Reunion or intrusion?
Behind each errant thought there hangs a thread
of continuity, a knowingness
that’s hidden by an unrelenting fear
of meaningless existence. Only in
suspended judgment can the truth emerge.
When ego is subjected to the light,
illusion evanesces. One by one,
each child of God, awakening, recalls
his rightful heritage of endless love,
for separation never has occurred.
Now, following the thread back to its source,
we see the world for what it is, a screen
projecting unreality, a blip.
The little willingness is all it takes
to conquer thought and matter, time and space.
The heart of Texas spreads its welcome mats
beneath wide open skies and live oak trees
for multicultural anomalies,
encompassing the native habitats
of varied specimens. Assorted hats
(from cowboys’ to construction workers’) squeeze
in line with tourists. Downtown eateries
cash in on Austin’s colony of bats.
At dusk, the stellar cast, in one accord,
commences its unflappable ascent
to glory over Congress Avenue.
The Capitol, just north, where laws afford
the bats profuse protection, stands unbent,
without a nod to folks who sleep there too.
Forgive me when my dangling participles,
unfocused thoughts, and split infinitives
induce in me self-consciousness that cripples
the will to seek your company. It gives
me comfort, peace and pleasure just to know
you’ll wait for me, or meet me where I am or
you’ll even carry me when I can’t go
another feeble step alone. I stammer
and sputter, clear my throat, and awkwardly
aspire to eloquence; my speech unable
to hold a candle. Still, you’ve offered me
an all-abiding welcome at your table.
You wrote my heart; you know the words I’d say.
In silence, Father, teach me how to pray.
You rise, and congregated ears abound
with expectation. Soon the air is crowned
in clarity as pure, celestial sound
anoints the sanctuary. Each one’s own
precisely chimes in turn, for one alone
cannot create the resonance of tone
that’s crucial to the chorus. Willing hearts
and waiting hands coordinate with starts
and stops. The whole is greater than its parts.
The veil between the realms in times like these
becomes translucent, borne on devotees
of equal worth and echoed harmonies.
May all God’s children stand prepared, like you,
to simply strike one glorious note on cue.
How often can we truly claim a friend
who’ll give, without embarrassment or pride,
immeasurable love, and take in stride
our failures, overlooking ways we’ve sinned
against the name of friendship; one who’ll spend
each moment in our shadows satisfied
to simply listen, watch, and gently guide
in loving ways few humans comprehend?
Anticipating need, the Maker chose
to set aside from claw and hoof and horn
the nobler elements in pure repose
with greed, conceit, and jealousy forsworn.
Unbridled gusto, muddy paws, cold nose;
Devoted Dog, of such is legend born.
There comes a time when, with a stalwart heart,
I plunge ahead, not looking left or right.
With clarity and purpose, from the height
of glowing certainty I can impart
a sacred sense of beauty, truth, and art.
Yes, there are times when, bathed in broad daylight,
I walk a weedless, unstrewn path. Insight
is painlessly acquired. I’m feeling smart!
Inevitably, following the climb,
I tumble from the summit with a thud
and grapple in the guilt-infested slime,
surrendering illusions to the mud.
But mercy reigns above me all the time,
forgiveness measured out in love, not blood.
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