The Community Under the Bridge

bats over Austin

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.


cc-by-nc-nd  Mary Boren, 2003

Teach Me


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.


cc-by-nc-nd  Mary Boren, 2003

Pleased to Mete You

Dorothy Parker & Alan Campbell

(after Dorothy Parker)

I offer you my effort to create
a simple sonnet worthy of a word
of criticism, question, or debate
with no assumption flattery’s preferred.

For if you judge it awkwardly enjambed,
pedestrian, unbearably clichéd
unwitty or ho-hummingly iambed,
you’ll never witness my composure fade.

And though you tell me I have not employed
the most appealing diction in my quest,
then I will not be in the least annoyed —
I’ll gladly pay the penalty assessed.

But critic, if you say my stanzas fail
to scan, I’ll come out fighting tooth and nail!


cc-by-nc-nd  Mary Boren, 2001

Public Domain Photo

Bell Choir


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.


cc-by-nc-nd  2012



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.


cc-by-nc-nd  Mary Boren, 2001

Public Domain Photo

Sandbox Shadows


He looms, Colossus-like, beside the gate,
appearing larger than he’ll ever be.
He’s just a puffed-up playground potentate,
a page in self-repeating history.

He never lacks for awestruck underlings
who’ll vie to hold his coat, or for a crowd
to view experiments with insect wings
and laugh at little girls who cry out loud.

The lucky children later go to bed
in loving homes where comfort is reward
and wonder what it meant when Daddy said,
“They’d rather be despised than be ignored.”

And in the silent depths where shadows reap
a toll, the bully cries himself to sleep.


cc-by-nc-nd  Mary Boren, 2001

The Fall of Hubris


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.


cc-by-nc-nd  Mary Boren, 2000

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 Mary Boren,  2003

He Said

It’s true, it was a rotten thing to do.
Apology accepted, though.  What’s more,
the deed has been forgotten. Still, the spore
of guilt proliferates.  The mirror’s cue,
a wagging finger, leads its retinue
of blame.  You keep reopening that door,
returning to the crime scene to implore
the pardon that’s been freely granted you.

Or is God’s promise only for the clean
and righteous soul?  Do you suppose his love
is rationed out in bits … as case by case
is proven worthy?  Look behind the screen.
There isn’t anyone deserving of
forgiveness — that’s the miracle of grace.


cc-by-nc-nd  Mary Boren, 2005

Public Domain Image

Upon Reflection

My modus operandi’s been misplaced.
Too often, guided by a flapping tongue
and jerking knee, I’ve captured barbs and flung
them carelessly about. Then, as I faced
my own reflection — sheepishly retraced
those clumsy steps — I’ve noticed how they stung.
Time truly crawls when Ego squirms. I’ve hung
my head in shame for words I spoke in haste.

So, Father, give me nothing that I ask
today, except perhaps some balm to soothe
a ruffled spouse or friend or fellow poet.
Please tilt the mirror sideways to unmask
the hidden part you see … and should it prove
to make me humble, Lord, don’t let me know it.


cc-by-nc-nd  Mary Boren, 2005