The Art of Insultery


Hooray! My soul can scarce contain the spasm
of eager joy. I’m champing at the bit
to prove myself a master of sarcasm
in torrents of unbridled spunk and wit.

I’m on my toes; adrenalin is pumping.
I’ve trained for this painstakingly for years,
and when they ring the bell I’ll come out jumping
to land a sucker punch between your ears.

It took a heap of sweat and dedication
to build an arsenal of barbs and hone
them keenly, lest a sudden altercation
should find me unequipped to hold my own.

Here comes that laced-with-acid verbal blast …
(I’ll think of it the minute you have passed.)


cc-by-nc-nd Mary Boren, 2001

Equipping the Quiver

If I were Mother Verbivore, each day
before my children left the cave, I’d check
their fingernails for cleanliness and pay
a token glance behind their ears and neck.

And then I’d send my precious wordlings out
to represent the clan, paired two-by-two,
all starched and pressed and polished. (Sister Shout
in Whisper’s hand-me-downs would never do.)

I’d ration them accordingly, by size
and personality, their daily packs
of pointed punctuational supplies
plus one cliché to carry on their backs.

But only when they’re safely home at dark
would I release an exclamation mark.


cc-by-nc-nd  Mary Boren, 2000



While watching you, asleep, soul-sinking thoughts
flood to the fore on rising waves of doubt.
How can I brave tomorrow’s chill without
your touch, your footsteps, and those million watts
of magic in your smile? My heart allots
itself a single, stifled whisper. “No!”
I have no voice, no choice. I must let go
midst whirlpools of what-ifs and what-if-nots.

For you were bound to someone else in strands
of interwoven loyalty before
we ever met. My love for you demands
your leaving will not rip me to the core.

I stroke your little baby grandchild hands
to waken you; your mother’s at the door.


cc-by-nc-nd Mary Boren, 2002


At the Pinnacle


The lifting is assisted by a jump,
so eager is the package to arrive.
He’s landing on the platform with a thump
and smoothly shifting into hyperdrive.

As if to celebrate his two-year span
of time among the mortals, at a height
unprecedented, toddling Mini-Man
ascends the ladder to his launching site.

A sunbeam, filtered through his wispy hair,
cannot begin to match the light that’s dawned
upon his face. How better to prepare
a child for living, earthbound and beyond?

The joy inherent in a playground slide
is not the destination, it’s the ride.


cc-by-nc-nd  Mary Boren, 2001


A Hand Up


A cattle trailer stops, my scooter swerves …
but not enough. Within a blink, my wrist
is shattered, zapping tendons, muscles, nerves
and ligaments — equipment sorely missed.
A hundred years ago, there would have been
two choices: cut it off or let it dangle,
a shriveled, lifeless paw. Now, skillful men
and women have the know-how to untangle
a royal mess. Through microsurgery,
the bones are reconstructed. Months and days
of exercise, massage and therapy
work wonders, proving optimism pays.

They gave a hand. I raise it as a sign
of readiness to serve. It’s God’s, not mine.


cc-by-nc-nd  Mary Boren, 2009



I stand indicted, vilified, convicted
on fabricated evidence entwined
with figments of scenarios depicted
as gospel in the cauldron of your mind.

“I hate you” metamorphs into “Don’t leave”
in seven seconds flat, and back around.
A roller coaster ride without reprieve,
chaotic sand becomes the common ground.

And following the trail of devastation
along the tracks of torn relationships
that hinge on black-and-white evaluation,
the cargo’s tossed each time the balance tips.

But even through the worst you say and do,
I never will renounce my love for you.


cc-by-nc-nd Mary Boren,  2013

Filter’s Kilter


The booming Information Age presents
a private view of limitless terrain
to each who holds a keyboard. What’s to gain?
Enlightenment? Fulfillment? An immense
renewal of the spirit? Is the dense
uncharted undergrowth a deeper plane
or virtual excuse to feed the brain
at garbage heaps? What’s your experience?

Pretend, for fifteen minutes, what we do
is all suit up and gather on the court
of mental exercise (for health, for peace)
to think on “whatsoever things are true
and honest, just and pure, of good report.”
Do you suppose cacophony could cease?


cc-by-nc-nd Mary Boren,  2002

A Love-Hate Relationship

Silhouette Man Woman Window

You wooed me with your promise that conveyed
an image guaranteed to please the crowd.
Your haughty head, as yet, remains unbowed
but flashy trinkets, trips, and games we’ve played
have given me a reason not to trade.
Can’t help myself — I’m programmed to enshroud
complaints in realism. (I’m not proud.)
You’re powerful and rich. You’ve got it made.

As Helen Keller said, “God never shuts
a door without a window opening.”
But fools like me won’t choose stability
instead of you because, confined to ruts,
we’re operating on a hope and wing.
You devil, Microsoft, you’re killin’ me!


cc-by-nc-nd  Mary Boren, 2000

Public Domain Photo

Westward Ho Hum

Fort Stockton to El Paso is a band
of grey that looms ahead. The scenery
consists of asphalt, scrub mesquite, and sand,
unbroken by a sprig of greenery.
A panoply of mesas, bluffs, and buttes
stands sentinel in silent, treeless sway,
as if the elements are in cahoots
to spare the drowsy driver an array
of visual alerts. But don’t assume
this seen-a-slice-you’ve-seen-it-all terrain
should be avoided: Boredom might exhume
reflection. Minds that wander on the plain
can cycle unexpectedly when dials
are set for miles and miles of miles and miles.


cc-by-nc-nd  Mary Boren, 2009

I used to say the scenery in West Texas is all in the sky, but these photos put that assertion to the test.


The looking glass reveals a creaseless brow
transposed against her face to disabuse
the notion she is aging. Truth subdues
the vision. Like her hair, her youth somehow
is running down the bathtub drain, and now
her bearing and behavior (like her shoes)
are sensible. “The mirror is a ruse,”
she sighs. “I’m just an old contented cow.”

She’d planned on parachuting once, immune
to gravity. (Weak ankles redefined
the plan.) At times she cocks her head, intent
on hearing fragments of an uncaught tune
that blink and fade like fireflies in her mind.
She can’t remember how the lyrics went.


cc-by-nc-ndMary Boren, 2001