Cracked Pot on a Broken Road

(with a nod to the timeless fable and
apologies to Leonard Cohen, Rascal Flatts, and Joan Baez)

Democracy, your waterbearers’ burden
is woefully unbalanced as the schemes
of lords and ladies on the hill have hoarded
the vessel that contains our common dreams.

It may appear America is leaking
the essence of the best it might have been,
but “there’s a crack in everything”. A trickle
can nurture hope, “that’s how the light gets in”.

Your promise of equality and freedom
for all has languished in the hands of few
for centuries. We’re ready for our blessing,
“the broken road that leads (us) straight to you”.

As trampled seeds of progress line the shoulders
along the path, replenishment relies
on sharing distribution of the bounty
that longs to shower down from cloudless skies.

Let sunshine pierce the depths of every crevice
and justice flow like water to replace
the field of opposition in obstructing
“the president (who) sang Amazing Grace”.

2021 Mary Boren
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What the Tree Taught Me

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
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Feed My Sheep

Once long ago in a mythical tale
weary fishermen huddled to hoist
nets that were empty back into the boat
when they heard an encouraging voice.

Jesus, not dead like they thought but transformed
at the end of his corporal shift,
told them to lower the nets over there.
Soon the load was too heavy to lift.

When his disciples were sated with fish
in his wayshowing manner, he said
“Simon, come here. Do you love me enough
to assure that my sheep will be fed?”

Refugees struggle forever, it seems,
fellow humans in need of a hand.
These are his people. He left us with notes
not to judge, just obey his command.

2020 Mary Boren
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Reap the Whirlwind

“My daddy changed the world.” Gianna Floyd,
at only six, already understands
that something monumental has occurred.
She joins the ranks of children left to bear
the burden of a murderous design
infused into the bedrock of our nation.

Four hundred years of history reveal
the willful subjugation of a line
of people who, despite the barricades,
survive in force to raise a mighty roar
that shatters all illusion. We must stand
in truth to finalize emancipation.

No longer will the platitudes suffice
nor “thoughts and prayers” assuage an open wound.
The time for reckoning is NOW, the day
will soon give way to dusk, the moment lost
forever if denial perseveres.
The case demands authentic reparation.


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2020 Mary Boren
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Cascadia, 2025

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.


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2020 Mary Boren
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The Long View

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always.” ― Mahatma Gandhi

Unanswerable questions plague the minds
of all who yearn for justice in the world.
Why must the battle rage relentlessly?
How can it be we never seem to learn
from all the brokenness and suffering
humanity inflicts upon itself?
Will any of us live to see the day
when sanity prevails across the globe?

But earthly eyes are not equipped to view
the picture from the timelessness of space.
Our singular assignment in this realm
of fitful dreams is training to connect
with love in all its forms. If Gandhi could
experience and witness all he did,
yet cling to the belief the universe
is ultimately kind, I’ll do no less.

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2018 Mary Boren
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Photo Source

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

Give Me Your Tired

With boundless greed invading
like charging bulls, creating
an atmosphere of hating
all up and down the aisle,
remember how we started
with open hearts unguarded
and immigrants rewarded
for waiting by the mile.

For all have benefited
from hordes that were admitted,
like threads securely knitted
in variegated style.
Our tapestry unravels
if loudly pounding gavels
prevail. In all your travels,
outshout them with a smile.

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2018 Mary Boren
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Photo from the U.S. National Archives

Pilgrimage

light on hills

“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.” -Rumi

The hills are steep, the climbing’s hard.
If you would persevere, it
may leave the body deeply scarred
and dissipate the spirit.

But when you scale the furthest crest
and overlook the valley,
abrasions suffered on the quest
will yield a grand finale.

The gift of elevated sight
revealed as you continue
will radiate the path with light
that’s coming from within you.

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Mary Boren, 2018
View discussion on this poem.

A Wagon Without Springs

“Grim care, moroseness, anxiety,—all this rust of life, ought to be scoured off by the oil of mirth. It is better than emery. Every man ought to rub himself with it. A man without mirth is like a wagon without springs, in which one is caused disagreeably to jolt by every pebble over which it runs.” ~Henry Ward Beecher

There is much to be said for the value of squeaks
in the axles supporting the wagon
as an audible cry for attention that speaks
on the breath of a petulant dragon.

For unless we can pinpoint the source of the pain
that is causing the friction and scour it
with abrasive exertion, perpetual strain
on the bearing will soon disempower it.

Once the cleansing is finished, a coating of grease
is essential to keep the wheels rolling.
In the spread of the ointment, they find their release
and respond to a gentle cajoling.

Like preventative medicine, flexible springs
add a measure of stable protection
from the potholes and pebbles and gravity swings
that unbalance the cargo’s direction.

So be sure to maintain your conveyance with care
when you’re feeling especially rattled,
lest the unabsorbed shocks hoist the wagon midair
leaving riders completely unsettled.

2014 Mary Boren
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