Down the River

after Mary Oliver’s “Crossing the Swamp”

Here is the bend:
in the whispering trees
in the babbling water
where cattails cackle
with secrets
untold.

Here is the river:
where oar
breaks water
makes a stir
of ripples
sharing gossip with geese
busy-ness of beaver dam
carries on
and on.

Here is life:
undisturbed
and always disturbed
by growing
and going
moving against current
where river
is never
the same
letting the current
take me away
where I am
apart–

a part
of something always changing
always moving
rising
falling
ebbing
flowing
freezing
thawing

going–

around the bend again
where dead tree
finds life
dried reed
is resuscitated
wet
and glistening
and the cat-tails yowl
and tortoise sneers
and water sings
with its breathing chorus.

Here I am;
around the
river
bend.

© Maxine L. Peseke

Meadow

Katrina Kaye

childhood playground
fallen prey to constant foot falls

the shift of flood to drought
the scorch of day evaporates
morning dew on slick leaves of grass

the numb of night wilts
long stalks of mild green
into wilt and waste

it always seemed safe here

somehow perpetually permanent

but this world is volatile
it is always taking
turning what was
into what is

heaven dries in the barren heat
and heaves into wasteland
children lose their fairy wings
and become merely human

the meadow is gone
like all things must 

magic is dissected into practical parts
and disappears

When an Alcoholic Goes to Recovery, Their Loved One Must Recover, Too

© Gina Marselle | 5 June 2021

Sometimes it means the world to still the mind

To meditate tranquility until your heart slows

Enough that the pump of your spirit is felt

Like river waves on toes

The earth moves so rapidly

But feels so still

Minus the early June breeze lifting hair tendrils wildly

As seen on the cover of an high fashion magazine

Sometimes it means the world to still the mind

To take a moment to view the garden as it grows

Memories come and go

Lingering echoes that disappear

Like rain in the desert

Then the quiet is granted

Even if it hurts

You wait for a sign,

Some hope

As it sits in your heart

Courage to accept the answer

Everyone has to let go

Mortals aren’t God

And cannot change or control the wind

Or a person

Only self can be directed into movement or stillness

Right now, just appreciate

The lull of meditation

This moment of serenity

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Do you know someone suffering from an alcohol addiction and you worry? Have you considered Al-anon? For more information please go here: https://al-anon.org/

Awake at 3:45am

Katrina Kaye

Here is Sleep,
stretched on my right side,
exuding warmth and calm
so close to my chilled skin.

He is distant despite the proximity
promised by the hands of clock and
length of lingering darkness.

The lights from the street and
solitary passing car slip between
slightly parted blinds into long stripes
across far white wall,
chasing shadows to restful corners;
their claws receded.
No longer do they unfold
toward me in the lonely dim.

In spite of the vow of peaceful nightfall,
I am awake with stale breath held in chest,
deconstructing a nightmare into
a coiled grey sweater left on floor.
The simplest of terrors paralyze,
leaving me vulnerable prey to the night.

It is impossible to be lucid
in the muck of these early hours,
when the tiny tragedies of  
the ever turning world imprint dreams,
causing Sleep to lack the relief
he once promised.

Indifferent to my mistrust,
Sleep breathes, soft and rhythmic,
a silentious invitation to join him,
the only sound breaking the night.

Wild Like Horses

-Gina Marselle

…then my breath became spirit
Escaping so free

Gravity melting breath like butter
Along silken skin into a river
Breathing in water breath

Sacred heart center

Breath is the color of fire
Purple, red, yellow

Ribcage expanding
Exploding
Exhaling breath spirit

Gravity slows racing heart
Holding breath
Lungs are full

Thankful

I can hold my spirit

Still

Or set her free

Wild like horses
Galloping into the river’s edge

 

“Rafiq”

This is an image of my horse out on a trail ride. Rafiq is a rescue Arabian. Photograph was taken by the trainer, Elisa Bohannon who is the owner and trainer at Blue Barn Stable. More info on Blue Barn: https://www.facebook.com/BlueBarnEquine/

Triage

There is a ghost that claws
beneath my skin–
it grips at my lungs until I
forget to breathe,
and holds onto my heart ’til
there is no beat;

there is a ghost that crawls
through every inner room,
puts red tags on all of my things;
tells me I am failing,
falling,
crashing,
as I try to triage every little thing.

But that laundry basket is green
maybe black:
stationary
unmoving
it’s not going anywhere
and I can wear clothes out of a basket
for another week.

Last night’s dinner dishes
are yellow tagged:
they can wait until today’s dinner
is cooking.

Child’s plea to play:
red
red
red like love
like life-blood
like you can put the chores away,
red like you can soak in this moment and this day.

Red like your life depends on it
Yellow like the chimney needs to be cleaned
Green like the laundry basket

Tag it black:
if it is unmoving,
if it can wait another day,
if it never mattered anyway.

© Maxine L. Peseke, October 2020

And now I

Katrina Kaye

steal a moment
under the clutter of
ceiling fan loose
at its screws
and the breeze
from open window
advertising a night
more temperate
than the day
more quiet and
peaceful than the
rumble of mind

I have chosen to settle

I loved nights
like this when I was younger
when I spent little
time indoors and allowed
myself the freedom
and recklessness
I thought was the
promise of life
I am glad I lived it then

nights like this

making out in a car
with the first boy I
fell in love with

walking with blissful
intoxication
through a city street

driving under the stars
just outside the city
limits where the light finally rests

dancing in the dark
as I walked downtown
with someone I barely
knew but trusted completely

I wish I remembered more

I wish I hadn’t spent
so much time looking
toward the next moment
and enjoyed the one in which I swam

I didn’t take it all for granted

how many times
have I had the privilege of
lying with eyes puddled closed
feeling content with what
I have lived
believing there was nothing more
life could gift me

it continues its kindness

and although I am sometimes
clouded with doubt, I too
recognize the love
the ability
the beauty
the full gift of life

I am not one to use the word ‘blessed’
and the word ‘luck’ trivializes the sensation
I am gifted in this life and despite pain,
disappointment, failure, and setback
I have so much

I fill with gratitude
with feelings of having more
than I deserve
what more can I ask
what more is there to attain
these words are a two headed serpent
and cannot translate the race of language or
the fullness of thought clouding my mind

I will not use this moment
to make any grand resolutions
but I will allow the freedom
of heart and mind to find my peace

I am grateful for this moment
with sleeping dog at my side and
mewing cat on the shoulder of couch
the loud crank of the ceiling fan
the breeze of the night through open window  
it does not tempt me to places I have once been

It merely reminds me
of a life I too often lived unexamined

 

The trees spread out

At sundown, we said goodbye

to several species, knowing 

at dawn they would be murdered 

for their bodies. I wonder 

sometimes what my mother thinks 

about the trees being taken, 

about the planet having a fever, 

ground hardening, water coming 

with storms of rage. Here, 

there is frozen grass, crunching

under foot, a wildness sprung 

from weeds. The cool tint 

of winter light in branches, a quiet 

before a slaughter of aging trunks 

and the wisdom they grew with.

I wonder if my mother knows 

what projection is, if she would say 

I project my own humanity and fear 

onto the trees or if she knows 

I hug at least one of these mammoths 

every day, no matter the color of sky, 

no matter the temperature of earth.

.

-Liza Wolff-Francis

We are not

Katrina Kaye

We are not architects.

We are incapable of designing even
the most rudimentary of concepts.
We are not ranch style homes
with islands in our kitchens,
shiny steel pots hanging from hooks.

We are not adults when we are together,
We are not day jobs and early nights.
We are not rational.

We are not quarterly clocks
or forgotten promises,
we are not clean slates.

We are not Christmas traditions
or dinner table arguments.

We are not first loves.

We will never be that old couple on the beach
watching the sea.

We are not pegged legged or one armed,
and although capable of swinging,
we do not always land on our feet.
We will never be lawn mowers or garden tenders.

We will never be teddy bears or multicolored legos.
We are too old to be children.
We are not competent with building blocks.

We are not good liars,
we are not without the burden of guilt
and the expectation of consequence.

We will never be nuclear.

We will never be suits and formal wear
We are not made of plastic,
our colors run,
our sides bend.

We are not indestructible.
We are merely chemical.
The reactions of our exchanges
through touch send easy fever.

We are not poetry.
We are not romance novels.

We are instruction manuals
and wings pieced together
from the remnants of kites.

I don’t know what we are.
When I ask you,
you can only tell me who I am.
You can only say how you feel.
There is no we.

Dare I say
we are holding each other in the dark.
That we are not thinking about tomorrow,
but counting this moment for all it is.
Dare I say all we are is right now.

Winter came again this year

brought snow that covered 

the dirt gravel yard 

of the house across the street,

dressed it up in a wedding gown

until neighbor kids walked circles all over it,

left trails of footprints, laid down 

and made snow angels. One of their coats, 

the bright red, painted mud when he stood, 

the ground, a stained hem,

breathed through the white.

.

Winter came again this year

with the promise of cold air, 

but hitched to wind, like a one-night stand

that went on over and over again every week 

until we called it a four-month affair,

then wind finally ran off with spring,

howling at winter to leave.

.

Winter brought cold and snow 

one last time, as if trying to show off, 

to show force, to tell us how much 

we need the quiet hibernation.

We tried to tell winter we were grateful 

for the dark, for cold fingers and toes, 

for the alone time, the inhale-like gasp

of cold air, but spring had already 

colored the parks, the trees, the forest.

And winter left again just as expected 

without holding on too hard.

-Liza Wolff-Francis