Carol Hiltner in Presents

Written mostly in the late ’80s, these poignant and piquant poems document the author’s spiritual awakening.

Presents is available as a published book, illustrated with the author’s inspired metaphorical drawings.

Boxes in the CornerBoxes in the CornerSoul of MagnificenceBindingsCourageTherapyBlack MarketRiverCommunicationCho no ’quahThe Little AngelsWell-SpringFencesMiraclesSeparatenessOverallsNo Middle GroundBeingSongKaleidoscopeKnock, Knock?Soulsparkle
Pandora BalksWelcomePandora BalksJourneyImpose PeaceTumultFire from HeavenIterations of JoyDeepeningRiversWho Belongs?MY StuffBrakesAbortionGiftsFlowDignityStateWeddingCancerIndigentSupermarketFirestormRecognitionPress MeRazorSurface DecorationPoesyRecalcitrantRainHeresyGriefMotheringDeserterPassageSunsetYou Are Nothing


Carol Hiltner Unpublished Poems
Although focused in other directions in the ’90s and ’00s, a few poems dropped into the author’s consciousness like bright jewels of insight.

Distant SunderDistant SunderNew Man of RussiaRubberband ArmsThe River IsAnother YearIf OnlyLittle BirdWhat I Know NowBig Question on St. Valentine’s DayThe Center of the World


Presents

Boxes in the Corner

Boxes in the Corner

Mom, bless her, stacked my valuables in boxes in the corner
And covered them carefully with a drop cloth;
Painted everything white, and turning her back to my boxes,
Inspected her work and declared my room in order.

When I was a kid, a lot depended on how clean I kept my room.
It was never clean enough to please my folks—
I stripped it bare trying
Damn those messy boxes in the corner!

Sometimes I think I might like to see what’s in those boxes—
But grownups don’t make messes.

December 1988

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Soul of Magnificence

O soul of Magnificence,
Put down your shield.
It is your own spear
Which pierces your armor!

How far from the ways
Of mankind must we travel
Before we see that
The shackles are of our own making?

And the cruelest dungeon
Into which no light enters
Is but our own construction—
Nothing external could hold us,

Except as we imagine it can;
But why imagine that,
When there are symphonies to be played
On the harps of the wind.

August 1985

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Bindings

Immobilized by myriad threads
That mended the scars of a million wounds,
Woven into my very being—
I reach for the stars, and cannot move.

Perhaps my longing
Can pluck them like harpstrings
And lift a floating melody
Out of the binding pain.

March 1988

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Courage

I would like to feel
The winter’s starkness,
Without the frosted window
Between me and other.

I’d rather be snowblind
From the reflection
Of billions of frozen crystals
Than closed in my own darkness.

I’d rather die
That peaceful death
Of exposure, than implode
Under crushing imposure unchallenged.

I’d rather find my last breath
Expelled, buried in an avalanche
Of risk, than suffocate silently
In unventilated monoxide.

So what stops me?
The kettle might boil dry
While I’m gone.

December 1987

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Therapy

Who says I have to?
You did, he did, they did.

Ya gonna make me?
Well, are you?

Yer not? I won’t then—
don’t have to.

Who says, anyway?
I do? I do?

Yeah,
I do.

June 1987

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Black Market

I must confess, I know
That the bit of gentleness I offer
Amidst my array of thorns
Is quite obscured.

And I bemoan
That you do not hear me,
When in fact we communicate
All too well.

I’m desperately afraid, my friend,
That you wouldn’t love me
If you knew how vulnerable
I really am.

When display of strength
Is the only currency I know,
I dread the bankruptcy
Of needing.

I understand that giving
From my stores of strength
Does nothing to unload my vast warehouses
Of pain.

Perhaps we together
Could start a black market
And trade only accumulated capital
Of our frailty.

December 1987

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River

I am being swept away, Mother,
And running along the bank
Yelling “If you’d just get a regular job,”
Won’t stop the river.

I can barely hear you
Above the roar anyway, Mother,
And the water supports me in its bosom
The way you never could.

I’m frightened of drowning, Mother,
As the current tumbles me.
I want what you never could give me,
And besides, I’m a good swimmer.

Maybe it’s all a dream, Mother,
And I’m safe and warm.
If I could breathe water I’d never come back.
It’s getting easier . . . good-bye

February 1988

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Communication

Communication must be like
Sleeping on an air mattress—
Soft and comfortable only as long
As the hot air is supporting it;
But all elbows and hard spots
When things go flat.

February 1988

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Cho no ’quah

I walk
light

Being light
I carry not the shadows
that weigh humanity.

I have released the shields
I held to shut in my pain, out of feeling
and
As they slid open—I found
I found a new lightness—in feeling

The feeling of my selfness,
My realness—worthwhile,
So worthwhile that all else is eclipsed
with lightness!

So light, I soar, that joy is my new name
And clarity is my embodiment
And love is the fragrant breath
That illuminates my being.

January 1985

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The Little Angels

So you want to know why I call you my little angel?
Well, it’s because—

Before you were born and came to be MY little angel, and to bring your special brightness and joy into my life, You used to be one of those special little angels you can sometimes see, if you look very closely, up in the clouds.

Now these little angels have a VERY special job—to put color in the sky. Every morning when the Sun comes up they toss pink across the morning sky, and then gold, and then blue, and they laugh and they laugh.

And sometimes when the Sun goes to bed at night, they make mischief and just throw the colors across the sky—red and purple and orange and gold, and even a flash of green just as the Sun goes down and everything turns deep blue and sparkly (even us).

But the MOST fun these little angels ever have is when the Sun plays peek-a-boo behind the clouds.

When the Sun hides and sneaks all the colors out of the sky, leaving it grey and gloomy, that’s when the little angels get ALL their colors ready—because that’s when they get to make RAINBOWS!

First they get out a big pot of gold and paint gold all over the backs of all the clouds and sometimes even down on the earth.

And when the Sun peeks out, watch out, because the next thing you know, they throw the colors all into the air and then they laugh so hard they sometimes spill, and the colors fall down to the earth like rain.

And if you look at a raindrop when the Sun is peeking down on it, you can even see all the colors—and that’s when you can remember about how you are one of those special angels that makes all the world bright.

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Well-Spring

Like the spring that gurgles
From the ground
And sparkles laughingly down the glade
I giggle with my wealth.

For out of the well-springs of eternity
Flows my existence.
Deep-sourced and crystalline,
I gush out my joy and send it forth.

Should I contain my mirth, or rather
Could I even
Contain my laughter to be certain that
Others don’t get wet feet in my puddles?

Or perhaps I can just invite
All who wish
To drink of my ecstasy and
Splash in the diamond brilliance of my love.

August 1986

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Fences

If I walk fast enough,
I can see through the cracks
In the fences
To the yards behind them.

When I run fast,
The fences blur
And the gardens behind
Are all the more visible.

So I wonder—
If I could go fast enough,
Would the fences
Disappear altogether?

October 1987

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Miracles

Gentle greetings to you, my friend.
I know the soreness of your heart
That comes when you are a stranger
To those who claim to know you best.

The magic that drives your soul
Pales the imagination of even the brightest,
And so, to save you from your obvious madness,
You are swaddled in loving, strangling denials.

But know, it is not you who is deluded
Though, bound in your body, it may seem so,
For the spirit is your realm, as surely as
The body is your vehicle for this brief flicker.

Allow, my cherished one, your spirit
To enter through your own secret door,
And when called upon to explain the miracles,
Just laugh and say you’re lucky.

April 1987

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Separateness

I’m supposed to know we’re separate:
We don’t intersect, we are two.

But we are no more contained
By our bodies than the perfume
Of flowers is contained by their form,
Or songs by their singer.

I feel the wash of your emotions
Like a bird aloft feels the wind—
As the ambience in which I float
From my first soaring moment ’til my final glide.

So when I imagine separateness,
It’s like trying to sort your air from mine.

December 1987

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Overalls

My overalls—shed unceremoniously last night
And left to fend for themselves—
Have been crouched in the corner all night
And now, like a sulking child,
Invite me to pick them up.

April 1987

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No Middle Ground

No middle ground.
From having-it-all, being-it-all, doing-it-all
Out beyond mere agony into the indescribable no-place
And back again as fast as thought—
To perch precariously at the high trapeze stop
Only until the next swing and whoosh and vertigo.

The glory side they call genius—and celebrate it.
But truly for the void, the nothing,
There is no name, no acknowledgment, no being.
Does one exist without the other?

December 1987

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BeingSong

Sometimes, in my dreams, I am transparent.
All darkness and divisiveness have flown,
And, limitless, I stretch to the horizon
And take in all the wonder as my own.

I lay me down in cool and bubbling waters
And drink up the sweetness of the earth,
And flow within the heartbeat of the planet
The clear and sweet refreshment of our thirst.

And sometimes, in my dreams, I am a child.
I look at all the world with open eyes,
And, certain of my knowingness and being,
I revel in the sunshine of my heart.

I lay me down in cool and bubbling waters
And drink up the sweetness of the earth,
And flow within the heartbeat of the planet
The clear and sweet refreshment of our thirst.

Sometimes, in my life, I am a color,
A blue with purple edge and golden gleam.
I faint back from the dazzling of my glory
And wonder if I wake or if I dream.

I lay me down in cool and bubbling waters
And drink up the sweetness of the earth,
And flow within the heartbeat of the planet
The clear and sweet refreshment of our thirst.

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Kaleidoscope

My world through mirrors—
Bits of flashing glass
Falling into place.

Kaleidoscope.

Beautiful symmetric patterns
Of dazzling complexity—
Fleeting visions.

Kaleidoscope.

Child’s play of
Colors on an endless pallette—
My life kaleids.

December 1987

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Knock, Knock?

Knock, knock?
I’m home, God.
Always have been
Only I didn’t know it.

Oh, I knew
There was substance
Inside me somewhere—
A lot of substance,

But folks kept saying
The world just couldn’t be
The way my inside world
Always was.

I stuck out the sides
Of their little boxes
When I tried
To climb inside.

But I’m home now
And my world is,
And I wouldn’t have known it
Except that I looked out
And saw in.

February 1987

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Soulsparkle

And so, my friend,
We are in the middle of our lives now.
We’ve worked through all the easy stuff,
Jobs, marriages, children maybe,
And now we come to the hard part—ourselves.

The carefully hidden kernels of genius are
Jostling aside our complacency,
And with small and nagging symptoms
That our bodies can no longer turn aside,
Pushing their way into our consciousness.

It doesn’t work to hold the anger in—it hurts too much.
And yet the ecstasy is just as rudely received.
But we can’t seem to avoid
Busting the seams out of comfortable mediocrity
And finding ourselves naked before our fears.

Your walls and fortresses seem so strange and unnecessary to me,
And mine to you, I am sure.
But each brick was so carefully laid
By the wisdom of our child-minds
To protect our tender sensitivities.

So our sparkle survived—but where?
Bottled in our cores, in restless twilight.
It’s time to unshroud our souls,
For, like old wine, they have ripened long enough
And it’s time to taste the nectar.

July 1985

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Pandora Balks

Welcome

I’m leaving the lights on these days.
I don’t care if it does waste electricity—
It’s false economy to live in the dark.

I’m leaving the gate open too.
How can I be afraid you would steal
What I would give you anyway.

Best of all, I’ve put out the welcome mat.
I’ve built up the fire and put on the kettle
And yes, it’s you I’m inviting in.

January 1989

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Pandora Balks

Why do I even imagine you would heed me—
A frail woman,
Standing alone before the multitude
Of the world.

I didn’t even create the pestilence—
I only looked
At what it was I carried
That weighed so.

So now that blame is set squarely
On my shoulders,
March on, in your righteousness,
Over your own dead.

April 1989

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Journey

I’d rather be at home, you know,
And get the children off to school,
And settle into my daily routine,
And not be a hero at all.

It’s just that step follows step
And suddenly, I’ve walked a long, long way.
I lean into my dreams, you see,
And suddenly, I’m inside them looking out.

I’m here in the eye of a spinning vortex
Of human power and endeavor, simply asking
The elect to touch, just once, my visionwork
And they do it, of course,

Because we all touch each others’ visions,
We are all swept by the same storm;
And somehow, I got to carry a candle,
For myself, as well as you.

November, 1987

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Impose Peace

Impose peace
On your neighbors.
It’s good for them.

Impose ethics, too,
Or the world
Will go to the dogs.

Impose yourself.
What better model
Could there be?

November, 1987

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Fire From Heaven

I have felt
The fire from Heaven
Running through my body.
I was so frightened
I pulled back
And broke the spell.
That was the first time.
It’s happened since
And I still can’t bear it,
Yet I long for
The burning purge
That feels like Home.

1989

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Tumult

I always danced
(Too close to the flame).
You’re tired of burning your hand
When you reach in
To pull me out
And set me down
In cold, hard reality
Out of love.

But when you look away
I shrug my shoulders,
Turn sideways and disappear
Beyond your reach—
Back into the tumult
Of whatever it is
That happens beyond
The close portals of the mind.

May 1990

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Ah, the deepening of the heart—
Out of the darkest clefts
Flows the crystal spring.

My heart is pulled to you—
And I weep light
From my chest.

1990

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Iterations of Joy

Like a drop
of oil
on water,
My thought
expands
across the world—
A rainbow
kaleidoscope
of peace.

Like the warmth
of our Mother’s
breast,
My work
enfolds
our humanity—
The blissfully safe
comfort
of home.

Like shouts
amid cathedral
archways,
My footsteps
reverberate
to infinity—
A thousand
iterations
of joy.

November 1987

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Rivers
(to Juliette & Sergei)

The two mighty rivers
Join with a roar:
The earth rolls back
As the water thunders its new power.

Cold steam bursts forth,
Biting the air
Where shoulders of water
Labor against the membrane of the sky.

Swift currents (black and cold)
Wrestle and heave in the depths,
Inexorably rent and woven
Into a single writhing braid.

October 1990

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Who Belongs?

Who belongs, anyway?
Who fits in and who forever stands outside?
And who decides who’s who?

Who? So who are the real insiders?
Are they different from you and me?
Are they smarter, dumber, quicker?
Why do the crowds always drift their way?

Hey? Well, I want to venture a guess—may I?
Will all you inside doubters permit that?
Who belongs? I do—to you; and you—to me.
And who decides? I do. You, too.

December 1987

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MY Stuff

Hey, come back here with my stuff!

I just wanted to show it to you
For your sympathy.
I didn’t mean for you to take it.
I may complain a lot about it,
But what else do I have to show
For years of self-righteous suffering?
Who would I be, anyway,
Without my collection.

If I didn’t complain,
We’d have no reason to talk.
Besides, if you’re so good
With problems, tackle your own—

But leave mine to me.

1989

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Brakes

YES, I’M SHOUTING! I HURT!
I HURT ALL THE TIME.
And not even pain can dull the PAIN.
My mind is stuck at full throttle and I can’t shut it off.

My brakes were worn through from overuse
Before I was even out of diapers—
And mettle has torn against raw flesh;
For all these years I’ve eaten myself away.

Wild panic is my driver even at this moment
As I wrench on the brakes
To glide calmly and pleasantly with you
In pretended control and rationality: I grit my teeth.

But I’ve told you all this before—
Or you knew it without saying,
And somehow you’ve allowed an open space between us
Where I can apply full power without danger—

And learn to manage my miraculous vehicle
With nuances instead of violence.
And somehow then,
The burning breaks begin to mend.

February 1989

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Abortion

I had an abortion, I nearly died of shock.
But I would have died a million deaths, birthing
And parenting a child of rape—thank God
I have a right to my body.

I had an abortion. I was a single mother
With two pre-school children; abandoned
By their father. TELL me about “family.” At least,
I have a right to my body.

I had an abortion. I can’t imagine how
The children and I alone would have survived the year
Of disabling sickness that pregnancy brings me—
I have a right to my body.

I had an abortion. I submitted to threats of violence
From a man I had loved, thief first of my all-too-scarce money,
And then enforcer of his denial even that
I have a right to my body.

I had an abortion. I would have had a hard time proving rape;
I despaired in silence until morning sickness set in—
And we had been lovers. I’m not always so sure
I have a right to my body.

I had an abortion. My mother paid for it.
Differences aside, she always did see to it that food money
Didn’t have to go for other things—she pointed out that
I have a right to my body.

I had an abortion. I was lucky, it was legal.
God help our country when self-preservation is not.
And if I pass to my daughters only one thing, it’s that
They have a right to their bodies.

April 1989

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Gifts

Weep, weep!
such gifts of love
You, my sisters,
give me—

Harmony,
gloss for hopelessness,
Serenity,
a mask for terror,

Concern,
a foil for blame,
Humor,
unassailable ridicule’s face,

Bravado,
rage in loose shackles,
And last, communication
which expose the rest.

1990

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Flow

She sat next to me,
Chatting of days’ details
While intensity like a raging river
Rolled through her.

I stood a spectator
As she dropped depth charges of profundity
Interspersed with offers of
Sandwiches and tea.

From times like these,
I emerge as though newborn:
Glad for the experience,
And just as glad it’s over.

May 1990

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Dignity

Don’t draw your water from an empty well
And believe that you’ve spilled it somehow.
Don’t quench your thirst from an empty cup
And waste yourself away.

Don’t let go of the flame in you
(However dim) that cries "no".
Don’t set it out in the hurricanes of ignorance
That whistle around you.

Don’t appreciate too much the gifts
(They’re called) of charity and condescension.
You’ll pay full price before you’re done—
Believe it.

Take back your dignity—it’s of no use elsewhere
And quit lamenting what you haven’t done.
The reason they can sit there on top while you struggle
Is that you chose the higher peak.

January 1989

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Such a state,
that violence
is standard fare,
but loving is obscene.

The biggest magic
of the healing hands
is the willingness
to touch.

1990

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Wedding

I honor your courage, friends,
To bind yourselves together
As two halves of a whole—
Whole in and of each self, for sure,
But in the uniting of your lives
Making something new and more.

And yet, when it all comes down to it,
The best we can ever do
Is marry a bright reflection of ourselves:
A projection of our love—and fear,
(and everything else, for that matter)—
Drawn up close against us.

And the daily living, on intimate terms,
with those parts of ourselves
Which we normally cast far afield
Is like the forger’s fire—
Burning away the familiar foils
And making the Joined as one.

May 1989

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Cancer

I watch with eyes closed as you approach the wall
With full velocity—a keyhole, your only hope of passage.
(What contortions we humans endure
As we rush toward our projection of balance and life.)

I watch with heart open half in awe, half in fear of your process—
Knowing that I am a beneficiary in any event,
As you, a peer of mine, careen toward
Death, one way or the other.

Anything I might do to protect you only reduces the chances
That somehow, you’ll fly through that keyhole, and,
Looking back, see the illusion, and choose
To survive the transformation—but transform you must.

1989

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Indigent

Don’t drive your battered car on empty.
Don’t litter the Safeway parking lot with your pain.
Don’t cry, for God’s sake, that your children
Can’t afford even a cup for you to pour yourself into.

Don’t pretend you don’t need a coat,
Or that you keep your lean and boyish figure out of choice.
Insist, dammit, that lack of work is temporary
And you’ll be back on your feet soon.

Don’t blame your poverty on bad luck.
Pull yourself together, man—get back on track.
I’ll even lend you quarters for your calls for help.
What more could you ask?

December 1988

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Supermarket

I own the whole supermarket,
From the fruits to the meats.
My inventory is as complete
As modern technology can provide.

My goods are the best dried, fried, canned or frozen
Products that cents can buy.
I have warehouses of the stuff—
And an infinite line of supply should that not be enough.

I have the latest inventory techniques—
I know exactly what, where, when, how and why.
My personnel are trained to accommodate:
“The customer is always right,” “YOU are our only business.”

But get this straight: the supermarket is not me.
I keep this stuff on hand for one reason only—
To remind myself that I’ve already got it all, and,
No matter what your scare routine, I’m not buying.

January 1989

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Firestorm

My carefully constructed ‘I’ statements
EXPLODE
In the firestorm of frustration
That leaps out through my eyes.

I watch the explosions
Like distant fireworks
On the dark sky of your psyche—
I give up hope:

If my coolest effort to communicate
Can only come to you
Sheathed in the whiteheat of my pain,
Shouldn’t I simply abstain?

Then I could vent via civilized means—
Like cancer and heart disease,
And the slow inward spiral
Of Denial of Self.

No, no! I want to be healthy,
But, oh, what a bitter price—
That those who would be close to me
Risk immolation.

September 1990

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Recognition

When I meet you, I know
Our hearts are one—
I see it in your eyes
I feel the tingle in my skin.

And once more I look out
At the broad view of eternity,
My brother, my sister, myself;
No words need be said.

May 1990

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Press Me

Press me gently
through my seive
of misapprehension,

That I could,
by desiring, somehow
communicate the desire.

1990

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Razor

Have you ever noticed how those life-changing moments
Cut open one’s illusions like a razor blade—

To fast to be painful in the moment, the silver flash
Lays open what was solid a minute before.

1991

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Surface Decoration

We live our lives out
as surface decoration on
fragile spheres,

Afraid to touch lest we break;

Rigid and solid-seeming outside—
Empty within.

1991

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Poesy

Leaping the second dimension
And merely pausing at the third,
The lines of a poet are the bridge
Through which we peer forth.

January 1989

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Recalcitrant

My emotions, when let out,
Are unruly and thoughtless.
I generally keep them in a back room
Where they’re unlikely to offend.

Then I can entertain up front
And have some semblance of order in my life.

May 1990

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Into my firestorm
Of self-condemnation,
Wisdom falls
Like a light rain.

December 1988

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Heresy

Don’t cry for me—
An innocent victim I am not.
Pain is a four-letter word only
When one is abandoned to it.

Mine are birth pangs—
Recognition of life force
Exploding in glorious celebration
Of the gift of experience.

Don’t deny me, either—
Martyrdom is not the cloak
Of a coward, but of a visionary
Claiming both the lightness and the dark.

What can it mean to you
That your spawn is one
Who knows the Mysteries?
Is nothing sacred?

January 1989

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Grief

If only I could have been good enough
Smart enough, successful enough,
She would have seen her error,
And wanted me after all.

My life-line was the hope that
That holy place of acceptance
Did exist, and if I tried hard enough,
I could find it.

And she would advise me, glibly,
That the solution to my problems
Was to be here if I was there, and
There is I was here.

But now, she dismisses commitment
And offers no logic at all.
How infinitely easier to hold impossible hope
Than none at all.

January 1991

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Mothering

It’s painfully obvious
What I’ve done wrong—

I’ve given my children
An abundance of what I, myself,
Desperately needed as a child
And never got.

They’re drowning in it,
Yet it keeps pouring out of me—
That great hemorrhage:
Mother’s love.

My friends advise
That I’m out of balance—
That’s not news! But tell me,
Is there such a thing as right?

May 1990

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Deserter

I was your flag that was raised in defeat,
To flap loudly in defiance and humiliation.
I was your banner of infinite potential
Swept along in an inundation of angry capitulation;
Held up as a bright target, that ridicule (and worse)
Might be diverted from the routed army.

You, my family, were that army, and whence came
The defeat and hopelessness, I don’t know.
You raised me after the battle was given up
And impotent rage was the only avenue.

But I was never a party to the fray,
Though I bellied up to the camaraderie
Of resentment and kept appearances—
(It was all I knew), and God knows, I had grievances, too.

The sun is still shining outside, though,
And there is no safety to be had here
Amid generations of treachery, denial and fear.
I think I’ll run for it.

June 1989

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Passage

Dance and laugh and sing out
the futility of it all.

Let it go—feel the pain,
begin again.

November 1990

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Sunset

Glittering sparklers of the dying sun
Strewn in careless handfuls across the water—
These are the stars I’ve wished on.

Wave after wave of wind-shaped facets,
Rippling liquid diamonds rushing toward me—
These, the mirrors of my light and shadow. Geometric dancers play across my vision;
Rise and fall in sensuous delight—
These I choose my partners for the night.
These I choose my partners for the night.

January 1989

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You Are Nothing

“You are nothing,” they told you.
Indeed, it is truth—though probably not as they meant it.

You are nothing, like the air is nothing
As it sweeps in irridescent whorls round our blue-streaked home;

You are nothing, like the great breathing Cosmos is nothing,
Inconceivable void, keeper of secrets;

You are nothing, like the pause before the breaking of the day;
Like the hush into which an orchestra plays its first note;

You are nothing, as we all are nothing—
Infinite in our Nothingness, mere imaginers of the Possible—

And out of that, my friend, springs All.

May, 1989

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Unpublished Poems
Distant Sunder

Distant Sunder

I wake to the sound of distant sunder
Yet, turning over, hear only the anticipation of dawn.

The world cracks open with a rush of liquid fire,
But the birds just keep singing—
I might wish to watch the unfolding drama
From the distant vantage of sleep.

But, in my dreams, I am drafted,
And by day, I march already to the beat.

September 1991

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New Man of Russia

Hold the egg-shell earth in your hand,
New Man of Russia, and breathe
Life into your homeland (once more).

Birth the new paradigm of soul and intellect united
While all the world midwifes your labor.

Push hard, push hard—pain, blood and sweat
Are forever the media of human transformation.
Yours is both the agony and the relief.

September 1991

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We have rubberband arms.
We women of Light
Clasp our hands to stretch around all
Who care to duck inside
Our circle...
Your circle...
Love’s circle.

August 1996

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The River Is

My love for you
Is the rising river
Flush with the spring thaw.
The water rushes; the river is.

My passion for you
Is, at once, bracing and muscular,
Yielding and transparent.
The water rushes; the river is.

Heedless, I catapult into midair—
Weightless, breathless.
Then, swallowed, engulfed, absorbed.
The water rushes; the river is.

November 10, 1999

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I have spun
and woven
Another gossamer year
of life,

And leave it
draped
Over the sleek, curving
shaft of time—

Like a piece
of iridescent scarf
Thrown over
the back of a chair.

June 10, 2001

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If only you keep yourself true,
And I also keep myself true,
Then each to the other, we will belong
Forever in both of our hearts.

September, 2001

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The curtain clouds of winter sky have opened onto night
And starlight showers down on us in silver—bright and soft.
And though the chariot of morning hesitates to start its flight,
Behold—our precious little bird already darts aloft.

January, 2003

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What I Know Now

I was the bird that was caught in the hand
And never allowed to fly,
But what I know now is to fly with my heart
And I don’t need wings to go high.

What I know now is peace in my heart,
And joy, and love, and hope.

I was the dream that was caught in the dark
And could never awake to the dawn
But what I know now is that dreaming is life
And, with light from my heart, I’ll go on.

What I know now is peace in my heart,
And joy, and love, and hope.

I was the raindrop that fell from the sky
And was caught by the thirsty Earth
But what I know now is that from her deep womb
I flowed out to an ocean rebirth.

What I know now is peace in my heart,
And joy, and love, and hope.

April 13, 2003

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The Big Question on St. Valentine’s Day

What if I am hopelessly, terminally, wrong?
What if I am hopelessly, terminally, right?
Either is stasis, whereas life is motion
And—I am alive.
Change is all; not-change is all;
All is all, ball, call, tall, hall, mall ...

Mall—to shop is to live;
To ship is to love;
And TODAY is the day of shopping love—
The merging of opposites.

Valentine, validate, values;
Saint, sin, sun;
Cupid, stupid, vapid, orchid;
Heart, part, smart, fart—
Air—hot air—heir to what?
Heir: to life, to love, to shopping.
Heir, hari, hari, om.

February 14, 2004

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The Center of the World

Sunlight glints around the edge
Of the golden birch leaf—
Forming diamonds that dazzle me;

The leaf trembles and I close my eyes
And see the light beyond.

The wind dances ice crystals
Around the water’s edge—
Forming diamonds that intrigue me;

The water trembles and I catch my breath
And love flows through me.

You hold out your hand and invite me
To the center of the world—
Showing diamonds that fill me with wonder;

My heart flutters and opens wide
And I flash into form.

February 2004

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