She’s tender,

like rose petals in rain

before sun and weather draw

stalks rigid toward a heaven

filled with wonder and fear

of what lies beyond,

of then and now as small hands

trace feathery lines across his tired brow.


Trembling when confronted

with too many uncertainties,

taking comfort in verdant petioles

and azure heavens, seeds and soil

and lolling tongues of dogs.


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image: Bela Johnson 2013


The old woman clasps worn cards wearily to grizzled chin,

vertical lines set deep as piercing black eyes etched

into an apple doll face.

Sweeping swollen arthritic fingers over lined forehead,

drumming now, listening to the hollow sound

of bony digits echoing against her skull.


Tapping, tapping flat cards to thrust of jaw

ever so gently yet persistently knowing,

as she did,

the message contained within the deck’s images

cast long ago from a stranger’s mind onto paper.


Fear arises, wells up inside her throat,

recalling faces beyond memory

castigating, infiltrating, immolating,

angry as the fires of hell that she knew

more accurately than themselves

their own path unfolding.


What the men wanted and what they got,

whether from her pack or between her sheets,

seldom elicited gratitude;

rather envy and scorn surged

from the recesses of dull minds

expecting picture-book angels,

unready and unwilling to accept

the too-human answer to their prayers.





Whether attributed to Confucius or Jesus and/or simply as a conclusion drawn by many who observe life’s workings over time, Do unto others, as you would have others do unto you is an assertion fastened upon from my youth. It has stood the test of time too, though I now simply consider it karma.

It mystifies me that people who espouse one set of guidelines and live by another are the least likely to understand the implications of this simple Law of Attraction. If I wish others to respect me, I learn to respect others. If I want to be treated kindly, I practice kindness. To everyone. If friendship and unconditional love are desired, I liberate my own considerable affections and entrapments (money and time leap to mind as particularly Western concerns).

If I yearn for others to appreciate me, I consistently demonstrate qualities I wish to have mirrored back by others. These things may be difficult at times, but of course they can be cultivated.

Life is too expansive a canvas to cower in the same corner when there’s a diverse world waiting to be explored. If I continue reinforcing thus and so, I restrict my experience to a set of circumstances that rubber-stamp that belief. I relegate myself to the smallness of my own confusion rather than the glorious adventure waiting beyond the boundaries of what I believe to be known.

image from The Neverending Story

Beyond the boundaries oF Fantasia lies The Neverending Story


Being married to a builder for many years, I cannot look at a bathtub spout without likewise intuiting the plain galvanized pipe that lies at its center, conveying both hot and cold water from their respective copper pipes and sources to that vessel of respite at the end of a long day.

Similarly, I can no longer look at a person and glimpse the veneer they inhabit without also sensing the undercurrent of dissatisfaction or dissimilitude in the presentation.

It might seem like a curse, and I can understand your thinking. It is the bubble burst; the dream splintered into fragments of a plain vanilla reality. Strip away the many-hued veils and the dancer appears, naked and exhausted, as simply one of us.

This commonality is what draws me in, oddly enough. It humanizes the lofty and elevates the mundane onto the level playing field of life. If you dare to join me there, we can soar on thermals of imagination because we know there are no limitations, now that we’ve cast aside that heavy cloak of artifice.

Freedom lies in that shared parenthesis inserted into the continuum of existence. Authenticity is paradoxically that which we cannot view with conditioned eyes, yet it is felt right down to the bones. We either meet there or plunge like Icarus back into the practiced abyss of suffering and into the dreams of others.



Image: Anna M. Rinaldo


He rolls over, nestles into her back;
warm, soft hands cupping bony ribs,
slack belly, full hips.
Years they have lain this way,
waning dancers in the twilight.

She turns, his synchronized movements
practiced upon nights beyond number;
limbs flailing, twisting, entwining.

This is comfort, closing out their days
after the world leaks in.
This is life, restoring rhythm until,
like the last smear of a comet’s tail,
their light extinguishes,
and another assumes its place.


image: Carolyn Weltman


She moves, and moves

frequently enough,

expects life to fill a yearning,

bottomless craving, a pit.


Young face etched with uncommon sorrow,

she doesn’t yet understand the power of thoughts.

Nubile, she hasn’t calculated

life as the means by which we are blessed

with conditions and kinesis,

this dance of adversity and rapture;

maturation only as rapid as we, ourselves allow,

simply to surrender into the miracle

of a blink in eternity,

this life, as we know it -

splendor on a spinning orb.




An avalanche or a rockslide cleaves sharply

from its origins; boulders of perception tumbling, tumbling

thundering carelessly over terrain flinching passively;

unexpected projectiles lodging fragments into storied ice.


Millennial madness, and it drives and it falls

as it plummets and crumbles into heaps of rubble and debris,

like emotions or grief lodging sideways into DNA.


Choreographed over ages too wide and deep to fathom,

mountains draw themselves down toward the sea;

humans carelessly careen into one another,

conductors of orchestrated imaginings

waiting to fasten on,

as the ground slips away, and away.