Mother’s Lament II

Growing up was a nightmare of fear and violence.

I am played out repeating this bold truth;

thought I was doing better by protecting and guiding them;

Did not realize memories would be so easily erased.


Do not be impatient with me then,

though I well remember the skewed priorities of youth.

I am not an unredeemable experiment in failure,

simply human, and imperfect.


Be grateful the plant growing from a crooked stalk

still seeks the light of the sun

with an ever-straightening

illustrious jewel crown of flowers.


~ bj


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Like sparks and fish

and rapids strong enough to cut through granite,

the mind veers off and into another coral cave,

another orbit; a cosmos of the frenetic

in the attempt to assuage itself

over its charge’s inevitable demise.


How does consciousness live

with containment such as this;

bounded by skull and bones and flesh?


Illusion, the product of limitless creativity,

becomes accepted as real

while the spirit knows it is being hoodwinked.

Still, like a dog chasing its tail,

the momentum continues until,

in order to complete its rotation,

it becomes as unlike itself as possible

and morphs into a line.


And we wonder at insanity.


Take Two:

With diligence and observation,

the mind can be stilled.


~ bj




Our final breath comes when,

at long last,

we nudge back toward



Billions of atoms

moving through time and space –

locked within the confines of skin

in a dance with life, itself.


Too short, this

parenthesis in eternity;

as time flexes to accommodate

the neverending flow between pleasure and pain.


Like waves upon the ocean, we roll

back and forth,

endlessly adjusting

while our basic nature remains the same.

If the ocean changes little in millennia,

how, then, are we expected

to stem the flow of thoughts and responses,

habitual as the tides?


The need for quiet contemplation

nudges a thickened consciousness.

If we fail to heed the call,

push out reflection in favor of reaction,

the gulf expands until a chasm opens up,

threatening to swallow our

best intentions.


One may become a stranger

even to oneself.

~ bj


Too Much Said

 Now fold your arms, and bow your head. And listen, while the prayer is said.

~ from my childhood






I learned them well as a child

growing up on concrete and asphalt;

backdrop of mountains and trees.


Sitting in Sunday school,

arms folded and legs crossed,

I mastered obedience

instead of boundaries.

When asked, I answered –

simple as that.


There’s a certain Stepford chasteness

in carefully following directions.

At the same time, innocence

is crushed when deference

to The Law produces parrots

instead of persons.


Squawk! Now you see me.

Turn away and you don’t.


If I couldn’t capture my reflection

in the ocean of your eyes,

I was lost.

Only later did I realize the futility

in unquestioning compliance.

Only later did I comprehend

circumspection; the ability

to rein in the tongue.


Too often have I given away

bits of essence to care-less ones.

Too many times have I shared far too much,

spawning boundless regret.

Observations On the Train – Part Four

The young man’s smile is engaging, while his girlfriend sits placidly, brow furrowed with tension, locked in a computer embrace. They are from Chicago, and have taken the train to Davis, California to a friend’s wedding. He possesses a rather lovely SLR/digital camera, and spends most of his time gazing out the window and snapping frames of the countryside.

She looks up and smiles tightly, doe-like eyes magnified through the lenses of her glasses. Pale skin tells me it’s been a long time since she has basked in sunlight. Indeed she affirms a harried work schedule that, despite the sheer magnitude of her employer’s firm, is frankly enjoyable. If only the company were a bit smaller, while she rushes to erase any criticism with the kindness of coworkers; the leniency of a schedule with free weekends. She appears exhausted.

Her boyfriend overhears that I live in Hawai’i. He asks What city would you live in, if you could live anywhere in Hawai’i? I tell him that one is easy, for there is no city in the great, wide world I would ever choose to live in; that I am a straight-up country girl, craving clean air and soil and wide, open spaces. He insists. But IF you had to choose, where would it be? Presses me again with such eagerness and guile that I feel obligated to answer. Honolulu, I finally settle upon, sure he is going to inquire about job possibilities in his Internet Technology field. He seems delighted, sharing that he once applied for a job in Honolulu but was turned down. I encourage him to have another go, adding She, my head inclining toward his weary traveling companion, would be happy if you did! And am rewarded with that weak smile, that flawless porcelain skin furrowed at the brow.


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To Have and To Hold

She doesn’t want to let me go –
it’s in the blood.

Like cells, we divide,
move apart;
couple up with others,
and revel in the familiar
of an original template:

Our mother is leaving us,
hysterical now with dementia.
It’s fun to watch her laugh,
as we know the other side:
disgust, apprehension,
downright terror.

We ourselves are dead or dying,
as one by one
she picks us off
like fleas irritating
a mind tossing darts
at her imminent demise.

When this passes –
and it will –
we will expand our love
to fill the void;
let it seep into the spectrum
of children, spouses, selves.

Affection and endearment
are ours to have and to hold,
from that day forward –
until we, too,
shed these precious skins
and flow back into pure light.





How long can one exist on just a story? I think some people live out the entirety of their days in the thrall of fabrication. And many don’t realize it until it is too late.

I remember My Story. It began in the distant past, and I coughed it up and out like a nasty hairball – a reflexive and seemingly necessary act at the time – resulting in an unpalatable mess plopped directly in my path for all the world to see. I had to side-step it, just to forge on with a tiny bit of progress.

Recognizing something is a huge help in preventing its future recurrence.

Once I observed My Story for what it was, not only could I strive for greater authenticity, but I could detect the affliction in others. Another leap and I sailed beyond judgment into the waiting arms of compassion; not only for others, but for the once-mired illusory self I’d been dragging around all those years.