Sunday, November 9, 2014


Saffron yellow threads of light shine through
the slats of the window blinds.
She wakes early,
dresses, treads outside to greet the glow. 
Last night’s  rain left mud so she is careful
where she steps.  Otherwise,
there’s not a sign of storm, the sky of sapphire,
cloudless.  An owl, unaware
the sun soon will rise, still flies low
overhead, whoo-ing like she’s the trespasser.

She stands at crossroad in her own backyard,
glances once where pale
purple crocuses will open even in the snow.
Uninterested in their optimism, her footfall
finds dry ground to navigate
toward the lone rosebush her husband
planted years ago….years before he died.
The roses are on their second bloom of year. 
China pink at tips of petals, white in middle,
and at center, a color like golden butter.

She lets a finger slide along one stem,
stops and gently, barely pricks herself
with thorn.
She does this every morning− repeats this
strange ritual, where she contemplates
beauty alongside pain, draws
drop of blood, and with her tongue, suspends
the flow, tasting stannic sweetness.

She thinks of all she didn’t say
when he was with her.
She grants that much was said, but cannot
escape the truth that death has summoned
words laid latent she always thought
she’d have time
to verbalize.
Now, these words may as well be buried
alongside his body, for, though she’s taken
each meditation she’s had since and had
also then; let them burn unsaid,
then spoke aloud
with fervor at his grave, then wrote
them down as unsent letter, prose in journal,
and even poem, without response,
they’re worthless−
seeds that will never effloresce.  

She’s not been angry but for this, and every
sentiment she’s left with is one of praise.
Though not a day went by without the words
I love you uttered, now even those seem thin
and wanting.  Wrought with not enough.
Had she never held what all was planted
deeper in, she’d offer self-forgiveness
but the knowledge that these existed
without voice now haunts her.  She had tried. 
Found herself tongue-tied by the sheer emotion
felt, unable
to admit the ache that came with ardor.
So, now, the tiny throb of pulse from prick
all she has to serve as a reminder that once
necessary words were born and budded
in the silent soil
of her mouth.  She’s left
to mourn their suicide.  His, an honest death,
her words a scandalous, shameful hanging,
choked in this vacant air. 

So, she forms prayers of repentance
with hands that tend
the garden that he left her, frets over every
flower’s life but plucks them when they’re
close to expiration, preserves them
in a press.  The grass
grows free but weeds are promptly pulled.

Perhaps she believes the blossoms to be
expression and that care
will be her
her suffering unfinished.

Friday, November 7, 2014


Could our souls be so open
we could build a fire?  Burn the bones
of our past?  We could start again−
Find our souls unburdened
by our quondam havoc.

Yes, baby, unearth your skeletons
and I’ll dig up mine− each
clandestine secret ever held,
every fragment of shame,
every shard of self-reproach.

It’s a midsummer eve; let’s let the sun
set on all that came before we met.
We’ll watch
the framework of the witches
wither in the gilded flames
until their cackling dies out. 
The heat
will scorch our fear. 
We’ll be reborn.
These bones have been our bane
and bondage.  They rise at night
to haunt and taunt, remind
us of our sins; their limbs rattling
as they boldly dance around our bed.

So, during
day, in safety, we’ll bring them
to the light.  We’ll make
a ring of rocks to place disparted
bodies in.  Pile high, bone by bone,
every soulless fuck, every thief
of worth.  Abjuring
in our conflagrant ceremony,
the selves we used to be and the selves
the bones once feigned to be. 
We’ll throw in skulls with cavernous
sockets, where eyes would be, still
as vacant as when flesh filled
face.  We’ll throw in cold and lifeless
frail fingers and inhuman hands
that once grasped for all that was not theirs. 
Their lying tongues have rotted,
their fraudulent hearts, decayed.
Ears that would not listen, now
do not exist and wills that would not stop
when asked, have been long put to rest.  

Now, just bones.
Once the bodies of men who wielded
their weapons like promise, women
who seduced the weak and watched
while their victims moaned and writhed
beneath their honeyed words of power,
now, unburied, we see, these bodies
are just bones.  Without garments of skin,
they are nothing but brittle stories.

The stars will come tonight to shine
their blessing and we’ll drop the match
and we will not mourn
as bones at last turn to ash.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Broken Pleas

Lord, hallowed be your name. Merciful / Lord
                                of reconciliation, hear my / poem as prayer; these broken
pleas in lines,
Lord; /                                        
                                                                             metronomic musings,
unmusical, / heavy with fear.  Lord, hear not my
                                       numb speech /
                                                                                                      but the token−
                                 the meaning.                                                            Take
away / the hindrance of self−
                                the sense of− and leave / with me a greater sense
of your presence; / Your spirit within revealing signs,
                                                                             sight / restored
                                                                       and light.  Within this rare shining, /
shine through
the gift of losing self to You. / This vital understanding
awakened / only in sheets of grace poured out and down /
                                and seen in strips of visibility, / so release me of all pride,
                                                         generate / humility and create connection /
                                                          so I might dine with you in communion /
drink from goblet
                                                                                              of signification /
                                                                                             my sins forgiven
by sipping tipped back / offering and again in harmony / I pray Thy kingdom
come, Thy will be done…. /

The Sunday Whirl

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Light Calling

She held
  her life in her own hands
as if it were an egg.  Strange, small,
A world within, unknown. 
Unexpectedly still intact, she had never seen the whole
of a shell. She imagined
the egg pulsed; felt not vibration
from this hope but believed
not death
would be discovered if she were careful.

Between her thumb
and middle finger, she held it up to the light
streaming through her bedroom window,
to see if she might see inside
but found the covering too thick.
Still, with her index finger, she twirled
this secret little world around;
an oval earth rotating on axis of her will.   
She cupped it gently
                   in her palm,
feeling its cold, smooth shape.
She placed it on a piece of paper, spun it like a bottle
in a kissing game;

removed her touch and noted shadow
and when tired of speculation,
                 she devised a plan for hatching.
She made a nest of blankets in a basket
and went to sleep to wait.  She dreamed
she was inside the egg, warm and safe and placid,
curled up tightly in a ball.  She felt this
while her eyes were closed but a sound
from faraway
woke her and her eyes without permission opened.
Her confinement produced no great unease
though her feet began to tingle.

She strained
        to hear the sound outside herself− a voice,
Conflicting thoughts entered her mind. 
She felt compelled to venture out and meet the call
but also wary.  There seemed only one way out−
that of fracture and this, if she were honest, she feared,
so holed up like a mole in hiding she fell back asleep. 
For years. And in the dream she dreamed she woke
unable to remember where she came from but knowing
who she was. 

And light was streaming
the bedroom, spreading over her, so welcoming
the day, she stretched
        and was subtly aware
that as she did, small bits of shell fell softly off her,
though overall this was unremarkable.  Sitting
on the edge of her bed, she stilled a moment before rising,
and asked the voice that was in the light if she might
be able to see at last the large world outside herself,
and for the ability to release her will, offering herself
to the divine, deriving
power from something higher, demanding nothing
and asking for help only and finally, when she stood,
                                                            with eyes wide open,
she walked out toward the calling,

Margo Roby

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Our Bedroom

The lock on the door that does not keep the children out; every
size of sock, balled up, scattered everywhere, unpaired;
deep-red roses
drooping sadly, heads bowed down, stems entombed in a clouded
vase− eleven of them, so, one short of a dozen
(strange); brown framed
of a laughing, happy Jesus beneath a brown for background
canvas of our names in cursive inside heart of petals; bought
for twenty dollars at a yard sale,
          end of day,
two velvety violet-ish
couches, covered in dog hair, one doubling as a desk, the other
as a hamper; on the coffee table, another vase (this one tinted pink)
with withered flowers– these of unknown variety – purple, too many
to count;...

Plants do not fare well here.  Like the best-laid plans.

                         ... edges
everywhere, crossed, overlaid: books, furniture, shoes overlapping
the edge
where carpet meets tile;
edge of dresser, mantle,
nightstands, all surfaced with papers, trinkets, valuables
and not-so-valuables, threatening
to topple

There are no clear lines here.  Sharp-played piano keys sound
out.  I cannot tune
                        it out.
plunking of rote song
but rather impromptu melody made by small, playful fingers,
moving like geed horses
and also bullet-voices marking breaks, shooting through
these flimsy walls.

...bluest blue sky
seen from my window; subtler blues inside, copycat shades
on candles, glass, hair on a painting where I was favoring
experimentation, in photographs, scarves,
sheets; lip balm in a small, round tin that I can’t open
but won’t throw out; few spots open for sitting or even walking;...

A dismal mess.  Signaling
in our marriage? 
So says a study.

...blanket thrust off the bed in heat, still crumpled on the floor;...

What calm I remember, a ruse believed sub rosa, wrought carefully
with such intricate threads of denial.

...words, words, words, meandering across pages and pages−
poems, prayer journal,
notebooks full of distilled hope; (such
              shallow thirst)
attempts to release heavy weight of this; damaged trust
hidden in a drawer;
half-truths pandering to sentiment hanging on all the walls;...

Media in vitae in morte sumus.

...paperwork combed through for clues; in bowls, matching rings,
unworn; captured and enlarged mocking smile; the muck
of bad luck evidenced in disarray; indulged in urges; aroma
of your cologne, distinct; written rants; and more than what
is written here or even seen.

But, oh, beautiful, imperfect man− my room was a mess
before you moved in.

The Sunday Whirl

Friday, September 5, 2014


First:  acknowledge that it is a dream
you grieve−
nothing more.

I have just that.
Nothing more.  I have just begun. 
Have only just stood
in the hollow made by that assent
staring into the void, turning
my soiled hands around and around
to see if I can recognize the dirt
woven in with my veins.
Have only just
recently seen
that it (we− you) was
(were) merely what I wanted it to be
and nothing more.

How, seeking reality, did I,
made of clay, sculpt
man with such care, my hands
so gently
smoothing?  Yes, my fingers
can still feel skin where I thought
your face to be.  I cannot call to mind
an image of my thumbs sinking
into your flesh
carving out cup-shaped sockets
to look so deeply into
but here, I see,
beneath my nails, the mud.
What greater sin than this
surmoulage?  I do not believe I breathed
when we kissed.

I had a falling dream and woke to find
I really fell.  I am still plummeting.
In the mornings, words greet me.
Unfinished words, I long ago
(not that long ago) began to paint
stenciled on my wall.  The pencil
marks for every letter
are still there, illegible
from anywhere but up close
but the crimson color fill-in fills in
three letters only of a phrase
that was meant to say
a room of one’s own.  I left
the project incomplete
when you moved in.  

Too, unseen, behind books
another fragmentary sentiment:
Half-done purple painted verse:
Hosea 2:14.  I followed your voice
instead, afraid of the desert
and true tenderness.

All these partial writing on the walls.
Like the picture taken early on
that now looks altered in this light.
I can’t say quite how I perceived it before
but now your grin jumps out
too self-assured and my own small smile
registers a certain wariness as if that girl
knew more than what I know now.
And there I wore, and wear even now,
around my neck a symbol of your heart,
that supposed offering.

I think step two is to stop addressing
everything to you, to turn away
from that which I’ve created so I can see
in whose image I’ve been made.
To see what is truly bound,
not around my neck, but on my forehead,
what is tied as symbol to my hands,
what is fixed in my heart and mind.
What words expressed,

I do not wish to make you smaller
than life but only life-sized, finally
so I can recognize my hands when clean.
You can then break, freely.
I will leave your pieces be and pray,
confessing guilt for forgery
and after kneeling, my eyes will see
the evidence of woodwork, revealing
that I have never been alone.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

These Things

A dream
is a poem
is a dream.  Obscure.  I am picking it apart
for clarity, piecing back as best I can, the glimpses,
fragile, lightweight half-truths that they are
and I am considering letting them drop.
                                  Letting them go.
(Though they shine)

I do not want to write you this.
I do not want to write one more poem for you.
I cannot avoid this.  I cannot mature
past this
     this dream.

You have just brought me a cup of coffee−
are the sweet thing
you do.  You ask if there is anything else
you can do, lightly touching my back, leaning
to kiss me.  These things
that I’ve interpreted as love− as if love
is a formula to be expressed by specific
But nothing is this simple.

You have left me with my coffee and my pen
to write.  Do you guess that I will write of you? 
My hands are bleeding.
As for the rest of me− what will
become of it now?  What
will  I look like
in the mirror anymore, I wonder.

We only ever saw the stars
                      so dazzling,
the one night.  Remember?  Even though
every night, I look up.  I said that night
that we were missing all the good stuff.
I don’t know what I meant.  These− all−
are just fragments.  Our foreheads touching,
unaware someone was taking a photo. 
Were you asking if there was anything I needed?
Did I fall asleep with vision of that moment?
Just that one.  That one and ones like it
and build dreams
to carry me through
the waking?  What will I do now?  Everyone
else was looking at the camera but all I saw
was you.