Posts for June 28, 2018


Paper philosophy

Little paper specks that seem so steady
depend confidently on a strong hand
trust willingly that their string will not break
follow the breeze as it blows
trails ribbons and children
inspires songs and Mary Poppins remembrances
But they are really so fragile
An outreached twig
can destroy them without malice
or any seemingly singular intention
stabbed and stopped by a
simple leafy stick
Is it chaos or 
obedient observation of the rules
Am I Lucy
Or Charlie Brown


In the Dark

When the night is shy,
give her rosé,
she will giggle and tell you
all her secrets. 


For Rose

Hold her close to you

Remember time will pass by

Faster than you wish 


the road to harlan

the road to harlan
silo conveyor hopper
warn do not feed bears
history overhanging
verdant tunnels fog frosted knobs



In adoration of the beauty in the little things surrounding us every day, I return to the once familiar. The prayer for others, that in another life, became ritual.

I see it because I’ve seen it. A flash of empty space where whispers are thunderous and the next step treacherous.

I have not prayed for ages, but tonight I prayed for you. I supplicated to the heavens on your behalf. 

May you take that step. May you travel the path.
You will know when you arrive. Never void of purpose.



Forgive Me If I Decline

Forgive Me If I Decline

My social circle has gotten very small lately:
my man, my cats, my mom, my dad
I’d like to venture out, meet you for lunch,
but I don’t know what to say.
I have no job, no kids, no money
Even fast food or simple drinks
are out of my price range

It’s hard to tell the truth about myself
I would just compliment your accomplishments,
say “I’m doing ok” or “hangin’ in there”
I’d like to say I’m overwhelmed,
drowning, at my wit’s end,
already pulled the last straw

I’d like to tell you the details
of the last five years:
the hallucinations, the broken glass
all over the staircase, the hammer
to the truck window, the homelessness

Me, my brother, my father
sick at almost the same time
three different kinds of cancer
spending 2 of the last 5 years
practically living in the hospital
my closest friend dying in another state
while I was too sick to travel

My mother walking around with
only 10% of her heart working
so stubborn she refuses surgery and medication

It really is the Tylenol keeping her alive.

(If I go a day without hearing from her,
I’m overtaken by fear – afraid I’ll find her
dead still sitting in front of the television)

My man had six surgeries last year
after having many others in his lifetime
(A body can only handle so much anesthesia)

Did I mention the betrayals,
the constant worry of how my bills
will get paid, or what I will have to eat?

I was surprised when my cholesterol was high,
but then I realized there were months where I
lived solely on ramen, hot dogs, or donated pizza.

My brother died, and I’m afraid to mourn him.
When my oldest brother died, my family fell apart,
and there’s so little left to cling to

I don’t know what would happen now.
I can’t afford to lose any- thing/one else
especially not what’s left of my sanity.

I would like to tell you all of these things,
but you wouldn’t believe me.
It sounds like a long-running soap opera,
but it is truly my life.

So please forgive me
if I decline an invitation,
I just wouldn’t
know what to say.


In the Name of Love

I am afraid
But I know you are too

Storms are screaming over this black
Sea of life: your shadow supports
Me from behind as our tiny vessel
Sinks and my hope – heavy in my hands
Like wet sand – weighs down
My soul’s pockets and washes out.  

You sing: “Hold on. Hold on.
There is a light; don’t let it go out.”
I’m gasping and together we push back
Against waves with our bare hands.
There is sadness in our will: the courage
Of the noble righteous doomed
Who defy and defy
Until Defiance kills us –
Because we must, if only for those
Who lack the strength to fight.  

There is no moon; there is just
Water and more cold salted water.
You are not sure anymore;
Love keeps you singing – that’s
All now and that’s enough.  
Sputtering, you clasp my shoulders
Firmly and with fondness:
You pull me under.  

I surrender
To your hold: giving
Even in death, your body
A floating raft for other life –
Silenced yet forever singing hope.
Dawn spears horizon’s spray.


Miles to Go

It’s sorrow, isn’t it, 
the thing unnamed
that sticks between living
and life itself?

To tell the truth
to say how bad the fear gets
to face it down as if under the Bodhi tree
there’s the dogma, what is supposed to happen
not the truth but the shell of truth dressed as coming true.

No use naming the weight of pain and fear
pushed away, off, down, back, out of direct experience
and waiting, trolling, lurking, leering
if grief can leer.
No use even of that ducking, that brilliant avoiding.

No words.
Face it, allow it, welcome it into Rumi’s guest house.
Pain and terror, sorrow, worry—
what is it with the double r words?—
rip the skin with the bandage
walk across the fierce and fiery coals
break the peace that was a lie
no way out but through.

Slow the cruel, taut, necessary Default Mode Network—unman it
slow the breath catching the ragged edge of restless sorrow
slow the walk to lie down where the wood drake rests
slow the fingers, even, on this keyboard
slow the day, slow the chewing
slow the starting to speak
slow the futile talking
slow to no escape.


in your arms

you smell like 
sandalwood, coffee and cigarettes 

you feel like
steadiness, fortitude and home

you give me
freedom, assurance and refuge

i am
wanted, protected and loved

i am home


The Taste of Dirt & Blood Still Lingers

The Taste of Dirt & Blood Still Lingers
It was my grandmother
to whom all the neighbors’ mothers
sent their children, across the fields
by pointing a finger in that direction,
when a splinter of glass or wood 
in the finger or sole of the foot, 
or a speck in the eye would not budge. 
Like wounded homing pigeons they crossed
the hay, pasture and tobacco fields,
or navigated the woods from the back
or the side field.  They came bare-
footed and often barebacked.
She would lick the end of her sewing 
needle, or roll up the corner
of her apron, then pluck out 
the prize in record time. The child
still wincing in pain’s anticipation,
a tongue bitten into the corner
of the mouth.  Here she would say
take this home to your mammy 
and show her what it was.  
She always bled the finger or toe to clean
out any puss, or rinsed the eye with fresh
well water.  Then pulled a piece of precious 
peppermint from her apron pocket. 
Melva Sue Priddy