Longing to Belong

Longing to Belong

How can I belong when I long
for something different,

when life holds little
more than disappointment?

I take a deep breath every time
I wonder if I’m meant to be here,

yet I continue to listen
when my voices ask these questions.

How can I dismiss them, any more
than dreams that offer alternatives?

I am most alive when I embrace
the anxiety they hold.

Is it madness to question
whether I am where I belong?


This is my response to Reena’s Xploration Challenge #231. Reena offers a video poem, “How to Be Alone” by Pádraig Ó Tuama, as inspiration. I’ll embed that video, but here is a link to the text of the original poem: How To Belong Be Alone | The On Being Project


Snack Bar Alchemy

Snack Bar Alchemy

There is no physics, no chemistry in your alchemy,
no sometimes where truth is concerned.
Not now. Never. No silver lining will change that.
Fools, drunk on the belief that gold lies at the end of
your rainbow, would sooner find wealth in a clod of dirt.
With words as filling as a snack bar of deception
flavored with delusion, your sincerity rings hollow.

This is my response to Wordle #252.

sometimes | never | snack | bar | drunk | fools | gold | silver | alchemy | physics | dirt | clod

Spirit, in Place

Spirit, in Place

Bluffs and streams surround me.
Those who like to think themselves
native to this place when its indigenous
people were eradicated from the state
long before Roundup was even remotely
considered a hazard to a biology that would
include them if they were still here,
like to think it’s part of the Ozarks,
even if it’s a bunch of foothills to the north
with bluffs scattered here and there.

As for those bluffs and streams,
I walk trails that skirt them, cross them,
offer great views of them. Or I float
the streams, sometimes right beside
those bluffs, taking in the beauty
they hold in an eagle carrying a fish
to its nest, or an aged cedar clinging
to a hundred foot cliff, or a green heron
at the foot of that cliff watching
for a fish the eagle may have missed.

Will I ever consider myself a native,
when my mind always goes back to
the blue water of lakes that were great
long before I knew them, or a river
that flows from one lake to another,
rushing over a cataract midway,
or land that lies flat before it meets
mountains that aren’t afraid to be called
foothills of the Alleghenies?

When there is spirit of place in both,
where I witness both peace and struggle,
where I can try to forget my own struggles
and become a part of the peace
that surrounds me, is there any difference?

This is my response to earthweal weekly challenge: SPIRIT OF PLACE, where Brendan asks us to “write about the spirit(s) of place where you live and have your being in.”

Within Nature’s Balance ~ concrete poetry

 Within Nature’s Balance

This is my response to Day 28 at napowrimo.net,
where we are asked to write a concrete poem.

Using a screenshot, the lower half of the image shows how it appears on my screen.
Click on the image for a larger view in a new tab.

Formatted differently, the poem might appear as below.

Within Nature’s Balance

Imagine the peace and harmony this world
would know, the balance
that could be

if life were as easy to navigate
as the waters that greet and accept

this paddle with-
out reservation, one of
many essential elements
within the greater


this is apheresis ~ concrete poem ~ with audio


This is my response to Day 28 at napowrimo.net, where we are asked to write a concrete poem. This may narrowly fit within the definition, as it was adapted from a poem written in verse to fit the shape of a drop of blood. (The original appears below.) I wrote it in 1998, when I was donating platelets at Roswell Park Cancer Center in Buffalo, NY. Framed, it was still hanging on the wall of the donation center when I stopped donating platelets in 2006. It was published in the hospital newsletter at the time.

Since it was written in 1998, I’ll be sure to write a poem later today, to stay current in National./Global Poetry Writing Month.

Shared with OpenLink Night #315 at dVerse ~ Poets Pub.


this is apheresis

          filled with cheer
          expressing gratitude
          optimism necessary
          for survival
          by some
down the halls
          by others
          beyond the walls

          devoted to
          saving lives
          to aid
          those in need
          vital components
          of a precious nature
          donations from
          a precious source

          a jab and
          a mild twinge
          the sense of a feather
          passing over my arm
either way
          any sense of intrusion
is soon gone
          by thoughts
          of those in need

          with no need
          to return
          with no
          of urgency
          of those
          who know urgency
          to offer aid
          expecting to see
          filled with cheer
          expressing gratitude

this is apheresis



Bruised Ego

Bruised Ego

This precaution, a prevention
of future cognitive lapses –
I do understand the concept,
having once briefly lapsed
in cognitive function –
does not confuse me,
yet it confounds me.

My blood is now thinner
and rises more swiftly
to the surface, and so the scars
I wear migrate, week by week.

This week, it’s a purple badge
on each arm, from elbow to wrist,
arms not meant to be squeezed
into a tight space to retrieve something
nearly irretrievable. I bump the table,
or a door frame, and my hip or shoulder
wears the bright blush of embarrassment.

A scratch on my finger,
so minor as to go unnoticed,
leaves a red trail
of directional dots
on the kitchen floor.
If I were donating blood,
a pinprick would suffice.

Spatial orientation, once a given,
seems to have been deleted
from my résumé. A victim
of that previous cognitive lapse?
If only I could remember
to be more careful.

I had a TIA in late 2019 with no further developments, but since I’m a borderline candidate for surgery to correct my patent foramen ovale (PFO) , which was diagnosed in 2020 and had allowed a small clot to go to my brain, my cardiologist recently prescribed a blood thinner to reduce the risk of any more TIAs. (It was my decision to forego surgery because of risk due to age.)

Off prompt, but shared with Day 27 of napowrimo.net.


A Winter’s Tale

This is my response to Poetics: Homage to the Bard, at dVerse ~ Poets Pub. To honor William Shakespeare, baptized on 26 April 1564, Ingrid asks us to use one of the provided titles, including “A Winter’s Tale,” in a poem. Forget iambic pentameter, dragging rhyme and meter out of me is like pulling teeth. So, I offer this:

A Winter’s Tale

Though I may look back
and see much to be forgotten,
it was not all a winter’s tale.
There was warmth,
of this I can’t deny.
How else could two souls
be bound for three decades?
And though, in the end,
a chill took hold,
love played its part
for the greater portion.
Long after it burned itself out,
I hold close to my heart
three souls, born of the embers
of that original fire.

Photo: May 2019

A Maid in the Mist ~ aisling

A Maid in the Mist

I stand on the shore of the Niagara,
beside a stand of reeds,
dawn shedding its light dimly
through morning fog.
On a rock amid those cattails,
a black-crested night heron
turns its red eye towards me,
and the bird’s shape shifts
until I’m faced by a maiden
in a simple gown of gray and white
that shifts like the wings
of the bird that first greeted me.
Lelawala, Maid of the Mist, speaks.

Long was I troubled by the return
of the snake of my time, that serpent
that sought to poison these waters,
and so my people. Only by the will
of the Thunder God was it defeated,
its great body forming the rim
of the mighty falls. But your snake
is not mine. It is industry.

While your neighbors to the north
have long sought to maintain their shore
as a parkway, it took long decades
for your people to recognize the toll
imposed by industry. The renewed state
of that shore must be a reminder
to never again let that snake raise its head.

I realize that the fog has thinned
in the morning light, and that,
once again, I am eyed by that heron,
which turns from me to take flight.

I wake, and I’m left with a fading memory,
an early morning mist that dissipates
in a warm October sunrise as the air loses
its grasp on the river, lets it slip back
into its already cooling depths,
that air now filled with sunlight.

This is my response to Day 25 at napowrimo.net, where we are challenged to write in the poetic form known as aisling, which was developed in Ireland. Maureen tells us that “an aisling recounts a dream or vision featuring a woman who represents the land or country on/in which the poet lives, and who speaks to the poet about it.”

The Niagara River forms a portion of the border between the United States and Canada. While Ontario has long maintained a parkway along the entire length of the river, New York’s shore from Lake Erie to Niagara Falls has been home to all kinds of industry, from chemical factories to steel and paper mills to landfills. Many of those plants are gone, and conservation efforts have cleaned the shoreline and restored habitats. In both countries, the Maid of the Mist is recognized as a symbol of Niagara Falls. Details of the legend can be found here.

 Image: black-crested night Heron on the Niagara River, at dusk
~ click for larger view in new tab ~