ON THE PATH

Photograph with poem within

 

Photograph by Matthew T. Kline. This is on the cover
of my new poetry book "On The Path," published by
Kelsay Books in November of 2014. My poem inside the
picture stands alone as the final poem in the book.

 

 

 

 

TOMORROW DEBUTS

Tomorrow
auditions shyly —
snatches of birdsong
over woodwind

from just this side
of the divide
betwen sleep
and wakefulness.

Tomorrow’s stage
is lit in shifting
soft spots
that play about
on the inside of
what can only be …

my eyes.
I open them.
Tomorrow debuts —
cast now
and costumed as
Today!

Mary E. Moore
Slightly edited from the version seen in
The Waverly Window, January 2012.

 

 

 

 

BUYER BEWARE

Customers for life,
we should be alert–
eyes out
for imitations,
shoddy workmanship.

Instead,we sell
the merchandise
to ourselves–
offer free trials,
no money down.

We play hunches,
follow fads and
hunt bargains.
Most dangerous of all,
sometimes we fall
in love.

Mary E. Moore
Loch Raven Review, Spring 2011

 

 

 

FORGETTING

Forgetting’s fairly simple to explain.
Just think about a slip of mental gears,
connections missed within the teeming brain.

“Darn! Forgot my wallet,” he’d exclaim.
My tightwad friend gave this excuse for years.
Forgetting’s always possible to feign.

I cling to calendars to ascertain
the dates and times I’ve promised to appear:
connections added for my teeming brain.

My mishaps and mistakes can trigger pain;
if long recalled, can escalate to fears.
Forgetting’s sometimes useful to attain.

When introducing colleagues, I may strain
to recollect a name, till dimness clears,
connections foggy in my teeming brain.

My mother can’t recall and can’t explain
this place, or me, my father’s face, her tears.
Forgetting’s ways are all that now remain.
Connections gone, from what was once a brain.

Mary E. Moore
Honorable Mention, Adult Division,
Charlotte Miller Simon Poetry Contest, 2011
Ardmore Free Library, Ardmore, PA

 

 

ANOTHER LANGUAGE

It proved to be daunting for this volunteer
to make the English language clear
to a group of people from distant places
who absorbed new facts at different paces.

To reach them all, there was no panacea.
They hailed from Poland and South Korea,
from Chile and Russia and Viet Nam.
Facing this challenge required aplomb.

I sacrificed dignity, acting things out,
drawing pictures galore to help dispel doubt.
They struggled to learn, yet helped their peers
and, in the process, calmed their own fears.

We spoke of our lives to make conversation
and hearing these stories, found confirmation
that despite our diversity, easy to see,
on sorrow and joy, we all could agree.

At the start, I’d never have guessed what I’d gain,
what I and my students together attained—
an ease with a language I didn’t impart,
that parlance unique to the human heart.

Mary E. Moore
The HyperTexts

 

 

THE FROG AND THE STREAM

Frog sang aloud in praise of Stream
listing the reasons that she was supreme:

“It’s you who give us shelter and food.
Through you, all who thirst are renewed.
When the ones with wings tire of their flight,
they rest on your back; such is your might.
Sun cannot brand you; you turn back each ray.
You divide to conquer the things your way.
Clouds send you offerings. You create land
by scouring stone and salvaging sand.
To record evolution from day to day,
you capture the likeness of all you survey.
You never sleep, never need rest
you are Spirit made manifest.”

Stream may have heard, but her only reply
was to riddle in ripples meandering by.

Mary E. Moore
Merging Shadows
Community of Poets
Collection, Vol 7, 2008

 

WHISTLING GIRLS

Whistling girls and crowing hens
never come to any good ends.

That’s what I heard when I was young –
a mnemonic implying what shouldn’t be done.

But following Eleanor, Golda, et al.,
my peers reversed this rationale:

Girls, if you’re proud of what you know,
“. . . just put your lips together and blow.”1

Mary E. Moore
Tapestries, Volume II, #1, 2006
P.B. Cosentino, Ed.

1Furthman and Faulkner, To Have and Have Not, 1944

 

 

 

STICKS AND STONES

As a child, I was taught that it wasn’t polite
to call someone "Dago," or "Polack" or "Kike"
but I knew that a far greater cause for alarm
was inflicting on others some bodily harm.

Now the movies and video, comics, T.V.
are all brimming with slaughter and killing is key.
When the corpses accumulate, ratings go high.
As an extra attraction, the severed parts fly.

With the slash of a blade we see blood start to flow,
watch an eyeball explode as it’s burst by a blow.
But "fag" is forbidden, the "n-word" taboo.
and to cheer for the "Redskins" really won’t do.

The motto of times which have gone all P.C.
would, perversely enough, appear to be:
Bloodshed and carnage are fun and games
but never, ever, call anyone names.

Mary E. Moore
The HyperTexts

 

 

 

IN THE SPRING

a young man’s fancy
may turn towards love,
a young woman’s
towards marriage.
Students celebrate
the dates that mark
the end of school.
Workers dream
of vacation
come Summer.

But there are those,
fearfull of Fall,
who do not
Spring forward
They simply strive
to stand still,
happy to have
survived
another Winter.

Mary E. Moore
Merging Shadows
Community of Poets
Collection, Vol 7, 2008

 

 

 

LAST COMMUNION

At first light,
on the deserted inlet shore,
a long-tailed duck, fallen on its side –
only its head thrusts upwards –
struggles to stand.
Again and again it fails.

A woman approaches,
backs off, walks away.

She returns burdened,
kneels beside the bird,
pillows its head
with one of two large stones.
With a fingertip, she strokes a wing.
She lifts the other stone high –
strikes.

Mary E. Moore
The Mid-America Poetry Review,
Spring 2007

 

 

 

 

MEASURE FOR MEASURE

They say
it’s raining
cats and dogs
,
as if that
made sense
and didn’t
call up some
doggoned
catastrophe.

I propose
substituting
it’s pouring
pints and pounds,

which, while
lacking color,
is apropos and
certainly more
humane.

Mary E. Moore
Loch Raven Review,
Vol.11, No.2, 2015.

 

 

 

 

COMING AND GOING

I’ve come to see my friend.
He’s in the hospital sunroom:
head tilted back, eyelids shut,
bag for urine fastened to one leg.

His wife calls out my name
but his eyes remain closed.
He makes no sound.
Only his fingers move,
one by one, extend
and flex, aimlessly.

Three generations of family sit nearby.
A daughter-in-law shares her infant
with each of it’s grandmothers.
The infant’s sister, eager for attention,
begins to sing, on key, with gusto —
a-b-c-d e-f-g h-i-j-k l,m,n,o,p…
Her father beams.

I kiss my friend’s forehead.
Murmur, "Goodbye."

Mary E. Moore The Waverly Window,
October,2014.

 

 

 

 

END OF THE LINE

We set out –
in procession,
speed deliberate,
blinkers flashing,
our ranks closed.

We return –
paces varied,
paths diverging,
some one
missing.

Mary E. Moore
Merging Shadows
Community of Poets
Collection, Vol 7, 2008

 

 

 

 

GROWING TOMATOES

I had not planted them for many years
and why I did last Spring, I do not know –
unconsciously, perhaps, diverting fears
of my decline, by seeing seedlings grow.

The plants exploded into branching vines,
engaging nearby growth in land dispute.
I cut them, staked them, tied them up with twine,
and watched, delighted, blossoms turn to fruit.

Some globes segmented; some were pecked by thieves.
Sunscald branded some with trademark spot.
Enormous caterpillars stripped the leaves
from stems and grounded fruit succumbed to rot.

I’d totally forgotten Nature’s play –
between her giveth and her taketh away.

Mary E. Moore
3rd Place, Adult Division,
Charlotte Miller Simon Poetry Contest,
2008, Ardmore Free Library, Ardmore, PA

 

 

 

NOT MARY, MARY

No silver bells and cockle shells,
my garden always features weeds.
Each year I dream of proud pastels
(my silver bells and cockle shells)
from blossoms with delightful smells.
Though launched with proper bulbs and seeds
for silver bells and cockle shells,
my garden always features– weeds!

Mary E. Moore
Fading Shadows
Community of Poets
Collection, Vol 8, 2009

 

 

 

flake by flake, snow paints
all its landscapes white on white

Mary E. Moore
The Mid-America Poetry Review,
Winter 2006-2007

 

 

 

 

a small white butterfly
flits to and fro
as if it can’t decide
what wonderful thing to look at
next

Mary E. Moore
Modern English Tanka,
Spring 2008

 

 

 

 

GOING TO PIECES

Whenever I feel useless, anxious,
suffer from depression, or am
simply besieged by obligations,
I, quite frequently, go to pieces.

At first, the pieces overwhelm me.
Their number, color and shape
requiring all of my consciousness
to characterize and synthesize.

They are clearly out of place,
yearning for connection, and,
when matched with mates,
epitomize coital gratification.

Orchestrating this matchmaking,
creates a uniquely gratifying atmosphere.
Sharing this experience, one day
a colleague spontaneously queries:

"Do you think they have jigsaw
puzzles in heaven?"

Mary E. Moore
The Waverly Window, July-August, 2014.

 

 

 

 

BREATHING LESSON

Fierce wind
and piercing rain.
Shutters shake. Shingles sail.
Then at long last, stillness. . . We breathe.
The eye.

Mary E. Moore
Amaze: The Cinquain Journal
Fall, 2006

 

 

 

 

AT THE READY

Whistling
a tune, his face
contorts with cheer: the notes
from puckered lips prepared to blow . . .
a kiss.

Mary E. Moore
Amaze: The Cinquain Journal
Winter, 2007

 

 

 

 

FATE

Clamping
its teeth firmly
on that which comes to hand
it bites down, regardless of fault
or faith.

Mary E. Moore
SP Quill Quarterly Magazine,
Spring 2008

 

 

 

END GAME

Toppled
onto its back,
the beetle waves six legs
in space, reaches out for the right
to life.

Mary E. Moore
Amaze: The Cinquain Journal
Spring, 2007

 

 

 

 

PROVING A NEGATIVE

Settled
on untended
things, dust traces the tracks
taken by neither hand nor foot —
of late.

Mary E. Moore
SP Quill Quarterly Magazine,
Spring 2008

 

 

 

NOVEMBER DAY

Faint-hearted leaves
have already capitulated.
Day after tomorrow
skeletal branches will shiver
in thin gray air.
Frost’s ritual killing
will soon be sanctified by snow.

But this day feigns ignorance
of such certainty.
It behaves as if still October
and stages, in sunlit glitter,
a golden, crimson, burgundy
extravaganza.

Mary E. Moore
The Mid-America Poetry Review,
Winter 2007-2008

 

 

 

MADAME CÉZANNE TO HER HUSBAND

It was my lot to sit as still as stone
for just as long as you would have me do.
For years, my form has not been mine alone
but yours, to render in whatever view
your feelings for me prompted you to paint:
as young and unattainable at first;
then succulent, and far cry from a saint;
now middle-aged and dry, by hard-times cursed.

But though ascendancy is yours to claim
as artist, few will recognize your face.
If many never know my maiden name,
my features will persist through time and space,
revealing thoughts that clearly will convey
the marriage I put up with every day.

Mary E. Moore
The Raintown Review,
Spring 2008

 

 

 

YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE

Composed from notes left behind by
the mass murderer who killed thirty-two
people on the campus of Virginia Tech
in April of 2007. Despite having been
declared mentally ill by a Virginia judge,
this student was able to purchase the
handgun he used for the massacre.

You are the ones who are behind my drive,
who formed the cancer growing in my brain
and lit the fire consuming me alive.

The ones who never had to fight to thrive,
whose fancy cars can cruise in life’s fast lane,
you are the ones who are behind my drive.

You were hoping I would not survive,
crucifying me who can’t complain,
lighting fire, consuming me alive.

You, with brand-name clothes, the kind that I’ve
been made to stare at. You, who feel no pain.
You are the ones who are behind my drive.

The ones who always win and slap high-five,
whose parents eat at clubs and drink champagne.
You lit the fire consuming me alive.

If I had run or chosen suicide,
all my heartache would have been in vain.
You are the ones who are behind my drive.
Now I have fired - and you’re consumed alive.

Mary E. Moore
Published in Killer Verse: Poems of Murder and Mayhem,
Harold Schechter & Kurt Brown Eds., Everyman's Library
Pocket Poets, Alfred A. Knopf, 2011

 

 

 

PERSON OF INTEREST

I may have told the truth. I may have lied
about events that happened yesterday.
As things stand now, I can’t, myself, decide.

Were her reactions really justified?
I’d told her that I loved her in my way.
I may have told the truth. I may have lied.

Did she set out to test me and provide
a trap to see exactly what I’d say?
As things stand now, I can’t, myself, decide.

She struck me first because I’d hurt her pride
by telling her about my fiancée.
I may have told the truth. I may have lied.

So might her fall be classed a suicide
or lovers’ quarrel somehow gone astray?
As things stand now, I can’t, myself, decide.

I had no inkling of the fact she’d died
last night, since I left town without delay.
Police dig for the truth. They think I lied.
As things stand now, a jury may decide.

Mary E. Moore
Möbius, January 2006
The Raintown Review, February 2007

 

 

 

hollow inside –
broken promises
all that remain
now that you’ve gone
for good

Mary E. Moore
Modern English Tanka,
Spring 2008

 

 

 

cards face down
feign uniformity
turning them over
I expose the hand
I’ve been dealt

Mary E. Moore
Modern English Tanka,Spring 2008
100 Tanka: 100 Poets, 2012

 

 

 

 

EYE WITNESS

Was I
the one you heard
just before the sirens blared
and you fled, leaving her dead? Yes
I was
close by when you caught up with her
and, cursing, knocked her down.
The fatal fall . . .
I saw.

Mary E. Moore
SP Quill Quarterly Magazine,
Spring 2008

 

 

 

 

on Mother’s Day I miss
my exceptional child . . .
a unique combination of me
and a man
I might have met

Mary E. Moore
Modern English Tanka,
Summer 2008

 

 

 

 

HOME ON THE NET

(to be sung to the tune of Home on the Range)

Verses:

Oh give me a home where the in-people roam,
where chat and email hold sway;
where never is heard an un-Googled word,
and shopping‘s made easy all day.

Oh give me a place, the world to embrace,
with virtual arms spread out wide.
Where web sites are cool and surfing’s the rule
and my mouse is the board I can ride.

I enjoy reading news, anytime that I choose
and online, I can pay all my bills.
I love playing games, under strange user-names;
it‘s a safe way to experience thrills.

How often at night, when digital light
is projected from the flat screen,
have I sat there amazed, and mused as I gazed
at the magic inside my machine.

Chorus:

Home, home on the net,
where chat and email hold sway.
Where never is heard an un-Googled word
and shopping’s made easy all day.

 

Mary E. Moore
Thoughts for All Seasons,
Vol. 6, 2007, M. P. Richard, Editor

 

 

 

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