Poetry, Part Two: My Poems

Etching of trees

In response to my recent post The Power of Poetry, a reader asked me to share some of my own poems.  Here are two, both of which were written as assignments for the Coursera Sharpened Visions workshop class I took last year.  I hope you enjoy them.

A Heavy Weapon

Belief is a heavy musket
Carried wherever you march
Weighing on your shoulders
As you trudge across the battlefield

You brandish it at others
Keeping them at bay
Foreclosing understanding
In your quest for victory

You’re trained, prepared to fire
At perceived enemies
Empathy is weakness
You must preserve yourself

Your weapon protects you
From the muskets of others
At the cost of brotherhood
For a hope of promised glory

Lay down your gun and
Open your eyes
This battlefield is a lush pasture
Full of life — paradise itself.

Living Heirlooms

My mother sent me home last month with plants
A bleeding heart to add to corabells
And daffodils she planted in my yard
In summer last year, gifts to warm our house

She’d carefully removed them, roots in tact,
From flower beds she’d started years ago
So I would have a piece of my old home
To gaze on while I live in Tennessee

She still has bushes growing, flowers too
From her own mother, gone now thirty years
These plants outlive their cultivators, serve
As monuments to lives already past

Until some future person plucks them out,
Neglects them, none the wiser to their tales
Of fam’lies, struggles, triumphs, hearts, and dreams
That fueled their growth and live on in their stems

My parents planted me a dogwood tree
Commemorating my first marriage vows
When I divorced, new owners felled their gift,
Not knowing of their labor and their love

My mother’s toiled in soil for many hours
To build her masterpiece of blooms and leaves
A messy garden often full of weeds
A landscape rarely glimpsed by visitors

But hummingbirds and cardinals stop by
Appreciating strokes of pink and orange
A concrete cherub looks on lush green plants
That give no food, but nourish mother’s soul.

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