MJ blathers

dark poet who loves to laugh

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quiet, please

first, i breathe
close my eyes to let the air
flow in, and anxiousness flow out
however raggedly
funny that closed eyes can shut out
at least momentarily
the demands of a world
i cope with only fairly well
in that moment of clearing
my mind and lungs
i center somewhere near
my wellspring of joy
knowing i’ve strayed
without being aware how far
though that wells spring’s overflow
nourishes my soul
perspective, that’s what quiet gives
a gentle light that balances the dark
gives it tenderness, acceptance, compassion
be still, i am reminded
and know
that I am God


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arizona’s compressed red sandstone
frazzles into sandpaper wind
but welcomes not a gush of rain
does not absorb its needed
cool moisture, but sheds it
into runoff that gathers with
other rejected trickle that stream
running headlong across the desert floor
diving, gouging, carving slot canyons
glorious in their smooth, sinuous
twists and bands of color
deep by twice or thrice the height of men
but narrow enough often for man to reach both sides
with outstretched arms
adventurers, unaware they are gambling,
lower themselves into these
slot canyons, awed into silence or quiet comment
explore under fierce blue sky
not knowing stormclouds a score of miles afar
have contributed to a gushing flood
now racing toward the low point
scoured years before along unyielding path

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flat as a washboard

my knuckles remember washboards
dulled gray metal ripples
in a wooden frame with two legs
tough – on stains, and me
mom and i poured extra soap
on the bunched discolored cloth
pressed it hard into the rough surface
and scrubbed up and down, up and down
the gathered material never
quite enough cushion to save
my hands, but effective
if enough discomfort was applied
to the task
with the cloth now stain-free
or nearly so
we lobbed the work overalls
or the grass-insulted dress
into the agitator
i loved watching the roiling
after sufficient writhing
mom pulled the plug
to drain washwater, then
turned the tap to hose in
clear for rinsing
before we cranked the handle
of the wringer to squeeze
each piece, but never,
as i desperately feared, my fingers
ready, finally, for the mangler
mom straightened and smoothed
sheets on its padded surface
and lowered the heavy, white lid
steam escaped, hissing, from the far end
flat as a washboard
stirs in me memories of mom
and i working in the slanted light
from high windows in our basement
so many years ago