Three Poems

Should you ever start to pray –

and you know who you are –
avoid bedsides, pews, steepled
fingertips, and words mumbled
through a billion mouths.
Forget pleading with angels, saints,
gods, or the aunt who died last year.
They don’t want bothering
about lost jobs or driving grief
when they’re tending broken wings
and holding tides in place.
Rather, from your yard – front or back –
launch crucial questions
toward the random Universe:
Where was Light before Chaos arrived?
What’s the space between despair and hope?
How many lies can one mind tolerate?
The truth? – if you care to know:
curiosity is blessing in disguise.
Questions are enough.
Of course, answers may slip
through a wobbly black hole
like mists of poetry rising
from fallow fields, like hums
of rogue planets soothing
failing stars.

You do not have to be good.

– Mary Oliver, “Wild Geese”

Ain’t that a kick in the head!
After all the bunk about straights and narrows,
wrongs and rights, confessionals
where venial sins are laughable,
it’s come down to this: we’ve been duped.
Friday fish, forty fasting days, crownings
in the Mary month of May; rosaries,
callused knees, indulgences that smudge
our sins: they don’t add up to good.
Neither do tidy rooms, top grades in school,
nor mandatory modesty.

So let’s delete the snake behind the apple tree
and every bite of stale theology.
Let’s resurrect original wildness
and ramble through valleys scratched and scarred,
down unquiet streams, across raging fields
of blooms disguised as weeds.
Let’s celebrate every fleshy flaw,
each mistaken thought that turns out true.
Let’s race wild geese to the nearest star,
cheering on imperfect
nakedness with disheveled glee.


(Previously published in the Gyroscope Review)

In Praise of Retiring in Pacific Standard Time

The country’s at it again: the Dow’s dipped two dozen points,
O’Hare digs out of snow, Vegas hoses off another night.

All that industry before my coffee’s ground and dripped,
before joggers pound the Waterfront and bikers shift their gears.

I’ve grown keen on laziness and lie awake to dream
about Chicago’s Mile and McCarren’s slot machines;

about conferencing with bankers, engineers,
and high tech CEOs from New York to Los Alamos.

I’m through with hotel rooms and nights alone; with minds
that wouldn’t heed, mistakes I had no answers for.

In eight zones west of Zero Longitude – where the sun
tints Mt. Hood and east winds wind through Douglas firs –

forty years of work whittle down to soothing words:
It is beautiful to do nothing and rest afterwards.

Let the doorman on Park West brush off his uniform
and Minneapolis scrape its iced windshields.

Let Denver planes re-calibrate their flights through
nagging thunderstorms. Let vendors unpack snapper

at Pike Place and freeways start their stalls.
Let today attempt to guilt me into work. I’ll answer

with a stroll around my yard, delete a weed or two.
Beautiful, the firs will say, admiring my industry.


(Previously published on WritersDigest.com)

About Carolyn Martin

Blissfully retired in Clackamas, Oregon, Carolyn Martin is a lover of gardening and snorkeling, feral cats and backyard birds, writing and photography. Since the only poem she wrote in high school was red penciled “extremely maudlin,” she is amazed she has continued to write. Her poems have appeared in more than 175 journals throughout North America, Australia, and the UK. For more information, go to www.carolynmartinpoet.com.

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