Category Archives: Selected Poetry

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Desert Morning

Grumbling thunder keeps Sun Goddess covered
late, beneath a gray, cotton-like canopy
of mist. Monsoon breezes tumble
with arctic air, whipping fronds
into a frenzy of dance, waltzing
into disco as the storm gathers. Dark,
as black as lamb’s wool, blankets
the mountains. Lightening
rips back and forth across the sky,
jagged bolts of white light
that force eyes to blink at the brightness—
a prelude to rain pounding Spanish tile roofs,
sweeping white-capped rivers down the pitch.

It ends as quickly as it began,
sparrow song softening the day.

Sun Goddess folds back her velvety cover,
peeks above tufted mountaintops,
stretches tall smiles wide reaches
for nature’s palate, brushstrokes
purple orange red
on a canvas of robin-egg blue
back dropped in white thunder heads.
Cicada choir commences in high pitch.
Felines belly-crawl from beneath the bed.
Coffee steams hot from a ceramic mug.
Puddled on the patio, rainwater,
cold on the soles,
tempts toes of the child within.

Splat. Splat. Splat.

© Susan Parker
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author’s permission.

Unraveling

I picked at a snag in the lemon
yellow yarn of my favorite wool sweater
until my fingers were lost in a hole,
clutched it to my breast
like an injured best friend,
walked to the corner where a signpost read

Alterations Here.

While the woman with magical fingers
mended my sweater,
I thumbed through an outdated Cosmopolitan,
paused when I saw a sign across the street—

Divorce – Men Only

realized we had begun to unravel.
I had picked at your idiosyncrasies
like the snag in my sweater.
You distanced yourself to avoid the picking.

Then I remembered your tears
reflecting shared pain
as you placed frozen peas on my body,
bruised and swollen from a surgeon’s knife;
how you trusted me
to take the helm in squally seas
as we cruised the California coast;
how sexy your legs look in shorts.

The alterations lady nudges me,
hands me my sweater that looks as good as new.

Wearing a new attitude,
I skip home singing
I feel pretty, oh, so pretty …
find you waiting in your La-Z-Boy recliner.
Lifting your whiskered face in my palms
I kiss your little boy smile,
work my own magic
to mend the strands of our unraveling.

© Susan Parker
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author’s written permission.

Threads

Ketchup-stained rags droop
from a teenage waif in fingerless mittens
scrounging cold pucks of beef
buried beneath grease-laden fries
stuck to the Dumpster bottom.

White folk scurry past, noses tipped high,
unmask their contempt, snicker
coldhearted words—
disgusting filthy
smells like rotting garbage—

as if the girl is immune to their callous bigotry.

Anxious, self-esteem beaten from her youth
at the end of a 38-inch leather belt,
she glances away
though she longs to reach out,
longs for a simple nod and friendly smile,
for one person to acknowledge her value.

Unsafe in a jungle of grocery carts
and cardboard shelters,
she wanders hostile streets
shackled to a death sentence
thrust upon her by a crack-head rapist.

Self-destruction waiting
in the vortex of a winter river,
she listens to taunting voices only she can hear—

Liar! Liar! Pants on fire!
Mommy loves me mo-ore!
I’m gonna tell what you di-id!

Resting on the river’s bank,
arms and legs in rhythmic unison
sculpt angels in the snow powder
as she sings in off-key soprano—

What a friend I have in Jesus
all my sins and grief to bear.

Music—
her single thread to Sanity.

© Susan Parker
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author’s written permission.

The Mustang Mare

In feathered edges of twilight,
like an old Indian woman near death
seeking solitude, the mustang mare
in a lusterless coat of roan-red,
rib-thin and swayback,
heaves a ragged breath,
leans into an oak tree,
rear leg resting on hoof toe.

Eyes at half-lid, clouded
by darkening shadow, she relives
days long past when unshod feet pounded
full gallop across mountain meadows,
flinging clods and rock skyward,
flared nostrils
inhaling essence of the wild—
manzanita and ponderosa pine,
cougar and bear scat,
and the sweet smell of sweat
from the palomino filly at her flank.

Water grass grows in the creek-bed
hollow where snow-melt pools.
Hooves pressed like molds into clay
imprint the herd’s departure,
as if they paused a moment
to nicker and huff in farewell.

Spirit guides hover,
waiting to walk beside her,
light-footed,
through the gossamer curtain
that conceals the otherworld
from earthly trail.

Songbird serenade
amidst the rustle of leaves,
a lullaby for transition
as earthbound tether s t r e t c h e s,
unwinds—
a single strand
of silver mane
clinging
to manzanita.

© Susan Parker
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author’s written permission.

Snapshots

In sepia tones a slender Norwegian girl
stands tall in an oval photo frame,
hand resting on a parlor chair,
auburn hair flowing in waves
down the back of her communion dress.
Hazel eyes sparkle with hope.
Innocence radiates from her smile.

In shades of gray and white
she’s twenty,
auburn hair braided neatly,
coiled atop her head like a crown.
Breasts a little larger, waist a bit thicker,
tug at the seams of her dress.
Clinging to her left hand is a girl of three,
to her right, a boy the age of one.
Hope has dimmed in her eyes.
A half-smile rests on her face.

In faded black and white
strands of auburn slip from beneath
a scarf tied below her chin.
White apron, dusted with bread flour,
covers her gray flannel dress.
Sitting at her feet, the girl now eight
clutches a Cocker Spaniel puppy.
Deep in frown, a boy of six
kicks at a clod of dirt.
At her side a chubby cheeked girl of two
leans against a tow-headed boy of four.
No smile reaches her hazel eyes.

In black and white with curled edges,
she’s dressed for church in hat and gloves,
stair-stepped children sandwiched between
the woman and her husband.
Meanness lurks in his eyes glazed from alcohol.
Fear shrouds the children’s faces. Desperation
clouds hazel eyes beneath gray-streaked auburn hair.
No smile touches her lips.

© Susan Parker
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author’s written permission.

Senior Dating

It must have been something I said
stretched full-length in my feathered queen bed,
fingering white lace on a flannel nightgown.

Our get-acquainted discourse through telephone lines,
an obvious breakdown in dating etiquette guidelines,
echoes from the corners of my brain.

“I don’t cook or clean; I prefer to pay a fee.
I abstain from chores that smack of domesticity.
It’s to the fine things in life I was born.

“There’ll be no commitments for me
for I yearn to be footloose and free
to flit coast to coast whenever I choose.

“Should it be a social companion you need,
no ingénue and unpedigreed,
then book me a room. But please inform them I’ll pay.”

Guess the translation got lost
conveying, “I’ll bear the cost.”
It’s been ten weeks since he called.

No word’s been heard from that Lou’siana man
who galled to court my freckled aging hand.
Guess my honesty he couldn’t abide.

It’s clear as glass; my “men skills” are a bust.
They hide beneath a dense coat of rust.
I’ll need lessons for the dance of “Senior Mating.”

As I ponder my future and what to do next,
figure “dating” —it just might be better to text.
It must have been something I said!

© Susan Parker
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author’s written permission.

self image

Words like razors
slit tenuous threads of esteem

bleeding out
self- confidence
and the impish glint
behind hazel Irish eyes

as the face in the mirror
distorts into ugly

Timid hangs on a limb
until Moxie ignites
flames into fearless
chins up in full-muscle
swings across the chasm of insult
flips a middle-finger at her abuser

Yet his words
fueling inferiority
plain lazy worthless
simmer below her thin skin

waiting

for a trickle of self-doubt
to percolate
through the Maybelline mask

© Susan Parker
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author’s written permission.

Postcard from Belize

“Educate your children against HIV and AIDS”
reads a sign outside the village.

Toes deep in red mud,
a mahogany-skinned woman of Mayan descent
bathes her naked toddler
from a bucket, singing a Creole love song.

Her house sits on stilts
eight feet tall to discourage deadly snakes.
Built from mismatched pieces of lumber,
painted in faded shades of lavender and green,
its corrugated metal roof droops
from rot. A ramshackle outhouse
leans to the left,
one crooked step off the ground.

Beneath a grove of date palm trees,
in a fresh-mown clearing on the hill in back,
a solitary wooden cross
marks the grave of her first-born son.

Plastic soda bottles melt in a smoldering
pile of trash, its faint stench masking
the sweet fragrance of a pastel
rainbow of wildflowers. Rusted cars,
parted out and discarded,
now garden art and planters
for watermelon hibiscus and purple-leafed crotons.

Tied to a dying tree,
a scrawny dog stretches
to gobble crumbs from last night’s meal.
Behind a barbed-wire fence, its wooden gate
held together with twine,
Angus cattle, skin on bones,
wander an overgrazed field of grass.

Safe in the comfort of an air-conditioned tour bus,
I wonder about the toddler’s fate,
if he will survive, choose to cross
the cultural chasm, leave the squalor behind.
Or will he become another HIV victim?

She will then trudge each day
up the narrow dirt path,
to place a single hibiscus flower
on two graves instead of one.

© Susan Parker
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author’s written permission.

Piano Man

Adobe arches of Tlaquepaque
shadow acoustic music
flute guitar piano rolling
on Sedona’s hazy air meandering
through a vortex of dancing
light

bewitching pulling me
towards the silver-haired sixties man.
Like an afterglow caress
across a lover’s back
his callused fingers
stroke the ivory bones
on a Yamaha keyboard.

Heartache dwells in facial creases
crinkled eyes hide loves lost yet
his lips remain set in soft smile
as if he knows the secret
that waits on The Other Side.

Celtic and Native American medleys
blend with the scent of red-rock dirt
expand all conscious thought
until he lifts his head
locks his eyes on mine.

Sheltered by long limbs
of a cottonwood tree we drift
through rips in the veil
through rifts of infinity
bridging
physical plane to the universe of angels.

Like notes in a broken chord
transcended
beyond earthly ties suspended
in the shift we become
One.

© Susan Parker
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author’s written permission.

Imagination Running Amok

Palo Verde branches enfold
arms of the saguaro cactus
rooted deep in Sonoran sand and time

entwined

snuggled as if in lover’s embrace
satiated and spent
in sweltering heat

or perhaps

finger-like branches
brushing the five o’clock shadow
of an old west bandit
arms uplifted
as if peering down Winchester’s barrel

but maybe

a centuries-old grave marker
roots tangled with buried baby bones
pitiful reminder of forgotten pioneers
in wooden wagons oxen-drawn
on wheels of hardship

or could they be

sentinels guarding a landing site
for gray-skinned Venusian visitors
piloting intergalactic
spheroids of phosphorescent silver.

© Susan Parker
This poem may not be reprinted or reposted without the author’s written permission.