Her Name is Sharbat Gula

You saw me as a refugee.
My piercing eyes your prize.
I was, am more than that.
I walked miles over mountains.
Mountains of earth, violence
hatred and poverty.

You asked no permission.
You saw in my eyes . . . what?
Pain, loss, my future?
My future was with or without
your use of me.
Your lack of concern for me.

Your future, on the other hand
calloused or not,
your future was in my eyes.
And they appeared everywhere
while they were still here.
One click and you were gone.

I became your prize photograph.
I was your prey.

Mish hosts Tuesday Poetics at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. She asks us today to “look into my eyes”, giving us several ways to do that in her prompt for our poem.

My poem is written from the perspective of Sharbat Gula. Her photo was taken in 1984, by Steve McCurry and subsequently used as the cover for the June 1985 issue of National Geographic and the large book National Geographic: The Photographs published in 1994. This photo has been called “The First World’s Third World Mona Lisa.” The photo was published without her consent and the identity of the photo’s subject was not initially known. At the time, she was a child living in the Nasir Bagh refugee camp in Pakistan during the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan.

National Geographic later searched for her, not knowing her name. They found her and produced a documentary “Search for the Afghan Girl” which aired in March 2002. In her recognition, National Geographic created the Afghan Girls Fund, a charitable organization with the goal of educating Afghan girls and young women.  In 2008 the scope of its mission was extended to include boys and was renamed the Afghan Children’s Fund. After finding Sharbat Gula, National Geographic also covered the costs of medical treatment for her family and a pilgrimage to Mecca. Hers is an amazing story and can be found at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afghan_Girl

Provincetown Good Night

Early fall breeze wisps over me
touches my brow, my nose,
swirls ’round the room.
Plastic window blinds plink a tune.

Lying, just barely awake,
my hand touches yours.
Fifty years together,
twenty years enjoying this place.

Provincetown’s oceanic lullabies,
gull squalls and answering calls,
raucous Commercial street walks,
and paint-brushed skies to end the days.

Lying next to me, this year’s fourth night,
your fingers curve round mine.
Your lips puff out some snoozing air
and I smile.

Eye lids heavy,
I imagine us young again.
Dancing in the stars
riding on moonbeam tails,
and I grin myself to sleep.

Photo taken in Provincetown from our deck, BC (before Covid) in 2019. This year we are hunkered down, still enjoying the ocean and beautiful scenes similar to this, but maintaining our Covid-bubble. We are not walking in to town to galleries, restaurants, and shops. Here’s hoping next year will find us on raucous Commercial street again!

Ledger of Life

In the wee hours of the morning
my mind tumbles faces, places, memories.
Little aches ping.
Hand holds pen to write,
conduit for black words
birthed on white unlined page.
What is this but a ledger of life?

Dids and dones
undones and shoulda-dones
woulda-dones, coulda-dones.
Little ones raised to move on
to raise little ones to move on
to raise little ones to move on.
Where in this pattern will I cease?

Dawn rises, stains sky in fiery reds
oranges, glaring orange-reds.
No sorbet pastel hues today.
Yesterday’s clouds only wisps today.
If they dissipate tomorrow,
will their essence still exist
somewhere in that indigo sky?

Someday,
I shall no longer walk this earth.
How many little ones raised to move on
to raise little ones raised to move on
will recall my name?
Know where to find my words,
poems once so thoughtfully scribed.

Perhaps I shall be a faded photo
in an antique frame,
dusty but shelved with someone’s knickknacks
between Kahil Gibran’s The Prophet
and James Patterson’s final mystery.
And when I think about it,
listening to the ocean roll in,
I’m okay with that.


Click on link above to see video…takes a second to run.
Written for Open Link Night at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. OLN means folks can post any one poem of their choosing; no prompts given. Video taken Wednesday, September 16 in the age of Covid….from our deck in Provincetown.

Love Is . . .

Just twenty months apart, they grew up together. Whispered secrets through a grate between their bedroom walls. Shared stories at supper time. Shared chores on family camping vacations. One tent for the four of us. Four small blue canvas chairs always set up by the campfire site. We sat together talking. Sometimes stared at stars and moon; watched ember sparks glow. They always slept soundly when the lantern was doused, even in their teenage years. Cocooned in sleeping bags.

Years later, they live six-hundred miles apart. Raising their families. Busy with life. Those starry nights are part of who they are. Like deep and long roots sustaining the stately oak, those special times inform how they define family. I wonder if in their dreams, they sleep with the moon shared between them still. Far apart, but always akin.

Written for Prosery Monday at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets around the globe. Today, Merril is hosting and asks us to include the line “In their dreams, they sleep with the moon” in a story or memoir (some type of prose; cannot be poetry). The line is from Mary Oliver’s Death at Wild River.

Arachnophobic . . .

I should have known.
She silked the room,
entered with swishing skirts.
Eye-lashed me
in that coquettish way.
Wove words into delights.
Spinning wheeled me,
unlike any woman I’d ever known.
I could not escape her wiles.
I skeined under her spell.
First hands, then arms,
then eyes, then heart.
My senses spooled as one,
tautly captured in her clutches.
She left me,
forever specimened.
Pushpinned my veins
until I was but a dried shell.
Once a vibrant man,
now locked in despair.
I shall never love again.

Written for Meet the Bar at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets from around the globe. Today, Bjorn asks us to “verbify” in our poem. That is, to use a noun, or several, as verbs in our poem. Photo taken a number of years ago at Ricoleta Cemetery in Buenos Aires.

Flower Child of Old

Wilting daisies crown her head. 
Twined in double-chain necklace 
wilted more, they weep happiness
like old mood-rings on blue-veined hands.

Bare knees peek out
beneath tie-dyed ruffled skirt.
Tire-tread sandals grace her feet,
big toes polished in fireworks.

She seeks nothing now,
mind enveloped in hazy blur.
Nothing but a return to youth
before the savagery of time.

Love IS. Love the world.
Love everyone as your kin. 
Crooked sloppy words
painted on torn off shingle.

She holds it high for no one to see,
proud of its weathered look.
Blotched spots drip from letters
like tears shed in her dementia world.

At seventy-one, determined to return,
she roams these Woodstock fields
empty now, save her memories.
In her mind, she is there,
back in her revolutionary days.

2020-07-21 (2)
Merril is hosting Tuesday Poetics at dVerse, the virtual pub for poets. Today she asks us to consider the idea of revolution. We can write about it in any way: revolution of the planets, a spinning top, a political revolution, new ideas and inventions, medical discoveries. You get the idea.

A Story Left Untold

She sat on the antiquity store’s floor and opened the diary – forcing its bent blackened silver latch. The first water-stained page said Miriam‘s Property. Turning that page, she began to read the faded script.

Dearest sister. I shall explain only here. It is far too difficult to say aloud, as surely your tears would flow. We have shared our mother’s womb; secrets; our very clothes. Never have we needed a mirror as our faces reflect each other’s. But I am no longer you. I long to experience more than our future holds. More than mother dearest teaches us; than father expects. You gossip with ladies on our streets. I near choke as dust engulfs my dreams. We go in different directions down the imperturbable street. And so tonight, I

There were no more words. Just empty pages ~ fragile and mildewed, minus Miriam’s hand.

Written a bit late for Monday’s dVerse prosery prompt; posted today for OLN.

Prosery is a form unique to dVerse: flash fiction, no more than 144 words, that includes a given line of poetry, exactly as it is written.
Merril asked us to include the line “We go in different directions down the imperturbable street.” The line is from Gwendolyn Brooks’ poem An Aspect of Love, Alive in the Ice and Fire.

The Nuts and Bolts of It

She spoke to me
among all the junk art
hanging in that gallery.
She spoke to me.

Look at her!
Wine-opener for arms,
I do love Chardonnay.
Sieved-ladle-top face,
my emotions do flow.
Sunflower heart,
that’s Pollyanna me.
Beaded, feathered earring-skirt,
like miniature dream catchers
always at hand.
Glued on wire, forever smiles.
Whimsical socks with moving feet,
will gladly tap dance, to any beat.

Forget all the photos
down through the ages.
I knew it then, and I know it now.
She’s definitely me
and that’s why I bought her.

So I’m thinking this morning
sitting staring at her,
what are we made of
and who really are we?

Haphazardly or carefully,
crazily cobbled together?
Maybe that’s it then . . .
and she smiles down at me.
We’re all cobbled together.
We’re all just junk,
junk art at heart.

IMG_4578

Day 3 of NaPoWriMo, national poetry month, where the challenge is to write a poem every day in April!  Today’s prompt from Imaginary Garden with Toads deals with existentialism, as in anything to do with “what is the meaning of life?” What are we really all about? 
Photo of  junk art bought in Bermuda a number of years ago. She hangs in my study where I see her every day – and she makes me smile.