Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Because I am a woman, I knew that I would never be prepared for [men’s] adventures. I would never man the ship to find the undiscovered waterway, the unknown continent. But, there are ways, I insisted, through which even a woman can explore the world…

I came to Pablo Neruda not to hear his poems, nor gather his wisdom, but to follow him when he was lost, to accompany him when he was drowning, and to listen whenever he was mute…I followed Pablo Neruda down under the sea a sondar the continent of my own silence among the precipitous fathoms…

Photo from KRON 4

This evening,
knee deep in unread notifications,
underneath a waning pink
Scorpio moon, I scrolled
upon the image
of a dead gray whale
and wept.

The loss was
not just that heaving rose
white mottled belly
exposed to the sky,
was not just that ship hull
of injury gouged in her side,
she is the fifth one
found dead in the bay
in the last eight days.

She is the only place
I can look now to see
a fully dimensional life,
she is the only mirror
of my human condition,
her dead body honest
on the belching shore
of everlasting now is not
a selfie of peak…

Photo by Giorgio Trovato on Unsplash

There is a Flamin Hot Cheeto
moored to the coffee table leg
like a little Viking ship blazing
orange and red stardust from
the dragon’s head curl of its stern.
I most assuredly dropped it while binging
The Crown.

It floats in the geometric sea
of the living room carpet
beside my husband’s bare foot.
He sits on the couch above this deep-fried
cornmeal longboat like an unexplored continent,
unaware of my tiny transgression. …

it’s human touch we want
in our palms
damp with sweat
a promise
of light
confined to skin
another body
our disappearance

it’s the depth
of that longing
that shapes our coming
and our leaving

such intimacy
lets our bodies
breathe again

such intimacy
has ripped us
apart for ages

after eons
of separation
it is as if our whole
has been nothing
but longing

This piece is one in a series, Climacteric: On the Turning Point, a poetic collaboration for National Poetry Writing Month (#NaPoWriMo) by Samantha Wallen and Michelle Puckett. To read the…

Photo by Sonoma Land Trust

For Earth Day 2021

There is a nine mile stretch of asphalt
cutting through the north shore
of the San Pablo Bay that emanates a sound
I recognize as my own.

The concrete causeway thrusts
into the Napa River bed and enters
the wetlands. A fabric of fields
and ponds gleams under the wide hip
of hilled horizon. The long arm of the Pacific
reaches around the torso of Mt. Tamalpais
and up into the soft belly of the delta, welcoming
its waters home.

water and light play together.
Here, and only here, the salt marsh
harvest mouse lives.
Here, I can live

Photo by Nikola Johnny Mirkovic on Unsplash

Letters from the day, April 20, 2021


7:00 am hike
pass two men who slept in woods
I quicken my pace


sweet swarm of starlings
congregate in Norfolk pine
— all gone in a flash!


her poem, his letter
both just living & dying
in cold autumn rain


shelf of unread books
fresh list of things to be done
a darkening sky


count one, two & three
he’s guilty, guilty, guilty
our first remedy


a friend’s face on Zoom
village of tears erupts from
the whites of our eyes

This piece is one in…

Photo by Javardh on Unsplash

I was the last one to inhabit the home
of my mother’s body.

Three days later her uterus was
surgically removed and discarded
as hazardous waste.

She had become one long garland
of mensuration.

Then she became too multiple
to bleed.

Whose bothered hands took
that hollow muscular organ
submerged it in chemicals
sealed it in a red plastic bag
boiled it in the autoclave and
shoved it in the incinerator?

I used to want to be

Now I want the slow decay
of burial.

I want the pilfered hearts of loved ones
to take the naked carrion of my…

Photo by Andrea Leopardi on Unsplash

It has been passed down for generations now,
this blue ceramic mug with the gold moon inlay.

I pour boiling water in, sit at my desk
and hold it as if I’ve belonged to it forever.

The frozen ground of my hands cup the clay
ceremony of its kilned curve and pull the heat.

I wait for the thaw.

The milk’s cold century to let down
so I can feel my own pulse.

Just as my mother did, and her mother before,
and her mother before, and her mother before
all the way back through the howling of time.


Photo by Jr Korpa on Unsplash

Begin here. She did.
Begin here again she did.
Begin here over and over and over again she did.

Touch my blank page. He did.
Touch my blank page again he did.
Touch my blank page over and over and over again he did.

Spill this ink. You did.
Spill this ink again you did.
Spill this ink over and over and over again you did.

Open up the earth. We did.
Open up the earth again we did.
Open up the earth over and over and over again we did.

Plant fresh sorrows. I did.
Plant fresh sorrows again I…

Samantha Wallen

Poet, writer, writing & book coach — Seeking to restore the soul of our world one word at a time…

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