a free verse poem for Climacteric: On the Turning Point

Photo by Ian on Unsplash

“and I wished I had a place in wilderness to mourn.” — Susan Howe, “The Birth-mark”

because I am heavy under the weight of it

because I have no words today

because this bed of coals still burns

because blisters of memory

because the silt of yesterday is under my nails

because the news never mellows

because Daunte Wright

because we are trapped on that continuum

because another White man walked into my King Soopers with a gun

because thoughts and prayers are a field of clichés

because AK 47s are still bought and sold

because the rage of it


a free verse poem for Climacteric: On the Turning Point

Photo by Tikkho Maciel on Unsplash

The night my husband tripped with the cast-iron pot in his hands, spilling a caldron of boiling water onto the top soft skin of my foot, I sobbed and scratched past the surface of time and into sixteenth and seventeenth century Europe. The searing sea splashed over me like a Roman invasion peeling away the flesh of my dorsum until nothing was left but a red, open wound the size of a silver dollar. I’d like to say that in that hot instant, I was aware of the blistering bodies of the eight to nine million women who were burned…


a free verse poem for Climacteric: On the Turning Point

Photo by USGS on Unsplash

I dreamt of a pregnancy in my lung
a fetus floating amniotic in the left superior lobe
little backbone curved against my trachea
a small landholder displacing the home of my breath.

How could something so precious
plant itself where it does not belong?

How could a single cell swarm into a continent
of dislocation?

There was talk of a forced removal that I feared
would lead to birthmarks of regret.

The arial view of that embryonic isthmus and its surrounding estuary of bronchial pathways was so gorgeous in the white florescent light of the x-ray film I thought I…


a free verse poem for Climacteric: On the Turning Point

Photo by Sam Rupsa on Unsplash

The white bones of the New Age
are visible in the battlefield.

So many people trying
to transcend the smell of blood.

So many people conspiring
to make the rent.

What paradigm shifting promises are yet to be
chiseled in granite headstones?

What I mean to say is:
silence is guttural.

A spiritual rapport of lungs
spreads paranoia.

Fever dreams of wellness detonate
disinformation.

I too have been caught in the tactical scope
of longing to be better.

I too have aimed the musket of transformation
at every unaware face.

I too have followed a thin line of sanity into…


a free verse poem for Climacteric: On the Turning Point

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

The slip of political ideology is showing,
the way my mother’s satin slip slid
down around my ankles the night
we ate at Benihana’s. The safety pin
jabbed into the waist folds came undone
and I lost hold of her idea of me
dressing the part of meritocracy.

Shoulders backed up against the wall, I slinked
along believing I was hiding the unraveling,
not comprehending the 360 degree view
every patron in the multinational steakhouse
had of my pearly underskirt.

But the blaze of sizzling theatrics and intricate knife work slicing, dicing raw meat into spectacles of repetition kept the…


a free verse poem for Climacteric: On the Turning Point

Photo by Martin Förster on Unsplash

In every hometown of shedded virus
textured skin of the decomposed becomes
ancestor to trace minerals
a rich loam of handed-down grief
hastily-washed from the leaves of family trees
passed around the kitchen table
piled onto bone china plates and absorbed
into ghost edges of grey hair framing the long generations
of a woman’s face.

Yellow-leafed bushes of invisible labor —
a Forsythia of feminized work blooms — against
the front porch of every farmhouse as it has every year
as far back as planted memory goes.

White men of cyclic opportunity till a confederacy of witch-hunts in every fertile…


A poetic conversation on creating futures while digging down into the past

Photo by Enrico Sottocorna on Unsplash

Be a provenance of something gathered,
a summation of previous intuitions,
let your vulnerabilities walking
on the cracked and sliding limestone
be this time, not a weakness, but a faculty
for understanding what’s about to happen…

— David Whyte from the poem, “Seven Streams”

We do not “do” the work of transformation. We simply go to the edge and let the elements we find there work against us, shape us into different, unrecognizable versions of ourselves. …


Photo by Charlotte Coneybeer on Unsplash

over before i’ve even begun
i sit in the back room bulging
with too much dinner again
my hunger for infinite variety
diverted to the refrigerator
the only place i can go now
to maintain some semblance
of every day freedom

i wait for the poem to emerge
just like every other night
i’m afraid i won’t find it
i’m afraid it won’t find me
that i’ll be buried inside
the gaze of my own mind
trying to escape my inconsistencies
inhabiting space that could go empty so easily

my great epiphany of the day is procrastination makes me angry…


Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash

to choose to be a poet in this world is maintenance to broaden mundane living into a field of meaning is maintenance to see the world anew each day is maintenance to render the ordinary into something extraordinary is maintenance to see places of darkness as hospitable is maintenance to love on each little opening a line offers is maintenance to use words as a pathway to reach what lives beyond language is maintenance to be struck by the sound of a bell or the call of a blackbird is maintenance to leave your lover your child your friend your…


Photo by shawn henry on Unsplash

“What is the relationship between maintenance and freedom?” — Mierle Laderman Ukeles

How might I polish the metal grating
sound of the neighbor boy’s new
skateboard ramp into something holy?

That plywood half-pipe dream
his father hammered into being
in the small backyard cavity
of my skull every morning
for more than a week and a half
until it was a complete platform
for his son to find freedom within
the maintenance of quarantine.

How might I name that rhythmic rumble shjooom click shjooom click shjooom back and forth back and forth falling then rising that fills his chest with…

Samantha Wallen

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

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