Poems in Praise of the Small Life

One of the sweetest results of going through stuff to move is finding things you thought you had lost long ago.  In a little 8-1/2 x 11′ paper box labeled by the paper company “Whisper – Quietly Speaks Quality” I found hard copies of poems lost in digital form.

These poems I would have added to my published collection “Holding On & Letting Go.”  They give praise to a small beautiful life I had before the day in a crowded lunch cafeteria when someone found me intriguing, approachable or gullible enough to ask me out for my first date ever.  Yes, I made it through high school, four years of college and outdoors treks, world travel, and 7 years in the working world before this happened.

Compassion for all the late bloomers out there.  Your remarkable self is fine.  If I could go back there I would.  Had I been raised toward a more religious bent, I might have become a nun.  Or possibly that karma is what I came into this life carrying with my hermit-like tendencies and sense no one else can take better care of me than me.

Poetic echoes of that small beautiful life.


One Bedroom Apartment Without a View

This cubicle I
nurture so it nurtures me.
Plants expand along
the walls, hooked
by nails and string
Smooth oatmeal carpet
extends wall to small wall,
bookshelf to bookshelf.
A twelve-inch TV rests
on the recycle crate–
black and white,
a foot from the ground,
branded by a previous owner
with a red-lettered sticker
“This Insults Women.”
Photos of friends, family, Hawaii–
one tan poster captures
a wizened Navajo man
wearing high-top sneakers.
Reads, “White Man’s Moccasins.”
An electric keyboard cuts
one corner of the room, standing
on black legs, a giant insect.
A healthy ecosystem,
closed-loop economics–
the space is swept and dusted when it asks,
the dishes washed and dried by sponge and towel.
Each object, if not in place, migrates
to its meant space.



Cut Free

My sister makes people from wrapping paper
with silver blades.
She folds a fan
just longer than her hand
and slices,
arcing left,
turning the paper’s edge slow
against the blades.

She shifts the scissors straight
to make a point.
Scooped and rigid air
sprouts from the paper–
the shapes look nothing like people.

Surprise is unfolding
the fan to a chain.
Perfectly dancing people
kick a leg left, then right.
Minus mouths,
I hear them laugh and
watch them sway
in crinkles.


images (1)


Walk About

You stay there open-mouthed, shocked
at my ability to pull out and leave
you both waiting–
would I treat a car this way?  Or a bike?
Any other vehicle might be polished and cared for.
I have no apologies for the thrashing I inflict,
for the loss you experience in your souls.

You transport me everywhere I need to go,
but I must use you until you weaken,
and your threads pull loose around your skins.
My faithful companions, your age will creak
on my conscience and replacing you will be
as trying as this path I am on–
Why do you hide your secrets so well?
I search your faces for a sign
while you sit there gaping,
planning my next journey,
envisioning an end.

Our mutual resentment grows
as I abuse you and you hold your silence
somewhere in a string, knowing
where it is I must go.




Babysitting Crayons

Four year olds always give me colors.
Purples, reds, yellows, blues
and always the designs offer Life.
Not life after being done to,
burned and learned.
Life that jumps and laughs and hugs.

They fill in their lines quickly,
knowing they can color another page.
Placing the prize in my hands
they say, “Look what I made for you.”
But why do they give them away so fast?

And don’t only four year olds ask whys?




Two things I wanted more than most:  1) To be able to have a dog companion, 2) To have courage and funds to equip solo outdoor treks.  One day a young woman passed me driving an old green car with a canoe on the roof and a dog in the passenger seat.


Car-speed tickles hair
loose from its braid
weighted along my spine.
Silver earrings click their
charms in dance.
I rush on toward
silent waters,
canoe quiet.

Sponge-wet dog kisses
graze my knuckles with each gear shift.
Sucia, Alaskan friend, leans
on wind, opening her ears inside-out
lapping up air with thirst–
she thinks of running circles in false-start
leaps through wide, falling, open places
where only white shines.

I desire green depths,
gurgling shallows under willow bough
strokes– a scale to weigh my hollow
wooden craft;
to roll duckweed floats and lily pads
away in a single paddle pull.
My glides attempt a certainty
planes above an orange carp
swagging straight
through frenzied currents,
stone wall shadows–
I am free to find the smoothest motion
inside a swirl.


About Erin W

A sensitive plant, bamboo strong.
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