January, 1995. “Today, I went for a walk. I was searching for something and I needed to release the tension that comes whenever I think about the abuse. I found what I was looking for in a scrubby, dense Palo Verde. Two saguaros, each a foot high, grew in its shade. It was a nurse tree.

In the desert, the shade provided by nurse trees gives moisture to germinating seeds. Desert soil is thin, rocky and sparse in nutrients. The debris from the trees and other plants which grow underneath their limbs enrich the soil. Those few, square feet of shade become a sanctuary, an entire microenvironment of plants and animals.

One of the saguaros was near the trunk of the palo verde. Years of slow growth from now it will push through an embrace of spiny branches to tower over the tree the way an adolescent boy, on his way to becoming a man, does his mother. At that time, the intimate arrangement of tree and cactus may seem haphazard unless the observer understands their history. It is the safety provided by the Palo Verde that enables the saguaro to grow.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Antidote for a Familiar Discontent

I call what follows a “found” poem – not because I found it already composed on a shred of newsprint or on a billboard, but because I discovered it in the unrest of an early morning. When I find myself wandering the house at 3 AM with a familiar discontent, and there are no answers because the questions have not yet revealed themselves, relief is in Purgatory where I have paper and pencils and a laptop computer that is aging faster than I am.
Outside Purgatory’s window, the sun will most likely show up for work at least once more since it got this job keeping planet Earth alive millennia ago. As I write, the sky is blue and transparent rather than thick and black as it was earlier, and I wonder how many times I have watched it happen through the years – sunlight illuminating the creation of new day.

Found at 3 AM

I hope this blog won’t be a rant (def: to speak extravagantly or violently; talk wildly; rave).
I’m in the creation phase (it’s 3 AM, couldn’t sleep, you know),
Christmas carols on the CD player with no manger in sight
(too much Christmas in Christmas, I’m told),
and even the cats have left Purgatory where I write
so it’s just me and this laptop, both of us showing our age.
Outside the sky is black as octopus ink while I’m
in my head for threads of an idea
but all I get is worry
so black and thick I can’t see anything
except worry words that float like the answers in those old Crazy Eight fortune balls
we took to school: Will Mary marry Harry?
Words come to the triangle window and you read “yes” and everyone giggles
or you read “no” and everyone giggles.
I’d like an Eight Ball
to find words that float around the worry. Then we can giggle, too.

What’s wrong?
Oh, my word, here’s the list and its just one. I can see it in the inky night right now
but in the morning there’ll be another, I promise, which isn’t what I want . . .
A promise, you know, that someone is listening. . .
About healthcare and war and money and unemployment and stupid, greedy people who think
7 figures is better than wisdom and sell us down tubes of despair.

The authority gods,
mouths and faces on LED TVs,
yap and yip, a pack of coyotes
who got their prey and are reckless,
throw bones and scatter what is left
so next day’s treading feet do not hallow ground.

I want to yell STOP but outside
the night is so thick no one listens, not even
the sweet singers on the CD player who are
harmonizing about Christmas and gifts and jolly things,
and there is a sparky violin playing and those singers
who know how to carry a tune.


  1. Rene, I love the way you paint with words! You've had a tough year. But like that sun that rises every morning, the light in our hearts does return. I can't say it nearly as poetically as you...but I think you know what I mean...and I hope you know how much I love you!

  2. Rene, that was a very interesting poem. You caught me in the window peeking in several times. Isn't it funny what comes to mind at 3:00 am and later? I haven't posted any of my scrambled writing yet, but you just may have inspired me to grab those words out of the air and slap them on paper before they disappear.

    Loved it,
    Barbara B

  3. I love the inspiration that comes at 3am!!! You did a great job and I enjoyed reading this. Your discriptions are quite vivid. I feel inspired!

  4. Wow! I really enjoyed this. Thank you so much for sharing.

  5. Beautiful Rene. I loved (absolutely loved!) the image of the octopus ink and the inky night and the thickness of that darkness. That's the kind of writing that gives me goosebumps.

    Also, it put to mind one of the very things I've been pondering as I listen to the "Christmas" carols this season. Very chilling and touching all at the same time.

  6. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! :) I particularly enjoyed the comparison to the Magic 8 Ball.

  7. Both your poetry & prose are so lyrical, Rene, I have a hard time separating the two. Beautiful. (I see my son has come up under the Google acct...this is from Sarah Albrecht)