Memory Bench, Accusing Board

Lying deep in dark forest keep is the bench of mocking memories

Holding tightly spellbound, painfully crowned with cursed indignity

In such place of beauty to please, and quiet to put the soul at ease

But the bench brings past to present to quench any delight of sight

And soft sound, so now drowned in melancholy that all seems drear

Far and near, as sleep steals over one who can no more see nor hear

And cheer is forbidden in accusing dreams, cream of hell’s theme

On Memory Bench, stench of regrets screaming from Accusing Board


Unpack Your Haversack

Memory of hurts and dirty shirts, callous words, and malice
Unsheathed, all shoved in your haversack, carried on hard-worn
Back, and heart torn; you want to be reborn; ah! you have
To empty the many lies and putrid soul flies before your
Spirit dies… Unload before you explode in volcanic eruption
From heart disruption; tis your choice to bury deeper in sack
And carry what racks your mind and tracks your every step,
Entangles you in web, and strangles your life, mangles like
Knife in the hand of a mauler, sleazy bar-brawler, and taller
Than Olympian god and shod with armor impenetrable, terrible;
But with turn of the pack ~ upside down, inside out ~ all flows
Out and deals fatal blow to Goliath, so you are free to be
What you are meant to be and clear-see without cloy sheer joy,
And hear all nature sing in rhapsody of Spring that brings
Wonder in pantheon thunder, as Mother smiles on sister, brother,
And all kindred great and small, splendid vivacity in capacity
So expansive you can scarcely intake the make of the stupendous
Mystery of it all, upsurging from before history of time began;
Ah! But you have to unpack your haversack… Unpack! Unpack!


Note: First published in late August 2015

Happy Indigenous Heritage Day

As we rightly remember blessings bestowed
We cannot help but remember what is owed;
Land we now enjoy once belonged to bands
Of people here long before our Euro-throng;

So . . .
I Give
But Not For

I Am
But Not For

I Have
But Nor For

Yes, we are rightly thankful for the seeds
That we plant ‘n grow to meet our needs,
But we should count the beads of history
And recall the grand mystery we erased,
Leaving only shadowy lines to be traced

Happy Thanksgiving, perhaps, but also . . .
“Happy Indigenous Heritage Day,” I say!

Note: For a succinct chronology of the protests against DAPL (the Dakota Access Pipeline) you may want to read the following article:


Wrestling With Ghosts

Waking up with heavy heart
Past memories levy their taxes
Failures take axe to my soul
Regrets demand their toll
As I roll in tearful remorse
Over the course I took then . . .
In the past
But what of the present?
Forlorn under crescent moon
That illumines haunting images
And daunting challenges now
To be what I can no longer be,
And who will see and save me?
My shirt is wet from tears,
But do I cry for those I hurt,
Or is this more self-pity?
No, no little ditty of self-pity,
It is for the wreckage left behind
To which I’ve been blind for . . .
Oh God, forgive me! Relieve me!
Believe me when I say, ‘I’m sorry’
. . .
Last impressions from the past,
First thoughts brought by morning,
Warning for today not to go that way,
And I have learned by being burned,
But, oh, this heavy heart torn apart!
This heavy heart torn apart!


Yesteryear is somewhere I hold not dear,
And shed not one tear that I can only peer
Into my past – to cast but a quick glance –
And it does not last . . .
Oh, yes, there’re fond memories, I’m sure
But they do not serve to cure my dejection
And so my rejection of too much reflection
Comes with ease with ne’er ghostly figure
To tease, and no shade to rise up to please,
Nothing to freeze my soul in bygone years;
And tell me, what could be more charming,
If not alarming, for an avid pupil of history?
Ah! an invigorating story I love, so savory!
But really there’s not one bone of interest
To pick from my own,
Sown in the mundane . . .
So yesteryear is not dear but rather drear;
But, then, I hear it is medicine for the soul
To reflect, to recollect, and so it might be,
So, you see, I do reminisce in quietness;
No, I do not hate the past, so I meditate,
Yet this does not last very long;
After all, I belong here and now . . .
Yesteryear may be as near as one thought,
But reliving those days cannot be bought
With the world’s gold, not even one’s soul,
And why try? To want to live in yesteryear
Comes from fear of bowing here and now,
Turning ‘golden days’ into towers of power
Under which one cowers . . .
And this came to mind as I was pondering

From the Vaults of the Past, Live Today

Flowered wreaths are laid on graves and flags are waved,
Precious photos are saved and placed in handsome albums,
As should be for you and me and all who are near and dear;
Old movies are played, prayers prayed, as memories fade,
And old books are read while nostalgic looks are shared
From the bed of the past to make something glorious last
For as long as possible… Ah! But is it not quite impossible
To resurrect what has gone, and do we not really suspect
That it is the present with which we dissent and the future
We rather resent as we recall only the pleasant of the past,
Of days gone by, focusing on the highs, ignoring the lows
Else they blow away our feelings in kneeling at the altar
Of history and the stories we have conjured in our minds
That bind our hearts to an idealism that ne’er existed?
Oh yes, to honor the dead is a golden banner of humanity,
As this helps us keep our sanity and guard against vanity;
But there is the danger that in fear and anger we simply
Desire to live and expire in the past rather than live
And fight now for what will last!
Yes, always remember the past…
No, do not dismember the present

World Soul: Memories Long Lost, Forgotten

A word spoken, perhaps; broken image, a sound,
Or sweet incense smell unbound on softest wind
Unbend mind and soul to remember some memory
Long lost and forgotten, but of what we know not;
Feeling rises deep-hot in mind and soul fraught
With truth of another kind ~ primordial, unsought,
Untamed, wild, ne’er mild ~ when earth was child;
We know with an unknowing knowledge unbeguiled,
In inner chamber of the heart, in part, not all
That there is more and has been and will be…
It’s an inescapable inner feeling, peeling away
Layer upon layer of time’s encrustation, frustration
And without hesitation spirit recalls first day
Of dawn, in the beginning, no apprehending of ending
In garden of life, no heart to harden, crime to pardon…


He stepped off onto the ancient Gerasene shore ~
Land of Alexander’s aged ~ where demoniac before
Nazarene cowered and in legion begged, but more
In rage ‘gainst divine sage on time-worn stage
Where played æons of battle seen, unseen
By naked eye, but why was he there that day?
Not to stay nor play, but called perhaps?
Yet so brief to bring relief to man possessed;
Nothing more, then, upon that ancient shore?
Ah! But there is always more to mystic lore,
Left shrouded in mystery, beclouded by history.


Powerful sensation from an eternal relation
Shared by humanity, though called insanity,
On the edge of reality; we know we’ve hidden
And show not any indication of recognition
Of memories we share in dream or nightmare;
Yet there is no escape from spiritual shape
Of ancestors gone before, who into us pour
From open heavenly door what divine likeness
We adore and abhor, as we rape God’s creation,
And drape funeral shawl over soul in denial
Of her own reality, in shuttered mentality;
But we cannot escape word spoken, broken image,
Sound, or incense smell unbound on soft wind
To remember memories long lost and forgotten.


Moxie’s Midnight Memories

MoxieSS3aOne night, when Lucent was 14-years-old, her despicable father returned, drunk of course, and her mom let him in the house … again, even though she had three brothers living nearby who’d have gladly beat the man to a pulp. Within 10 to 15 minutes he was already yelling and starting to hit her mother. He was extremely intoxicated, Lucent was very athletic and strong for teenage girl anyway, and she’d had enough, so she literally side tackled him, knocking him down. He hit his head, good and hard, on the floor and one of the kitchen cabinet doors. He was stunned, to say the least, so she immediately jumped on him and started double-barrel pounding him until her mother jerked her off.

Her mom began screaming at her to leave him alone, calling her all kinds of vile names, and then told her “just leave … get out of here!” Well, Lucent did exactly what her mother told her; she packed a haversack of basic belongings and headed two miles down the road to the uncle who lived the furthest away from her mother. Her Uncle Ben Keener took one look at her standing on his front porch and said, “Come on in, Lucent. This is your home now.” She never had anything to do with her mother again. Lucent didn’t want her father’s name, of course, and she thought she was actually more of a genuine Keener anyway. Consequently, she changed her last name as soon as she could do so legally. She officially became Lucent Probity Keener.

At 18-years-old, she married an affable, handsome young man, who gave Lucent one child the same year, then left a bit over two years later never to be seen or heard from again. To tell the truth, though, she really didn’t want to find him. She was bound and determined that she and her little Moxie would make it just fine without some pathetic, fastidious man in the way anyhow. Not that she felt that way about men in general. Oh no! Nothing could be further from the truth, because she loved and respected her uncles dearly. No, it was her run-away husband who was pathetic and fastidious. Anyway, she changed her last name back to Keener and, due to extenuating circumstances, the court allowed her to change Moxie’s last name to Keener as well.

Lying on the twin bed in her room at home, Moxie reviewed her venerable heritage and just how much it made her who she was and would become … and she was proud. Rightly so, she thought, but Able’s having to begin another heritage for himself now, just like my mom so many years ago. Tough, but exciting, and I get to be part of it, just like I’ve been part of my mom’s. Moxie smiled. She loved her mother more than any woman in the world, and practically revered her.

For Moxie it all began in the teeny-tiny town of Green Twig, located about 20 miles south of Splinterbit, which was just fine. After all, she spent an awful lot of time with her great uncles and cousins repairing small engines when she was growing up … well, at least her first ten years. They called her their “little grease monkey,” and this was her start on the road to her own little business in small engine repair. At age ten, they moved to Grand Oak, where Lucent finished her Master of Science in Nursing at Grand Oak University and Hospital to become a nurse practitioner. Moxie was especially proud of this achievement. Her mother never sat down and quit, never gave up or gave in; she just kept pushing up and onward.

Moxie looked around her room. Russet brown walls, deep blue ceramic table lamp, small oak-wood desk with an old computer and newer laptop off to the side; two five-shelf book cases, with one very dark, rustic gold shelf overtop of the desk. Her bedroom was bordered in trim of a darker brown background than the walls, and overlaid with perfectly dimensioned swirls of wine red, hunter green, ocean blue, and dark yellow. Somehow the room seemed to magically blend together into something mysteriously attractive, even fantastical. Colorful but nebulous art on three of the walls added to the mystique. Appropriate, she mused and quietly chuckled. Our life story together so far could be titled ‘Mystique: The Incredible Story of Lucent Probity Keener and Her Wily Daughter.’

Lucent had already earned an Associates Degree in Nursing and passed certification at age 20, then went on to earn her Bachelor of Science in Nursing by age 24, despite her persnickety, hard-to-please, irresolute husband. This was astounding enough, really, given the difficulty of making the trek to Splinterbit College day in and day out, while working at the little clinic in Green Twig and raising a daughter (with the much appreciated and necessary help of aunts and uncles, of course), but deciding to pursue a career as nurse practitioner was … well, almost beyond belief. But Lucent did it, and with degree in hand and certification achieved, they moved 30 miles southwest of Grand Oak to Splinterbit, where she began work at the Hart Community Clinic.

Moxie glanced at her bookshelves. The titles were evidence of her mother’s passion for very substantive, well-rounded learning. Hard Times, Oliver Twist, and A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens; Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky; The Gospel in Brief and A Confession by Leo Tolstoy; various “How-To” mechanic books and, of course, a couple of good dictionaries, including the magnificent Oxford English Dictionary. The shelves also sported A Quick History of Philosophy, The Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy, Third Revised Edition, and A New History of Anthropology by Henrika Kuklick. Moxie smiled. None of it was decorative dressing for the sake of her room’s appearance; besides, how many girls would really stomach having this kind of personal library anyway? How many boys, for that matter?

No, like mother, like daughter. Moxie Keener grew up under the tutelage of a voracious reader and became one herself. This included the holy Scriptures of Christianity, too. She spied her three well-used translations: The New Revised Standard Version (Catholic Edition), The Revised English Bible w/Deuterocanonical Books, and The Good New Translation (Catholic Edition). Moxie also owned The Inclusive Language Bible: The First Egalitarian Translation, but she really thought calling it a “translation” was a bit of a stretch, and the word choices throughout often felt forced. I’m all for egalitarianism, and I’m sure as hell an independent-type woman – just like my mother – but that one is just utterly disappointing because it’s so downright silly!

Moxie laughed out loud then and quickly turned over into her pillow to stifle the sound; she didn’t want to wake her mom at midnight. Thinking about egalitarianism and the place of women in contemporary society, though, brought to mind a recent confrontation Lucent had with a rather dimwitted, legalistic, misogynistic religionist. They were actually in the grocery store when she and her mother rounded the corner and happened upon a conversation this man was having with another man, presumably more intelligent and not of the same mindset. She heard the fundamentalist bemoan the “terrible state of society,” in which “men are no longer men, and women are doing men’s work instead of being obedient to God’s Word in keeping their place.”

Lucent couldn’t help it, really; she could have just passed him by without a word, but it was beyond her capability to remain silent. The fish was already on the hook! Why not go ahead and reel him in and flay him? Moxie mused with her face still buried in the pillow while she tried to stop what had now devolved into pure giggles. “Well, then, I suppose if you’re in an automobile accident and I’m the first one on the scene, you’ll want me to leave you alone, even though I’m a trained and certified nurse practitioner with eight years experience under my belt … even though I might very well be able to save your life? Because I’m just a woman, of course, and I should ‘keep my place,’ of course, and we should wait together until some qualified man arrives.”

The misogynistic religionist looked dumfounded. Maybe he’d never had a woman talk back to him? The giggles ramped up a notch and Moxie’s sides began to hurt. “Or maybe, just maybe, it’d be o.k. if I called 9-1-1 … unless women shouldn’t use phones, of course,” her mother had continued. “Hell, maybe I shouldn’t even be driving a damn car, for that matter! I wonder, is that what you’d tell me with your last dying gasps? Something like, ‘You’re just a woman! What are you doing behind the wheel of a car? Where’s your husband?’ And me there, with eight years practical, hands-on experience – with an awesome reputation, too, by the way – just standing there, doing nothing to save your wretched life, just because I’m a woman and it’s not my place.”

It wasn’t a long confrontation, really. In fact, the man just stood there looking like he’d just bombed the back of his pants. The other man, with his arms crossed and smiling, actually offered the only reply. “Point, set, match!” were the three words he spoke before turning around slowly and simply walking away. Moxie’s mother took this as her queue and continued down the aisle without looking back. Lucent was a professing, non-sectarian Christian, but she was also a healthy and athletic, fiercely independent woman, who was a strong advocate of education, the practical virtues, and common sense reasoning.

In fact, in her mind, the two went hand in hand. If the Christian faith meant redemption, then redemption meant liberation from oppression and marginalization, disease and maladies of mind and body, ignorance and down-right stupidity. In this sense, Lucent was a very “earthy” type Christian; eternity could wait, life now was to be lived now. Goes an awful long way in explaining why my super mom never slows down, Moxie mused. I wonder how many more degrees are in store for her? She’s just nailed down her Masters in Social Work so she can offer more and do more as a nurse practitioner. Bully for her! Moxie started giggling again, and so it was face into the pillow again.

This all sparked another memory, one of a conversation she and her mother had about her relationship with Able … all in all, good but somewhat uncomfortable for Moxie, which was unusual where her mom was concerned.