Spiraling

midlife changes curled-up
forties are fiddlehead ferns
it doesn’t look like much
until it becomes unfurled
and once we get it open
things may break apart —
eventually nests unwind
but will we bear fortitude
to turn that new life into
something just as beautiful
and yet even more free
spiraling towards fifty?

—Terri Guillemets

October twilight

when you must get up early
to put the trash to the curb
because you forgot to do it
the evening before—and—yawn—
it’s still dark, but the sun is hinting
at its existence, low on the horizon
and there’s a fresh chill in the air
with Sirius & Orion hunting Mars
by the light of a hunter’s moon—
suddenly it’s no longer a chore
but glorious beautiful happiness

—Terri Guillemets

Stay the night

The moon is always
running away from me
as if she thinks that time
is just a cyclical game
of hide & seek —

She runs and runs
then keeps on running
leaving me to the mystery
of why the nights run short
and the days even shorter

Please, Moon —
just for one night
can’t you sit still
and stay a while

We can have
a midnight tea —
just you and me
we’ll talk all night
and bask in the glow
of your regal beauty

—Terri Guillemets

So simple

Sometimes my husband says really smart things. Today during a conversation on our lunch breaks, it was this—

Me:  “How can I let go of something like that?”

Him:  “Shift + Delete”

Charged

suddenly my life feels
like the air before a storm
silent, searching, charged
an imminent disaster
with destructive beauty
bright sun here and now
dark clouds at my horizon

electrified waiting
a whirlwind of stillness
it’s building, billowing
but to i know not where
and possibly to nothing
no body to forecast
whether or whether not
my future lies ahead

feeling ghosts in the wind
restlessness & anticipation
i dread this storm
but somehow
more than that
i welcome it, ache for it

oh i sorely need to become
sodden, grounded
struggle bedraggled
so i can revive
regrow vibrant —

dead branches torn away
old beliefs ripped from roots
worry whipped to shreds
powerful bolts striking
stronger than anything
i can create myself

blind me — enflame my entire sky
i want to look at the world anew
and that starts
with my own vision
i’m ready
for a new version

my being has become torrential
yet minimal — nearly imperceptible
not yet in a crisis, still
i’m bordering one, circling it
crying out for that flash point
beckoning it, to break —
to shatter my former self
and my current nothingness
into a mended calm
risen from the storm

rain, gales, hail —
i don’t care
just let it come
i need to be reborn
from the wild remains
of my inner tempests —
no, i do not want to die
but only to live again

—Terri Guillemets

Alarm ringing true

There was time —
I know there was —
saw it spread out
all ahead of me,
a beautiful infinity —
immortal fresh-faced
clock of opportunity —
numberless, handless
no ticks & no tocks
save for the sound
of distant decades
too quiet to really hear —
but at forty-eight years
a sudden gear-grinding
cacophony, the outspread
blanket of eternity
has begun to suffocate,
wrapped around me
limiting my agility
darkening my path —
I’m having trouble
breathing, I no longer
see that clock open
or free, its movements
now deafen me, its hands
tear into my flesh and
grip tight my throat —
I am choking on
second thoughts
at this midlife hour
this day of reckoning

—Terri Guillemets

Flight path

I look out my office window
working too late, again

The half-moon is round
with a glowing halo —
I know it’s pollution but
my heart sees fairy dust
or the happily ever after
romance of a bedtime story

And next to the bright moon
with its fringe of murky light
soars a large airplane
with its lights flashing
and I can hear its engine
even with my windows closed
(it’s hot outside, otherwise —
you know darn well —
I would open them!)

The plane’s lights —
red, green, white orbs
of unsightly technological safety —
are ruining the beautiful night sky
and distracting me from
my dusty fairy-tale moon

Yet maybe
at last
I realize
what’s been
obscuring
my poetic vision

I always seem to focus
on that beautiful moon
and the romantic dark sky
but ignore the 737 monstrous
hunk of metallic civilization
hurling itself through the night,
followed by a second aircraft
and then a third and fourth,
as if the airport is shooing
all her noisy little children
out of the house to play —

And even though that airplane
is hideous and loud
and aerial anti-serenity —
      it’s life.

And what is poetry —
      if not life?

Perhaps it carries
newlywed lovers
who were finally married
after COVID cancellations,
leaving on the honeymoon
they saved up years for —
and in that plane
is just as much fairy tale
as that beautiful-ugly
dust veiling the moon.

—Terri Guillemets

Desiccated

I write of only 3%
of the landscape
around me —
the green trees
colorful flowers
amazingly adaptive
dryland wildlife
and blind myself
to the rest of it —
but it’s time
to take a good look
and acknowledge
my selective seeing —
the 97% is dull
barren, stark, harsh, hot
out my bedroom window
there is a plain brown
block walled fence, my
neighbor’s white-metal
shed roof, off of which
glares the sun so brightly
it’s blinding, not a speck
of green in sight, except
one small weed emerging
from dusty gray rocks —
yes, there is a lizard
on the wall, doing push-ups
in the morning sun
and I watch him
with fascination
awed with nature
I forget the surrounding
urban desert ugliness —
until suddenly I wonder
where will he get
his next water?
surely from someone’s
yard watering system
but where do we  get
that precious water
for our thirsty homes?
and how much longer
will we be fortunate
enough to have it?
our city and county
allow so much over-
development, it feels
as if they are slowly
killing us, overcrowding
us, not caring about
our quality of life
nor the lizard’s —
but maybe, just maybe
we Phoenicians are
simply outright foolish
for trying to live here
in our air-conditioned
fortresses while the
city dries up around us

—Terri Guillemets

Alteration

she sees west
glances north
east goes past in a blur
south appears
and she wobbles —

this is not exploration
it’s spinning —
the gentle rotation
of youth
has accelerated
out of control —

middle age, presbyopia
gray hairs speed by
dizzied by menopause —
motion, sickness
rapid changes kicking
out the support
from under her

she has a stand to take
but cannot make it
she’s fallen & can’t get up
it’s too far down too fast
she needs to rest —

here she sits — still
nauseous, unsteady
invisible, irrelevant
dried-up and empty

no map, and broken
compass — vulnerable
existing inside out
with seams showing —
tired, thready, torn

—Terri Guillemets