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Preview: Poets for Peanuts

Poets for Peanuts

Updated: 2018-03-07T20:29:29.748-08:00


Better Left Unsaid


And who made you mother of the world? girl,
you had to learn compassion at an old age
and only gave it to your children; you never thought twice
about what you can do for others, but how others can forward

your brood; as spoiled rotten as you, big attitudes,
don't act like you don't know the truth.
It feels like rolled rocks, like five years
of a bad habit, losing balance, 
scraping hands and trying to grab a rope but miss -- miss -- missing
an old friend who slammed a door in your face, like
how rare is forgiveness in the world, and how easy
when you only mean the best, to sometimes spill and tear
apart that which you tied in another's heart, yes--

but perhaps we're both naive; at once all-seeing
and blind. We cannot know ourselves as others do; how can we be
perfect, with nothing to measure up to, except our own pasts
and perceptions that arise and change; we are not
built to last



The tree came out of the ground like a tower.
It struck the earth, like a mighty scepter.
The tree stood
impenetrable. It arose and became
a guardian, giving home to an eagle's nest;
its roots like anchors, it shielded
the smaller creatures, and drifting down,
its leaves became poems, touching the ground
and igniting fire.
The tree came
from within. The heart bloomed
like the woods. Winter shied away
and spring flooded the wilderness.
All that lay dormant



The dark thing lurks in my vision corners
the dark thing paces
beyond the doorway



why sad, young swallow
sloping playground, driving wind, downwind
your brothers fly far across field.

why sad, little swallow
sitting lonely on a branch in the the school yard
as downy skies accumulate overhead

sad swallow, fly strong
across field and fence; the wind picks up
your wings, just to drop you
for joy to the grass; with a cry
you spin upward, skyward, darting through turbulence,
denying the first drops of rain.



The strength of God shows through your presence.
Broken one, heal me.

The strength of Faith show through your words.
Dying one, speak to me.

The strength of the Word has made you Golden,
His wisdom glows through you now,
I write with words, and your peace, unspoken
gives me all--His strength, and yours.



Open me
like silence waiting
Open me
like rings upon rings
like a trapt door
like a bad lock
like something well hidden, leaving dirt under your nails
long forgotten, yet undiscovered
like a closed book
like a sealed letter
like a strange, unlabeled box
in a bottom drawer
I have never been open
and I want to know who she is.


Ice folds and I am found in winter.
Winter has grown to Spring.
Spring ended in fire.
Summer spent with little water
and now, exposed to
falling leaves, the Autumn season
becomes me, earth tones, golden weather,
time is slowing
and I want to know
what i have missed
what could have been
what might still be.



The house sounds good.
It moans with the tide of the wind,
not a hushing sound, not soothing, more
of a rush, a remembrance.

Lying beneath the metal roof of the back room, I listen to tilting timbers,
the old croaks of days long past, of weather and wear,
and the walls whisper--remember too much,
and you'll become lost in this place.
No gust of wind is the same--
make the voices new--
make the meaning new.



Your thoughts are weighed by sadness and mist; a damp fog surrounds your forehead.

You are in it, but don't know it yet.

Standing in the fog, waiting for a light to pop and save you.

You're in it now--and the fog is in you,
slowing thoughts, feeding fear, numbing senses.

Don't try to react,
you can't wade through it;
just wait.

The Basin


To live always between two places,
pulled, moving back and forth
in our minds--the old place, the place of rain
falling down upon us, where memories swell,

and that new place, where sunlight burns
the skin 'til we blister
and our eyes are dazzled by
looking forward to all matter of possibilities.

To live within that in-between, like a trench between mountain and field,
seeking left and right in the gray skies
then standing still to breathe. Listening--
for what? The wind?
This lonely basin, this never-place, this now
looking back at rain, looking forward at sun
and feeling silence simmer on our searching brow.



And the honest truth is they let us down, not always gently--plop us on the floor after a sudden word and leave you there. People. They come and go. And you fill them up like houses, moving furniture around, helping sort things out. You try to offer - maybe too much - gifts and spare things like apples from the grocery store; you pick out shirts that would fit, the perfect place to put a lamp. Then you expect too much, a book returned, or a nice view out a window, a pretty corner in an open room where you can sit together. People. You let them in through the front door like honored guests and they leave through the back, seeing all their faults in you. We show them out, then take them in again, because they knock and the door swings open and shut.



I am tired of sitting quietly under the tree, watching
wind on the grass.

I am tired of passively folding before grief, biting down
on leather straps. I yearn for winter, and then grow tired
of the cold. Spring seems like a new garden, frighteningly green,
and I am reluctant to leave the snow.



i want to be in that little boat, on that lake
somewhere in the wood, on a warm afternoon,

where reeds push up against the side
of the water, vibrant miles

and i can see shoreline, like the breath of me
aligned with you, because we came here together

as old friends sinking lures
on the lake, casting lines in the blue.

The Season


December 23rd, 2013

I am in that place again, melting, reforming,
my thoughts getting sloppy, spilling out
over the sheets as I lie awake at night, heavy,
unable to sleep.

Weight, like an iron ton
compresses my chest. 'Tis the season of wrapping gifts in regrets
and eating minced meats, sugary sweets, so sweet
they make my teeth ache.

And outside, I see pretty lights gleam
from the gutters of my neighbor's house. I lie awake
with flurrying thoughts, snow drifting down, melting on pavement
and freezing in doubt.

I can't make peace with you in the silent night.
I bow my head to the pillow, praising
those red and green lights, the wreath on the door and heart bound tight
under the tree, where the presents lie waiting.



Love is our last gasp
before silence falls; a desperate grasp
for meaning.

Imperfect weather, I breathe out
a final release: I am letting go of lightning.

Small cracks align the heart,
denoting one region from another.
After the rain, thunder rolls through us.
Muscles stutter against
broken plans, abandoned meanings,
collapsing bridges and sudden endings.

the sky encased by dampened clouds, here is the heart
torn asunder. We can run for shelter,
but the storm rages on within and the wind
breathes out, the rain swells--
a gasp, release, and thunder.

~T. L. Shreffler



Gray--a cloud. Gray as cloud
perched, pivotal, on horizon's bow
to blanket the world, shielding sleepers
in  rain-wrecked, shade-formed shroud.



Silence, as the burned bush fallen to cinders;
I lie beneath it, counting branches turned to ash.
Where leaves once grew, now I know emptiness
like the gaping maw between leaves.

And I must write lines between lines
to seek what must be said--that the heart of the creator
is wallowing. No motion, no seed, no way to plant
a garden without flames to precede
the brush, the moss, the trees.

Do I ask some other muse to speak?
Like the dormant roots of a weed, I need
something to ignite, to fuel, to know
I am not done growing.

Change, the pain of rebirth
was once aflame, now dimmed. Mere crackling,
I have no more destruction to seek, but this fire-stripped forest
has turned lifeless for me.



And they don't know that mentioning them
is always an insult to me.

Shall I wear my loss as a badge
on my sleeve; tell them
how it grieves me, how I wish
they could see

the fragility: frost-weeds
easily snapped at the stem, easily seeded
and grown again, not so easily freed.

On watching Shakespeare


Watching them act, there are a thousand ways
and a thousand words to explain the heart;
watching them be, become, be undone
by scenes at the end
of that marvelous play;

play on words, play on minds, play on
me, sweet waves of visions through windows
enraptured by faces. I know all of you
better than the play knows itself--

for these are the words of a spirit entranced, who never dared dance;
the road of one who shies when they walk,
who yearns when they talk, who leaks, who becomes only
what has already been made.

I want to know, where in this life do I fit
like a piece, when so many pieces have fractured. We
reach across the stage and bright lights to
another, breathing, playing, acting
the part: living the dream, dying the death.



Death, teach me what it means
to dream. What it means
to lose hope, like white roses
falling to the ground.
Show me a road forward, a root
to a tree, a tree,
now fallen, now split at the trunk, now broken.

Plant seeds at my feet
that I might walk forward, crushing
the roots I have made;
show me rivulets of water, show me
rain run-offs, deep rising cliffs, mountains
born of mist and fog, crowned by winter,
here risen from the ground.

You flow through spring in a vibrant undertow;
threading forward, you teach me of roots,
of abandon, of endless yearning; you know
what the heart needs, and I, afraid to say it, afraid
to move forward; here is dusk
and I stand alone. Moving forward--
why? Why must I leave all I ever loved



I followed the river back to you,
no easy stretch through choking leaves,
Still, I reached
as branches do.

For trees cannot let loose their limbs,
and roots remain where tree trunks do;
our separate roots, grown far apart
still find the water, as love does, too.

* * *

The heart is struck
by skipping rocks,
The earth is turned by
careless feet,

A garden born
of many seeds,

Decomposed, then using hands,
then feeding birds, then growing wings.



landslides tore apart the house
which stands no more

beside an ocean, but was risen up by cliffs
beyond a vanishing tide. They bore me upwards

through wooden planks
and shattered boards, dropped hallways
endings everywhere
as mountains lifted to the sky.

yet the stars prevailed, and you came

as an anthem, a crusader

to build a house, a monument, a home

to grace His mountain.

* * *

I have peace to thank you for, following through the knot
and pulling the needle out the other side.



Just as well, I am Your fruit, fallen from a branch to taste
the ground; I am beyond blooming.
Your nectar, fermented, is bittersweet
and brings joy to the tongue.

I have tasted you, Oh Lord.
I have cringed and bitten
and burned lilies for fragrance
but You, My Lord, bring bounty
from Winter to Spring,
from bowing, to standing
to blooming, to ripening--
from fallen, to flourished, My Lord.

From Spring 2010



Surely, this is not silence
to which we have
fallen, but knowing;
for we cannot say
what grows a bond, nor why a year
has led me to yearn
to complete that sentence,
yet that which calls us
to act upon words
must not be enacted. In this,
speaking will lead us


You have not said
my name--

there is a tremor,
a certain rush
to speak, to say
though you will not say it;
drowned of air
you must have silence
to breathe.

for you don't love
me (not too much)
and yet you would
take me (could you)

I still tremble--
I swear--
not speak a word.



Is this all we are--love

contagious, always

with fevers passing

in troubled sleep
stretching from beach to beach,
no waves
or land to reach


I would rather be a pillar, a symbol of my own strength
than combined tapestry, love for someone else's art
I am surrogate love, bred with a champion runner's heart
and a bloodline's tracks


love, who were you
to barge down doors

to appease

to please me

to refuse flowers, how can you
turn me away, your attention spans
between video games, movies, or work

you'd rather say--love takes time, and I need
time, to know myself

but you are as shallow as your affinities,
you have nothing

to share--no way to explain
who you are--you are
that which can fill in small cracks

and crevices, like Elmer's glue
but really, you are as porous as

a broken jar, holding dirt
swept from the garage, stored

on a shelf, pretty, waiting
long, for something new.


it lives purely in a woman's heart, this companion
who dies of a porous heart



honestly, there were no words lost
between us, only blood,

nothing that could be given. And the way
we were pulled together, then

apart, left us with gaps
that became our connection.


stiffness, i am toward you
like a bone hand