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Beings in Orbit

By Samantha Terrell

2019



Chapter I. Beings



When Space Was Big


When we are small

And space is big,

And there are so many unknowns

We can’t hope to know them all;


When there are brighter stars

In a bigger sky

And the distant future

Is really, truly, very far,


There is a hope, too,

A motivation to keep on

Living past the moment,

To do something unique and new


Before time gets shorter, and spaces smaller,

And the world’s pains

Grow bigger,

And the stars, dimmer;


Before the irony of life sets

In, and we learn to get lost in smallness,

Forgetting the world that

Once gave us its vastness.



Springtime Isn’t Always Optimistic


Lush

Green of spring,

Humming

Tree frogs have come


Early.

Outside looks

Good.

Inside, worry.


An empty gas tank,

Errands to run,

Sweating from the already too hot sun,

And they’re raffling off an assault rifle at the bank.



Parched


Holding your glass

Full of ice is trying,

When the melting


Upsets you, and though meaning

No disrespect, I can’t

Keep my hands from warming it.


In this intense heat, with no

Drink, your sensitivity is stifling.

And I am one with the ice,


Transformed by undue

Circumstances until half the size

Of the original, solid squares.


A puddle of indifference

Gathers at the bottom of this pool.

Then Father Time adds Bitters,


And the cup is filling up.

Yet we, so desperately,

Still need a splash of Sweet.



At What Cost


Once upon a sordid time,

The rooster crowed

Announcing the morn,

Which woke the hen with a start,

Who, feeling badgered

And with a saddened heart,

Rose to do her daily grind

Despite feeling out of sorts.


Until one morning

Unlike the rest,

She didn’t rise

To meet that cock’s requests,

Deciding instead

To take a nobler stance

Against the bullying

Ways of arrogance.


But while basking in a moment’s peace,

Her once fearful heart

Finally at ease,

She realized the victimizing

She had unwittingly done

While in the clutches of dread;

Wasting opportunities

To commune with the rising sun.



Beached in the Night, During a Storm


Emotionally-spent,

And the rain is pouring through our tent;

The wind whipping,

The onset of adrenaline,

Gripping.


I stare wide-eyed while you sleep,

Scared I'll wake you while I weep.

In fear for our lives,

In fear

Of our death, while


A storm rages across this beach. I battle hope versus dread

For our future, our present.

And in this instant, though you rest,

I am made aware,

It is all relevant.




Splitting the Earth in Two


We split the earth

In two

Last night,

No less than

Seventy-five times

Before the storm.

Digging, breaking,

Fertilizing, placing

Fragile seedlings

Purchased in haste

With our earned dimes,

While conditions permitted,

On humanity’s borrowed time.




Tribal Hunters


Our ancestors

Mastered

The skill.

To eat, meant,

By needs, to kill.


A tribal mentality prevails.

The anguish of mankind assails

In endless pursuit.

Contemporary war paint?

The black business suit.


Disavowing family for tribe,

We call ourselves dignified.

Organized hunts are planned, day after day,

Seeking the dollar,

Our modern prey.




Of Peace and Pocketbooks


‘Thou shalt not kill’

Is a basic instruction.

But the will

To obey is met with obstructions


Of the most absurd

And disgraceful types,

Until those simple words

Are all but forgotten in the hype


About the latest threats,

And our inherent rights

To kill for self-defense,

Or take up arms to fight


Those supposed impregnable regimes

Who would single-handedly

Thwart our future hopes and dreams.

Then, while we're delusional-ly


Attending to our fears,

Peaceful solutions are actively evaded

By our leaders

Who’ve become jaded


By the desire to turn a profit.

I'm not the first

To say it,

But I hope I'm not the last:


That the business of war

Is the biggest

Perpetrator

Of all. And, lest


We somehow

Forget it,

Our mainstream news

Retains the rights to its’ sponsorship.




Renovating the Capitol


A coup de maître is underway

To renovate and remodel,

Strip down and reshape our nation.


Rather than discarding the existing

Furniture, fabric bolts are expertly selected

For the re-upholstering.


And, one discreet swipe at a time, the mural of diversity,

Education and innovation,

Progress and industry--


Will, with a final master stroke, be painted over,

Making a nation’s truth defenders

Into frustrated up-enders


Whereby their resistance was also planned,

Counted on,

In fact,


Rendering these artisans’

Carefully sculpted Trojan Horse,

Into one full of its own citizens.



Our National Church


We say our daily prayers, and convene

With acquaintances,

And friends on

Social media,

Tailored to reiterate our Likes.

And then, we watch our evening shows

Where bullets fly, and people don't die,


But miraculously rise again

To record the next

Most-watched season!

So, when

The news

Reports of lives lost

Due to needlessness, excuses


Are quickly made

To explain away the issue,

Or better yet, sidetrack us

From the fact that we create

Endless victims of circumstance

When we prostrate ourselves

In worship, at our revered church of violence.



The Terrorist Who Stole My Heart


A slimy coward full of anger,

Jealousy and spite,

Snuck in by day,

Not even requiring dark of night,


And stole from my treasure-trove

Of neighbors and community

Replacing kindness and trust

With skepticism and anxiety.


Then, with my fellow citizens on board,

Some sleazy pick-up lines worked fine

To sway a few shadowy politicians

From their otherwise well-meaning positions.


Until, that terrorist's

Persuasions complete,

He slithered back, to watch

My heart fall at his feet.


And though the terrorist

Is the one who is guilty,

I'm the one condemned to mourn

For lost freedoms--my heart, my liberty.



Post-Disembowelment


Time-honored temple walls are closing in.

A dim beacon shines from the tower,

Warning of greed, racism, fascism.

But institutions forged

To balance and check

Are being smoked out

By persistent fire and wind;

Undoing centuries of solidity,

Replaced with repudiation

And invalidity of reputation.

Some, still-operational, automated sirens

Ring. But there are no responders,

No medics,

No one is rushing in to save

Us all from the grave

Pit we've dug

For a country gutted of its love.



Song of the Living Dead


The living

Bury ourselves in shame

Of pipeline trenches dug.


The living are ripped

Jaggedly, lengthwise; symmetry undone

By fracking.


The salt of the living

Bleeds, nuclear waste

Leaking into ocean waters.


The living mourn the loss

Of nature’s bountiful song,

Supplanted by the drone strikes of the dead.



Future Remorse


Hurt

Should

Carry

The weight

It half-heartedly alludes to, in delayed acknowledgments

That spring up like water,

Coursing, like aquifers, through frazzled nerves. While rich indulgences


Fabricate

A need to satisfy an insatiable thirst,

Dry, cracked earth is forced open with more than a shifting of plates,

But also a shifting of balance, disturbing the peace. Yet, the guilty continue their crimes, knowing no warrants will be issued,

No shame admitted; at least, perhaps, until that distant, unforeseeable day

When society finally admits,

Fracking was not okay.



Circular Thinking


I don't know if I believe

In reincarnation,

But if it is real,

I sincerely

Might have died in the Triangle Shirtwaist Company fire,

along with my blue collar friends,

Because it seems

We understand


A certain fundamental

Idea that we should look out for our fellow man;

And that the “we” we’re speaking of,

Is a passing of the proverbial

Buck,

Since we must, if we're honest,

Acknowledge we are the "we" who make our own luck.


But good fortune is nearly impossible to make,

Especially when it feels

The whole of humanity

Is what's at stake,

As flames are shooting up around you. And, trying to dispel the circular thinking of others,

from inside the straight-jacket

Of all those obtuse angles, is little more than

A mind-game, to distract.



Steady, Now


If only a hair-of-the-dog

Could exist to remedy

The crippling hangover

Of an ill-handled situation; make steady

The sick,


Head-pounding woes that

Relentlessly persist,

Playing reminder to the

Failed opportunity to resist

Defensiveness, or do the right thing,


Or say nothing at all.

But in sobriety,

It’s apparent

There was a certain gluttony

At stake--the result of which, now shames us.



Advocacy


What happens when all the advocates are gone, and those who profit

Unknowingly from battles fought by others, must learn to cope

Without

The hope


Of realizing change? Then,

The ones whom martyrdom didn’t spare,

Will no longer be enslaved by the victims

Who took for granted their wares


And the rest will be left

Questioning their fates.

But those who sought their downfall, while victorious,

Will find the only game they won was hate.




Chapter II. Eclipses



Changing Tides


I looked away and

Back again,

At that immovable,

Unchanging thing,


Only to find it

Different than before.

Where it once was,

It is no more.


In the same, steadfast,

Predictable place

Is, instead, a larger,

Broader view of space.


It seems the moon

That pulls the tide,

Dragged the sun

From my earth’s side,


Cooling once hot embers

With unseasonable chill,

And making known that good

Can come from once-perceived ill.




Grounded


Backing slowly

Out of Plato’s cave,

The promise of an orange

Sunset awaits.


Armed only

With the blueprints

Of perspective, unsure of the foothold

To be found, but confident


The sole

Will meet earth’s floor,

Confident the world

Will be met with soul’s core.




Honeysuckle Liberation


Dampness and honeysuckle

Mingle in thick evening air,

And I am immediately

Made aware

Of a place

Romanticized by time,

Before Dante Alighieri intrigued

Me with meter and rhyme;


Before growth inside this womb,

Swollen twice by life;

Before I was delivered

From a mind stricken with strife,

Freeing me to secure the transformative properties

Of a damp and honeysuckle-laced reality.




Fighting Fascism on the Home Front


Baby says, “I hate it,” and

Mama’s heart cries.

Baby says, “She’s mean,” and

Mama’s brain sighs,


Because parenting’s hard, but times are harder.

As he trudges off to school,

Mama reminds him

Of The Golden Rule.


Then, drives off to

Face the meanies,

Boogey-monsters, and

The world’s evils;


Battling ill-will

While there’s still time

To challenge society

With a blog post and a rhyme.



Regurgitation


I can finally vomit

Up the cheese pizza

I once bought

And ate to satisfy

The hunger of a thousand

Resisted opportunities.


And I can finally admit,

I was trying to fill

The void

Created by a thousand

Self-defeating choices (puréed to aid

Digestion, but spat out again).


And I can finally forgive

Myself, for once believing

The world would be more than a sieve

That I’d have to avoid slipping through,

While learning not to resent

Others for doing the same.



Green Ball, Center Pocket


In the moist basement

Of our youth,

There was a pool-table

With its relentlessly obtuse

Angles, thwarting

Boredom between

Family meals.

But the naïve


Are short-sighted,

Ignoring the warnings that fertility

Exists for growth. And, soon bright

Orange and green billiard balls

Would be forever sunken in

Our memory’s pockets; a filled in foundation.



After the Fireworks


It's due time

To extinguish

The flames

Created by all the fireworks, from whence with

Reckless abandon

We sought

The passion

That only the lost,


And youth are wont to seek.

Then, in our naiveté,

We even tried to keep

The fire going longer, and with it, future unknowns at bay.

Perhaps we forgot, amidst the temporary chaos--

Burned off fields are the ones ripest to flourish.



The Education of a Smile


When we first met,

I was still using a plastic grocery bag to carry my things around,

In a used car, purchased with borrowed money.

And yet,

It was a two hours’

Drive each day to “earn” a degree

I hadn’t figured out how


I’d use, or if I would, even. So

The earning felt more like spending,

Because it was;

A gluttonous

Use of gas money, from part-time jobs, despite bankrupt energy reserves,

To go to the university, to put in the time,

To get the credentials, to say that I had them.


And no one was crying with me anymore,

Because

No one does

After a certain point. But furthermore,

Until you, no one was smiling with me either. Thus, an education must be learned

But a smile,

Is earned.




Some Things Get Lost


The elusive dog that ate

Your homework or made you late

Couldn’t possibly be to blame

For eating the name


Of your childhood friend’s cat.

You know, the one that

Always followed you down

To the park, or once all the way into town


For that parade…what was it for?

Never mind, there’s a future in store

For the perpetual wanderers,

Whether we’re


Prepared or we aren’t, if only

We'll keep moving, even slowly,

Rather than being caught

By those occasional things that get lost.




Entitlement


Who deserves

To drink, eat, be?

Who has truly

Earned their keep?


The deer of the field,

The fish of the sea?

Life is work, and work, life.

Oh, to live honorably,


Knowing, in earnest,

Earning

Is not meant

For keeping;


Nor does

Having and having kept,

Equate to

Having earned.


We are none,

Entitled to be.

But we were all

Born to die free.



I’m Not Qualified to Pray for Peace


Maybe

To pray for peace

Is too bold and ambitious,

When we know not what it means.


Maybe instead,

The prayers and hopes to offer

Would be for the wealthy

To be generous with their coffers;


For the injured and diseased

To find relief from their pain;

Or for drought-laden countries,

To get their share of rain;

Maybe we should pray for safety

For the world’s children,

Instead of praying for peace

To do a magic-trick in volatile regions;

Or, we could pray for cooperation

Amongst all cultures, nations, and religions,

Rather than generic peace treaties

Which become tools of derision?


And, if we pray for fewer

Loaded guns, less animosity,

We might begin to understand this

Loaded word called peace.




If Only All It Took Was Soap Leaves


Little papers, yellowed and rough,

Bound in an oversized matchbook cover,

Wait to soothe

Mud-caked hands in need of a good wash.

Water trickles from the tap of the sink;

Transforming grit


Into smooth,

Dirty into clean,

Paper-thin

Leaves into soap,

Suds into water, capable of evaporating, high

As nature’s leaves, on the wind of a serene sky.




Self-Worth


When I was all I had,

And the leaves

On the ground

Were damp and brown,


Our home phone would ring

At Six each evening

As we sat down to eat

Our green beans and milk and meat.


But I kept a book,

Where worries rested,

Beside my bed,

In their only home outside my head,


And I would lie awake sometimes ‘til Three,

To write, and read, and find

That all I had,

Was all I’d need.



Compartmentalize This


I don’t want to compartmentalize anymore,

Now that I know what all the compartmentalizing was for.

Divvying up our hopes into neatly wrapped

Parcel packages,


Might serve as a good distraction

From instant gratification,

While enroute to far off goals, but soon the mentality

That gift baskets comprise reality,


Creates falsehood,

Making us dissatisfied,

Endlessly seeking what doesn’t exist.

At the end of the pursuit, a mountainous pile of boxes awaits.


Anxiously, we snap open the twine,

Only to find,

Devastatingly,

That inside, every box is empty.



Superficialities

Sophistication seems

To seep

From vines that clamber up moss-laden bricks,

But beneath this


Thoroughly-covered

Façade, mortar cracks and crumbles

Pitifully. and, visible through a

Murky-glassed windowpane,


Sediment

Settles

In a cheap Pinot sitting, in its predictable place,

On the sideboard-table


Alongside smudged, spent wine glasses;

A reminder of the emptiness

Of artificiality. And, that bad wine is a phony sage

Which does not improve with age.



The Provocative


Sexy dancers are ever

On stage, where

Crowds gather, and eyes

Are curtains, drawn intently,

Lulled away from daily strains.

But philosophers

Linger at the bar,

Seeking consolation

Of a different kind

In the bartender’s string of quips,

Since, when flamboyance

Has finally turned to monotony,

The limelight will shine on intellect,

Which conclusively,

Earns its tip of respect.




Enveloped at the Path of Totality


Hate chased us into a churchyard eight weeks since solstice

Lapsed, but once the place's peace

Had settled over us,

I knew no worries would beset

My mind, my heart, our rest.


Though to my surprise,

And even as the moon's

Passing over did devise

Its scheme

To cloud the sun from its great being,


Hate found us again, and how! Amidst our solar solace,

So consuming

Was its presence,

Our words, our breaths,

Our spirits, it did envelop.



Chapter III. Orbits



Faith and Science


Centuries expired while the sun circled earth,

Until Copernicus and Galileo proved truth's worth.


And it seems that trees

Forever reach


Towards the sky; or, is it toward earth's core?

Does it matter? Believe with me, I'll tell you more:


‘As I live and breathe,’ humanity commands this planet

With our ‘higher’ intellect.


Or are we parasites, instead,

Living on an eyeball inside the universe's head?




Sacrifices


Before the lamb

Lay down with the lion,

The cub bit the sheep

And wounds ran deep.

The fawn and wild boar

Bedded-down not

Upon forest’s lush floor,

Without nature’s

Painful consequences

Showing true colors

Once more.

As final, futile acts

Before a peaceful

Course set; today’s

Pacts, preceded by

Yesterday’s

Shameful fits.




When the Moon Is Right


Too late,

He asked;

Too late,

She tried.

Too soon,

He laughed;

Too soon,

She cried.


But when the flowers start budding and

Leaves are greenly leafing;

The trees, no longer dark and barren;

Shadows, no longer creeping;

The dark side of the moon turns light,

And too soon, shakes hands with too late.



Defining Definitions


Why does cotton call itself

Soft?

Rain…wet?

Clouds… ethereal?


Try to imagine

Hard cotton,

Dry rain, tangible

Clouds.


Then, understand giving

As receiving, peace

As justice, living

As love.



Appreciation


He bent over

Backwards to pick her that flower

But she was allergic. she made chili

But he can’t eat spicy.


And you asked,

Can I take your jacket?”

But I said,

No way, I’m freezing,” and


Sometimes support isn’t supportive. But the asking,

And the trying,

And the presence of being,

Give life meaning.



Tonight, There Is Wine


Yesterday,

We argued. but tonight, we laugh

Over a glass

Of chardonnay,


And a book of bad

Poetry that I tossed

Out on the lawn

For dramatic


Effect, and

The line

Of your smile

Is a road from our past


Into the future; you lovingly said okay, when I told

You I refuse to envision

It any other way than

One in which together we become old.




Ambidexterity


Fully engage me, and

You will have earned

My both brain-sides attention span,

Causing regimented methodical

To resolve with unkempt neutral,


Until the logical

Is mated seamlessly

With the fanciful.

So the world can finally grasp

The usefulness of right and left hands, clasped.




Only One Heart


We are symmetrical

Beings--those of us who can call

Ourselves fortunate

Enough


To live in a body

Without injury

Or disease.

We have these


Two beautiful ears

With which to hear

Our creator’s call, and eyes to see,

And arms and legs and feet


Though we have but one

Metronome-

Heart with which to live

And spend it how we choose: to take, or give.



We Have Two Feet


We are called to tip-toe

Quietly through conflicts, and

Unutterable circumstances;

Tip-toe,

Tip-toe,

Tip-toe


But most of us

Haven't mastered gravity,

Let alone

Made such a discovery;

And tip-toeing is tedious,

Tiresome


Plus, the world offers

Age-old instant gratification

For stomping around,

Waving our swords,

Yelling out threats, and so

Succumbing to laziness and temptation


After perhaps

A short pause

During which

We listen for

What?

We aren't sure, and


Hearing no loud tromping objections

That trump our own,

We pursue our quest,

Having missed the point,

Forgetting balanced judgment,

Forcing contrived arguments,


In efforts of crushing others;

Only to find it's a silent few, who

Having heeded the pause of

Justice's boot long enough,

Find that humility's tip-toe

Makes a deeper footprint.



Pallbearers


When carrying the

Heavy weight of burdensome woes

Smaller strides are necessary;

Heel-to-toes, heel-to-toes…


And yet, the sharing of an

Angst-filled load

Makes possible, what one

Could never bear alone.



Unlocking the Spirit

The body's a vessel
For a spirit too big.
Precious moments turn into
Important messages which the
Mind comprehends, though
Body and words
Fail to fulfill them.
He describes tall trees,
A forest, open and lush and green,
Alongside which is a path
Untaken? Perhaps, not yet;
Though seen
Through panels that opened
Before slits of eyes
Barely seeing,
Yet seeing
Better than ever before.
He said he once
Wanted to write
A children's book,
“It's Hard to Lock Yourself Up.”



Thank You


Thank you for the lesson, the gift

You finally could

Teach.

The only one you couldn’t preach

In life, but one which you would

Demonstrate

In death--

That there’s so much more than

We can grasp.

It’s surprising even to those of us


Who claim to believe

That there’s

A great beyond

That we have heard of

And now we know exists;

That we are not alone,

But surrounded.

We are blessed

Not because we can look in a mirror and beautifully be,

But because in our blindness we can, by grace, see.



Step Back to Gain Perspective


There’s guilt in the mere

Overcast idea

That an ending can be anything

Other than an ending.


But graves look better at a distance.

From up close,

They are painfully raw piles of loose

Dirt and knotted up, incensed roots


That need detangling.

And the healing

Waves of grass blowing in wind

Have long yet to grow over again.

 

Then, almost too soon, shudders

Of rumbling thunder

Bring the rain, predictably followed by sunshine,

Until it’s conceivable that with time,

 

From the once more solid ground,

Another viewpoint might be found.

And despite the pain that’s gradually abating,

A new beginning may indeed be waiting.



I Always Try to Look Up


When feeling downcast,

A museum’s temple exhibit,

With an ornate cathedral ceiling

That I almost missed, is uplifting--


In contrast to the unknowns

Of relics, minds, and bones

That take our attention

Away from the wisdom


Of fellow onlookers,

Whose sage words

Are more relevant

Than that


Of a curator

Or counselor,

In offering gentle advice such

As, “I always try to remember to look up.



The Benefits of Foresight


When there’s not much time

Before the storm, and

We all rush out

To buy

Our milk and bread,

Predictions have become reality, and

The period of prophecy is dead.


So who is the fool?

The one who waits, and only ever

Acts upon the apparent?

Or, one who

Knows the forecast

But fails

To act?


For now, we ponder

And wait.

But one day,

Will we wonder--

Instead of lazily gazing, late into the tumultuous night--

Why we didn’t, instead, embrace it?

This, the great burden of foresight.



Learning from Pompeii


I hate you for what you've taken from us:

The vastness

Of sky and sea,

And all that the world had promised to be.


But I thank you

For the gifts you give

Of humility,

And of will to live


Well, even--

In spite of fears;

To love fiercely,

Despite limited days or years;


To forgive easily,

And freely,

And quickly.

All this, the byproduct of impending mortality.



Seeking Impunity


I don't wish

To hitch

A ride with Elon Musk.

But I would be remiss

If not to admit


There are, presumably,

Many days between now and eternity.

So, the prospect of

Living them out in fear and trepidation

Because of the failings of our nations,


Versus pursuing a chance

To look upon this era as a passing glance,

Seems hardly a choice at all.

While only the naive

Believe


A perfect life is possible, to acquiesce

To minor injustices

Only when, and because

They're being done

Against oneself, is dabbling in martyrdom.


It doesn't suit me.

So I will seek impunity.

I will declare it a God-given right,

Of mine, and every healthy mind,

To, unabashedly, upwardly strive.



What Graffiti Teaches


He tags a boxcar in the New York train

Yard, before moving on to the next stain,

He will make, or will be made of him

Since life in the ghetto is ‘sink or swim.’

While, he stands alone in a field of hay

Dreaming of a life far away,

Far from here, where his girlfriend broke his heart

And now a train passes by, decorated with brightly-colored art.

And, she wonders what it all means

As she stares out her window, and tears stream

Down her cheeks, hating old age, and the imprisoning

Circumstances it brings.


And though we are all bound to our dwellings,

Maybe in the watching

Of graffiti-art trains, from our respective homes,

We will know, we are not alone.




Garden Party Pleasantries


Canvas canopies appear,

Attempting to screen the sun

From a group that’s

Gathering to hear.


Already-soaked-in-heat,

Rising from the

Clay brick patio, helps to

Draw forth sweat beads


That glisten,

Glaring and honest,

In a sweltering

Political season.


Introductions are made;

Drinks, served;

Speeches, given;

Pleasantries, exchanged.


The chilly breeze that blows

Through

Flowery words

Is unwelcome, though.


Revealing the crass temperature

Of your, not so subtle,

Disingenuous

Character.


Yet, you seem conflicted, and I wonder if I’m the only one

Intrigued as you absentmindedly

Deadhead a few dried blossoms;

A reminder: We are all tending the same garden.



Beings in Orbit


Star-lit luminaries light

A path towards the day,

Away from night;

Around again.

To spin


Quickly, though dizzying, is preferable to slow-circuits,

Which strain the soul’s desire

To rapidly persist

In endless motion,

Round a future, ceaselessly, unknown.





Acknowledgments – Beings in Orbit


“At What Cost” (pg. 8) was published by DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts.


“I Always Try to Look Up” (pg. 54) was published by Dissident Voice (an online journal).


“Green Ball, Center Pocket” (pg. 28) was published by KnotLit Magazine (online).


“Sacrifices” (pg. 41) was published by DoveTales, An International Journal of the Arts.




Beings in Orbit By Samantha Terrell, 2019 Smashwords Edition Licensing Notes

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