Batten Down

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Swirling, howling, blasting
the wind beats at the door
Shutters shudder, clinging
to their perch, and
door holds the line
while chill infiltrates
the weak spots where
seals just can’t hold out
Windows withstand the onslaught
though their groans slip
between their panes
And in the dark,
fading certainty
trembling bravado
and the fearful hollow
where confidence once
had flamed

-KJ Roe

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Prison Break

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The door is open,
I must escape
There is no time,
it cannot wait
Must leave this cage
of pens and files
where blood is spilt
in red-tape miles
Duck under threat
of deadline siege
and outrun duty’s
ravenous needs
Break free from
tightened daily chains
expectation’s gnawing
strain
I must run free where

Nature Reigns

Stretch out with my
arms flung wide
where breath can
truly breathe

I must look far at tops of trees
and mountain peaks
and wild things
hear the calls of birds
and streams
taste the fresh
in evergreen breeze
inhale heavy
mossy scents
as ancient rumbled
dirt is spent
in lines between
my toes

The lure of green
and brown and blue
and all the rainbow’s
many hues
hails with need
I can’t refuse
There is no time,
it cannot wait
for in the wilds
my heart awaits.

-KJ Roe

Contours in Crystal

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The glow of warm lights
wraps its arms around
traveler and couple
and quiet dreamer
gazing out
at the flurries, the
same in their shade
and in their cold
and in their errant,
erratic, swirling descent
toward frozen ground

The variety of their paths
a feast to those who look,
intricacies of their individual
shapes noted by the dedicated
and the patient and the
ones who look deep,
infinitely different,

Infinitely beautiful,
each one a fingerprint
of its own faithful
hopes, dreams of
drift or tree-lace
or child’s laughing
snowball-fight screams

Evidence of their
numbers piling up
in hills and cakes, covering
roofs and transforming
landscapes into a
new sort of world
where the magic
of wonder and the
power of love

illuminate
the darkness,
where hearts hold
no malice,
where brother
recognizes brother,
no matter his shape
no matter his shade

Snowflakes dancing,
drifting, bumping
their way through a life of
indescribable
Beauty and
unpredictable winds,
and the shapes we make
as we come together
become
the picture of our legacy
before our bodies
melt into the land

-KJ Roe

Metamorphosis

Butterfly woman
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Soft and pliant
No shield
No boundaries
No protections
Now hidden, now enwrapped
As a being ensorcelled
Cocooned in layers
A chrysalis of experiences
Of losses
And breakings
And shatterings
Now emerging, now changed
A creature unexpected
Broken from layers
A freedom of scars
– They didn’t warn of the pain.

-KJ Roe

 

 

An Ode

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The memories drift back

as I gaze at your lines

A crowd of thoughts

sparked by the shape of you

Moments left behind

in the dust of time and

dim remembrance

A rainbow of hues

stack upon stack

Or flung in bright

disarray, like wildflowers

In a field of gentle

reminders, each one

Bumping into another,

vying for recognition, to be

Plucked from the motley

throng, rewarded at last by

A touch, an engulfing grasp,

a soaring flight

into sticky note heaven.

-KJ Roe

An Architecture of Life

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People say that
it’s better to be strong
to be independent
to know there are no
promises
and to rely on
yourself
because they’re going to
let you down
anyway.

They tell you to
build your own life
hold your head up high
and to always
be ready
to strike out on
your own.
And I will.
I will be strong
and hold my head up high
and build
my own life

But this is how
I’ll do it:

Reach out my hands
with the amber light
of friendship
Plant the seeds for
emerald new
adventures
I’ll stop and stare
at brilliant orange
sunsets
Feel the violet sorrow
of the heartbreaks
and know that
I’m alive

I’ll drink the
calming blue
of the sea
Ask the questions
of a thousand
stories
Release the laughter
bursting
in my chest
Sing the melodies
dancing
in my veins

I will open my heart
to the radiant
beauty
of this world
and build a life of
magnificent
fullness
in gratitude’s
vivid freedom

-KJ Roe

Ascent

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She paused, raising her eyes to the crest of the hill above her. You’re almost there, she told herself as she reached for her water bottle and took a swig. You got this. Her legs had already traversed several stages on this hike – stretching, tired, sore, shaky, ready to collapse, and finally, stronger. She could almost feel the muscles tearing and healing and building as she went. It made her feel tough, as if she could handle anything. As though it didn’t matter if she was the last person on earth, or the only person on the mountain.

Her heart was another matter. It pounded in her chest like she’d just run a marathon while being chased by a bear. Too fast, too hard, but what worried her was the erratic unsteadiness of it. As far as a rhythm, she was pretty sure it was skittering between a bouncy reggae tune, a pounding rap, and the wild pulse of thrash metal. All fine for listening to; maybe not such a good thing for a heart rate.

She took a deep breath. Another one. In-two-three, out-two-three. Willed her body to calm, heart to slow. Practiced some learned-long-ago relaxation techniques. Tried not to think how ridiculous it was that this little hike was so difficult for her. The important thing was that she was doing it. She was facing the challenges she set for herself, overcoming all of the excuses and reasons for holding back.

She had spent too many years in the shadows. Too many days watching from the sidelines, being the cheerleader. She loved the encouraging, the guiding, the helping. She was good at it. But what she’d only partially grasped was that when you constantly encourage others to follow their dreams, eventually you get left behind.

But now.

This was her time. Her turn to explore. To grow, find her horizons. Most of all, to stop holding back.

She turned to look back at the trail she’d been following. The mountain dropped away before her, river cutting a valley through the hills. Trees danced in the breeze that cooled her skin. Snow blazed the tops of the range. A blue sky caressed the horizon, greens and grays and browns of the forest mixing in a grand palette of wild, untamable, glorious nature.

Where she had been was breathtaking.

Tears watered the landscape for a moment, and she grinned in exultation at the sheer magnificence of life and the world. Yes, the trail had been hard sometimes. Life had been hard. There were moments that she wondered what had possessed her to take it at all. But this – this majestic view of her journey so far was definitely worth it. It was more incredible than anything she could have imagined.

A prayer of thanks rose within her.

She took another deep breath, another swig of water, trying to hold the picture in her mind to look back on later. Holding onto the satisfaction of love feely given and obstacles overcome. So many memories to cherish.

She turned back up the trail. Her heart was steady now. She was ready.

There was further to go, and the view would be even better up ahead.

-KJ Roe