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

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

Weighed down

the scale now shows me
one hundred sixty-eight
but in those simple digits
I see rejection and pain
sugar, laziness, exhaustion
hormones splayed out of whack
menopause ready to rumble
plaque buildup and repressions
anxiety, regret, some depression
the past, the future, sheer panic
tension, disoriented expectations
ice cream, sweet junk addictions
griefs, hurts, disappointments
bad habits, cliffs, fear, falling
the eating of all my emotions
gluttony and gorging ghosts
turbulent raging blood glucose
sleepless nights, too-busy days
nerves, toxins, worry, age
unwelcome rapid-fire change
lack of trying, trying too hard
loss of control, culinary excesses
no longer fitting into my dresses

—Terri Guillemets

Fantastic shores

in bed at night his mind had a ferocious imagination
reality and unreality haunted his turbulent brain
the years ticked, an infinite clock of destiny

searching moonlight for the promise of a future
his reveries of heart were coasting on a fairy’s wing
as the world and universe drifted by fantastic shores

but the sea, work, and women — physical outlets —
were his anchor — something old, hard, and soft

—Terri Guillemets

scrambled blackout poetry created from F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby, 1925, Scribner 2004 trade paperback, pages 98–99

Fight for our lives

like wild animals, I am happy hiding
the artificial frightens my being —
but it is time to fight for the earth

—Terri Guillemets

scrambled blackout poetry created from Rafe Martin, Birdwing, 2005, pages 150–151

Raindrop days, lightning moments

We all have those moments in our lives that transform us — something small or big happens and we’re never the same.

Sometimes we remember these moments in our personal histories as leaps, or falls — or just serendipitous wanderings — from one life segment to the next.

Or we mark them like stars on a map of self — constellations of life-changing moments. Some seem crazy small and wouldn’t even register as stars in others’ systems. But in our own they blaze bright.

Or maybe our days are raindrops and our lives rolling clouds and these moments are lightning strikes. Raindrop days, lightning-strike moments.

These maps and moments imprint our souls, our minds, our memorious hearts. Our stories of self are made from them.

—Terri Guillemets

Forty-four

i vomit confusion & butterflies
i sweat fear and i bleed dread
i fall deaf from society’s lies
i gag on metallic tastes of pain
i run from the reek of regret
i save my minutes & lose my hours
i dance on the minefield of mind
i freeze my worries for later
i breathe a reverie’d ether of beauty
i drown in fantasy too deep
i love on the edges of souls
i sleep on the shores of night
i glow at the sight of each morning
i delight in the sunshine of pleasure
i plant my seeds in thankfulness
i get high on nature’s magnificence
i stare in reverence at trees
i cherish each blissful breeze
i open every window i can
i invite every light to play
i adore every cloud in the sky
i welcome each raindrop & tear
i memorize every flower’s aura
i read old books & withering leaves
i paint myself with colors of truth
i polish the bright side’s halo
i chase angels & occasionally devils
i pray from within & without
i armor myself with art
i question my body and listen
i dream my heart’s inside-out
i work until i’m exhausted
i let go of some things & not others
i giggle breathlessly ’til i cry
i hug without asking why
i nourish my spirit with poetry
i cover my journals with ink
i drink my wisdom from teacups
i inhale wild mists of wonder
i hem my madness with sanity
i tick, i zig, i zag, and i tock
i err on the side of risk
i ride wayward shooting stars
i flow with the river of time

—Terri Guillemets

Life is eternal — not ours but its

I am diseased
with civilization —
I rot, ripped
apart from the land —

The lightning in my soul
and thunder in my veins
will never be enough
if I can’t be rocked
by a real rumble so fierce
it realigns me to the core
actual flashes so bright
that I become the night —

I am a speck of dust
invented by the earth
and skies —
born of the stars
but living
because of the soil —

If we run from the
truth of our existence
we become a lie —
our lives so covered
with the hard plastic
shell of fakeness
that the realness
suffocates —
we cannot breathe
our lungs are dying
without the trees —

Our souls are dying —
our flesh needs
to feel the world
on our knees
with our naked feet
face first in the dirt —
wade and splash
and submerge
ourselves in water
that is alive
not sterilized, not sanitized
not dead of being nothing —

Forests and sunbeams
true breaths of silence
long to envelop us
but we run into the
nearest retail store —
an anesthetic, expensive
layer of hell
we pay dearly for —

Run! run across
the fields
for no reason
but that you
feel like running —
hear the birds
not [f*@%¡ng] airplanes —
our dollar bills are
so much less valuable
than leaves, no matter
how high we count —

The fire in our hearts
the fireplace that warms us
the wildfire that burns —
necessary flames —
the extinguished
world is naught —
sparks are how
we survive —

We all have a story — or several
but the once upon a time
the happily ever after
and everything in between
is food, water, shelter, freedom
it’s the only plot there is —
gourmet coffee, magazines
knick-knacks, cars, tv
all just disposable words —

Anger is nothing — just air
hunger’s a hole in the plot
ideas are space —
the birds that fly
over us are smarter
than every single one of us —
the waters that are deep
and the streams and the rills
all have a different story of life
but all turn to rain in the end
they give green to the hills
and blue to the sky
and red to our beating hearts
and the yellow sun glistens
each ripple and wave —

To read a book
in the sun
is glorious
but to read
ourselves and the sky
in a sunset is
the fiery light
of life itself —

The ocean at night
waves pounding
against our hearts
sounding ancient beats
spraying the meaning
of life against our shores —
the universal dream
of all our sleep —

Seagulls fly
past my heart
squawking the passage
of time in harsh tones
with smooth soaring wings —

If Time is trying
not to be found
he is excellent
and terrible at it —
the days hide him so well —
in our faces he is buried
but not concealed
he marks his territory
as any wolf would —
barking his orders
obedient not even to death —

Birds peck out snacks
from patches of crystalline snow —
the music of pure white clouds
fills the sky with sun-lined notes
drifting into beauty so vast
the blue never ends —

Snow-capped mountains
have something to say
melting ice to water —
a trickling story
of patience and life —

We stand atop
mother earth
raise our arms
in victory
at every breath
at every beat —
we are alive
in all our being
but just for now
with not a thought
of next or last
before or after —
we barely know
anything else —

Storms on storms
surging, raging
electricity, thunder
primal, essential
unstoppable
fierce! calling
all our cells
to attention —
roaring, wailing
unabashedly smashing —
the first ingredient
of calm —

Life is about trying
not to get hurt
and it’s risking
ourselves to hurt —
we need a measure of pain —

Wildfire and deluge
kill and be killed
eat and be eaten —
blink and it’s over too soon —

Water cuts rock and
nature makes glass —
but the earth
it does not shatter —

Some lives are
roaring river
deep blue ocean
bubbling streams —
and some fade
into a dry patch
of nothing —

We scream
with our voices
or our pain
our bodies scream
in disease
our emotions scream
in tears, in fists, in love —
and if we don’t scream
we explode —
scalding steam
needs a vent —

Fangs and bites
we bleed
snapping jowls
fierce sharp howls —
guilt, pain, anger, fear —
tears flow
like blood
emotions tear
like flesh —

The sweetness of life
the bitter —
we taste it on birth
on death
we taste it in
every breath —
one can live not
without the other —
the taste of life
is wild
like freedom
spicy and raw
honey and sting
it tastes of fresh air
of danger and time —
I breathe it into my lungs
with each meandering breeze —

Wild horses run
for nothing but freedom
striking beauty
with every hoof
across the golden plains —
the simple beauty of
flowing manes
undulating with motion —
the dance of movement
wilding and free
is no mystery
to any breed —
but you and I
cannot run like that
or, maybe we just don’t —

We must go
into the wild
to discover
our own wilderness —

Yes, we are all
just hitching a ride
on the wind —
but when we grip
we fall apart
we hold on to
everything too tight —
say no, say yes
flow, run, dance
close your eyes
let go and fly —

Fallen, dropped
wounded, healed —
we fall into the raging
river of life
and are swept away
or survive —

Sooner or later
later comes too soon —
we gray out
colors fade
the great adventure
is ending
but many little ones
live on —
it’s bumps and
sliding from here
with loose rocks
dust and bruised butts
hoping to land gently
in the abyss —

—Terri Guillemets