Social Media Be Me Rag


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Click, share, like, react,
does it reinforce a fact?
If you make me look at that,
do you wrest control from me?

Does my pause intensify
those emotions that you try
to smother deep or magnify?
What an odd psychology.

Lock step, real quick,
don’t argue with my politic!
Friends together have to stick,
God forbid we disagree.

I know who will slap my wrist
if I say unicorns exist.
They’ll tell me they could not resist;
it’s hard, I know, to let things be.

You love science, she hates fiction,
I’m a stickler for good diction.
Conflict is a mean addiction
to our fastest-growing industry.

Pity poor or hate the rich,
some days I just don’t know which
cheap polarity to ditch—
Robin Hood, we’re up a tree!

By the time I end this poem,
a million cells I will have grown,
to feed on whate’er seeds I’ve sown
in my garden of biology.

You think we’re in our final act,
maybe never coming back?
This life might be a single track
on the  album called Infinity.


© Elaine Stirling, 2017


Easter Wrap


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I don’t need me no
Pharisees, no Sadducees,
no, “This be Easter, you think
how I please!”

I ain’t no student of
history, of sanctity nor theology,
but I like me the story from Galilee
of a man who walked with a band of 3,
6, 9, 12…the crowds kept growin’
and he kept on knowin’
what resided in his heart
though it tore his folks apart
‘cause he wouldn’t play the part
of a dutiful son, an obedient one…

I’ve a message to share
from the guy up there
or the guy in here,
doesn’t matter where you put him,
what you call him, maybe she,
maybe all, or the You of bloody yous.
I bring you good news!
Hear me out there?

All you gotta do is—
Think I’m gonna tell ya?
Nuh, uh, uh!

You’ve heard it all before
and you put it on a shelf.
You gotta love your neighbour
the way you love yourself.
Set no one else above you
(ergo, no one else below)
It’s the whole of the law, bro,
whole of the law,
grammatical declension
of a singular intention—
the more of what you think
creates the more of
what you grow.

Sure, you can doubt
or disbelieve ascension.
You could also turn your cheek,
deprive naysayers of attention,
let them woefully begone
to their zealotry conventions.
Finding others who agree
is not a new invention!

Hell, I said I wouldn’t tell,
I’ve gone ahead and done it.
It must be all those hot cross buns
and bunnies made of chocolate.

It’s Easter, folks,
and though you may
not see the dove above you,
just know, the mighty heavens do—
and all of us, we love ya!


© Elaine Stirling, 2017
The beautiful “Garden of Gethsemane” painting is by Victoria Rogers.



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~~a villanelle~~

I’ve always only ever been
as friends and kin will testify
the type to boldly wander in

to my delight and their chagrin
my motto is, explore or die!
I’ve always only ever been

indifferent to the public whim
of politics and what to buy.
The type to boldly wander in,

it fits me like a second skin.
The over-cautious bleed me dry.
I’ve always only ever been

attracted to the fiery rim.
It won’t be your fault if I fry.
The type to boldly wander in

knows, yes, that one day she’ll begin—
and boom! Living kills you, then you die.
I’ve always only ever been
the type to boldly wander in.


The only way, sometimes, to get rid of an annoying earworm such as “always only ever” is to quadruple it into a villanelle. Off you go, little worm…

© Elaine Stirling, 2017

My Spectacular Friend



When you see me in the crowd
my once and future friend
shouting to hoarseness my hurrahs
elbowing adorers for a closer look
at the seas of calm that hold your joy
like a father holds his infant up
for all the world to celebrate—
remember, if it pleases you,
how far you’ve come
and how
those many years ago
we both perceived
across the barrens toward
the certainty of dreams unfolding
as your dreams unfold today,
my spectacular friend.


© Elaine Stirling, 2017

Confessions of an Anti-Creator


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~~rhyming couplets, ad nauseam, for the reasonably mature~~

I’m chewing on a worry bone, sucking out the gristle
for the grand epiphany, precursing my epistle
that is sure to congregate a fascinating crowd
when I lay out all that’s wrong, particularly loud.

I have such wondrous insights, can gurgitate the worst
of everything that’s going on. I burn to be the first,
reminding you I knew it, so you should have just come here
to get your dose of what to think and maximize your fear.

The secret to this day and age is, always be prepared.
Mistrust could be your greatest friend, if only you would dare
to look askance at happiness and hum-di-dums who share
the best of what they see, as if the rest of us would care.

You want a good analogy? Imagine you’re a cloud.
Me, I’m silver iodide, the element that wowed
the scientists in Cold War years who wanted to make rain.
The army paid them millions. Corporations took the gain.

You’re up there floating, nice and light, dreaming of your honey;
I zap a gram of iodide round about your tummy.
Suddenly, you’re feeling weird, maybe even crummy—
start gaining weight & running late, worried about money.

The chemical reaction of my presence from the get-go
will free you like a laxative, and something has to let go.
You’ll look around and wonder who just shat on your parade,
who turned the traffic lights to red and stopped you getting laid.

If I have now convinced you that my worldview is mighty,
we’ll jointly whip up hurricanes of lefty against righty.
From here on, all I have to do is throw you little bones
of breaking news & random blues, I’ve mastered all the tones.

Antagonists, the task is ours to muddy up your story,
distract you from your purpose, keep you boiling, feeling sorry.
Well, now I’ve tinkered long enough to guarantee a shower.
Confetti? Hail? Precipitates are all within your power.


© Elaine Stirling, 2017
The wonderful image of a mad scientist comes from Designzz.

The Final Leg of the Journey


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~~a pantoum~~

The final leg of the journey remains
to be seen, though I don’t know by whom.
There’s really no point in obsessing on doom
when I know, more or less, where I’m at.

To be seen, though I don’t know by whom,
and then judged as hopelessly lost
when I know, more or less, where I’m at
puts the spin on my power to choose.

And then, judged as hopelessly lost,
when we’re all free to think and to feel
puts the spin on my power to choose
whether to listen, to hole up, or cruise.

When we’re all free to think and to feel,
there’s really no point in obsessing on doom.
Whether to listen, to hole up, or cruise,
the final leg of the journey remains.

© Elaine Stirling, 2017

It Is All Choreography, My Dear


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~~a chant royal~~

They tore the monument of you and me
up by the roots last night, spindly sapling
when we met, the leaves threw no shade till we
each set off on bloodline paths of killing,
crisply uniformed, or maintained clan worth
by withholding a cherry, no vain birth
or independent thought condoned. The hell?
Even today, I itch sometimes to tell
originators of our tiresome fear—
more I sought to please you, the worse I fell.
It is all choreography, my dear.

The maple grew. We both found ways to free
ourselves with mind-expanding routes, thrilling
at the best of times. No disharmony
could stop us from bedding other willing
changers of the world. Supple limbs and mirth,
they were eternal, surely! Excess girth
and other swills of disappointment, well,
they couldn’t encroach while under the spell
of productive possibility. Year
by year, fruits of sweet experience fell.
It is all choreography, my dear.

Today, our tree impedes economy.
How is it that, when we weren’t looking,
the buds it threw like chopper blades, spilling
onto woodsy glades gave way to reality?
How is it that, while we aren’t looking,
fresher minds envision a different earth?
Do they not treasure memories of a dearth
of joy, the killing fields, the tolling bell?
How dare they wake each day with hope, a swell
of humantide delighted to be here?
Soon enough, their naïvete will gell.
It is all choreography, my dear.

On, the other hand, where I used to be
might matter less if death were not chilling
with her accelerating destiny,
time and sense to a cruel brew distilling.
What seems the now may be the afterbirth
that, once expelled, holds no intrinsic worth.
Much like the use of entrails to foretell,
the guts I had back then are pretty well
a done dead thing. Learning to boldly spear
new attitudes does not, at first, go well.
It is all choreography, my dear.

Wood chips lie beneath this bench, once a tree
where you carved our initials. It’s telling,
don’t you think, that generations on see
not what we instruct them. Rebelling
is the stuff of youth; constant going forth
rejuvenates, forgetting all the hurt,
denying quarter to a former hell
because I’ve only room for good. Do tell!
I do, and listen for the sap to clear
fearful residuals, let silence quell.
It is all choreography, my dear,

and life’s the dance hall. Keep up and dispel
past stumbles. I can lead or follow well
to further what is best of now. I hear
them playing your song at the new bandshell.
It is all choreography, my dear.


© Elaine Stirling, 2017
The image of dancers comes from the blog of British artist Sally McKay. You can follow her extraordinary work on Twitter @McKay_Sally.

Scorn, the dead fish


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Bidding farewell to the longest January in recorded memory, a sonnet in the Shakespearean tradition felt apt.


Harpoons of scorn drive deep into the eye,
intent to wound apparent from their sharp
acuity…and yet, despite scorn’s wry
dissent, I cannot help but feel my carp
resembles fishy bones a parent threw
in lieu of longed affection. Let me be,
this spongy mind cried out, whatever you
would most approve. A whale like you must see
more wisely than this plankton with her nose
toward warmer seas—but, wait! Your blubber that
I once did aggravate lies in repose
and has for years, for coral to grow fat.
So now, as wailer of my fate, I yearn,
then see I’m free to barb. Avast, blind tern!

© Elaine Stirling, 2017
Image from New Bedford Whaling Museum

Who Needs Hell When You Have Facebook?


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~~a trio of triolets~~

begging your pardon, chatelaine, if you’ve a moment, please,
we’ve a crisis with the seating in the northern banquet hall.

the salty-tongued are wedged between the skipjack and the cheese.
begging your pardon, chatelaine, if you’ve a moment, please,

the curtains have caught fire & the cushions twitch with fleas;
the secretly entitled have engaged upon a brawl.

begging your pardon, chatelaine, if you’ve a moment, please,
we’ve a crisis with the seating in the northern banquet hall.

we have to find a way to seat the nasty with the kind;
otherwise, this realm is sure to split right down the middle.

the furious take too much space, defeated hoard the wine;
we have to find a way to seat the nasty with the kind.

the royal sanctimonious insist that we must dine
in deference to some history writ upon a holy griddle.

we have to find a way to seat the nasty with the kind;
otherwise, this realm is sure to split right down the middle.

o, servant dear, when will you learn there’s grace beyond the muddle,
and no one will be served by you exhausting your own station?

yesterday’s great deluge will become tomorrow’s puddle.
o, servant dear, when will you learn there’s grace beyond the muddle?

the beastly ones you can’t control, they hunger for a cuddle;
you’re not their ruler, nor the judge or source of their creation.

o, servant dear, when will you learn there’s grace beyond the muddle,
and no one will be served by you exhausting your own station?


© Elaine Stirling, 2017
Image: political cartoon from 1813

With apologies to Mark Zuckerberg and all hardworking FB employees. Truth is, I love the medium, but, boy, yesterday was a killer! I can’t even imagine what it’s like from where you sit. So, for all you do, Facebook, thank you!

Nightfall of the Iguana, 2017


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~~a trilogy of glosas, concluded~~

The jaguar brushed leaves
with his phosphorescent absence,
the puma speeds through bracken
like devouring fire.

—from “Some Beasts”, Pablo Neruda,
in his epic Canto General,
translation by Waldeen


Not long ago, I found a strange map
in the ruins of a Maracaibo mansion,
the corners held down with rough-cut rubies
round and plump as duck eggs. Palimpsests
throbbed like blue-black veins across the chart—
illegible, unscarred by zealots and thieves.
I was told by the raggedy viejo who sleeps
underneath that the map and her routes
can be viewed by whoever believes
the jaguar brushed leaves

with her tail and the weasely dictator fell.
Claims such as these, they never sit well
with the rushed and the rational. Being neither
that day, I asked the old man to explain.
Once a year, he said, when defenses
deflate, humankind’s natural omniscience
is recalled and recorded upon this map
by shades of the recently departed who’ve
dropped all pretence of sorrow and vehemence.
With his phosphorescent absence

of political skews and racial miscues,
he hovered over the map, and with a finger
gnarled as ebony burl, he cruised along
routes I’d been known to frequent and
rubbed them all out, pronouncing every one
irrelevant. Time to accept there’s no fact in
the past with the power to deplete or subvert
your future. Take a page from the wild. When
the cayman’s not hungry, he’s loath to attack, and
the puma speeds through bracken.

Likewise, in the seam between moments—and
years—that appear to engender and justify
fear, you will find a clear trail laid out by the good
that is you and your boundaryless kin. You are
timely, well compassed. Walk on, begin.
And now it is time for this Job to expire.
He dropped the fat rubies into a sack.
He rolled up the mansion and with it the map,
spinning all he had shown me into a gyre
like devouring fire…

Wishing you a happy and magical New Year!

© Elaine Stirling, 2016