Choking Out the Present, by Iris J. Arenson-Fuller

Choking Out the Present
by Iris J. Arenson-Fuller

In the City, where space
is a sought-after treasure
all living things seek out
corners or cracks to fill up
with prized possessions
or worthless clutter.

even the sidewalk cracks that were
once jumped over while singing rhymes,
have found their spaces filled with
migrant weeds escaping from
harsh confinement elsewhere.

their scraggly green heads pop up
to greet your beautiful feet as you
tiptoe around the dog mess, dodging
bold pigeons that scamper for bits
of stale New York pizza crust left by
Hansel and Gretel or a homeless dude.

now the rain teases our heads, foreplay
for the deluge that soon pours like
sorrows from my overflowing heart
as we kiss, then run for shelter, nodding
to the lions in front of the library who watch
me shake off the wet from my red shawl.

in my dreams, these memories pack tightly
into dusty old rooms I never knew existed,
soaking up tears, expanding like soggy bread,
they swell, they choke me into corners
where I crouch, crying the old grief away till
a new day wakes me again to reality.

your ghost still shows up after all these years,
spinning in white circles around my old body,
that you once loved, laughing, crunching leaves,
dancing me into a golden trance with your
hazel eyes and their subtle orange flecks,
that send me stumbling through the groundfog.

I wake and glue together the blurry pictures,
the far-away hum of ancient words that make
new mornings sticky with honeyed confusion,
wondering which memories are worthless clutter
in dusty frames, weeds choking out the present
without mercy.


Old Sorrows, New Poppies, by Iris J. Arenson-Fuller

Old Sorrows, New Poppies
by Iris J. Arenson-Fuller

Who doesn’t want springtime?
Whose bones are not in a state
of perpetual cold stiffness, yet moving
because we hold an imaginary whip
to make them creak or groan aloud?

Who doesn’t need brightness and warmth
to seduce us slowly, till we stretch
and sigh with almost-forgotten pleasure?
I know I want springtime, but maybe
you’re not ready to make the old sorrows
drip with the syrup of new life.

We watch through swirly window designs
painted by the black dog’s wet nose.
How soon will we spot the poppies
gone for decades after grief slammed us,
but that now revisit us in spring?

Grief covered our house, dark slimy algae.
We hostages looked out over barren yard,
scanned it with our eyes, mildly hopeful
in spite of it all, but no poppies chose
to fight a path out of earth to find the sun.

During sleep, some of you may dream
of red corn poppies, faces tipped up
to sultry afternoon sun, red balloons
of hope, symbols of new life emerging,
of abundance, and scary second chances.

Some people have dreams of black poppies,
opium poppies, symbols of death and doom.
I can tell you, though, that genus papaver,
much like us, returns only when ready
and not sooner, with an array of colors
and ways of showing up in the world.

If too many trees darken poppy potential,
they may hide their unrealized brightness
within the cold ground till nature signals
the all-clear, removing any obstacles.
and like us, they are resilient, even
when they don’t seem to know it.

If you’re not ready for spring,
won’t allow your bitter sorrows
to sweeten even one puny drop,
poppies may sprout unseen by you.
You must want to heal, want springtime,
want pain to leave without goodbyes.

You have to want all bare trees left behind,
with frozen door locks, slippery ice patches,
and with those cold, weary bones.
I know I want springtime, but maybe
you’re not ready to make the old sorrows
drip with the syrup of new life.

Iris J. Arenson-Fuller is a poet, mom, grandmother, credentialed life coach, and founder and former director of Thursday’s Child Adoption Agency for about 30 years. She has written poetry since the age of three, has been published in a variety of on line and print publications and a couple of anthologies. She gives poetry readings in her home State of CT. Her life and loss transformation coaching website’s here.