Sunday, December 27, 2009

Poem of the Week #104.a

A Friendly Reminder

At year’s end
the psychic vampires
will come to steal your soul.

They may appear as sacred icons
cloaked in something shiny
that costs an arm and a leg

but beneath their glittery
Spandex jumpsuits,
they are nothing more

than those evil blood suckers:
Regret, Fear, and Longing.
They will drain you dry

if you don’t disarm them first.
They are always behind you
and so the trick, I have found,

is to go only forward, never back,
no matter how completely
uncertain it looks up ahead,

no matter what shit pile
is blocking the road.
It is, after all, your road

and why do you think God
gave us arms and shovels?
Some time in the middle

of this life or the next,
you will dig yourself to someplace
lighter—a place you can enjoy

a warm sea breeze—and let go
of what drains you; a place to be
yourself, peaceful iconoclast.

Lisa Vihos

Poem of the Week #104.b

The Accidental Present

I woke up early and listened to the wind
blowing hard through the wood of the trees.

All dead and frozen out there, white and harsh,
a frigid, unrelenting wasteland of snow;

a place no one should have to go. Not even the dog.
Should we let her poop in the basement? Here, inside,

there is a warm blanket on the couch, and free refills
on coffee, if you are willing to go as far as the kitchen.

There are lamps lit and Irish music on the CD,
and the lingering smell of the Christmas tree,

under which lovingly-wrapped gifts ring the cut-off
trunk, and above, a star that Owen made years ago

from a toilet paper roll and glittery pipe cleaners.
I give thanks to this tree from the north woods

that gave its life for us to string lights across its branches
and touch all the ornaments, recalling Christmases past.

Best of all, there is Owen, the not-so-little boy, sleeping in
on Christmas morning (being hip to the truth of Santa)

who nonetheless nodded when I asked if we should still
set out the plate of cookies, and who himself rooted

in the fridge to produce a carrot for the reindeer. So, when I sat
alone in the dark morning to eat the sweet evidence and strew

crumbs across Santa’s special plate, I was alarmed to realize
that I had not used different paper for the stocking gifts.

Even a savvy eleven-year-old who has graduated to using
deodorant should receive his Santa presents in foreign wrap.

As luck would have it, I ran out of tape and had to scramble
to re-package everything. But, I got the job done, as only a mother

can do at six a.m., or any time, really. Later, washing up breakfast,
I accidentally knocked the Santa plate to the floor. Sacred object,

now in more than ten and less than a million pieces. God dammit!
I exclaimed. Husband and son came running. Are you okay?

We found a shard with an address label on the back,
the factory in which the plate was made, a reminder

that even broken things announce new life, and within
each thing dead or destroyed, creation is already written.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Poem of the Week #103

‘Tis the Season

‘Tis the season to be jolly,
so they say, and jolly is as jolly does.

So go forth and be jolly even in the face
of global warming, a failing economy,

war in the Middle East, and oh,
that shooting pain beneath your left rib.

At least you don’t wake up each morning
to newspaper headlines claiming a drop

in your approval rating, or that display
your secret comings and goings

on glowing midnight laptop screens
from here to Kingdom Come.

Living in obscurity has its benefits,
so they say, and gratitude is the attitude.

If you have loose change in a coffee can,
food in your cupboard, a car in the driveway,

a toilet that flushes (in theory) and a roof
over your head, you are living like royalty

compared to some ridiculously high
percentage of the rest of the world.

I came across these facts in a book
at Starbucks, sipping a latte,

pecking away on my laptop, complaining
about something or other to the void.

So let it be said, if you have one person,
just one person, who makes you smile,

then you have all the reason in the world to be jolly,
to be a mirror of jolliness in this or any season.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Poem of the Week #102

When the Moondog Dies

Will you be mine when the moondog dies?
When rain falls up to wash the sky?
When bears live in houses and mice in trees?
When the wells dry up and all the seas,
and all the harbors and ports of call?
When summer is winter and spring is fall?

I’ll be yours when cats chase dogs.
When crows live in caves and bats in bogs.
When snow flies up to powder the sky
and all the ponds and rivers run dry.
When lake and mountain learn to sing
that winter is autumn and autumn spring.

Will you be mine in the shade of the sun?
When two plus two equals one plus one?
When grapes grow on trees and apples on vines
and snow falls down in two straight lines?
When the mouths of rivers swell and call
that spring is summer and winter fall?

I’ll be yours in the shade of the moon
when snow and rain fall down on June.
When three plus three equals four plus four,
and sand runs down to meet the shore.
When waves rise up from the sea and sing.
In summer, winter, fall, and spring.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Poem of the Week #101

His Mother Who Lived in the Trees

She spent long afternoons
by the kitchen window
letting herself wander about
in the tops of the trees.

In winter, her mind climbed
the branches like a jungle gym.
In summer, she hid herself
behind a green curtain.

It was a place she had to go
to escape the bottomless pit
of hearth and home and he knew
it pained her to be torn

from her quiet, leafy palace.
He tried to curb his need for her,
but she was—after all—his mother,
giver of life, fixer of broken things.

She had a calmness about her,
except when she didn’t, and then
sometimes, she would just explode,
in a way that frightened a little boy.

He’d think, my mother is crazy,
but her treetop sanctuary was open
and when they were there together,
they spoke the language of spiders.

He learned that his hand on her shoulder
worked wonders, telling her he was okay;
telling her the little acorn was happy,
rooted in a patch of ground other than her.

Lisa Vihos

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Poem of the Week #100

To Him, Who Has to Ask

He hears a mother's work is never done,
so he does his part; goes forth, late at night
for meds or milk, then stands aside, alone,
watching her clutch a sleepy child so tight.
Useless appendage he has come to be,
the bacon-bringer, the sprung seed that was.
Would he be bolder near a stranger's knee?
Nah. It would only hurt the kids, because
they don't have to ask her for her loving.
Why can't she just espouse his one request
and help him stock their shelves with something
like supplies? His need to be loved and kissed
with cherry pie, a box of mac and cheese,
a can of soup, a can of comfort. Please.

Lisa Vihos

Monday, November 23, 2009

Poem of the Week #99

Cooking Thanksgiving Dinner with My Sister

You with the vision, direct
operations, determine the proper size,
shape, and timings of things.

I with the knife, do the chopping
and paring. I check the clock,
keep the work space clean.

I’m okay taking orders.
It was different when we were little.
Then, I was the big sister

and you followed my lead.
I dressed you like a rag doll;
told you there was no Santa.

Here in the kitchen, you are reverent
about chestnuts to be peeled and cubed,
potatoes to be wedged and roasted.

Green beans, we blanch three minutes,
garlic we mince just so. I want to obey
your laws, but when you aren’t looking,

I simply cut up the orange
(without removing the membrane),
and toss it in the bowl.

Later, no one complains.
Our dinner is well-eaten. But I know
you stuck to the rules, and you know,
I broke them.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Poem of the Week #98


becomes annoyance.
Can one guiltlessly
delay the inevitable pressing
energetic urge to create beyond
flotsam and jetsam blocking the way;
gargantuan in proportion to the deeper things,
hastily glossed over? What is actually required daily,
is hard work, (seeming contradiction), time spent sitting still
jovial in the clover, smelling roses only shirkers share. Sharing
kisses and caresses, and whiffs and caresses and more of same,
languished lovingly and lastingly on a lad or lass of your choosing.
Muscular thrust and whichever way you prefer to go, whether fast or slow,
nasty or nice, but massively much more delicious than anything so dull as
organized left-brain thinking that can only bring forth some kind of
pseudo-progress as far as someone’s idea of real productivity goes.
Quixote went off looking for the impossible dream, thus leaving
rigorous milkmaids to rake their mown hay while the
sun shone for boys who graciously shivered their
timbers and knew how teasingly to play
under the budding cherry tree, freely
versed and finding absolutely nothing
wrong with certain maneuvers.
X-stasy will reward
your undone

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Poem of the Week #97

Dimestore Novel

I am not a ballerina in an ivory tutu.
I am not a spinster left to hobble.
I am not the girl behind the make-up counter
who dreams herself a ballerina in a dimestore novel.

I would like to be the knight in shining armor.
I would like to be the one who gets the girl
behind the counter. I would like to be the dance
inside the ballerina’s head.

I will be the bobbled dance upon the counter.
I will be the night, the moon will be my harbor
(discarded cloud of tulle and smeared mascara)
I will be like rain on her Sahara, I will be

the dimestore novel, dog-eared on the nightstand,
a simple counterpoint to everything they said.

Lisa Vihos

Monday, November 2, 2009

Poem of the Week #96

Honey and Peas

When we were younger
we shared with a bunny.
We offered a plateful
of green peas and honey.

We shared with a goat
who always said please
and cleaned up a plateful
of honey and peas.

Our tree was a flower
our flower, a star.
We sat in the clock
to wind up our car.

Our book was a good one
our shower was sunny.
Our table was laden
with green peas and honey.

Where have you vanished?
Where are your knees?
Do you still fill your plate
with honey and peas?

Do you talk with your hands?
Do you battle the stairs?
Do you pardon the tables,
waltz with the chairs?

Cook up a storm?
Squander your money?
Still grace your plate
with green peas and honey?

In five hundred years
when you fly with the bees,
will you come feed me
some honey and peas?

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Poem of the Week #95

The Difference

Man paid once, giving up a rib,
to unwittingly bring forth
the eternal helpmate. Single-
minded and simple in his ways,
it would be left to her, meat
from the rib bone, to multiply
and nourish life from flesh.

Coming from the bone, woman
would be the one to tear herself
open, again and again and again.
First, to be the bed for the seed
and then to grow it, only to find
herself rooted to the fruit. The fruit
plucked early and torn from the vine.

Man, mended and whole, woman
always divided and dividing,
always trying to close the gap
between what is and what might be.
Man, being. Woman, doing. Done.
Should she dare not to rot, become
purposeful and one-pointed

become again bone instead of meat,
she will be called witch or bitch,
tied and burned and buried.
She will howl at the pale moon
and be called hard. She will be
called mysterious spinster, alone
in the house at the end of the street.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Poem of the Week #94

How Come?

No farm girl, me.
I never milked a cow
or carried slops. I never
climbed a plank at five a.m.
to the top of the manure pile.

I don’t know horses
or their horsey ways.
I never birthed a calf,
rode a tractor, or collected
warm eggs in a basket.

How come then
I am drawn to the smell
of cow flank, hay bale,
and sun-warmed
clods of earth?

How come
Caroline’s kitchen
with its cardboard crates
of plum tomatoes, cukes, and okra
feels so like home?

How come I love a counter top
lined with jars of pickles
and at night, the sound
of crickets crooning
to the cold stars?

What gentle farm hand
(with dirty nails and pure heart)
takes me under those stars
and pulls me to this ground
of earthen bounty?

Lisa Vihos

Monday, October 12, 2009

Poem of the Week #93

The Window

How good to have a quiet window
a frame upon the world,
a place the mind can wander through
and visions be unfurled.

To cleave a path that leads away
and then comes back again,
to show a blossom dip its head
and shake its slender stem.

On stormy days to be a shield
on sunny days a sieve,
the window always does the job,
is always there to give.

To cast a glance on country field
or cityscape the same,
the window makes it all a gift
on which to write one’s name.

It doesn’t matter what the view
(just that a view is there),
and that one takes the time to look,
to let the window share.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Poem of the Week #92

The Dance

I’d like to teach you the steps to the dance,
but no one taught them to me. I learned them
out there, with the others, leaving to chance
the choreography. Do we rise? Do we bend?

An offered hand, a pirouette, a leap
and then a landing. Breathe in, breathe out, fall
and then return to standing. Sometimes creep
but never crawl, and never let yourself be small.

Feel the quake inside your bones and let
your heart be joyful. Feel it like a current run
through every joint and sinew. Never fret
for when you dance, you light up like the sun.

Your body knows the tune, so let your hips
be partner to the song upon your lips.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Poem of the Week #91

Lake Movement

The wind
makes ripples come
across dark water,
stirring lily pads to bob and dance
in yellow scum.

The wind
kicks up more
to sway the sturdy pier
and rustle stalky reeds
along the shore.

Good fishermen all know:
throw back the one too small to keep.
Is it relieved to have another go?

Then near my ear, I hear a buzzing fly
as if to say stay still, you die.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Poem of the Week #90

How and Why

The soul tethers
and signs on
to the program,

descending to learn
a thing or two
in the name of progress.

Sacrificing formless bliss
to take peach juice
on the chin

and even
the occasional insult
to build character.

Glad for cricket song,
lake glitter, and
pine forest, touched

by the sight of a boy
and his dog curled
warm in sleep,

the soul can only stand by
and watch the anchor
claw or give way

as it is pulled
by the unrelenting river,
feeling the sweet rush—

as well as the sharp
pang—at the arc
of every lesson.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Poem of the Week #89 and #88

Poem of the Week #89

The Inner Bit

The rose’s thorn and berry’s bramble,
the pine tree’s prickly branch, all designed
to keep beauty’s intruders at bay.

And yet, we who are in need of balm,
will find a way to overtake that
which is our brief prize, tucked away.

The scented bloom, the tangy fruit
the green bower, the precious center,
all conspire to teach us to defeat

that which would keep us from what fades
and fails; that momentary inner bit,
the place where bliss and sorrow meet.

Lisa Vihos

Poem of the Week #88

Love’s Guide

Even in the flat lands
where no distant mountains
pull the mind upward
and no oceans open
the heart to the wide
and welcoming horizon,

and where the roadsides
are lined with dingy, sorry
excuses for happy places,
even there, a child can find
something to love.

On the grimy, noisy street,
the child clutches an ice cream
in one hand, and its mother
in the other. The child does not
know it, but a memory is thus made.

There are no mountains
or oceans in the picture,
and even though (in later years)
they will inspire, it is
the reach to mother’s hand
that remains love’s guide.

Lisa Vihos

Monday, August 31, 2009

Poem of the Week #87

50% Off Summer!

The sign said, the fun is over
and everything is now worth
half of what it was at the beginning.

Sandals, towels, and unguents
become meaningless in the face
of the coming north wind

that will soon chill away
all the thrills of summer:
warm nights by the fire pit

and sunny mornings sleeping late.
There are beans to be picked
and pestos to be made.

There are more tomatoes
than you can shake a stick at,
and peaches, ah, peaches.

It’s coming to an end here,
all the ripe possibilities of summer.
Despite all the warnings,

and even when nothing particular
got accomplished,
summer’s value holds.

Lisa Vihos

Friday, August 28, 2009

Poem of the Week #86

Roger Loves Rachel

His love was writ
in loopy scrawl
along the boxcar door

near the bottom;
a place a man
could reach without

much risk to life
or limb. And yet
the risk was there:

to graffiti a train,
property of Union Pacific.
Did he do it in the dead of night?

And was she near?
Had they only just made love
in train yard gravel?

Was she surprised
when he whipped out
his spray can in the afterglow

to let the world know
their little secret?
Or was she in the dark,

unaware the pairing
of her name with his
upon the train, unaware

she’d travel with him
everywhere indefinitely;
his love, for all the world to see.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Poem of the Week #85 and #84

Poem of the Week #85


The soul
cleans its house,
sometimes in spring.

From head to toe
and stem to stern,
the soul tires of clutter.

It empties your attic brain
and basement drain.
The soul purges.

It washes the windows
behind your eyes,
airs out the ear drapes,

and throws open
all your closets
in an avalanche

of broken tennis rackets
and the occasional
skeleton. The soul

does not mind a mess;
thrives, in fact, in a pig sty.
Still, now and then,

it likes to see you
buffed and polished.
It likes to give you

a good scrubbing
so that once in a while,
you shine.

Lisa Vihos

Poem of the Week #84

The Heron

In a flap and flurry of wings,
the mauve grey heron clatters down
upon the glassy surface of the lake.

Not so good at landings, really,
the heron is more adept
at soaring overhead.

It flies, instead, with grace and alacrity.
A creature of mystery, who exhibits now
and then a carefree spirit of largesse,

a subtle, come-hither, avian allure,
to a woman on a dockside bench
with her sack lunch, book, and prayer.

She was unaware until it came
just how much she craved
this feathered messenger.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Poem of the Week #83 and #82

Poem of the Week #83

Consider the Grace

Consider the grace
of the surgeon’s place
and the ability to know
exactly where the knife should go.

The just right angle,
just how deep,
and how to miss the vein
so blood won’t seep.

Oh learned one
with steady hand
my beating heart
awaits command.

Incise me cleanly,
remove my pain.
Cut out the bad,
my self to gain.

Lisa Vihos

Poem of the Week #82

The Unbearable Reason of Being

When something ends
the question is always there
when did this ending begin?
When did I lose my share?

We rejoice in new life,
don’t think that one day it will go.
Yet every beginning has its end
and every goodbye, hello.

A pumpkin grows and gives its life
to thrive another season. Death
has power, but the pending end
is not a winning reason

to keep us from each other’s need
when between us, there is ground to seed.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Poem of the Week #81

Fear Not

Do not be afraid
of the long empty days of removal,
the last visit or the first goodbye.

Do not be afraid
of jugglers, sharp shooters,
or short order cooks.

Fear not the bellows;
the way it sucks and sends forth wind.
Fear not the riptide.

For as small as you may be,
you have an arsenal at your back;
your own private army of angels.

They stand at the gate of consciousness
and watch who comes in and who goes out.
They can stay up all night

playing cards ‘round a rickety table.
No gin and cigars, but they are your bedrock.
No swearing, but they are as tough as nails.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Poem of the Week #80

Getting Ready to Breathe

When you were a fish
inside your momma,
there came a day
when you knew
you could no longer
remain cramped up
in her dark, wet belly.

On that day, you knew
you would have to try
the world of air.
You craved your lungs
and the inhale/exhale
that would soon become
your second nature.

You weren’t quite sure
how to do it. So,
you just let yourself
be pushed through
the sweetest hole in the world.
Then alone, outside,
you found air a good thing.

Lisa Vihos

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Poem of the Week #79

Down by the Lake

Low lying strata of clouds
press down upon the lake at dusk
in cool grey blues. Then incoming,
slow, a hot pink glow burnishes the cloud tips
as the sun sets somewhere far away
on the other side of town.

The lake is calm here,
though storm clouds huddle
on every horizon and steely
columns of rain advance
like tipsy soldiers after the battle,
coming in for a good soak.

I expect something is about to happen.
What it is, I cannot say. Could be
the rain will come, or not. I do sense
(like the gull hanging on the updraft)
that the light wind holding the lone,
brave sailboat, also holds me.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Poem of the Week #78

Now is Now

Hear the ringing of the school yard bell.
It reminds you that school is over.
It’s time to go out and play.

To play on the ground of this moment,
this place you have finally found, on the shores
of a distant land, not your own.

Your own past meets your future
in a here and now that is ever changing,
like the river you cannot step in twice.

Twice times the charm and sometimes,
you do get a second chance, a chance to rewind,
re-craft your life as it was meant to be.

To be love and give love. What more?
But remember, you were never not who you are.
You were always headed toward this place.

This place—this present—that at first seems
so peculiar is exactly where you belong.
Just breathe, and you will see yourself, here.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Poem of the Week #77

Depth Charge

There is something I wanted to say
but it slipped away just over the edge
of my tongue’s dream, a wedge
in the door jamb, a niggling reminder
of you. There is only now, this now,
and all the nows of tomorrow
not yet breathed, but tracked—
nonetheless—on my heart’s radar.
The steady blip of you on the screen
comes toward me like a submarine,
and I cannot save the lives of those
trapped in the rogue metal coffin.
Each word you speak takes me
by surprise, makes me weak,
as one explosion then another
rocks the surface, while beneath
my water-logged feet, it is as calm
and still as the bottom of the ocean.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Poem of the Week #76

How the Lonely Man Overcame his Ghost

Loneliness found him
whether he was by himself
or in a gathering of two or more.

It was the cold air
that snuck under his pant legs;
tickled like an ice cube

that a pretty girl might have slipped
down the back of his shirt
at a party he’d never attended.

It was the store clerk that nailed him
when he wanted just to browse,
try on a hat, open a pocket knife.

It was his bowl of cereal,
his winter coat, his goodnight kiss,
a note scribbled in a foreign hand.

Loneliness was the girl standing
at his side as he botched conversations
in some language that used

his same words, but different;
like pencil tracings that do not quite
match the things traced.

One day, he noticed that the veil
between him and everything else
was the dress that loneliness wore.

If he undid the weave, he could touch
the deepest part of her; learn
what she wanted from him.

One night, determined to find out,
he gave in to her secrets. Next morning,
she was nothing but a warm dent in his bed.

He forgave himself this indulgence
and began to fill the hole she’d left behind:
a clod of earth, a debt paid, some daily bread.

He was lonely for her from time
to time, after that. But in the end
that was better than being lonely for no one.

Lisa Vihos

Poem of the Week #75 and #74

Poem of the Week #75

Time Capsule - June 7

We opened
the kindergarten hand-
decorated coffee can
five years to the day
after its seal.

Inside, we found—
as though real—
the child
contained there.
We found a pair

of socks,
a lock of hair.
We found a note,
a plastic rocket
and a snippet

of ourselves
looking forward
to the future
that came all too fast
tumbling past, here

and now,
and then away;
close then far,
ablaze on the tail
of a shooting star.

Lisa Vihos

Poem of the Week #74 - May 31


The orchids fell away
and left two dry sticks.

I kept them by the window
all through winter.

There were those who scoffed,
faithless in the ways of death.

But who laughs now?
Only me and the new blossom.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Poem of the Week #73 and #72

#73 - May 24

On the Way to Work

The cottontail darted out.
I wish I could have raised a shout

to warn the bunny of my weight
and that my course was dead-on straight.

I would have liked to swerve my wheel
so not to hear the bunny squeal.

My metal box, it laid him flat,
I cannot bring the bunny back.

He took a risk, he did not know
he’d leave his life upon this road.

And as I venture on my day
his breathless body marks my way.

Lisa Vihos

#72 - May 17

On the Way to Death

On the way to death,
I stopped awhile
to sing or song or two.
I made a friend,
played in the sand
and learned to tie a shoe.

I prayed a prayer,
had not a care
and rode the carrousel.
I smiled at the up and down,
and held the sea
inside a shell.

My days were long,
my nights were short
as day to day I leapt.
From cloud to cloud
and dream to dream
I barely ever slept.

Until I came
upon the door
that led me to death’s place.
And there I laid
my baggage down
and joined the human race.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Poem of the Week #71

The View from Above

The farm field in spring
is lush and verdant. No one
imagines it lying fallow.

When day turns to night,
the moon soaks the field
in the sun’s missing rays.

Don’t cling to people and things
like a hawk with your claws
tearing their backsides.

Hold fast with both hands
open. Then, be like the wind,
a spreader of seed.

Let people love you
the best way they can—
not your way. Remember,

everyone is broken. No one
is perfect. Or rather, everyone is
(when viewed from above)

a green field in moonlight.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Poem of the Week #70

The Tyranny of Rainbows

Every elementary school art teacher knows
the tyranny of the ubiquitous rainbow,
the easy cliché of the multi-colored arch on the page.

Rainbows appear second only to horses in drawings
by school girls, and it is not uncommon to find the two
existing side-by-side in one bucolic scene.

Boys are on the prowl to find the pot of gold,
but anyone with any sense knows that this cannot be.
A rainbow will always keep its distance.

Like seagulls on the beach or the moon
when you are watching it from a moving car,
a rainbow will always stay just ahead of you,

at least until you go too far and it vanishes entirely.
So. What is the attraction to rainbows? Sure,
they are fleeting. Or should I say evanescent?

They are lovely, rare, and might I add, beautiful.
Maybe it is because they always seem to come
out of nowhere, not unlike death; taking your breath away.


Sunday, April 26, 2009

Poem of the Week #69

Time to Wake Up

The willows are greening
and so is the grass, aghast
at the new life spring brings.

The fruit trees are pinking,
thinking: time to wake up!
Time to unfurl our flowered heads.

The meadow is reaching, teaching
all those who lay in its bed
to inhale spring’s sweet aroma.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Poem of the Week #68

The Walk

I went for a walk
in the clouds
and looked down
upon the world below,
I saw life’s show. I saw
a child with eyes aglow
riding the merry-go-round.
I saw just there at the end of my hand,
a red salamander in the sand,
a ripe and luscious pear.
Big and small
I saw it all.

I stood on the line
between day and night
where sleep is moot.
I knocked at the door
between heaven and earth,
looked back and forth.
After all my looking
from the vantage
point so high in the air,
I will tell you something rare:
If at first you do not see,
try, try again.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Poem of the Week #67

The Lake

The lake is awake; she turns herself over
all winter she slept, now spring, and she moves.
Each wave is her way to beckon her lover,
the sun. By his warmth, his constancy proves.

Ice upon ice, all winter she waited.
To feel herself dredged is now her reward.
To raise from below that which is sated
with nutrients, taken from that which is stored.

She meets him and greets him, wave upon wave
Together they tumble in sparkling embrace
Renewal of resource, protect her and save
her. Bring jewels of light to color her face.

She smiles. I smile and watch from the sand,
and welcome the lake with a wave of my hand.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Poem of the Week #66

Spiritual Flesh

A light shines forth
from a bag of bones
carried by an old beggar.
He dumps the contents
on the bare earth
to tell a story.

It is the story of a little boy
who grows like a beanstalk
from lad to man to fable;
lives on as the giant—
but gentle, not an ogre.

Even a mean giant grows feeble,
decays like any other fruit;
age creeps across the surface,
a wrinkled peach.

Softness ossifies,
becomes brittle,
pulverizes into dust.

Back into earth and air
the giant goes
like the rest of us—
floats by on a breeze,
the smell of night-blooming jasmine;
someone you once knew.

From essence to flesh
and back again;
like water
from mist to ice,
so too, Spirit.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Poem of the Week #65 and #64


Waste Not

Waste not
the wind
and the rain,
the usefulness of mud.

Waste not
the clouds
that buffet the sky
to make the sun more shiny.

Hold fast
to crust of bread,
and rind of cheese.
Civilizations have been built on less.

Let go
the need to cajole,
control, to push or prod.
All things come in good timing.

in this:
a child’s useless daydream.
It may ignite a dreamer.

Lisa Vihos


The Body of My Words

This poem has bones that hold it high and straight,
with strong and calloused hands to lay it down.
The body of my words has found me late.

This poem has ears that listen at the gate,
with knees to bend and mouth to shout.
This poem has bones that hold it high and straight.

Each word, like blood that pumps a steady rate
and pulses ever gently under ground.
The body of my words has found me late.

With hips and torso bearing all the weight
of what I seek to find. Or, shall I drown?
This poem has bones that hold it high and straight.

My poem, my love, in whom I meet my fate
and in its eyes, see every memory I own.
The body of my words has found me late.

And then one day, like ashes on the grate,
the poem will burn and then rebirth, rebound.
This poem has bones that hold it high and straight.
The body of my words has found me late.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Poem of the Week #63 and #62



Forward into the mystery I go,
even when the load is hard to bear.
The future pulls, I feel the undertow.

With kindness on the path, am I alone?
No, every hand I touch dispels my fear,
as forward into the mystery I go.

An ocean rages through me fast and slow,
waving to me sometimes far, sometimes near.
The future pulls, I feel the undertow.

I try to stem the tide and stop the flow.
I jump, and find the precipice is sheer.
Forward into the mystery I go.

More than just a flag of flesh held up by bone,
I sail the banner of my life from year to year.
The future pulls, I feel the undertow.

Some days I root, some days I float,
but in the end, this much is clear:
Forward into the mystery I go.
The future pulls, I feel the undertow.

Lisa Vihos



We opened
each other
one bit at a time.
First, our mouths.
Words came out,
turned into music.
Lips parted,
tongues appeared,
pried things open.

Beginning with
the usual, then
to our amazement,
things unexpected:
ears, noses, bellies,
your big toe.

We were flayed
and our insides
mingled in such a way
that our lungs breathed
one air, intestines
twined toward one tract,
hearts pumped one river of blood
through a conjoined system, us.

We stayed that way
as long as we could,
but there comes a time
when every river
dries up. Then,
we were simply
dust, ground together,
waiting for rain.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Poem of the Week #61

part dirt

when the maker first
romped in the dirt
to make every plant,
and every animal,
and every living thing
with the seed in it,
the maker stood back
and saw that it was good

heady business that;
to divide water from water
place stars in the sky
breath life into dirt
and dig out a rib
from the first man
to make the first woman

the man and the woman—
one and the same—
dreamed flesh of flesh
and bone of bone,
wrapped flesh around
bone, to make one
from two. Part dirt,
part deity; the one
with two faces, looking
for the right mirror

later, after the apple
had been eaten,
the core tossed,
and their nakedness
they would search
the ground forever,
hoping to find
what had made them,
and what in the world
had gone missing

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Poem of the Week #60 and #59


I offer this passel
of words for your pleasure.
They dilly in rhyme
they dally in measure.
They come in the colors
of things once seen.
They stand up straight
for what they mean.
You can stack them,
crack them, bake them
in pie; ready reminders
of ocean and sky.
Poison when needed,
when need be, balm.
Words that clamor,
words that calm.
A must for teachers
and preachers and lovers lost.
My words are shiny,
with just the right gloss.
They fall from my pen,
cheap, late at night;
are more costly at dawn
or by candlelight.
So pay up now,
while the deal is on,
while the price is right.
Put a small sum down.
Leave your guard
at the door and let my words
wrestle you, gently,
down to the floor,
where they can smooth
you over and rough you up
just a little, just enough
to lure you tomorrow,
hungry for more.

Lisa Vihos


My Day, My Poem

I promised you I’d write a poem today
but then reneged, no pen touched paper.
I promised it would carry you away,
but now, it has to wait ‘til later.
My breath, my very day became my poem.
I breathed it in and out, a silent ruse.
At times I have no bread and am alone,
without a resting place, without my shoes.
I cannot always give you what I want,
but always I can give you what I can.
My words will rise and fall, independent
of the bodies they describe or plan.
I seek the verse that rights the mystery.
Some day, I’ll graft it onto history.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Poem of the Week #58

The Trouble with Young People

The trouble with young people
is that they are so darn young
and energetic. They know the value
of an ideal. And they have not lived
long enough to see their dreams
dashed to pieces on the rocks
of hearth and commerce.
They jingle like loose change
and can afford happy-go-lucky.

The trouble with young people
is that they have minds of their own—
much to our chagrin—but fortunately
for the planet and all its inhabitants,
they never falter in their quest for harmony
and truth. They would like to see us not fail.
They aren’t very wise, and they can do things
that are incredibly stupid every now and then,
(didn’t we?) causing us to shake our heads
and say, we told you so.

And yet, and yet….
There is something to them,
these smooth, shiny, young people. I think
they are on to something. Because they abhor
injustice and neglect, and they are always at the forefront
of new thought. They take to invention like ducks to water.
If there is a better way to do something, you can bet,
a young person will find it, whereas, an old person—
as wise and experienced as we are—
will generally do the same
thing over and over
until it kills us.

If you see them laughing too much
or strutting a bit, or exposing too much skin,
if you see them with wildly colored hair
or funny clothes, or small pieces of metal stuck
through their body parts, do not condemn them outright.
Think back to when you were young:
how anything went, how the world was your oyster,
how far and distant, death’s horizon.

The trouble with young people
is that they remind us
how old we have become:
a little too set and sedentary
a little too complacent on the couch of life.
The closer we come to the end,
the more we must be
like young people:
fight for a cause,
explore a new world,
strut our still-sexy stuff,
expose some part of ourselves
to them and ourselves and each other.
If not our delicately-creased skin,
then maybe our still-beating hearts,
the things we have come to treasure,
the things we yet desire.

Lisa Vihos

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Poem of the Week #57


The time for words has drawn to a close. Action needs to desperately take its place.
Actor/activist Don Cheadle

Where do words end
and actions begin?
When is enough enough?
200,000 dead or 400,000?
2.1 million displaced or 2.5?
Should we wait for a few more
in Darfur to be slaughtered,
raped, and forcibly moved, before
we look up from over the top
of our People magazines
and the latest scoop on
who is marrying who
and who is having who’s baby
and who is out of control
with drugs and alcohol?

Is a wall of 37 kinds of potato chips
in the grocery store enough,
when a child on the other side of the world
has never seen a potato, never felt a potato,
never heard a potato sing its nourishing, hissing
song when lovingly boiled and buttered?

And if a potato, a tuber,
a deep root vegetable connected
to the quiet brown earth
could give us a word
for this day in Darfur,
this time, this atrocity,
what would it say?

A word coined in 1943
by Raphael Lemkin.
Dear Rafal, a Polish-Jewish
legal scholar, whose father
was a farmer, and whose mother
was a painter/linguist/philosopher
who inspired in her son
a love for languages.
With her help, he mastered
nine of them by the age of 14.

Rafal, you should
know, having lost your mother
and 48 other relatives to the Holocaust.
You studied the massacres
of the Assyrians and the Armenians
and you went straight to the root,
yenos in Greek, meaning race,
and cide in Latin meaning killing—
the systematic killing
of substantial numbers
of people on the basis
of race, ethnicity
religion, politics, social status
or some other particularity:
people who like the color blue,
kill them;
people who take walks early in the morning,
destroy them too;
people who simply want to go about the business
of making a life, raising a child, tilling the soil
for a bit of food
yes, all of them, too.

Lisa Vihos

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Poem of the Week #56

On Being Still

For all the poetry
there is in motion, there is
an equal amount of poetry
in no motion.

Consider the chain link fence
that marks the playground,
and the stone lions who guard
the sidewalk to my neighbor’s house.

Consider the broken front porch
and the fallen bird bath, the rock
embedded at the corner of the yard.

Consider the lawn that is
always a blanket (sometimes
green, sometimes white)
and the steadfast tree
rooted in the dark earth.

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Poem of the Week #55

Grey Squirrel

The squirrel darts out
and skims the wheels
of the passing car. He lands
safely on the other side
to frolic among his kin.
I’m sure he cherishes
his life, but I wonder
does his narrow
brush with death
mean more to me than him?

Lisa Vihos

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Poem of the Week #54

The Assistant

This poem appears in the summer of 2010 in the online version of Verse Wisconsin:


Sunday, January 4, 2009

Poem of the Week #53

The Key

One day
you rush out
your back door
and drop
your key

It drops into
the deep, deep snow
and you don’t know
its gone until
hours later

Or maybe
you lost it
many lifetimes ago;
from door

to door
since then, getting in
the best you can with
whomever opens
to you

One day
something, someone,
comes and melts the snow
around your door
and the key

is revealed,
shining at your feet—
a place you had trod
every day unaware that
the key

was there
all along, waiting
for your glance,
waiting for you—

Lisa Vihos

Poem of the Week #52

How to Be in This World

Grow like the bent tree
that gladly redirects its arms
to accommodate wind and wire—
anything that stands in its way.

Fly like the torn flag
that is happy to let the breeze
tease it and display its charms,
faded though they may be.

Open like the lowly sponge
that does not guard its holes,
and let God soak through you. Then,
when you are squeezed, let God pour out.

For you are the permeable membrane
between heaven and earth. You are
the beacon and the guide post; your life,
love’s trajectory.

Lisa Vihos