There are words inside me
Words that are mean, hateful,
bubbling with righteousness and sin,
bursting balloons weighed down with
steaming thoughts and midnight mullings.
Gaseous words inside me
burp and belch
a quick taste of bile in the back of my throat
words spit up like a formulaic baby,
hiccuped in front of company,
an unexpected fart escaped,
leaving a telltale sign of embarrassment.
Words should say “excuse me,”
“sorry, I didn’t mean that” but
I purse my lips
pretend, a hurt actress defending
insane words.
Be right for once, even at times
when words make sense to no one,
myself included.
Rogue words inside me
built in a house of cards,
places I never wanted to be
where pain and death are certain
where disgrace scurries from room to room
leaving droplets of discomfort, discontent, distress.
Wounded words inside me
tears quickly swiped away with the back of a fisted hand,
sometimes left to drip off my chin
while my nose fills so one tissue cannot do the job.
Prayerful words inside me
begging for help, relieve, change my fate.
He hears them but the answer is always the same
fate inevitable
life means death and all that.
Catalogued words inside me
regret, guilt, anger, sorrow, grief, failure, loss
walking with me by day,
lying with me at night, interrupting sleep,
bringing dreams with their tears.
Heavy books of memories, photo albums of
bright pictures and panoramic views
of the cost of love.

In a Lifetime
Our first years
   were difficult.
We had nothing
   except love
   and a mortage.
In the middle of nothing
   roads are long
   futures are vast and open
   a scary plane for two
   treading alone.

Then the children came
   bringing noise and confusion
   taking up space.
They narrowed our path
   filled the nothingness
   recorded the time--
before birthdays
after holidays
once in a while
all the time

We found friends
   time became precious
   lives intermingle
   dates fill memories.

Suddenly all seems lost
   time, future, tomorrow
   are reclaimed
   as children leave 
   to fill their own futures.
The emptiness is a void
   where grandchildren skip
   play is reckless and 
   nerve-racking and 
   leaving is as special 
   as arriving.

Close to Home

What is the protocol
   one might ask.
What is the appropriate response
   everyone needs to know.
What does one say
  when no words can answer.

Impossible to reason

There are actions
occurrences that do not happen here
where life is laughter and clinking glasses.

Slow paced Alacrity
does not move with fervor
where bayous ramble deep and wide and slow.

A loner who is not alone
has powers unspeakable
when turned on others.

Apathy converts with vigor
furnishing Acrimony and Fear
like snakes threading their way into steely hearts.

Emotions overwhelm
dripping Confusion
like Spanish moss-covered oaks
blackened with aged lichen.

A new pestilence on the city
one loner is a loner still
among people who wade through waters
deep in culture and belief and hope.

No loner has power
over the lives of a people   
whose stories are swamped in Heritage
of exile and transcendence.

Like Evangeline waiting in the forest primeval
Austerity sits for time  
though abnegation occurs not.

              In response to the Lafayette shooting on July 23, 2015

poet and poem

They sit, quiet
thoughts whirling, brains engaged, hands busy
Difficult, this work, messy, thought-provoking.

blank paper stares back for much too long
pen smudges, crumple, toss.

One kitten curls in tight on herself
but still the words come.
A zebra of lines, doodles, words sits
wanting more.

Ah, aha, awe! more and more
words come—
simile, symbol, synecdoche
connotation, consonance, conceit
archtype, alliteration, assonance

poet and poem emerge
March 2013

Your dreams and God’s will

Do not match.

Your dreams involve great things
house of gold maybe,
money somewhere,
vacations in exotic places.

He will let you see California one day
but houses of gold make no sense
except in heaven—
a just reward where
Money is worthless.

How disappointing for you
until you realize the truth,
perceive the worth of smallness,
understand the power of little.

How old must you be
to relinquish everything?

How much pain is required
to appreciate a death?
Why pray for peace,
hope for rest?

Small lives feel the answer
suffer the knowledge
tend the need.
 July 2012

Pace upon Pace
What if
You listened to my words
understood my meaning
remembered my thoughts.

What if
I spoke only truths
built on hope
dreams that we shared.

Who knew
our lives would entwine
encircle, enrich
each other.
passing, crossing, altering
who we are
who we were
who we become
who we hope to be.

What if
energy, momentum, power
left me
standing, immoveable, fixed on your arm?
more weight than you can endure?

Do not
make promises yet.
follow faith
allow hope
sustain love.
pace upon pace
despite direction.
                          For Richard

Writing, doodling, noting,
on paper
on skin
on parchment.
Always thinking
an extension of my fingers
with no connection to my brain.
 July 2012

Sewing, binding, making, repairing,
on clothing, quilts, artwork,
on skin, organs, transplants
Sometimes necessary, sometimes life-saving.
Always pricking.
Pulling bright thread into fancy knots.
A versatile eye that has never seen a haystack.

In my childhood
I was a frightened girl
Abused, hungry, lonely
like a kitten
cowering in the corner
I mewed myself to sleep.

In my teens
I gave everything for survival
Abuse, hunger, threats.
Men filled my waking hours
Drugs fill the others.

Is this adulthood?
I sense a growing dread
Abuse, hunger, crying
Babies never sleep
mewing for milk
where there is nothing.
In honor of all abused children          July 2011

Once Upon a Time
Once upon a time
in a fairy tale
you played the prince,
broad-shouldered, strong, silent type
I played the princess in a light silk dress.

Once upon a time
in our fairy tale
your love was instant, the moment we met.
I grew to love you though time had no end.

Once up a time
in all fairy tales
marriage was the goal
the reason, the point.

A prince of few words has many thoughts.
A princess slow in falling plunges deep.
Together we rule a small dominion of three princes, 
or they rule us.
They left, returning with girls in white lace;
and the destiny that is ours endures.
                                         June 2011

Alzheimer's Dreams
The beautiful woman has know for some time
Her loss is that which steals the powers of the mind.
     Anger, Denial, Sadness, Despair, Depression
     These are my friends, my enemies, my release.
Her family is torn, ripped to shreds.
They come to grips, the disease wins, loses, wins again.
Together they talk -- the only point of conversation --
Together they plan, discuss needs, determine wishes, realize lost dreams.
     Sadness, Despair, Depression
     These are my friends, my enemies, my release.
She is lost -- lost for words, lost in thought,
Lost her glasses, her keys, her pen.
She laughs, shrugging it off.
She cries, feeling the pain.
She screams, releasing the anger.
     Sadness, Despair, Depression
     These are my friends, my enemies, my release.
Her only release is sleep.
Dreams and memories intermingle
In that winter
When she could no longer remember.
         c. 1998

I Celebrate this Place

If you would find yourself, look to the land
you come from and to which you go.
            -Walt Whitman

Water moves slowly,
human eyes and the duck weed cannot sense its rhythm.
An alligator moves, making duck weed tracks,
brown water curving around stumps and cypress trees.

An gros bec, a great beaked-bird, swoops down on a dragonfly
feasting on mosquitoes,
its grayish brown feathers move silently through the heavy, hot air.

Cypress trees tower overhead,
a safe haven for birds, squirrels, and opossums,
their greenness turning
brown like slow cooked roux melting into the heat.

I celebrate this place,
the quiet peacefulness,
nature's respite from all things
modern or moving.

I celebrate this place,
the soft bird song,
the drab muted tones of nature,
the soft sticky smell of summer.


A Lifetime of Learning
When I was little, you towered over me, speaking in a big, booming voice
that meant business, and I knew security and safety.  Sometimes I sat in your lap,
leaning into the crook of your left arm, as you read the newspaper, and I looked
at the pictures understanding the importance of learning and education.

As I grew bigger, your quiet determination taught me that I, too, could
accomplish my goals.  You insisted that I learn to live with my sisters, that mean
words and fighting were not ways to get along.

As a teenager, I watched you hug and kiss Momma and learned how
relationships work.  I witnessed your kitchen romance, heard your quiet laughter,
and saw longing when one of you was away, and I wanted a marriage of love and
laughter and longing for myself.

I began another family, finding a man who fit into ours.  You accepted him
and cherished him and loved him, and he held you in great esteem, knowing
respect, seeing the importance of marriage in your example, wanting to stay, to
be a part of something wonderful and safe and lasting.

I gave life to others, doing the best I could with them, knowing that my best
was the only thing I could offer: my love, the safety and comfort of home, hard
work, education.  I make mistakes, I apologize, I keep trying: you taught me how.

Now we talk about our lives and you teach me that I come from more than
just family--I share a destiny and past with a people whose culture and pride are
a part of me, and I try to share that with others.

So now, as you reach for the pinnacle of your life, I honor you.  The
memories and images I hold of you have given me lessons and direction.  They
help guide me in difficult times and help me to appreciate good times, family, and love.
They nurture me and ground me and enlighten me.  I am today because of you.

     Written for my father, Joseph Riley Bourque, for his 70th birthday, December 28, 2000.

Cypress Rose
Red Old Bienville bricks mortared
Together with sweat, love, hard work
One door forever slamming amid
Cries of "Close the door!"
Sun beams in heat and light through
Triple-hung windows that showcase
Panoramic views of the lake, pond, nature.

Guys playing touch football
Leaves turning red and gold in
Autumn brown
splotches of 
Grey oaks standing
sentinel against
Winter blasts trying to
Red coals of burning wood
in a fireplace of
Red Old Bienville bricks
Together with love, family,
Hearth and home.

In my twenties I was a hopeful mother
But now I pass
Children in play.
Babies lie
With their faces turned away --
Please forgive me for
Saying the mothers would not
Fancy their little ones in my arms.

Oh, perish the thought
I was thinking that moment.
All boys
The beautiful, strapping guys --
What a life?  Would I trade it away?
No.  Once I returned late in the spring
Tired of meetings
Yet, the adoption would not happen.
You'll say that the emptiness will end
But still at night, I cry.

Categorical Aftermath

Camille, Andrew, Charley, Ivan, Frances, Hugo, Jeanne, Katrina
Lettered. Numbered. Categorized. Alphabetized.
Twist their way into human memory.
Turn their wrath on human lives.
Entwine the human psyche.

Devastation of
Shattered lives
Drowning in mementos,
Coffered in attics.

Hunger thirst death
Take their toll,
Count their rations.

Wind, water, heat
Spin into
Mother Earth’s Darwinist theory
Elders, illness, infants into weaklings,
Survival reliant on instinct and ability.

Faith, hope, dreams
Become ruins
Build into communities of desperation,
Buttress the losses,
Befit that restoration.
Cities rising like Phoenix burned.