Skip to content




As dusk slithers closer

Snow crawls up windows

Kneeling in places where

No one will pass tonight


Visions spark so chimney’s leap

A motion longing to wrap itself

In a tattered lunge; opening, closing

Their low silhouettes breathe flames


In a corner women with injured voices

Examine each others cages

While old men smoke, sit on rungs

Preen back and forth and back again


Abandoned by mothers— fathers

You, wide-eyed and open-mouthed

They’ve become blinded to your frame

Back-lit in doorways, empty houses


Men follow you on the street

Like bad whiskey in the wind

Calling to you in their loud hatreds

Daughter of Jezebel, slut, bitch, whore


Smother you with their raw vulgarities

But you, with your tattered petals

Step away from their cruel histories

Your fragile beauty belongs elsewhere


Woman-child; oh captive songbird

They cast you aside in their muteness

Their teeth should have stilled you

Yet water shines through your wings


Any cat knows what to do in the aviary

Why not attempt the truly brazen

Lift the eyelid of each word from its pulse

Give them Keats lingering on a waist


Or Dickinson with moss on her lips

Clasp a rusty owl’s song to your breast

When the rains broken accent falls

Fling open the doors— set your cage ablaze


Selena Howard © February 5, 2012

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Olan L. Smith permalink
    February 5, 2012 4:27 pm

    Excellence in pen unlocks many doors and frees the soul. I love it from beginning to end. Love, Olan

    • February 5, 2012 5:46 pm

      Thank you Olan.I was getting worried as it seemed to develop a life of it’s own and just kept growing

  2. Julie Catherine permalink
    February 5, 2012 9:28 pm

    Lena, an absolutely stunning poem that brought me to tears. A shining example of how you took courage into your own hands, flung the doors wide open and emerged from your own cage into the light. Beautifully written, dear friend! ~ Julie xoxox

  3. February 5, 2012 9:32 pm

    Thank you Julie,You been with me through some of this journey.You’ve heard my sobs,saw my tears,my joys ,my pain, my laughter.You’ve made my journey much more bearable. Thank you dear friend xox ~ Lena

  4. May 16, 2012 10:17 pm

    Lena, This is a painful poem, but these lines:
    Why not attempt the truly brazen

    Lift the eyelid of each word from its pulse
    Give them Keats lingering on a waist

    Or Dickinson with moss on her lips
    Clasp a rusty owl’s song to your breast
    When the rains broken accent falls
    Fling open the doors— set your cage ablaze
    are powerful enough to set the spirit singing. The response to pain that is unbearable is courage, and when courage is strong and resilient enough, a rusty owl’s song can fling open the doors limiting you and set your cage ablaze.
    This is a strong, amazing poem.

    • May 17, 2012 10:25 pm

      Thank you Thomas . Words and events have great power but the the greatest power comes from what we tell ourselves. We CAN survive the most horrendous things and not let it taint our spirit and determination to rise above what we’ve been dealt.Our past does not define who we are but rather we define our past. They underestimated my desire to persevere regardless of what was put in my path. My grandmother said I was one of the most stubborn children she had ever seen,not in a bad sort of way but because I never gave up no matter what was taking place. I know no other way to be. Thank you for your most beautiful comment, I apologize for the delay in responding,I’ve been swamped with outside things

      • May 20, 2012 8:33 am

        I work with Navajo young people who are going to college. Their journeys are, more often than not, horrendously difficult. Stubbornness can be a good thing, as your grandmother was alluding to; it can also be a dangerous thing. You’ve set me to thinking a bit. I guess all inner characteristics are like that, aren’t they? Even courage can be dangerous if taken too far in certain circumstances. All of what makes us human is manysided. I admire both your courage, this poem, especially the depth of learning in its ending as well as the power of its ending, and the beauty of who you are.

  5. May 20, 2012 9:23 am

    Thank you Thomas ,I never went past the 8th grade as far as education goes but not all learning need be academic ,nor does it need to hinder our growth.As a child I lived on a reservation in Albuquerque New Mexico for nearly two years and while I can’t tell you how that came to be there,all that I saw is etch into not only my mind but my spirit.I know at least in a tiny measure the challenges they face. We are complex creatures for sure. I still have struggles, it’s part of life but were it not for them how would I know the difference between love/hate joy/sorrow/ indifference / empathy for example,for me at least comes down to perspective I choose to look at everything no matter if it’s good or bad as opportunities to grow,

  6. August 5, 2012 7:05 pm

    This is probably one of the best modern motivational poems written in the last 50 years if not longer, seriously well done. Thank you, very much appreciated…

    • August 8, 2012 9:47 am

      That’s high praise John and I’m humbled that you found this so inspiring. I try to write in ways that motivate people to keep trying no matter the obstacles.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: