by Carmen H Gray 

the waves lapped at the shore

industrial waste in a place

where freshwater meets saltwater

the bright sky viewing a town that feels like a story I’ve written

like time stopped here, somewhere in the 1970’s of my childhood

and it may as well be a repeat of those chaotic times these days

except here I am, a woman now

with a daughter who can celebrate

a date that has past

and here we are

souls brined

hearts preserved

bodies intact

and this is better than any man made holy day to me







seven letters

seven letters

by Carmen H Gray

words synonymous with scan:

witness, inspect, survey

scrutinize, view, portray

words synonymous with survive:

withstand, outlast, persist

endure, remain, exist

four letters can hold seven in prison

seven letters have at last risen

Seven more sevens float in my eyes

1 injured 2 revolve 3 realize 4 forgive

5 healing 6 absolve 7 revised

seven letters…l e t t e r s

so much meaning squeezed inside

the tall, statuesque L

the E, the sound you make standing after you’ve fallen in a heap

two T’s, like parallel crosses you buried deep

another E, this time it hurts because of

the R, rough and capsized love

the S, the s…well the s is soothing as it slips

off of your tongue and out of your soulful lips










by Carmen H Gray


In the bath that night

When your hair of coppery wine

Fell out without a fight

Your cells committing suicide

A part of me died, too

They all told me, “this is hardest on the mother”

But I kept up appearances for you

I held in the fears and tears for the sake of others

Keep them all in smiles

Don’t disappoint

Hide the real hardship, the trials

Stay on point

The malignancies in both of us

Were put to rest

Releasing me from the superfluous

All that I had suppressed

In my long-running attempts to be infallible

Liberating me from my selfhood

Learning that the real “me” is valuable

Beyond a perfectly imperfect motherhood





“Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.”

-Leonard Cohen


(for Jackson)

by Carmen H Gray

The chiming sound

That comes from a hollowed, hallowed you

Inverted from life’s spiraled bound

A premature summoning

To another place

The space you made humbling

The lives of those you knew

The bells ringing in

Messages that carry through

Time and space

Pain and suffering

And love’s memory trace


“Instead of resisting any emotion, the best way to dispel it is to enter it fully, embrace it and see through your resistance.” -Deepak Chopra


by Carmen H Gray

Who am I to speak of kindness and love?

I held everyone else’s anger

And thought that I, being so kind

Would transform the danger

Of the negativity that trailed behind

But, lo, I am just a fallible woman

I am nothing great or good

My heart is not some grand cushion

On which all sharp objects could

Softly land

Instead I absorbed it deeply


It did not stay tucked nice and neatly

It snuck out in the most unusual ways

So very unexpectedly

In and out of days

It spilled excessively

Until I told it

Yes, anger, I embrace you

Your darkness that transmits

The necessary pain imbued

I have given you your time

To shine

I am just a fallible woman

And you can now go on

The Unbearable Lightness of Being


“for there is nothing heavier than compassion. Not even one’s own pain weighs so heavy as the pain one feels with someone, for someone, a pain intensified by the imagination and prolonged by a hundred echoes”

-Milan Kundera.

Tonight was a celebration of Ava’s friend, Jackson’s life.  All of us surrounded together to have fun, enjoy some music, food and be grateful.  But, our hearts also felt heavy with compassion. My heart is so full sometimes it hurts, teetering on the unbearable lightness of being, only made bearable by our connections, which are what hurt us again and again.  The sweetness and bitterness of it all-remote incandescent bodies of light shining well beyond the expired time given.

For Jackson


Yesterday was a special day for me because it marked the end of a journey with my daughter.  A friend of mine spontaneously invited me to make a wreath with her. She is very creative and talented (I know this because I know her beautiful children, who are also quite clever and innovative).  After this journey with Ava, I am saying yes to many experiences that I have perhaps passed over before because I was “too busy”.  Now I am not too busy.  Now I say “yes”.  Because you never know.

My phone battery died when I arrived at Erin’s house and as luck would have it, they are an i-phone family and I couldn’t plug in my android phone.  So I really had an opportunity to disconnect.  Erin and I leisurely collected evergreen branches, berries, rosemary and other items as she patiently showed me how to make a wreath.  We spent two good hours outside in her backyard as the sun began to set.  It was very peaceful and relaxing to be outside creating an ancient symbol of eternal life and hope.

When I arrived home, I was so tired.  I had spent a very relaxing time at Erin’s, but I felt tired and I felt the need to be alone and to rest.  So I said goodnight to my family early and went to my room and meditated for all of the people I knew suffering in the world.  The people in my microcosm and the people in the big world in general.  And I slept, and slept, and slept.  I awoke this morning feeling restored and released.

Today, I found out that yesterday was a special day for a boy I had not met a few posts ago.  It marked the end of a journey for him, as well.  In between that post and this one, I met him.  I met his father.  And Ava and I took him a dinner on Monday night.  Ava made him a card and I bought him some exquisite European chocolate that I’m not sure he was even able to taste before the end of his journey. There are probably a thousand rational explanations for why I felt a sense of exhaustion and relief.  But, I believe we are all connected deeper than we think to one another.  And I believe that I felt Jackson saying his good-bye to me.  And I think I was making that wreath in honor of him.