Black Boot

Black, not made of a steer

But from dinosaur’s flesh.

The heel is a plant’s bleeding.

It has a soft lining but not fleece.

It has two zippers

But only one has a function.

The metal is steel,

Not chrome, silver, or nickel.

It fits around my heavy calf

As it forms around my foot.

(One calf, two calves—

Surely you know.)

I am still proud of it.

Its identical mate mirrors

Its unassuming appearance.

They contour well, and I think

There’s a sigh in there somewhere.

I wear them and I feel

There’s cotton puffs under my feet.


© 2017 Valerie Hathaway


Preparing For Winter

Gray as rained-on pavement

With streams racing to the storm drains.

We walk with umbrellas and newspapers

Covering our ever-hectic heads.

We are still dark and become wet

With drops and rivulets impinging

On our weary legs and sodden feet.

Concrete and steel fly above us,

Glass becomes light with weakened sun-rays.

We search for a different kind of light,

One that ignites and flames our hearts.

We crave bonfires and hot cocoa,

Stuffed duvets and flannel blankets,

Padded coats and sturdy boots.

Winter is always here,

Freezing our brains and icing our souls.

We pretend cheer and act as if not

Even a wrecking ball will shatter our lives.

There is a cog broken, and the rain

Rusts our being to help us stand the snow.


© 2017 Valerie Hathaway

It Sees You

It sees you,

Tears to lick off your cheeks.

It sees you,

Holding the leash tight.

It sees you,

Toy fetched in its mouth.

It sees you,

Chained in mud and filth.

It sees you,

Holding a small bowl of food.

It sees you,

Yelling and kicking in anger.

It sees you,

Holding it through the pain.

It sees you,

As its heart stops in the end.


It sees you,

And all it wants

Is for you to see them.


© 2017 Valerie Hathaway

The River

When you rush to the river, what do you see?

Muddy water grinding boulders to grit,

Or dark green waves under the bridge?

Do you see dead fish rising from the depth,

Or the turbulence from the side of a dam?

Is it white and emerald and open?

Is it brown-black and gliding over a tree?

Does it swirl or meander past you,

Thinking of hot days and swing ropes?

Does it carry the weight of rocks and dirt?


Whatever we visualize, the river is the same;

It keeps moving to the oceans, carrying

Its wet and exquisite cargo to merge at the end.


© 2017 Valerie Hathaway

She Will Not Be Going To Work

No, she cannot come to work today.

There are no more weekends,

Weekdays, holidays or sales about nothing.

She cannot make any more commissions,

Read the fine print on the coupon,

Or be yelled at for not having the right size.

No, she cannot close or open your store.

There’s no more leaks in the stockroom floor,

No carts being flipped by an angry manager,

No more coworkers arguing on the phone.

No, she cannot come to work,

But she can lay like alabaster,

Like a fleshy statue.

So, this is her two-week notice

For all the endless beats of time.

She will not be going to work.



© 2017 Valerie Hathaway

The Ducks

What we have failed to invent

Is an umbrella to keep aimless ones

Dry in the spiritual storm.

Where is the compassion,

In the lonely one in the chair,

Surrounded by clamoring ducks

Who wiggle and drift

Towards the muddy pond?

Where is the turning point

Where we say no more

And shut the machine down?

No, ducks wait to die

Preening and admiring their web feet,

Their feathers the real prize

And their necks forgotten.

They drown naked in the cruel rain,

Without an umbrella

That we failed to provide.


© 2017 Valerie Hathaway



The Sheep

They scuttle in cliques

Like small flocks of sheep.

They bay with wobbly voices,

Discussing life like the weather.

They say they are unified

But actions betray their

Gathering and chattering.

They don’t welcome the newcomers

Unless they act like them.

I slumber like a black bear,

Awaiting the end of the flock

To rumble to my car.

I won’t stay with the sheep

But wander on my own,

Safe with the wisdom

Of solitude and wariness.


© 2017 Valerie Hathaway


The Grammar War

Words wage war with artillery

Of ellipses and exclamation points.

A barrage of text speak

And acronyms fire in return.

Colons and semi-colons

Parachute into the field,

Stitching broken phrases together.

Emoticons perforate and explode

In punctuational retaliation.

The weary word warriors

Build walls of paragraphs

And single line spacing,

Only to be barraged

With cannons of red ink.

Vowels and consonants laid to waste;

Pieces of expressions litter the page.

Is this sentence all there is?

Only stumps of question marks remain.


© 2017 Valerie Hathaway


What is hiding in the quiet?

What does silence’s scissors cut?

Distance is a long railroad track;

Time ticks to a rhythmic hum.

Where are all my distractions?

What am I supposed to learn?

Step away from the emotion,

No matter how deep or sharp.

My moods do matter to me,

But in a vacuum with no care

They all pile and fall like plates.

Nothing is a sure thing

One day to the next.

The leaves have similar colors,

But the design is a fingerprint.

The mouth opens to speak

But all it can do is breathe inaudibly.

No number of books or talk

Can fill the chasm of emptiness.

One walks into the sun alone,

Hopefully dodging heavy traffic

Until they reach a place of peace.


© 2017 Valerie Hathaway


Everyone has my number,

But none of them know me.

They think I should want something.

It’s nothing I could use or admire.

I no longer want many things.

I have plenty of things.

I don’t want what they’re selling,

They push themselves to do this

Around a few bucks an hour plus commission.

It may pay more than fast food or retail

But the relentless assault,

The commercial on a phone line

Wears my patience and compassion.

Home security,

Car service plans,

Life insurance,

Credit card loans.

Time to put the phone down

And walk away to the woods.

No cell phone connection,

Only the sounds of drifting leaves

And migrating birds.

Time to recharge my soul

Without another onslaught

Of requests for my money.



© 2017 Valerie Hathaway