A Winter Shade of Wheat

A winter shade of wheat

Bobbles from wind’s heavy breath.

Roots from acorns buried

Push and ply their ways

In rich, cold, and busy soil.

There is little comfort outside;

One must go within for solace.

Cats find the registers and radiators,

Curling up in dry, forced heat.

Our noses are drier

Yet our skin is cracked and parched.

Time for a book and a cup of relief,

Or a movie where the world explodes.

We seek shelter near fireplaces

And in groups of fellow languished souls,

Bundled in layers of sweat and freeze.

Kindness turns to frost,

And generosity halts at the spigot.

We must extend ourselves even if contracting

Seems to feel like a better option.

The grain flutters as snowflakes,

Brown butterflies in a whitened field.

We must celebrate even when things perish,

Because the globe will spin and

It will be all over again soon.

Holding our scarves and necks straight,

We stride through the pummeling cold

To reach our next destination;

Warmth and gratitude

Waits to receive us at the end.


© 2017 Valerie Hathaway








Even with sunbeams at

The end of their journey,

The winds arise with fear

As the turbulent clouds arise

And shutter the happiness


Doubt flashes as lightning.

As the pain spins and builds.

Thunder rumbles its self-talk

As accusations fill the air

And hail pummels your self-esteem.


As the tornado engulfs you

Your friends, family, spouse

Children, love, and purpose

Are spewed out of the whirlwind

And dumped on infertile soil.


Finally, you are limp and spent

Tears are flowing rivers of hurt

And the flood takes you apart

Pieces of you flowing to the ground

Until you grow once again


© 2017 Valerie Hathaway


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