Mother Father

I was born of a speck of ash,

I was birthed from a womb of rust.

I was raised in a room of violence

When I was frantic for a thimble of trust.


I was the creepy kid on the playground

Shoes with holes and too-high jeans.

I was shuttled to the edge of the school

Where imagination spilled at the seams.


Mother money, father anger,

Nothing growing but rage and fear

Broken chairs, broken bottles

Under the table and the bed in tears.


I became an adult of honor.

My work was my lone identity.

I looked sharp in my uniform

But inside I laid in poverty.


Dust covered my inner playground.

I strode for wealth and sweet affection.

I ended up with corpses and politicians,

Abuse for viewing in different directions.


Mother drunken, father distant,

Little girl buried in a weary embrace.

Dirt is the base of the road to death,

And only my life in the dust I trace.


I lost my job, my mind, my world.

I sit here and plink words on a screen.

My muscles ache but there is solace

That I won’t end up where I could’ve been.


Little girl is flapping her grownup wings,

Ready to ride new realms of her own.

I hold back my anger, my pain, my tears.

The reaper rips the muscles from my bones.


Mother deceased as is father,

Turned to ash and what it’s worth.

Return again to mother and father,

Parents of a new patch of this earth.


© 2018 Valerie Hathaway

Time to Look Within

You see the gray creeping in your hair roots.

You see the fat stored in your belly and chin.

You feel the pain in the knees and shoulders.

The outside hurts; time to look within.


You see your security swiped by cold greed.

You see your safety shifting to the grim.

You feel the fear rumbling in your chest.

The outside hurts; time to look within.


You see your children leave, not returning.

You see your work prospects becoming dim.

You see your friends fall into their graves.

The outside hurts; time to look within.


Is there sadness? Is your life unfulfilled?

Is there regret for things that should’ve been?

Is there longing for something unbegotten?

Then it’s time to stop and look within.


Pull your joys out of your bucket list.

Don’t set aside what you want to begin.

Appreciate the breaths you take in the morning

And be grateful that you can still look within.


©2018 Valerie Hathaway

Who What Where

Who do you want to be?


Rest your fingertips together.

In the temple of your hands

Make a wish for this life.

Angels, guides, whatever you believe—

Even the atoms if that helps.

The atoms are only energy,

And energy can be changed.


What do you want to do?


Feel the air course through your lungs.

They inhale and exhale,

Taking the old air out,

Bringing the oxygen in.

Let your mind follow your breath,

Taking the old, stale thoughts out

Bring the new ideas in.


Where do you want to stay?


Think of a pleasant place,

Exciting and bustling

Or sheltered and serene.

Place yourself there

For as long as you like,

For a second or an eternity.

Live in this place.

Bring it in your breath,

Feel it on your fingers.


Let go, let go, let go

Of this stress and strife.

Let your body relax,

Let your fingers tingle,

Breathe a long sigh.


You are home.


© 2018 Valerie Hathaway


Pulling the Words

Pulling the words off of my lips

Bleeding onto the white of the page

Sometimes the mind strains

Other times it flows freely

The colors they bring don’t matter

As others will read it differently

Through their shaded lenses

My life congeals into pieces of phrases

My soul is constrained into things I say

What does it matter, what they mean

When words fail to capture my imagination

But they work, in a fragmented way

As limited colors in pencils and crayons

Maybe if I melt the wax

I can come up with words of my own.


© 2018 Valerie Hathaway


Green boughs dip in the humid daylight

Animals scuttle in the dew-drenched grass

Sunlit flowers turn their faces to the warmth

Steady and taller, bees turn to their nectar


The air is heavy, it is hard to breathe

But the sky is trembling with deep blues

Clouds bring the breezes, journeying

To dissipate and renew at the ocean’s arms


I turn towards the trees, entering the shade

Mushrooms grow sturdy in the rotting trunks

Birds twitter in the canopy’s caresses

High into the sunshine, warning, calling


The water drifts ahead, a cascade of life

Plinking on rocks, rolling by branches

Its own meandering to the sea’s edge

Is a lifetime of streams, creeks, and rivers


I sit with the trees, the flowers, the birds

Snails and squirrels carry on the works of survival

My survival is in the air, the water, the earth

I turn to return, refreshed and humbled


© 2018 Valerie Hathaway


What Do You Want To Live For?

What do you want to live for?


You want to live for the light through the blinds.

You want to live for soft pillows and blankets,

Fuzzy pajamas or bare, supple skin.


You want to live for that first breath of air,

The opening of the eyes, the yawn, the stretch.


You want to live for that first cup of coffee,

That first bite of a good bagel

(Or whatever you eat or drink).


You want to live for sunny mornings,

The tempered beat of rain,

The feathered blanket of snow.


You want to live for unexpected smiles,

Greetings and laughter,

Tears and silence.


You want to live for parks and trees,

Benches and paths through the grass.

You want to live for lovers and children,

People who meditate and those who skateboard.


You want to live for evenings and noodles,

Sauces and spices scenting the market.

You want to live for the texture of an orange,

Or the pop of flavor of a grape.


You want to live for the dirt beneath your feet,

The diamonds in the pavement,

The grains of sand on the beach.


You want to live for your loved ones,

Their flesh, their sweat, their scent.

You want to live for yourself,

The lotion you put on your face and skin,

The soap, the toothpaste.


You want to live to feel alive,

The littlest things become the big things,

The tiniest joys bloom better than the most expensive flowers.


So, take a breath and say yes, I want to live.


©2018 Valerie Hathaway

Superstar and Supergirl

Superstar and Supergirl

In the back of a black limousine

Driver strives to look ahead

As backseat action turns obscene


Mama and Papa on the couch

As the kids are cradled in sleep

He wants some lovin’ but she does not

So it happens and the pain is deep


One look inside that raggy mag

Bodies barely covered in brands

Will that designer get you laid?

Only the register understands


So the video was shot

The pages were printed

The sex was smokin’ hot

But love is limited


The thighs are entwined

The bones together crack

When sex is business

Love becomes the lack


But when they hold their hands

And walk into the store

Love flourishes in there

And there is forever more


© 2018 Valerie Hathaway


Sacrifices of Love

They swim like the ghosts of sharks

How many of them did I slaughter

Naivete, sexual and mercurial

What I did to feel wanted


I look for their skeletons, their skulls

Invisible in the digital age

No social media, no obituary

Just phantoms slinking in my head


Their families leave no trace

Brothers, sisters, all disappeared

I’d cry but my eyes are broken

Karma found me and I am hollow


People rattle their bones for a buck

Lacerate me with a rusty knife

Bleed and infect, with only worms

And bacteria for my last meal


I release their spirits again

And settle into my beloved’s arms

Knowing how he benefits

From their sacrifices of love


© 2018 Valerie Hathaway

Broken Chair

“What do I have to do

To prove I love you?” he said.

The back of the chair is gone,

The spindles broken off.


Violence Is not love


I walk past the chair,

Afraid, guilty, ashamed.

He broke the chair

In front of her last night.

The seat and legs survived.


I sit on the seat, sad and alone


This is my life, my reality.

Words will be said,

Perpetuated in the neurons,

Dragged into the feeling

Of the paddles in my hands.


I didn’t deserve this


It took a long time

But it did get better.

I do see that chair

With the back broken off,

And I hand my shame

Back into his hands.


Violence is not love


© 2018 Valerie Hathaway


Rehearsing For Spring

My mind has been rehearsing for spring

Spent the months hidden in the snow

Like tender flowers emerging to the sun

Unrolling leaves and blossoms follow


Babies cling to mothers for warmth

While fur and feathers line their nests

Singing, springing, and stretching their necks

For the worms and bugs, they will digest


Butterfly from chrysalis and I from my home

Find beauty and food, its raw glory now shown.


© 2018 Valerie Hathaway