Tag Archives: poetry

shaken – not stirred

light is gone
nimble fingers of darkness
chase its rushed retreat
leaving me

     no will
     no hope
     no breath
     no life

drenched in tears
and i am
stripped to the bone
peeled back
the layers of

     my mask
     my childhood
     my insecurities

     my love….

and all of the other waste
rises to the surface
waiting to be sloughed off
detritus of my soul

shaken – not stirred


© 2016 findfocus.wordpress.com, Heather M. Tolley, All Rights Reserved


Words of the Past This Wednesday — Poetry From Years Ago

I’ve been working on new posts but have neglected to finish any recently. With that in mind, I went back to some old poems and pulled a few out that caught my eye for one reason or another.  I’m rather undecided about whether or not I think they’re “good”, but still, there is something about most of them that appeals to me.  Here is an untitled piece that is at least 15 years old… Hope you enjoy!

full moon

Closing sunset’s door
night creeps in without offering a candle.
Imprisoning me with the stench of desperation…
it wraps its charred fingers around my throat
and chokes out any hint of light
remaining in my dismal room.

Lulling me with its siren song
the twilight offers a flicker – a flame.
Through the warped and greasy lens of age
I glimpse one last vestige of an ambient dawn
exultant and guileless –
like cartwheels in the sun…

The mirage falters and fades
burning my retinas for the briefest moment
in its glorious jubilation.
And then night returns –
creeping into each far corner
and extinguishing the beacon of my memory
leaving cold oppression
in this claustrophobic room.





© 2016 findfocus.wordpress.com, Heather M. Tolley, All Rights Reserved

reading between the lines

these are words always left unspoken
this is the legacy of my pain
unvarnished remnants of a fractured life
permeated by the tools of shame.

you came to me in such a desperate hour
where i lie huddled in a blackened cave
as i emerged from that deepened shadow
you realized then – i could not be saved.

so i wandered feeling dark too deeply
reaching for a light that never shone
such a curse my barren self lay dormant
but rejection spits out hearts like bone…

and then dust grew deep upon my self-worth
though the calluses refused to form
each day a hike across this frozen tundra
who knew respect was key to staying warm?

which left my heart without a decent chaperone
so softly approach – calm my doubts, my fears
between these notes please hear the love in subtext
i’m only waiting for acceptance here.

Lines of frozen grass

No Solicitation

This incessant noise, thoughtless chatter
is so abysmally abrasive…
It peels the soft insulation off this
pasteurized conversation.
It’s probably ‘a drop in the bucket’,
just a whisper in the void…
If you change your angle, change your tune
evasive action is deployed.

Lower your standard, raise your octave
– stutter “once upon a time” –
When you close your eyes to the greed of need
it’s bound to feel sublime.
Why trouble yourself with a quiet plea
from a desperate, vagrant voice?
Your memoirs are much too important, you know,
and your ignorance more so a choice.

So you stuff your face with the vestiges of
compassion you claim to purport.
Consumer lives are flashy – the rage –
buy the t-shirt to show your support.
Never notice my pain or my silent tears
is this how meaningful I should be?
My words packed away – they’ve no power here…
That voice that you stifled was me.

No solicitation










if your spirit breathes me in

if the spirit is truly carried on one’s breath,
please let me breathe you in.
bury my face in the soft curve of your neck
and, when your heartbeat is in sync with mine,
let’s introduce our lips.

uncertainties are carrion for self doubts we wear
so come to me stripped down
layers of your soul laid bare…
and let’s lie on our tummies in soft spring grass
gaze into each other’s eyes
sharing wishes and dreams
trading secrets on whispers fragile as wings.

would you ache to illicit my laughter
as I seek and nurture yours?
and in joy, trace the lines of my face?
be interested in the phrases between words?
those unspoken nuances of emotion –
the tender underbelly, vulnerable and raw
a quiet self hidden from the world
sacred few only see…

and when my soul stands naked before you
is this the pinnacle or descent?
are they equivalent in your eyes?
unencumbered by placating masks,
have I lost my charm and mystery?
are you paving a way for moments to fade
into plastic, nostalgic memory
so you can toss me on a pile with the rest?

it’s not too late – this is only as lost as you want it to be…
so dare to take hold of fear and
please breathe me in once more
– you’ll find me again
in the warmth of your mouth…
where our spirits first learned to linger

pink gerber pair harmony copy


kept in hand

It’s easy to say I won’t cry
but I will.
And you knew that – you must know me too well, but still…
In denial, I thought it was all kept in hand.
My perception was off –
you must understand…

So I’m here in that place where
I swore not to be.
Waiting for you … seems you’ve left without me.
And my suitcase is full
with my baggage so heavy
thought I’d built up a dam – it was only a levee.

The water is deeper than my skills were prepared…
All this weight counterbalanced
is making me scared.
But this flood will recede
and you’ll do what you must…
Then I’ll quietly blow on away with the dust.

After serving my purpose, after serving my time.
I’m a figment of passion –
I’m the victim, the crime.
And your gaze moves past me
in this silence of space…
With no words I’m effectively
back in my place.


huddled before you

heart cookie cutterthere is a secret language in my heart
… a tremulous pulse …
timid and tender as a soft first kiss
breath mingling, a shiver transposed
and if you follow the line
of my pale, fragile throat you might
read these syllables
as they beat in time

my lips are a tiny crescent moon
and the corners shine
this curve of shy emotion.
hiding all these questions and uncertainties
my eyes flutter shut as they
divert attention
– a detour around –
the roiling turmoil within.

some days
every little thing is pain ~
every doubt insurmountable
and i’m clinging to hopes that crumble and burn.
so could you be unafraid,
please come and meet me in this
vulnerable place?
where the timbre of your voice soothes me.
the refuge of your arms could be
a sanctuary – the safest place –
to share all that’s locked within.

you give me shelter
through this struggle and storm
as i memorize the planes of your face
in the warmth of all we have created
thankful – the remedy of all i seek
in your eyes
i pray you will not turn away
from these broken, bitter pieces
this damaged mess huddled before you.

close your eyes if you must
and find the real me
buried within
all these things I can’t articulate
–   a secret language   –
please read these words like braille
with your strong, capable hands
they cradle my heart.




raindrops on blade of grass macro photography
after the storms this afternoon~

a little rain must fall,
i know it’s true,
on me and you..
but what if we could stay
warm and dry…
would you want to try?

can you face the dark
on the blackest night?
will you be alright?
or does it quicken
that darkness, too,
that lives in you?
it brings a flood
of misery
back down on me —
the downpour never
seems to end
and we’re here again…
where you
make the easy choice
and i have no voice.
stripped bare
by your sharp neglect,
shouldn’t you protect?

the rain devours me
and you still crawl
was it worth the fall?
shame and stench
of your temptation
was it an obligation?
the tired cliché,
a storm has passed,
come clean at last…
pounded out
upon these stones
your fragile bones ~
broken but free
bring me light again
& end this salted rain.

~heather m. tolley

beaded raindrops on leaves of rosebush

This was one of those times that I started typing and the words just came out… I haven’t reread it so it might be really REALLY bad!  🙂  If that’s the case, please go easy on me in the comments, okay?  🙂

thanks for stopping by~

you will learn

tempted by warming winds and
twinkling sunlight
hibernation comes to an end
and you emerge ~
hands outstretched
breathing deeply spring and growth
all things made new
and hope,
once a tight bud
closed off and buried deep,
dares to lift its head
its petals begin to unfurl.

and so you reach out
trying to find your purpose
in other lives and other eyes~
tired of pounding out a
lonely existence,
trapped inside – closely guarded –
longing for freedom.

there’s no assurance in words
pretty things that can deceive
and though we’ve been over it before,
how the season lures you…
with peaceful breeze embrace
nourishing morsels
just enough
to keep you fed.
i shake my head at your folly
yet indulge you like a child
never realizing the dangers ~
we all make mistakes…

so it’s a shame about the wind
very fickle this time of year.
and faster than you can imagine
the frost returns.
a hard, cruel chill
creeps up on you
tightening your veins
freezing everything in its path…

it might have been prevented
for even the hardiest succumb
feel the sting
the sudden scar of frostbite –
hunch their shoulders against the cold.
so you – tiny, feeble thing,
never had a chance!
how could you have known
light would be taken
in the space of a breath
the dark side of the moon
turning its back to the sun.

no excuse, really…
you should have been prepared,
i say
and tuck you safely back inside.

you will learn
one day i’m sure,
not to travel on my sleeve…

you will learn.

~heather m. tolley
march 2012

dream interrupted

you dreamed you could be
dark confines –
raising your face to the sky –
such a brave thing to do…

the light must have drawn you
stretching your neck
reaching toward the sun
decay falling from your eyes
at last
from curled slumber

a sudden birth
in the hushed silence of morning.
without fear you
fling your graceful arms    w  i  d  e
to the season that
still surrounds

you are not safe
i whisper

– please –
wrap yourself in snug blankets
and sleep a while longer!

winter still lingers here
beyond the gate
with frosty fingers,
to steal your breath –
your fragile foliage
back to the earth
another slumber.

your dream interrupted…

~heather tolley

crocus photo purple orange color block picture
This lovely crocus began to sneak up through the mulch during our warm weather last week... The temperature has changed again, but I'm hoping the frost will leave it undisturbed. : )