Poems by Dorothy Long Parma 2017

Dorothy Long ParmaDOROTHY LONG PARMA is a public health researcher for a state university, doting wife and mother, and lifelong avid reader and writer of short stories and poems. A few of her pieces have been published in Skipping Stones and Voices de la Luna literary journals. She lives in San Antonio, Texas.

Until next time

Farewell is a word
laden with implications
of journeys begun.

Bay Window

Gaze upon a world
transformed; our back yard
Jungle when we moved in
Now a boy’s adventureland
Bridge tunnel with friendly troll
Next to Christmas trees
Little mountain, stone steps
Secret pathway to the fence
Roses twine skyward
Creek, stone crocodile
Slope for truck races and
sprinkler games
Plumbago and shrimp plants in summer
Hummingbird and butterfly


There are no favored old photographs
only faded, unfocused memories
locked away,
tossed aside.

No one stood or sat still long enough
for any cameras within reach
without turning,
running away.

Not even one group photo remains
of our 1950’s nuclear family
since none
were taken.

Essay question

You have a rare
To share your ideas
With the most powerful
And influential in the land; who
Will you approach, and
What will you tell them?

Ash (Mt. Pinatubo, 2001)

Fine grey coating
my mouth, lips, eyes
Don’t breathe too deeply
Or it gets in your lungs
Three hours north, destruction
Crops entombed
No space for flight
Thousands displaced
Day turned to night.

The mountain is still
Lava figurines for sale
Particles blown
halfway round the world
weight the scales
for climate change
People’s lives still rearranged
Sorting, sifting through
the trash.

Here I am

to worship, you sang
blowing bubbles
in the bath
here I am to

lala, as you groped for words
What is worship, after all
To a five-year-old? Songs
and prayers in Chapel

Here I am to worship
Full of enthusiasm, you
Bolster my faith
in the future of Humanity.


Iridescent cloak
Of Invisibility; a gift
From father to son
Life form! Whence
Came you?
Drape over me
Like lover’s embrace
Together, we’ll explore
The Universe.


Saturday, my son
learned to fly again
this time it was a bounce house
before that, a swimming pool

Monday at work
More headless chickens than usual
Still, took some time at lunch
for a yoga stretch.

Moving meditation

Breathing from my feet
Flows spiral up into sky
Balanced and stable.

Contemplating eternity

at the bottom of a wine glass
return to darkness past
shadows hover, sharp, menacing
sullen, brooding as myself
for they are my shadows, I
made them; they scurry about
the wind of their passing
threatens to snuff out
the flame of my desire for life;
I wait in silence.

“…All doors to the house stood open”

an invitation for the breeze
windows thrown wide
to let sunshine in
Caterpillar creeps over
unwashed dishes, piles
of laundry, scattered toys.
The occupants are at work
and school; only the cat keeps watch.


Little ball of chi
Nestled up against my arm
Protect you always.

Before you came, sad
Now life is always full; I
Always learn from you.

A trip to Grandma’s

Tick tock, hums the clock
To grandmother’s house we go
Once we arrive, we’ll all look alive!
She is always impatient, we know
To tell us some stories
Of all the past glories
She’d known when she was a girl
She’ll ply us with ham
And strawberry jam
While her aprons they flutter and swirl.

Once we have eaten
Our hunger been beaten
We’ll sprawl in a heap at her feet
Regale her with tales
Our successes and fails
She considers our chatter a treat.

And when we are through
Why, what will she do?
She’ll bundle us back on the bus
And kiss us goodbye
She’ll smile, and she’ll sigh
And send us back home with no fuss.

National Haiku Day

Poems follow laws?
To me they’re more like guidelines
Roadmaps thru the soul.

Agent of Spring

Red flash in the jasmine
Soaring low, then high thru trees
Nests built in the bushes
Serve younglings’ flight on the breeze.

Cardinals are scarce in the desert
No melodies heard on the wind
But here in my garden they gather
Bright gems in the tale I will spin.

God carves the rotten wood, she wrote
Long ago, in her anchorage
Stroking her feline
Confidant. I hold a curved cross
In hand, feeling every crack, every
Alteration in warp and weft
It once drifted on the ocean
After journeying downriver
It once beheld the sun
From a leaf-dappled vantage point.
Perhaps birds nested on it
Younglings practiced first flight

Now it is mine to cherish

And imagine what secrets it holds.
My church has been taken away
My family is on pilgrimage
But this we always carry
Something no building can hold
No dictator destroy
Though the body go down to dust.

Wind is life
Without the wind, rain
Falls straight down in one place
Nourishing little.
Flowers don’t bend, trees
Are not shaped into yearning
Postures. Waves
Do not break for dolphins
To play in
Deserts are static, unchanging.
Trees are not swept clean
Of loose leaves, and leaf forts
Are built only
In the imagination.


Silver-shod fairy, alight
Upon my unwritten page
Stay awhile whilst I compose
An ode to my Muse.


British redheads
Moscow mules
Tummy soother
Palate cleanser
Bubbly, sliced, diced, infused
Candied gem, thy name is

Memory word
Beloved library
Where I spent many an hour with
A book.

Sharp exhalation of breath
Slow, airy puff
Centering, at times
Frustration expressed at others

Admitting defeat
Longing for something lost
Accepting hardship
Easing shoulder tension

“Why so great?” the playwright
The fair maiden shrugs
And speaks not.

Memory word
Beloved library
Where I spent many an hour with
A book.

2. Postscript (vulture encounter)
Knock, knock
Black wings alight
On windowsill, followed
By pecking for dainties therein

Childhood instrument

I rise from your well-worn bench
Receptacle of beloved hymns and musings
Never knowing I would touch them not
Again, for I have moved on.

You were created a masterwork
Of wood, string and ivory
Now, relegated to displaying
Mementos and framed photographs.

Shadow of your former self
When oft I played for family and friends
Standing guard over the dining room
Your final fate, a mystery.

New green

First flush of spring dawn
Emeralds adorn the trees
Cardinals singing.

Everything brighter
New beginnings beckon me
Bluebonnets blooming.

Bike ride ‘long the river
Roast marshmallows under the moon
Run with the dogs in the greenbelt
Easter is coming soon.

Mountain laurels sway
Purple sweetness on the air
Sprinkle dew on grassland
Dandelions in my hair.

The Dark

I used to toss and turn
Start at shadows, recite
the 23rd Psalm
At night in my room
Grandma snoring softly
nearby; vampire silhouetted in
the window. Then
at age 12, I discovered
Nocturnal elves! Wolfriders
And a story called ElfQuest.
They watched stars, howled
at the moon, stole
silently thru the wood; I knew, then,
I could do it too.

I have never looked back
Stargazing on my roof
Fruit bats for company
Piercing the darkness with
my gaze, eyes
slitlike, watchful. I embraced
My other senses; they told me
All was well. I need no longer fear
the dark.

Now my son sometimes cries
for me; I tell him
Don’t worry, I’m near; think
happy thoughts. But I know
He will have to find his own way
To safety. Perhaps in a story
Perhaps another path
It matters not; I will walk with him
While I am able, until
He takes the last steps
On his own.

Badlands Graffiti

Stone tablets, stone walls
Great Masters
My notebook, back when I wrote
With a pen; searching for perfection.

There is a certain satisfaction
In lining through a thought
Replaced with another; brighter,
More succinct.

What did ancient Man think
Of earlier works he defaced?
What little thought we give, now
To papering over a masterpiece.

What secrets lie beneath
The stone under that overhang?
Paleolithic wonders, or
Their version of “Kilroy
was here?”

Yang hand*
(In t’ai chi, refers to the leading hand)

Starting out
One follows the yang hand
Eyes allowing it to lead
The internal dance.

But eyes house the soul’s
Intent, and as practice becomes
Kung fu, hand then follows eyes
Beyond physical reach.

Soft and firm, like
A back rub, hand spirals
to center; heartbeat

Stillness of peace.

Viejo San Juan

Ancient cobbles lead the way
Past two-story homes, splash’d with sun and paint
Where quaint shops ply the larimar trade
To the port where giant cruise ships wait.

El Morro stands guard upon the sea
El Yunque waterfalls delight
Salsa beckons sandaled feet
Seagulls call and weave and dive.

We used to live in simpler times
Lit by lamplight and fireflies
Rice fields, street games, all must fade
But in these lands my heart yet lies.

La Grange

Lazy afternoon
Hammock swinging gently
Breeze picks up the sound of laughter
Down by the river.

More a creek, really
Awash in rainwater
Watch out for moccasins
And swimming cottonmouths.

I long to return to the ranch
Where cows munch on sweet hay
The moon shines brightly thru the trees
We roast marshmallows in private.


Rusty red archway
At the end of our drive
Twinkles merrily at Christmas
Ladder for vines to the sky

My son runs through
Blows bubbles to the wind
Chalk airplanes on the sidewalk
Stone ball for me

All birth is a miracle
Of unexpected dimensions
And untold riches
To be plumbed with poems

Welcome, little one
Our new adventure begins
Who knows what wonders
The next five years will bring?

The Longest Night

Standing disheveled in front of a mirror
In someone else’s house
I stared, wide-eyed, incredulous
Whispering: “Are you still in there?”

Perched on the edge of the bathtub
Sobbing, “I don’t wanna die!” Breaths
Coming too fast, too fast.
Strong hands held me, soothing
Reassuring: “You’re not going to.”

It seems so long ago, yet
Less than a score
Of years
Then, darkness neverending
No sign of light; now
Sunshine on my face, reflected
In my son’s sparkling green eyes.

I have witnessed many sunsets, but rarely
That first glimpse of the world
Night giving over
To the hope of dawn.

It’s going to be glorious.