Scrawlings, M. Black

All work by M. Black is copyright ∞  and may not be used without permission. 

Judge Me Not

Judge me not by my face;
it may be a mask.
Not by my words;
You have not heard all of them.
Not by my years;
You know not where they have taken me.
Not by my company;
The ties that bind us have many threads.
Not by my skin;
It is only a sheath that covers my flesh.
Not by my shoes;
You know not the roads I have walked.
Not by my weaknesses;
For my strengths may outweigh them.
Not by my appearance;
For wine spoils even in a golden chalice.

Judge me not unless you are above judgment, and then I will
throw myself down at your feet, for you will be the Lord.

copyright 1991 


Half-close my eyes to soften my ambient light;
nimbus around my atomic quietude.
To find the things I wish to see, I must unhinge my sight,
and seek from the stillness underneath my stare.
Harken the echoing barely heard
beyond the boundaries of local murmur.

Leave behind familiar cadence
and turn back toward the way I came
to remember the magic which led me here.

Loosely wrapped lines had tightened into knots
while backs and legs strained to meet the offing,
springing toward the promise of the newest day.

Now is the evening of silent contemplation.
Turn back to the beginning to trace the lines
that have wrapped around the pilings,
that have tangled in our legs.
Turn back to find the knots that tie us to ourselves.

We will run and dance and sing 
like only those who have been bound can do!

Unbind my hands and feet;
relieve my voice;
release my heart.

Let me dance!



Skipping boldly through the mud puddles in your new red shoes
and Sunday dress;
barretts falling askew, soft locks escaping valiantly from their chignon prison.
The lace on your white socks is speckled now with brown;
they will be upset with you, again.
Why don't they understand how the rain water feels so cool on your skin?
You know why the horses gallop straight through the mire,
wild, strident, dashing, crashing,
like a herd of lightning bolts!
Why don't they see your fierce Arabian heart?
You are Daughter.
Fierce is not a word they want you to hold.
Nor Wild, nor Valiant, nor Strident, nor Bold.
It is what they have been, for centuries, told.

They have a place for you, Daughter.
You are molded for It,
not It for you.
And to be kind, they believe it is all for the best;
(it is what they have been, for centuries, told).
Flower of youth, stem of passion, leaves of grass: root of pain.
They do not recognize your father's fortitude
that lives in your soul.
His fervid spirit blazes fire in your eyes;
unheeded, misconstrued;
it does not go with your outfit, my dear.
Your fingers clench with your father's rage
as the world unveils each new cruelty;
your teeth grind with your father's anguish
each time you fall short in your missions;
your heart breaks with your father's torment
to hear the cries of the suffering.

Those that came before had a place for your mother as well.
She was Daughter then, as you are, now.
She has forgotten the days of galloping as a thunderous wild thing,
one with the wind and the earth and the rain,
charging forth and powerful as a cyclone.
She was called down from her fearless climb up the mountain face,
following the steps of those who they had called "noble".
She was chastised for heeding the call to fight for the weak and the afflicted;
dismissed when she shouted for justice;
frowned on when she danced splendidly in the rays of the sun.
The years smooth the mind's sharp edges.
Time rearranges the stories to render them totable burdens:
from leatherbound epics to light paperbacks.
She has forgotten the days before they bound her corset so tightly
it took her breath away.

There will be more rain, dark clouds are gathering above your head now.
Be sure that the rain will be cold, but your skin will welcome it.
There will be tumultuous thunder to sing along with at the top of your voice,
and lightning, resplendent in its fury, coarsing across the sky, to race against,
and driving wind to fly with as it cleanses the gloom from your wings.
And after the storm there will be glorious sun again to warm and bless your weary crown.
There will always be sun again.

You are Daughter.
They love you, there is no doubt, as their very own souls.
Their hearts are not made of iron,
but girded against battles past and future; battles you have not seen.
They carry scars, hidden from your eyes,
buried under layers of armor, some unknown even to themselves.

The world builds cages for Daughters,
gilding the bars to fool women and taunt men.
They will say it is the way things are, as if that is a reason.
(It is what they have been, for centuries, told).
The choice is yours, to walk through the gate,
to let it close behind you, to let it lock you inside.
Or to fight with your father's devotion, your mother's verve,
your own intensity.
They may have built a cage for you,
but if you look closer, you may see that they have built it
from the inside.
Go forth with intent, Daughter,
make your vision clear as the sky after the storm.
Go forth with resolution.
Go forth with love.

M. Black~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


Dimmer stars tonight.
My cloak is worn too thin,
the damp gets in.
Footfalls from long ago; another lifetime of mine, of yours; scritch scratch surreptitiously behind me,
not quite keeping pace, without conviction or grace.
When I look there is no one there, the night is empty, and yet~
the back of my neck tells otherwise.
This cloak has worn too thin,
it has lost its billow.
The milk weeds have not yet burst their pods.
Their mission is singular, focused, to their death.
I mean to pluck one, to thwart their noble end, to enter my will upon such a lowly mortal,
gut its unborn seed, occlude its destiny with my own baleful hand,
but the burdock will have none of it.
They catch in my cloak as I lean in to find purchase in the swamp grass.
I will need to pick the burs one by one, needle by hook;
destiny's shook.
My hem has come undone;
Mother will mend it, dear one.
Trailing roils in the gathering fog 'round my knees,
slow whirlwinds winding with my saunter.
Dog cries crack sharply from the edge of the haze, their urgent reports embogged forthwith
before they reach what distant ears so intended;
dire warning of the impending morning.
I have heard them; I pull my cloak tighter, but it no longer swaddles.
My fingers find a hole, a tear; tattered for wear.
My cloak is worn too thin, and now the end begins.

M. Black


On two feet and ten toes she propels herself forward
balancing on the ground, counterbalanced on the Earth;
two eyes, two ears in Divine Proportion
to one heart brewing elixir of mourning and mirth.

The downtown matrons and the uptown maids
in ever their most appurtenant tackle
avert their chagrin to be caught with their countenance
showing; exposed with alleycat hackles.

With two hands and ten fingers she swings her arms
with elegant composure, to gain impulsion.
One nose and one mouth for a Golden Mean,
in the middle of her head, God's compulsion.

The uptown patriarchs and the downtown boys
in their ever most assimilated gear
dart their gaze back and toward, caught between
haughty assessment and private, disquieting fear.

With two lungs she breathes in the vaporous essence
from each of them as they stare like boorish children in the hedge;
Her flame burns hotter and brighter with every utterance,
her back grows stronger with each shove toward the ending's edge.

The sidewalk ends at the cobblestone road,
but her two legs continue forward without pause or slip;
she has been here before, she has been farther toward sundown
than what has been passed between fleering and lip.

She will keep on walking with or without them,
and with or without this loosened rhyme.
Her gait keeps its own clock,
her clock keeps its own meter,
her arrival will be right on time.

~M. Black


I don't want to be with you
in your pristine early morning
smelling of dawn, glimmering with hope
like dew drops on a new dandelion.
I don't want to walk with you
in your august afternoon
glaring with purport, striding with mettle,
hiking stalwartly up your mountains.
I don't want to partake with you
in your long-shadowed golden dusk
beaming with peace,lambent with grace,
grateful for the very air you breathe.
I don't want to run with you
in your deep Cimmerian evening
flying as the wind, rushing with ardor,
exultant in your continuation.
I don't want to stay with you
in your immortal night
harkening rectitude, beholding totality,
symphonizing with fidelity.
I don't want to be warmed in the shine of your spirit
only to have to give you up to God.


This poem was intended as a gift to my son for Halloween, who was five years old at the time, the year he dressed as The Batman.

In the blackest of dark, in the deepest of night,
I dreamed of a terrible, most horrible fright.
The day had been frosty and hard on my bones,
I lay by the fire, on toasty hearth stones.
My thick woolen blanket drawn up to my chin,
Sleep breathed upon me like a warm summer wind.
Outside my poor window Old Winter Man moaned
rattling branches enameled in snow.
The clattering storm heard by my sleeping brain
sounded more like a phantom outcrying in pain!
The phantom grew huge in my slumbering mind,
It broke down the door in a small hunk of time!
Its face (I say "Its" for I couldn't be sure)
was hidden in shadows, or shadows it were.
Garments much blacker than night draped its frame
A robe trailed behind like some baneful bride's train
From the end of each sleeve (there were four, I could tell),
writhed a two-taloned-tentacle, one waving a bell.
My vile visitor toward me advanced
With haste I abandoned my place at the hearth.
But to my utter dismay, to my worst apprehens',
I was glued to my spot like a bug on a dart!
Closer it floated, no feet to be seen.
My legs wouldn't run and my mouth failed to scream!
The fire behind me roared loud and red
It groaned in my ears, "Run, fool, or be dead!"
"Please stop, Sir!" I screamed, hoping "Sir" was correct
(for the wrath of a Miss “Sirred” is severe, I suspect!).
The ravenly roiling robe kept its course,
Straight toward my stupefied, paralyzed carcass!
Horrendous wind howled through my gaping wide house,
forcing foul phantom stench up my quivering nose.
My monstrous caller had drawn back its hood
and opened its maw just as wide as it could!
Over its yellowed, rot-encrusted teeth
emanated a dirge I can hardly bequeath!
An ocean of suffering poured onto the floor,
I gulped and I choked 'neath the fish and the gore!
Then under the frigid waves, I opened my eyes
and toward me a two-taloned-tentacle groped!
My cheek caught it fully, in pain my voice cried,
But soon I was stifled as it reached round my throat.
Not long for this world, I could hear Me lament,
as I patiently waited for death's cold descent.
But the wait turned so long, that I opened my eyes
My heart started mightily at a surprise!
For there by the fire I lay safe and sound
on the warmth of the hearthstones, my blanket tucked 'round.
Old Winter Man's breath had crept in through a window
Through which crept my Koder,
with his fishy cat-odor
and sat licking my cheek and meowin'!

copyright 1992



Yes, and yes,
you have been spotted,
but not just now.
The heart always knows when its tears are being used
to salve another's wounds.
From the moment you landed I've known
you were seeking love;
to receive, not to give.
to grieve, not to live.
You were mistaken if you thought your wounds were hidden
beneath your leather coat,
blood knows blood.
Your hands felt warm and sweet on my shattered soul.
My hand I let you take; I let you lead me into your arms.
No cries of protest, you say?
The butterfly makes no sound when a child crushes its wings
in order to get a closer look;
the daisy you picked to brighten your breakfast table
was silent as well.
I needed to feel life, I had been staring into the abyss for too long.
(Seventeen lifetimes, perhaps, how many for you?)
The soles of my feet ache from walking this eternal journey.
Bliss to be so easily tolled; at least until the curtain falls,
alas, I am not so lucky.
You may have forgotten, or perhaps you haven't learned yet:
the face of naivete makes for a most clever disguise.
You may be the Artist, but you are also the Muse.
Orchestrate your maneuvers if you must,
but be mindful that when the conductor turns his back
he does not really hide his movements.
I watch from the left mezzanine;
you can not see me for the glare of the stage lights in your eyes.
I watch because you live where I once lived,
in the sanctuary of trustworthy hands at your back
and faith in your stride:
I seek to find my faith again before the end of this dirty road.
Forgiving thieves and rapists is not such a challenge,
there is a tangible reward, the soul feels its righteousness,
and the lessons gleaned are clear.
But to forgive the ones who took refuge in my warmth
when I was freezing;
who rested their weary head on my shoulder when I was exhausted;
who basked in my praise but dismissed my face;
who feigned comfort to gain my trust, so that they may touch my flesh;
who left me behind after I muddied my robes to help them from the dirt;
who gloried in my applause but could not be bothered to notice my song.
To forgive these is the way to peace, and so I remain quietly in my seat,
watching, learning, forgiving.

When your heart is whole again, then you will remember
why it is wrong to use another heart's tears to salve your wounds,
how it burns soft skin like winter wind.
You will remember that there are none lesser than you,
nor you lesser than they.
And you will walk with your back straight,
and you will not need to avert your eyes any longer.
Your youth hides underneath this burden, it is not lost, not gone,
just waiting for you to heal, and remember what you already knew.
Perhaps I will still be watching;
perhaps my heart will be whole again, too. 



At the edge of the brook I perch on a bed of emerald green moss,
my right leg folded under me,
my left foot skimming the water as it sluices by,
my hands in the softness of my moss cushion.
The sun on my head has changed my hair into a halo of warm gold.
A twin Paper Birch behind me scratches affectionately at my back
as I rest against its soundness.
My skin delights in the contrasting noon heat, and cool, slow breeze.
A Rockbass breaks the surface.
A cobalt dragonfly stares up at me from my knee.
Two amber eyes appear from beneath a tangle of reed grass,
then quickly vanish.
Downstream about 50 yards, two does bow their heads to drink;
they have not spotted me.
Another I have fooled with my silence:
a chipmunk investigates my shorts pocket;
I stifle my breath, but he only stays for a moment.
Above the trees a Red-tailed hawk glides ceremoniously
across a sky that could not be more deeply blue.
A tiny black Jumping spider, glinting metallic,
catapults sideways off a nearby stone, startled by my toes.
The does raise their heads to regard my presence,
find me innocuous, and resume their business.
Another bass breaks the surface,
a second hawk rides the thermals.
All of this glory surrounds and envelops my small self;
my spirit floats in blissful wonderment;
my body sings with the resonance of life around me;
and yet I wonder just how much more (beauteous) this would all be
if you were here to flash your brilliant grin at me~



She bought a new dress today, something simple, yet elegant;
it took her 3 hours to find what she was looking for.
It still doesn't really reflect her personality, but does anything, ever?
She wonders if she should wear it around him,
or not.
She can never tell what he thinks of her.
He gives nothing away.
Then again, do they, ever?

She has never been courted the way the older folk speak of,
those dawn-kissed days when a young man called upon a lady.
She can picture it in the cinema of her mind;
he would ask her, "would you accompany me on Friday evening? I am inclined to seafood and white wine, and afterwards, the theater"
She would reply "why that would be lovely"
He would say "wonderful, I will pick you up at 7"
When Friday comes, he will arrive at 6:55, and he will not forget, or make other plans, or decide to work late, because she is the person he is thinking of.
She is the one he is looking forward to talking with, lamenting with, laughing with.
He will open the door for her, just to show her he thinks she is a lady.
And she will blush at his handsomeness,
and he will admire how lovely she looks in her lacy dress.
For the rest of the evening they will speak only to one another, caught up in solving the world's problems, in solving each other's botherations, in conspiracies against the other patrons, in unbridled laughter.
He will tell of his grand adventures and frightening ordeals, and he will listen with rapt attention when she tells of hers.
She will delight in his myriad shining talents and accomplishments, and he will goad her into telling hers.
They will stretch the evening into the night, after all the Greek diner is open for breakfast in the wee hours.
He speaks of his friends, how silly they are, and how much they are going to like her.
She will not be conscious of her fading beauty, her face lined with laughter and fatigue, make-up undone, and neither will he.
He will not notice the voluptuous waitress who blatantly snubs her and vies for his attention, and neither will she.
She will not notice the exquisitely lovely man three booths over who seems to find her very interesting, and neither will he.
When they can no longer hold open their eyes, they resign to the night, to their humanness, it is time for sleep.
And she will dream of him, and he will dream of her, and neither of another, and they will each know, and no longer wonder if they will ever find the other.

When the credits roll she is not sure if she feels more hopeful, or less.
It is not an extravagant dream.
She is sure that it has happened before, and it will happen again.
Just, perhaps, not for her, not in this lifetime.
So she picks up her pen again, and opens her notebook.
Not many pages left, time to buy a new one.
Something elegant, yet useful.

Something that will reflect her personality this time.

~M. Black                                            Photo: Bertille Black


"We are each of us angels with only one wing, and we can only fly by embracing one another." ~Luciano de Crescenzo



Fair child, you will know them by their sharp tongues
that reach to slice and cut.
These are ones to turn your ear from,
they seek to thwart you and yours.
You will know them by their ill and muddy yarns:
tales not of the great deeds of another, not of the courageous heart of another,
but only of weaknesses, failures, imperfections and eccentricities.
Do not be fooled by their lament of martyrdom.
You will know them by their rigidity.
Their stories will not cast their perpetrators in a flattering light,
there will be no compassion in their words,
nor acknowledgment of their own transgressions.
They are adamant in their goal to convince;
their words will leave no space for speculation,
their ears will not be open to hear discussion,
their minds will not be seeking any other viewpoint but their own.
Beware of those who seem energized when speaking ill of others,
do not let them sway you.
Find the truth for yourself.


Walk beside me, not behind me
Walk beside me, not in front of me
Or do not walk with me if you so choose;
but know that I will miss your presence.

This one is scribed on a spiraling wall-hanging which incorporates a fair number of actual shoes.

Is it the way that I walk,
How fast or how slow?
Is it the road that I choose
or on which side I go?
Perhaps the shoes that I wear
and how snuggly they fit;
what fabric they're made from
how often I must sit.
Maybe what matters is the dust on the road
or how modernly smooth and black.
Or when I get lost, how I make it back.
Sometimes I think it's the way that I look;
Am I on the most popular path?
Do my shoes go well with my outfit, my hair;
are they fashionable? Are they fast?
There are times when my shoes need mending,
I usually look to the sky
so I can just go on pretending
until they're so painful I can't even cry.
Could it be the number of miles
or how long I've traveled, how far
How often I have fallen,
How fast I heal from the scrapes on the tar?
Perhaps not these things really matter
For when my journey is not of today
It was not what or who I encountered
but the things I have learned on the way.


copyright 1984