Failure to fly

A flight of fancy
This is not,
This vision of mine
Inhabiting my soul
That has failed to fly,
Refused to depart
So that it resides in me,
Is now the thing I want,
Have wanted more
Than anything ever.

Good times

Those times were good
And they splashed
Like water up from
A little boy’s swimming pool,
Tiny, happy, ephemeral droplets
Rolling in slow motion
Through June and July, where
Very likely they kept the trees alive
So the leaves could fall
And a slightly older boy
could pick up pecans.

His world was bigger once

His once-big world contracted over time,
Shrinking from infinite possibility
After he thought through what was reasonable,
Then narrowing to what seemed practical
Before he decided what would be manageable
While he remained comfortable.
When that failed,
He chose the tolerable path, veering with experience
A way which proved bearable.

This was his world at 90:
Small slights were big deals.
Little nicks that once healed with no attention
Now stretched into gaping wounds festering out of proportion,
Like how they wouldn’t let him have chocolate cake,
Or any cake, the nurses, his purees-only daughter
Who told him that odious shake was chocolate,
That it, too, was sweet. No, cake did not used
To be the only thing, his furtive objective at funerals
And the daily lunch, an end in itself—sometimes, he thought, the end—
Rather than one of many possible sweetnesses.


More present than my presence,
It’s lodged in me; it twists, creeps
In microscopic paces,
Agony-filled reminders
That certain encounters
Carry more force than others,
Strong impacts preventing
More quotidian concerns
From taking up residence,
From making themselves



Shrap (c) Sculpture by Jerome Andreas. Private Collection.

Shrap (c) Sculpture by Jerome Andreas. Private Collection.




Defense against indifference

For so long it came naturally to me:
Let’s write a letter to the editor;
Let’s make powers that be look bad; let’s march.

And then I grew older and got busy
Making a living–at least trying to–
And saw the marching went on without me.

A forum missed here, a lecture skipped there
And all at once I am just a voter
Seeking ideology in surnames.

My defenses against indifference–
That realm of the comfortable or jaded–
Failed me since I never foresaw this day.


Weeping Willow

“Due to the war, Monet’s luxurious compound at Giverny was for the most part emptied of his children’s families and his household staff, who were either called into service or moved away from the advancing German army.”

— Kimbell Art Museum (View the famously stunning painting here.)

Weeping Willow

Sadness blooms in many colors,
Not just in blue, but also red,
Yellow and, eventually, green,
When from the sorrow springs new life.

At times, though, you could have unfurled
The whole of the world’s sadnesses
By national flag and shot them:
Once majestic colors would have

Dripped, run until they covered all
Visible space, bending into
The shape of a weeping willow
That lives long past its century.


© Beth Henary Watson 2016


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A Cause for Joy

A Cause for Joy

This week, every day every hour every meal
Will be cause enough for joy, because you have come,
A visitor in our lives and sharer just the same,
Sister-friend, unwilling mentee of the wild habits,
Centrifugal force that pushes us out, away
At a pace unsustainable, your thirst for
The novel on foreign soil, meager offering
Of vacation days must be devoured wholly,
So much to see, to miss, just so many minutes
Allowed for this trip that–you’re right–will happen once,
Across the miles to me, across the miles we meet,
You don’t care, so long as you return home fulfilled.

We traipse through cemeteries, adopting the dead
Under historic tombstones, imagining ours;
Forage through gardens at night, content with the glow,
Absent green, of imaginary lightning bugs;
Everywhere pose with statues we can get close to,
Pretending we are ladies of another time.
Everywhere you go becomes a city of lights.

Joy Henary at the Dallas Arboretum Women's Garden, 2014.

Joy Henary at the Dallas Arboretum Women’s Garden, 2014.











The Reader’s Audience

Rockville Centre NY Library (c)  2013 by sphoto33. Unaltered under a Flickr Creative Commons license License language

Rockville Centre NY Library (c) 2013 by sphoto33. Unaltered under a Flickr Creative Commons license
License language











It’s hard to follow,
This week, then on to
New Jersey, sometimes
Back and forth between
Such unrelated outposts
Fast as I can turn the page.

You hear, sometimes listen,
Even care about the highlights
As I relate them,
New favorites daily
Flow like a migrant stream
Out of my mouth,
Neither rehearsed nor
Sterile, but I just thought
You would want to know
About the little girl
Who was violated
On the train, and how
Everyone was able
To move on, just as much as
You might be interested
In the medical pioneer
Who said doctors should
Slice into flesh
Using clean instruments.

This is your fate, dear husband,
A volley of disjointed
Stories you are challenged
To follow, brought to you
From the library each week
By the cartful.


©  Beth Henary Watson 2016






Red Jeans

Pump up the Jeans (c)  2013 by Kelly. Unaltered under a Flickr Creative Commons license License language

Pump up the Jeans (c) 2013 by Kelly. Unaltered under a Flickr Creative Commons license
License language










I still think about those red jeans…
Not the Girbauds from middle school,
Coca-Cola, fire truck, stop sign
Red jeans that glow from bankruptcy,
Make you want to bring back an age
That won’t come with all its color.

No, I think about washed-red jeans,
New T-shirt turns best jeans pale red,
Final threads of another life
Pinked useless, fresh stain on the past,
An ordinary laundry load
Signaling the time to move on.


© Beth Henary Watson 2016


Baby Goes to Europe

One day there were lots of people
And I ate and slept on Mom’s lap
Before we ran down a long hall,
Me in Mom’s arms, all day in fact
They held me all the time
Until I ate some potatoes
And slept in a room with two beds
By myself. Then Dad put something
New on my toes and I couldn’t
Move my arms much even though I
Got a new stroller with no tray
So I could see all the people
Who walked past us in the cold.
And I ate bread and sausages,
Lots of bread that was hard to chew.
I rode in my stroller a lot
Different places and in the car
With Grandmama playing with me.
One night I did not have a room
Like I usually do to myself
And it was hard to go to sleep,
But we did not go there again
After eating sausage that hurt.
I liked being outside so much
Even though I could only crawl
Around at night before bedtime
After I ate banana and
Muffins sitting in my Dad’s lap.
Then we got in the car again
And I sat with Mom in her seat
So I saw new things going by
And it was my favorite car ride.
Then we stood still for a while ‘til
We ate milk and cake for breakfast
And I went to sleep in Dad’s lap
Before we walked back down the hall
And stood in line again and sat
This time for a really long time
And ate more bread and bananas
Before I went back to daycare.

© Beth Henary Watson 2016

On the streets of Prague.

On the streets of Prague.