© mary vollero, 2017




When you were here
I forgot to water my plants, feed the birds
your going, moving, here and there
building, making, painting this and that
days ended in a crash on the carpet
with favorite songs
tub soaks, back rubs
make the most of this time
because you’ll be leaving
too soon
kind of love
till the birds sang
and we ate blueberry pancakes.

Few things are worse
than three baby bluebirds
dead in the nest
their heads all pecked
while their mom cries
on the clothes line
not even that you’re gone again
and I’m on the bridge
looking down into the water
for fish, crayfish, tadpoles, skimmers,
anything that lives I guess
when I hear a birdsong
it’s the Mom
rebuilding her nest.


If I Could Stay Put

If I could stay put,
If it were enough,
the house, the cats, the quiet
I wouldn’t need to meet a friend
have a drink in town.

If I had more time
I could leave earlier
drive slower
so I might not hit a squirrel
a mole or groundhog
darting out then back again
on the winding road
in front of me.

If I could see better
at dusk
into the woods
behind ash trees
thorny berry bushes
kudzu vines
I’d avoid the possum
and the deer
and the other deer
that looks me in the eye
as he steps right out in front of me.

If I could see
in the dark
the sky above me
just in front of me
I’d never kill an owl
flying low after the mole
on the mountain road
I take back home.


a collaborative poem

Lightning and thunder
Someplace where rainbows begin

Kisses from above

The Hill

a collaborative poem

Sometimes we think we might’ve done it better.
It could be about the cats, but it’s not.
Other times we can’t believe we’ve done it so well.
Like the day the red peonies from my grandma finally opened…
But then we’re just doing the best we can after all
and there is the morning sun hot on the white cotton sheet.

I am in love with this view out my window
the round hill across the valley
shaped like an oval platter
overflowing at a thanksgiving table
green, green trees,  leaves
under the puff marshmallow clouds
moving slow on the flat blue

I am in love with you too
though I admit at times
I thought of should’ves
thought I knew better how
we could’ve.
But the blue bird lands on the line
between me and this green hill
and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Box of Chocolate

You read me poems about birds
mountains views
all the beauties
and even women
you once knew.
Rooms you rented
clothes you removed
in a hurry or slowly.
I cry stop
write a poem for me,
that doesn’t morph into doubt
or end in regret.
Spare me the details
of her
and her yeses and nos
wrapping arms and legs
skin, eyes, kisses
lest I fall in love too,
with every woman you ever knew.
They aren’t too many
or too few
I would send them all
a box of chocolate.


At first
I couldn’t climb the old wooden ladder
round pegs to the storage loft
afraid I’d fall out the window
tree tops, three stories high.
Then, one cold night
desperate for my comforter
I braved it
froze at the last step
but only as long
as a prayer
not as bad as
the Vatican Dome
after climbing up
and up
single file stairs
to the sudden opening
only a thin rail
between me and 400 feet below
I backed up to the wall
slid to my knees on the cold tile floor
until one kindhearted
talked me back to the stairs
told me,
“It happens sometimes,
It’s really the empty space 
that scares people,
not the height.”

Today, I’m up and down this ladder
above those trees that bend to the wind
stuffing old blankets, drapes,
bedspreads from my mom,
too big, too small, jeans and jackets
into plastic bags for donating
tossing them to the floor below
each thud a relief
as I look back
at the empty space I’m creating
without fear.


In Pennsylvania
it’s not always a deer
or a groundhog
sometimes a fox
Days or weeks ago, a shock
I still flashback
a wing straight up
waving in the wind
like a flag
on the double yellow line
the hawk’s crushed heart
behind feathers.
Dear God
let me fly to love like that.

Lake Dream

Another night
past three
legs aching
covers on and off
if you were here
you’d calm me
like in my dream
you took my hand
and we swam in waves
on the lake of my maiden name
where herons roost on trees
that grown out of the water
and we pushed off their branches
into the deep
as blue as Van Gogh’s starry night swirls

What the Trees Told Me

On the way to the Women’s March, 
January 21, 2017

Every time I fell asleep
we’d hit a bump
or our bus would pass a truck
I’d wakeup
       Oh my God, we’re going to die!
So, I gave up on sleep
and stared through the glass
to black night
and imagined a dream of love
before the light
before the sky
began to show
the blue gray fog
a backdrop
behind the trees
trunk to trunk
their branches
reaching for light
weaving together
unbearable beauty
and a song
that when we stand together
we’re as beautiful and strong.

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