Tag Archives: Self

Core Identity

Judy's new haircut and thin lips

Core Identity

Whoever really gets to see
what is at the core of me?
Neither my mother nor my lover
gets to see beneath my cover.
No surgery has extracted it.
It’s not exposed in ire or wit.
It’s in a corner still unlit,
buried in identity’s pit.

Even I have not exhumed it, for
I’ve never found my very core.
Some say it’s found in meditation,
prayer or true love’s exaltation,
but I have journeyed into each
merely to wind up on the beach
of what I know must be the sea
of my soul’s identity.

Perhaps it is the world’s distractions––
all its toys and fine abstractions,
its petty jealousies and fears
regarding family and careers
that get me lost while searching for
that ladder, passageway or door
that will lead me to the root of me––
that seed of my identity.

Perhaps in death we’re rejoined with
the part of us that is our pith.
Could it be what life is for—
this striving toward identity’s core?
Perhaps the lonely death I fear
will finally serve to bring me near,
away from all those things I’m not
to that whole self I’ve always sought


The WordPress prompt today is core.




When Freud talked about the ego, super-ego and the id—
all the different parts of us within which humans hid,
(all the things that made you “you” and things that made me “me”)
he thought that he’d identified all that there could be.

But if he were living, he would add a chapter or two
to say that id, ego and super-ego wouldn’t do.
There’s a punctuation omission I fear he failed to see.
It is that vital part of us that’s labeled the i.d.!

It used to be that I possessed my own identity
and showing up was proof enough that I was really me,
but now “me” is not me enough, and I find it hard
to face that I am only me when carrying a card.


The prompt word today is



P3310265 - Version 2


On my soul like a shelf
sits my own self
small as an elf
all by itself.

These four lines have popped up in my mind at various times in my life, but they are unpinned to any further memory.  Where did I read them?  Perhaps in a poetry anthology used when I last taught poetry 35 years ago, or perhaps in college. Google fails me and I can’t find its author.  I try various portions of the poem, but still, no cigar.  Google takes the poem apart and shows me dozens of posts that contain all these words,but none where they are stuck together in order.

Finally, in an article from Southern Review, I find a piece by John Montague that references his last communication from Theodore Roethke, but it seems that once again my memory has failed me, for his version is:

In a hand like a bowl
Danced my own soul,
Small as an elf,
All by itself.

Since my favorite college writing professor was a student of Roethke’s, it makes sense that this is why I remember these lines and that it was Roethke who wrote them; but since Montague describes the lines as “Blakesian,” I have to make sure that Roethke wasn’t just quoting William Blake.  I feed the correct lines into Google and finally, win success.  They are the opening lines of the poem “Restored” written by Theodore Roethke!

So, the first two lines are my own, the second two Roethke’s–a sort of nonofficial collaboration that actually makes me think more than the original.  Could “the soul” actually be our real authentic self and the rest of us just experimentation?  If there is a ruling hand in the universe, is it playing games with us–sending us out lifetime after lifetime to see how we’ll do in various situations? Like cans of Campbell’s soup lined up on a shelf, our present life is merely the flavor of the day.  Another reincarnation, another flavor.

As I grow older,  I increasingly think of life as a game–the entire universe the amusement park of a colossal mind keeping itself entertained. If we call that mind God and profess that he sees even the smallest sparrow fall, it is a testament to both the intricacy and the incredible efficiency of that mind and the interconnectedness of nature as the organizational structure by which he keeps it all straight.


Ollie Ollie Oxen: NaPoWriMo 2015 Day 18

The NaPoWriMo Prompt: write a poem that involves an urgent journey and an important message. The WordPress Prompt: Karma Chameleon–let’s pretend that science has proven that karma is a thing. Your words and actions will influence what happens to you in the future. How (if at all) will you change your ways?

Ollie Ollie Oxen

Dreams are the playground of the day.
It is time to take that avoided journey
that sends me out
in pursuit of myself,
then gives me morning
to come in free.


To The Island

The Prompt: We’ve all been asked what five objects we’d take with us to a desert island. Now it’s your best friend’s (or close relative’s) turn to be stranded: what five objects would you send him/her off with?

To the Island

If I sent you to an island, it would be for your own good.
It wouldn’t be unwillingly, with chains and ropes and hood.
I’d lure you off to be with me, surrounded by the sea.
You wouldn’t have to talk or walk or be in love with me.

The objects that I’d give you are a camera, notepad, pen
and a computer with no wifi to connect to where you’ve been.
You’d live in the present with the details of your life,
examining where you have been without the daily strife.

With no Internet distraction, no ringing of the phone,
sometimes you find a part of you that you have never known.
There’s something that is lacking in what’s crowded in one’s brain.
It’s hard to find ourselves when we must live the whole world’s pain.

In the morning, you would walk the beach, move inward with the tide,
examining what treasures the waves conceal inside.
A stone shaped like a check mark or a continent or heart–
it’s hard to suspend looking, once you’ve made a start.

You may take photos of them or collect them in your pocket—
something to make art from, or a picture for your locket.
Another way to get inside is what you write about them.
If you have secrets, it’s inevitable that you’ll out them.

The sea’s part of something larger and each treasure is a clue
connecting the whole universe to something within you.
This is why each object plucked up from the sand
is part of you that you’ve reclaimed—there within your hand.

What you see in what you find is what you have inside.
Perhaps it’s something you don’t know or that you know and hide.
The very fact that it is here revealed for you to see
may mean that you are ready to finally set it free.

The sea with all its treasures and its recurring tide
is also found within you—safely tucked inside.
So look into a mirror—a metaphor, more or less;
if you are wondering if you’ve changed, you won’t have to guess.

You’ll look for things within yourself as closely as the sea
and find out more of who you are and who you want to be.
You’ll see the changes on your face that say you’ve become wise.
Deep worry lines around your mouth and laugh lines by your eyes.

And once that you have found yourself, you’ll find yourself again;
for you are always changing—refining what you’ve been.
Tucked off on an island like a wallflower on a shelf,
perhaps you’ll find the whole wide world there within yourself.

And when you see the world within, you’ll want to live in it,
for it’s a world that you have power to change as you see fit.


Just a few of the more than 30 heart-shaped rocks I’ve found. I’ve photographed many more than that.


What do you see in these beach finds?


This check mark shaped stone was one of my favorites today. I also found one in the shape of Africa, which is alluded to in the poem, but didn’t take a photo.

NaPoWriMo Day 28: Looking Glass Menagerie

Looking Glass Menagerie

I am trying to escape the menagerie—
all those selves I hold in front of me
as well as the ones I have let escape.
Those that run ahead—
the ones that are my future selves—
are here, hidden in the portrait that you see.
Domineering, perhaps. But seasoned with
an awareness of what might have produced
all of the parts of myself I try to reign in.
This has produced a certain slowness to connect.
The natural is seasoned with a desire to honor dreams
of what I hope to be. When I look in the mirror,
I see them all: my mother and my grandmother
and my sisters. We demand, are stubborn.
Sometime we are martyrs, stifling tears.
Then suddenly, I pass them by like memories
of nightmares: all the anxiety attacks,
illnesses and heartbreak.
We are all wonderful performers,
using bad luck to fuel good.
The belles of our own ball,
we push back the grim news
of what we fear we really are.
Headstrong, we reach for what we can be.
Utterly addicted to change,
Tony or no Tony,
we are the stars of our own lives.

The prompt today was “to find a news article and to write a poem using (mostly, if not only) words from the article! You can repeat them, splice them, and rearrange them however you like. Although the vocabulary may be “just the facts,” your poem doesn’t have to be — it doesn’t even have to be about the subject of the news article itself.”

With massive tornadoes, politician campaign funding fraud, murder and mayhem being the main stories of the day, I was hard-pressed to find any good news to write about. Finally, I chose a very long theater review in the NY Times which I picked at like a foraging chicken, picking a word here, a word there. Above is the resulting poem.

Here is a link to the NY Times article from which  I drew words : NY Times Article