Saturday 18 March 2023

Five Poems by Karen A VandenBos

Dancing With Joy


You stomp into the room and all eyes turn

in your direction.

You wear mismatched socks and a hat that

bounces with baubles as you dip into a

curtsey for the crowd, your boots caked

with mud and flowers twisted through the

holes where the laces normally go.

The murmurs start as you take off your

coat and reveal a tutu the colour of the

sun and your smile melts even the toughest

coat of armour standing in the corner.

As the music begins you saunter into the

middle of the floor and pirouette into a

spinning spiral of light and your giggles

erupt into a waterfall of laughter that soon

has the captivated audience clapping and

joining in.

With your bright red lipstick and comical

moves, some see you as a fool. But you

know better. You know that it is okay to be

looked at as the silly one if it brings joy to

another. You who knows you don't have to

look for the light because you are the light.

You who has learned to dance with joy

instead of sorrow.



Tending to Sorrow


Sorrow enters silently in the middle

of the night on the smouldering tail of

a shooting star.


It lifts the sheets so gently I feel

nothing as I wrap my arms around

this strange bedfellow and drift back

into a murky slumber, eyes moist

with unshed tears.


I wake early, wobbly, uncertain,

shaking the sleep still clinging to

my dreams. The sun slants in odd

angles across the floor.


Rising, I scratch the scars from

wounds that still linger like ghosts

tend to do and I begin to sing a



A lullaby that touches the longings

that sorrow has left cupped in my

hands where quietly they turn into




Illusions of Childhood


We all had a conception of how our childhood

should have been. We took notes and watched

each other out of the corner of our eyes and

coveted what we did not have.


When we started going to parties we drank,

untangled chains of smoke, painted on our

smiles and wrapped our arms around the lies

that bore the truth found in alcohol.


We were fuelled by our needs and desires as we

danced around the secrets and picked on the

wallflowers for not indulging in our fantasies.


We could tell by looking into the eyes of the

stoners that they were elsewhere, besotted

with their own thoughts as we changed

partners under crossed stars.


We played dress up and masqueraded as

muses, all trying to out run the bad things

that cannot be explained.


We twisted our way through the crowd,

collecting slivers of conversations and

memories and stowed them away in our



We strung them together and created the

childhoods we believed we wanted all

those years ago and wore them like badges

of courage.


Before the night was put to bed, we drank

a toast to our lost innocence and slept, our

cheeks dusted with each others tears and




The Initiate


It was the grandmothers who taught her

to follow the rivers, to dip the oars deeply

to stir still waters and to touch the reflection

of the stars on quiet ponds.


They taught her to rattle words, sprinkle

sugar on the dead, to howl with the winds,

drink from the big dipper and sing lullabies

to the moon.


As an initiate she built little altars and

cast her nets wide. She scryed for answers

in the wishing wells and watched the rocky

paths split mountains in half.


She learned of remedies in plants, the power

of prayer, the truth in the fire and how to

part the veils. From generation to generation,

a gift was passed.


Now they are a dying breed. Their language

and healing only heard by a few. Who will stand

stand for them when all that remains of their

knowledge is left in the rattle of their bones?



The Curandera: Walking Between Two Worlds


She wakes before the night sky has shifted colours

and steps into the desert. Walking with a rhythm

born of women she stops to listen to the song that

comes with the rising sun.


With her hair flying like black ravens behind her

she hurries to collect the bones of javelinas and

the shed skin of snakes.


Inside she gathers tea leaves and sugar and grinds

them together with truth and the sorrow of bitter

herbs, making a potion for the lost ones who come

to her door.


As dusk settles, she lights the candles, rattles the

bones of her mother and rubs her fingers across

the milagros, their secrets burning in her blood.


She tosses the petals of marigolds and kernels of

corn into the fire and onto the desert floor, offering

thanks to her teachers.


In the hours between the coyotes and the moon she

listens when the wind shifts, carrying omens of change.

As she slumbers she learns to dream of the highway

as a river and herself as a vessel to carry the stories.




Karen A VandenBos  - Once upon a time, Karen A VandenBos was born on a warm July morn in Kalamazoo, MI. She can be found unleashing her imagination in three online writing groups and her writing has been published in Lothlorien Poetry Journal, Blue Heron Review, The Ekphrastic Review The Rye Whiskey Review, One Art: a journal of poetry and others.


  1. Five out of FIVE STARS...Tripping over myself to begin at beginning again 3x - Joyz

  2. I love the imagery and flow of these poems Karen. Gary Grossman

  3. Sandy Vander Roest8 May 2023 at 06:35

    You are gifted. Beautifully written.


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