One Red Bird







One red bird among
the leafless trees,
Its color, brilliant against
the drab backdrop of winter.

Had it been summer it
would not have caught my eye.
But the dead foliage made it
known and singular.

And what of my hopes and dreams?
Perhaps I need the
drabness of disappointment
to see them shimmer before my eyes.

Thank you little bird,
here for an instant.
Your beauty and your message
are imprinted on my soul forever.

H.Cristina Cassidy copyright January 2019

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Conversation with the Moon

I spoke to the Moon tonight.
Its voice was the sound
of a thousand crystals
shattering across the sky.
The message was short,
and sad, and sweet:
“Old age is hard.
Your body breaks.
You lose your mind.
The ones you love
precede you to the grave,
and those remaining
younger ones avert
their gaze when you pass by.
How to combat death?
It’s a simple fix.
Close your eyes.
Take in a breath
and realize that
here, right now,
you are alive.”

H. Cristina Cassidy copyright January 2019

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The Christmas tree is smaller than in years past.
No children sit beneath it, eyes wide,
hearts open for whatever is in store.
I sit gazing at it, wondering how I was able
to adorn its branches with years of decorations,
each fraught with meaning, each a little dagger
reminding me that things are not as I would have them be.

If this tree were to transform into a burning bush,
would I take it as a sign? Would I, instead,
extinguish its flames and refuse to see Your presence?
Or might I warm my hands in its ethereal heat,
accepting that You come to me in the most mysterious ways?
This tree, this night, these memories, remind me that
the fire within burns brightest in the darkest of times.

H. Cristina Cassidy copyright December 2017

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August Graveyard


The graveyard swelters in the August heat. No breeze sways the trees,

no presence of humans or any other life form, save for swirling dragon flies

and us–three panting dogs and one sweaty human–grace its sacred ground.

The dead are not giving away their secrets today.

They rest, exhausted by the constant process of blending

into the hard red clay. I hear it takes years for a body to decompose,

but maybe not so long in the dead heat of a Southern summer.

The massive headstones mark distinctive names,

names I’ve seen on street signs as I’ve driven through the town.

I lay my hand on one large slab. The cool stone calls my name.

I know it is my voice, but different, as if filters through the thick air.

“Your time will come. For now just walk the dogs and head back home.”

I want to stay, to lie down, to give it up. Instead,

I take one slow, soul-searing breath, and then move on.

h. cristina cassidy copyright July 27, 2016

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Along the highway, a truck filled with chickens

stuffed chicken truck

Along the highway, a truck filled with chickens
stuffed into crates, together huddled,
heading for a lackluster ending.
Are they aware of what is coming?
Do they cluck among themselves,
fluffing up their feathers,
unaware that soon they will be skinned and quartered?

Oh silly birds! In your search for food and comfort
you’ve allowed yourselves to be domesticated.
Now you will be nothing more than
oven-roasted meals for overstuffed faces.

Poor creatures. Look at the mess you are in!
Don’t feel bad. It happens to the best of us.

h. cristina cassidy copyright December 2014

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A Visit to Doha


Doha, under a gray-washed sky,
the heat sears both sides of my brain.
I look different to myself here,
irregular in my thinking,
suspect of my own culture,
wary of all that I once believed in.
The sandstorms come; they go.
For centuries they have come and gone.
Their winds grind me
into a tiny grain of sand,
blown across the vastness
of this cunning desert.

H. Cristina Cassidy copyright 2014

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Why Monks and Holy Women Laugh

Buschart Gardens, Victoria, British Columbia, Sept 6, 2014

Buschart Gardens, Victoria, British Columbia, Sept 6, 2014

Why Monks and Holy Women Laugh

The world beyond my door
demands that I embrace its ugliness.
Black-masked terrorists
trudge through my garden,
beheading roses.
A child, eyes ringed with hunger,
gapes at me from outside
my living room window.
Sirens blast as thousands walk
to protest the injustice
of leaders who do not listen.
Is this a movie? Turn off the projector.
Board up the windows.  Secure the doors.
Close your eyes.
And breathe.

It makes sense why monks and holy women laugh.
The world’s absurd. From the very start.
I never understood the word “sin”
or the need for story.
Now I do.
Salvation lies in
the wonder of the trees,
the birds,
the sweetness of a morning breeze
skimming the surface of a lake,
the look of innocence in the eyes
of the beloved before
the final, soft kiss.

h.cristina cassidy copyright sept 2014