By Shirley Jones-Luke 

Simple Pleasures Elude Me like Fireflies

Joy flits away in the moonlight,
solitude is the crystal tears of stars
dropping in clouds that shift restlessly
above a dark world, I feel the wind
numbing my spirit, freezing my being.
hardening the center of me, this core of emotions
I reach up, moonlight slips between my fingers, the stars
are beyond my grasp like fireflies, glowing
about me, in constant motion.


Nature      knows no               shadows 
Light has abandoned us,
Heat of    the earth                            punishing doubters,
Air     is moist                a jungle brush of growth
Provides no shade
Tall grass       wet soil   huddle       together
Nests in the         eaves of houses           path of a cool breeze,
saves us           a warm wind    slaps away        the dew
our skin sweats            a fly    on a flower      near a windowsill,
its beatened wings                create ripples           in the air
a natural  rhythm         clouds gather       cluster in the atmosphere
rain comes              
starting the process again

Exposed Surface

Traced   then sliced
a thin line    split
Open the skin
Feel inside

Unwrap      flesh
Reveal          its secrets

Curiosity     oddity
real         internal

Intent    of      organs
Grinding    my essence
Into                        a meal,

Eat the malice,
knife reveals
a broken barrier,
no way to conceal


You left an artifact in your cup
green tea turned brown

It was too beautiful to clean.

I leave the kitchen entering the crisp breeze of the yard
where was your home before they rode by

     in unison, solemn faced, off to war?
you touch my shoulder and I feel the weight of your fear,

knowing that I cannot ease it.  I cannot contain it.

Shooters holster their guns in sagging waistbands
at the intersection between neighborhoods, seeing our presence,

    raising their gang signs in the air,

Their youthful auras brighten the dark streets
and we raise our hands in response.

    When I was young, we took over the hood;
and the police knew our names
Now the police give us a knowing nod as they drive by, as the youth
hide furtively in the shadows of the intersection.

     I take a deep breath and cold air ices my lungs,
my heart is already cold.

     When I breathe out, my breath is a ghost,
floating before me, seeking

By dawn’s light, the tea has stained the cup.

            My apologies for not cleaning it.
The gang has reclaimed my soul.

Water washes away the stain.
Fear washes away my soul.

A Line Across the Moon

Silvery shadows
glisten off gossamer lines

Glows in the moonlight
shining down through a black
sky decorated with the
ornaments of the universe

Where stars are placed just so
the planets could align around them.
A rope catches the moon
off guard, pulling it towards
the sea, the ocean greets
the globe, waves clapping

With applause, the wind whips
the moon away into my
hands, I hold the glowing

Orb like a precious jewel
cut by the universe and
given to me to guide
my way through the

Darkness, it burns the
palm of my hand and
I drop it into nothingness.    


About the Author:
Shirley Jones-Luke is a poet, writer and educator.  Ms. Luke lives and works in Boston, Mass.  She was a 2016 Watering Hole Poetry Fellow.  Shirley has an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College. Her work has been published by Damfino, Deluge, ENUF and Fire Poetry.