chapbook of
by Finishing Line 
Press, 2019.


Title Poem - Photo of Dubai

The Desert Speaks to the Dreamer

The rooster's crowing followed the Call to Prayer,

or was the crowing first, and then the call?

In her dove-white feathered bed, the dreamer

drowses while the two echo on top of each other 

as if practiced every day to ensure perfect harmony:

One, the melodic sounds of a man, like an operatic aria

bringing the world alive to honor the Maker;

the other, sharp and urgent, like a jazz trumpet,

compelling all creatures to awaken.


Together their voices arouse the sleeper,

drawing her from unconsciousness,

lifting her from soft surrounding.

Her hands wipe the sand from her eyes.

Her tongue licks the brine from her lips.

Her feet recoil from the cold marble floor.

Pulled to the window to see the sun rising

over the desert, she leaves behind her dream 

of an ocean rolling with diamond-capped waves

smashing against her body as she swims to shore.




Poem inspired by Acadia 
National Park in Maine 

From The Desert Speaks to the Dreamer

 The Greens of Acadia

The green surrounds, carpets the trail we walk. 

The sun streaks through the leaves’ tree-top abode. 

The smells of pine and fir, sounds of soft talk,

like the trees whisper in a secret code, 

encroaching humans cannot comprehend. 

Leaves pale green of an avocado’s heart

to the dark of the avocado’s skin, 

their diverse arras framing nature’s art.


Then, deeper in, where sunlight cannot go

the other side of green emerges—decay, 

algae, fungi, lichens, mold, taking hold,

spreading like veins through the body of their prey. 

The Acadia forest, heaven of green,

nurtures life, death, the spiritual between.


Max, now in doggie heaven

Winter Walk in Houston Heights

He prances out the gate, pausing to rotate his head 

left then right, before his nose, now covered 

by a silver beard, propels him south.  I follow,

his leash in hand.  The dawn of winter greets us—

A softened Sol rises above houses to the east,

birds send warnings in the tops of bare trees, 

squirrels, pecans in mouths, rush up to join. 


He sets a pace of purpose, slowing to smell scents

along the trail bordered by pocket prairies, butterfly 

gardens of milkweed and lantanas, and trees of palm-

shaped yellow sycamore leaves, green pine needles, 

empty oak arms reaching to the sky.  He hesitates, ears 

at attention for the whispers of creatures only he can 

detect, when we cross the bridge over the muddy bayou. 


Above the trees, the downtown buildings tower 

in the distance, their windows like mirrors reflect 

the sun’s rays across the cityscape and beyond. 

He stops, tilts his head, and lifts his brown eyes 

to look in mine as if to tell me it is time to leave. 

We turn in harmony, and my four-legged, loving

companion leads me back home.

My mother and a friend in 1920.

Poem Inspired by My Mother

Leap Year

In love letters to my father from her college dorm, 

my mother professes to love only him, proposing 

to him during leap year when custom allowed 

women to make the first move.  She wrote, 

“You, my love, cannot say no.”  They eloped 

soon afterward.  In the sepia photo I now hold, 

I see that young woman before they married. 

She hangs off a ladder on the back of a brown 

freight train boxcar.  She smiles, leaning away

from the car with one foot on a rung, the other 

extended, pointing to the ground.  Her left hand

grasps the ladder, her right arm stretches out 

to meet the hand of a friend standing with her.  

Both wear white lace dresses, pearls, stockings, 

leather dress shoes.  A hat covers her friend’s head.

My mother’s hair flies free, bobbed in a roaring

twenties cut.  Her stance creates the illusion of 

flying with the train as it rumbles down the tracks. 

But the train is not moving.  Dressed in such finery,

was she playing her role of the party girl all boys 

wanted to court, hearing the tune she claimed they

sang for her, miss “five foot two, eyes of blue,” 

while the train’s horn echoes in the background,

and the young woman fades into her future?  

Inspired by seeing peacocks in front of homes damaged 
by Hurricane Harvey Flood, Houston, Texas 2017, 
Photo and poem by Deborah Barrett

The Peacocks and the Sisters

The peacocks parade before deserted homes 

and across cleared lots to determine their domain. 

Gold-ringed turquoise ovals like eyes align

in mystic symmetry on the shimmering blue 

and green feathers of fluorescent flamenco tails.


The more subdued grey and brown females 

gather in clusters in cul-de-sacs as if waiting 

to be courted by the flamboyant males.  Cocks 

bring bright colors, vibrant life to their mating 

ritual in the devastated neighborhood.


Decades ago, a wealthy couple bought one 

peacock and one peahen, envisioning the pair 

as living decorations for their gated, garden 

estate framed by the ancient pines and oaks 

on the sloping banks of Buffalo Bayou.


Over the years, the muster grew and spread 

beyond the estate with babies and adults nesting

in natural hovels, roosting in trees along the bayou 

until the rushing, muddy water flooded their tranquil

forest homes and drowned many of the peafowls.


Pushed to seek higher ground, they clustered on 

rooftops while the people were rescued from water-

filled homes. After the water receded, the birds 

emerged to scavenge for food and walk concrete

roads through the demolished man-made world. 


Across the wooden fence and four-lane street from 

the community the peafowls are building is what 

remains of the Cenacle Retreat of Catholic Sisters.

Resting on heavily wooded acres, the houses, 

prayer gardens, and labyrinth welcomed all.


But their peaceful surroundings were overtaken

by water when the Corp of Engineers opened gates 

to the reservoir dams during Hurricane Harvey. 

The Sisters rushed to save their Cenacle havens 

and gardens but had to be rescued themselves. 


When people reclaim their neighborhood 

and rebuild their homes, they will chase 

the peacocks away, forcing them to survive 

elsewhere. I envision them finding respite

in the woods surrounding the deserted Cenacle.


Their Indian heritage and God Krishna 

could join Christ, East and West united, 

emerging from the apocalyptic flood like 

from Noah’s into a new world where the nuns’ 

prayers echo in the ghost trees of the peafowl.


Published in Soul Lit, 2024.  Online site for this publication is apparently no longer available.

Want to Read More . . .

“The Last Christmas,” Shifts:  An Anthology of Women’s Growth Through Change.

“Am I My Sister’s Daughter,” Siblings: Our First Macrocosm:  A Wising Up Anthology

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