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I swim a sea that has no shore or bottom
The North Star hides behind a cloudy sky
The winds increase with every passing moment.
The waves, once flat, are looming very high.

A jellyfish has stung me on the ankle.
My side is knotted in a painful cramp.
My arms are growing numb with endless flailing
And the clockwork of my mind has gotten damp.

Before the rust locks down all hope of thinking
I must tread salty water for a span;
Stop contemplating how I dumbly got here,
Somehow devise a working rescue plan.

Can hope be found amidst the desolation
Of knowing all the errors that I’ve made:
Believing I somehow could walk on water
It didn’t matter how my game was played.

Though I had several copies of the rule book
I never found the time to sit and read,
So I jumped in, expecting native cunning
To lift me to the top, where I would lead

Those lacking my superior perception
To places they had only dreamed about.
I’d be hailed and lauded as a savior-
Instead I only heard the fearful shout

Of those who swim behind me in an ocean
That shows no sign of coming to a beach-
That certainly will pull us down and drown us
As angry yells become a frightened screech.

The sea I swim that has no shore or bottom
Is really just my ego in disguise-
So big it blocked my vision and my hearing
Til only now, at last, I’ve heard the cries

Of hopes too waterlogged to keep on floating
Of soggy dreams that never can come true- more
Of efforts wasted training in a puddle-
Of agonizing clarity of view.

At last I’ve come to recognize this ocean.
I know what’s on the nonexistent shore.
It’s swim or sink so I keep stroking forward
Although there is no reason any more.

And though my strength is quickly disappearing,
There’s really nothing that I haven’t tried.
So I just flounder onward in my struggle
To somehow make it to the other side.

Knowing there is no one there to greet me-
Knowing there is nothing there at all-
Knowing that no miracle will save me-
No one will ever see the tears that fall

In vain attempt to expiate my folly;
To pay atonement for the things I’ve lost.
To somehow make my life not end up wasted-
To gain some value from it’s painful cost.

So left arm, right arm, kick, kick, kick.
I gain an inch and just as often lose one
The sea I swim that has no shore or bottom
Will take me with the rising of the sun.
My longest foray into rhyming.  Apologies for gloominess.
there's a place called the Lowe
the Lowe Hotel
100 plus years of souls
passing in the halls
leaning against the walls
that view the Ohio River
in its majesty
the Lowe
where stories were born
and still thrive
the room breathes
and crackles with sound as I sleep
they are my connection
and I theirs...
window to the living
there are no years
no time or space to measure

'We get you' she said
in a voice as clear as crystal
and as close as dead can be to the living
after my one night stay
November 2023
HP Poet: Lori Jones McCaffery
Age: 84
Country: USA

Question 1: We welcome you to the HP Spotlight, Lori. Please tell us about your background?

Lori: "I was born Loretta Yvonne Spring in a tarpaper shack on Lone Oak Road, Longview Washington, on New Years Day in 1939. That means I’ll soon turn 85. In high School a boyfriend changed my first name to Lori and I kept it. At 29 I married and became Lori Spring Jones. (I signed poems “lsj”) I had one child, a daughter, and when 20 years later I divorced, I kept the Jones name. I married again, in 1988 and became Lori Jones McCaffery, sometimes with a hyphen, sometimes not. I’m still married to that Brit named Colin and I speak “Brit” fluently. I sign everything I write “ljm” (lower case). I didn’t know about handles when I joined HP, so I just used my whole name and then felt I may have seemed uppity for using all of it. If I had a handle, it would likely be POGO. Short for Pogo stick. Long Story. I have an older sister and a younger brother. Both hate my poetry. My parents divorced when I was 12. My mother’s family was originally from No. Carolina. I’m proud of my Hillbilly blood. I went to college on a scholarship. Worked at various jobs since I was in high school. Moved to Los Angeles in 1960 just in time to join the Hippy/summer-of-love/sunset-strip-scene, which I was heavy into until I married. I read my stuff at the now legendary Venice West and Gas House in Venice Beach during that period. I’ve been an Ins. Claims examiner, executive secretary, Spec typist, Detective’s Girl Friday, Bikini Barmaid, Gameshow Contestant Co-ordinator, Folk Club manager, organizational chef, and long time Wedding Director. (I’ve sent 3,300 Brides down the aisle) "

Question 2: How long have you been writing poetry, and for how long have you been a member of Hello Poetry?

Lori: "I wrote my first poem in the 5th grade and never stopped. I had an awakening in 1957 when I worked at a resort during school break and met another poet, who unleashed a need to write that I’ve never been able to quell. I joined Hello Poetry in 2015, I think. Seems like I’ve always been here. I tend to comment on everything I read here. I’ve received no encouragement from my family so I feel compelled to encourage my “family” here. I do consider a large number of fellow writers friends, and value the brief exchanges we have. I don’t know if Eliot intended HP to be a social club but among us regulars, it kind of has been, and I love that."

Question 3: What inspires you? (In other words, how does poetry happen for you).

Lori: "Living inspires me. The intricacies of relationships, and the unpredictability of navigating society. A news story often does it. A song may stir words. Other poetry often sets me off on a quest of my own. I write very well to deadlines and prompts. I adore BLT’s word game and played it a lot in the beginning. Seeing the wonderful job Anais Vionet does with them shamed me away. I have hundreds of yellow lined pages with a few lines of the ‘world’s greatest poem’ on each, all left unfinished because I’m great at starts and not so great on endings. Some day, I tell myself….some day."

Question 4: What does poetry mean to you?

Lori: "Poetry has been a large part of my life as long as I can remember. I would feel amputated without it. I recited the entire “Raven” from memory in Jr. High School. I still remember most of it. More recently I memorized “The Cremation of Sam McGee” Poetry is my refuge - with words I can bandage my hurts, comfort my pain and loss, share my opinions and assure myself that I have value. It is where I laugh and also wail. I would like to think it builds bridges."

Question 5: Who are your favorite poets?

Lori: "My favorite poets include Edgar Allen Poe, Robert W Service, Amy Lowell (I read ‘Patterns’ in a speech contest once), Robert Frost, Shel Silverstein, and Lewis Carroll."

Question 6: What other interests do you have?

Lori: "I’m a collector. Whippet items, vintage everything, I read voraciously: 15 magazine subs, speculative fiction (SF) and anything else with words written on it. I try to read everything every day on HP. I watch Survivor religiously and keep scorecards. Ditto for Dancing with the Stars. I’m a practicing Christian with a devilish side and involved heavily in Methodist church work, which includes cooking for crowds and planning events."

Carlo C. Gomez: “Thank you so much for giving us an opportunity to get to know you, dear Lori! It is an honor to include you in this series!”

Lori: "Thank you so much for this very undeserved honor. This is a wonderful thing you are doing. I know I write with a different voice than many, and it is empowering to be accepted for this recognition. I apologize for being so verbose in answering your questions. When you get to my age you just have so many stories to tell."

Thank you everyone here at HP for taking the time to read this. We hope you enjoyed getting to know Lori better. I learned so much. It is our wish that these spotlights are helping everyone to further discover and appreciate their fellow poets. – Carlo C. Gomez & Mrs. Timetable

We will post Spotlight #10 in December!

the sea with her songs and her freedom,
a rose in the desert tonight,

while the night with her beauteous wisdom,
holds the sky like the wings of a kite,

the moon is a ghost white and eerie,
skies carry the bird’s weary cry,

while the clouds dream of rain, brimming teary,
with each hollow sigh.

our love lies like ash long departed
and freedom's the wilds of the coast

and the sky where the swallow once darted,
has no star with their silvery frost,

oh, lover no love then could ever
be wiser or bolder than ours,

or lost as quickly with each new endeavour,
bewitched like the flo'ers.

so lover i wait here forever,
where the waves of the blue ocean swell,

a bride to the storm and the ether,
my song the sea's silvery knell,

for the muse sings of darkness forever,
and dark is the song ever sung,

and the sea finds its bow and its quiver,
and air fills her lung.

i'll wrap all my dreams in white paper,
and carefully tie with a bow,

then lay them all out with the ashes,
that lie where the wild berries grow,

and no one will ever e'er find me
and i will be lost in the end,

torn under the coast where the seas be
the voice of the land.

night grows from the death of the evening,
evening carries her stars and her seas,

the morning without ever seeming,
delights the bright sighs of the breeze,

dark voice of the sky and the landscape,
dark eye of the turbulent sea,

moon emperor, discoverer, wan dreamscape,
love jealous and free.
 Sep 2022 C Conner
Colin Makgill
Watching the monsters sleep and slumber
A masked owl whispers and wanders
Tree bark yawns with the break of twilight
Flames cackle casting embers of amber and seething whites
A cauldron of fireflies crash amongst the leaves
With the winter breeze hurling them throughout the sky
A mouse hurries late for it's meeting in the old shed
Where the spider lies back stretching in her web
The stars roll around laughing about something bright that was said
The moon sighs overhead while clouds encircle the lunar light
Puddles shiver and grasses bloom with frost bite
The aching orchard hums a tune of summer nights
 Jul 2022 C Conner
guy scutellaro
another year passes by you

the sadness in your

like old newspapers
blowing down
a deserted street

the hunger in your voice
drifting between
a laugh and a scream

and your troubled heart
chasing light
down a dead end street

we searched for meaning
in the shadows of dreams

What happen to the nights
when we only wondered
what tomorrow could bring?
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