Lost Password

I’ve lost the password to what used to be my life.
The air is strange and I’m losing my sense of balance.
I search through remnants scattered in the home I sold,
Wondering what to keep, or sell, or trash.

In the coffeeshop, the chatter is of family discord:
Recent losses, expected deaths, and mangled hopes
Fall like tears from the balcony, splashing on me,
Where I sit, trying to create a new password.

The Arms Merchants

Dark eye

The arms merchants recruit the awful hungers
of the power mongers and trim their synapses
with greed
Then power mongers hypnotically whisper
to the shamed and lonely ones filled with rigid angers
and find the hungriest to bombast
“the Others are thieves who want
what’s ours. Stop them. Guns!
guns, guns, guns.”

Making ghosts of our children.

Against Stereotyping

Beauty Everywhere- on the Streetcar

The older woman smiles at a baby;
the mother in a hijab smiles back.

The man with a tattoo sleeve
thanks the driver for his transfer.

The proper older lady in her white-trimmed navy blue dress
is gently guided by a dreadlocked younger woman.

The woman in the seat ahead
wears a butterfly-print shirt.

The teen in his black hoodie stands and gestures
the young mother into his seat.

Beauty everywhere.


Beauty Everywhere – on the Sidewalk

The young woman in ripped jeans walks
her bike through the intersection

Inside the coffeeshop an older man stops
reading to talk to a kid.

A woman in Tibetan dress walks
with a boy wearing a Spiderman Tee.

A little girl wearing a red polka-dot dress
waves at a streetcar driver.

A woman uses her phone to capture
a front yard flower for Instagram.

Beauty everywhere.

Mapping the Wilderness



To sample a poem from my recently published collection – available from http://www.blurb.com/b/4591664-mapping-the-wilderness – listen to me reading –

Approaching Sixty, I See That … https://soundcloud.com/joanvinallcox/at-midlife-i-see-that  – Hope you find it meaningful, and perhaps buy a copy of my collection.

Courage at eighty is different from at twenty
But both ages carry their future constantly –
A fearsome thrust into an unmapped wilderness.

To carry your future at twenty is to seek
The wilderness because it must be mapped
And shaped. There are roads to clear and homes
To build, and no one has given you a plan
For your wilderness, (just the one they didn’t use in theirs).
So you thrust forward, knowing too little and enough,
Building blindly wherever you find a clearing, lifting
The log of your childhood so it bridges your fears,
Confident that it might not collapse on you.

A fearsome thrust carrying life forward blindly
At eighty requires enough love to endure
Despite loss, and endure because of loss to come,
And endure because of the sweetness still here, if
Courage persists. And, despite (because?) the compass pointing
Through the wilderness to the edge of the map,
Tells a tale seen over and over about endings, despite this,
To work through today knowing
too much, and not enough, about tomorrow.

Courage at eighty is different from at twenty
But both ages carry their future constantly –
A fearsome thrust into an unmapped wilderness.

When Obligations Collide



When obligations collide, my heart unfolds.
I try to read what is written for tomorrow
without my glasses. I must decide.
This slippery road leads me into strange spaces.
The centre collapses unexpectedly, but the periphery
may knit into a new street view. I search.
Steering blindly by what is yet hidden
I try to avoid the road rages of others
and drive cleanly into the mystery. I meditate.
 May 1, 2013 – Joan Vinall-Cox


Getting Older

A poem I wrote about the experience of getting older –

Getting Older Stings

Like a spray of hot pebbles – little stings that you feel but shrug off.
Slowly blisters form: skin over tears.

Nodding off during the news,
Getting no questions when I ask for a senior’s discount,
Noticing I think anyone under 50 is young,
Going to retirement parties,
           Little stings.

Learning I’m two inches shorter,
Noticing I can’t run up stairs anymore,
Wobbling if I walk too far,
Hearing that child call me an old lady,

Socializing at funerals,
Listening for ages in death announcements
Fretting because I haven’t updated my will,
Wondering who that I love will ‘pass’
            before I die.

Joan Vinall-Cox 2012