Flight of the soul

Dear Readers: In light of my recent near miss on a Southwest flight to San Diego, I’m publishing a poem I wrote several years ago

southwest takeoffmy flight lumbers down the runway
a drunken gooney bird
straining for liftoff
then soars into the morning sky
like an eagle
destination San Diego

flight plan prescribed
set altitude
longitude and latitude
veering neither left nor right

each passenger
on a mission
mundane or sublime
but all set within earth’s bounds
a friend to visit
a funeral to attend
an elderly mother to care for
a business deal to seal

but what if this is not flight 1765 to
San Diego
what if this is an outbound flight
for my soul

I asked myself on rising this morning
my heart craving what it cannot have
can I discard my habitual moaning
my bitter tears
can I forego my usual recriminations
can I truly head in a new direction

clouds33-with-aircraftturbines surge
riveted metal shudders
as the plane breaks free of
earth’s gravity
ascends through a gray drizzle
into blinding sunshine above
a sea of white peaked meringue

suddenly a wing dips
our course is altered
anticipation and fear collide in my gut

the captain’s voice echoes in my ears
and mine alone
unfasten your seat belt Karen
feel free to move about in life
rise above your usual attitudes
oxygen masks have been removed
seat cushions no longer float
no safety instructions
no lights to direct you to the nearest exit
no soothing libations
nothing to take the edge off your fear

no exitin fact
there is no exit

leave your baggage behind
no carrying-on allowed
leave that suitcase packed with hair shirts and
sexy lingerie behind
fretting and yearning are prohibited

forget the flight tracker
you don’t need to know your destination,
nor your arrival time
all you need is you

phoenix_soul_by_clintonkun-d3clpipam I ready for this journey into the
heart of me
ready to stop regretting what I lack
open to finding
what I’ve not known about myself
not to uncover a smarter or wiser me
just a hidden me
one seen with non-judgmental eye
explored with gentle steps that
tread lightly on tender places

maybe this world needs a me
who is just me
not a better me
only the created me

plane rainjarred back to the present
thudding onto the runway
the captain announces our arrival
light drizzle
temperature sixty-five degrees

I know this is not my journey’s end
but its beginning
this journey of my soul will begin
with each breath in
end with each breath out
transport me to places
beyond my meager imagination

Guest post…The Loss of Mother

recovery sign
The Loss of Mother
What can I say?  I say no more.
I am a closed door.
A dark, dark room.
All gloom and edges squared
Where do I go from here?
Corner to corner,
Edge upon edge
I long for the softness of my mother’s embrace
She is not here.  She is not there.
Corner to corner,
Edge to edge,
The loneliness is locked here inside this door.
Out.  Out, I say.
Open the door.
Feel the pain.
Corner to corner,
Edge to edge.
Feel the pain and out the door!

About my friend Marianne in her words:
I am currently employed full-time with County government and work two 
12-step programs.  Most of my free time is spent doing service work 
for my recovery programs, taking walks, swimming, and playing with my 
six year-old grandson. A lifetime lover of literature, music, and all 
things art,  I embrace this opportunity to share my experience, 
strength, and hope with others through this portal of poetry and hope
to learn from the experience, strength , and hopes of others.

Maybe I need to write a poem about waiting


Courtesy bravegirlcommunity.com

romance in fifth gear
full steam ahead
damn the torpedoes

a friend suggests
let love unfold as
rose in bloom
I nod as if in

inside my hasty heart
turns a first greeting into
I do

porcelain held mocha
raised with seductive grace
hints at fingers that could
hold other than a
lips that could
nibble on
softer harder things

his words a prelude to my
his syllables orchestrated to
fit my melody

my nagging big girl brain
throws up a red flag at
my impatience
my hungry heart
rips it down
a disappearing waitress
fairy godmother-like
more time
to charm
to drag him down
my garden path
gravel embedded in his

reluctant goodbyes
on cracked sidewalk
he leans in for a
tentative kiss
I wangle more with
desired effect

two weeks pass
no word
cancel order for
bridal bouquet
refund honeymoon fare to
swing wrecking ball
smash to smithereens
unshared desires
forever afters
new beginnings are hers
not mine

give that waiting thing
holding back
reserving judgment
grown-up stuff
a chance
move past thinking
waiting is for others
let it be a good idea for

not a good idea
I hate good ideas
let it be my idea
let waiting
my wild heart

Maybe I need an oil change…

drain oilmaybe I need an oil change
clean out that gunk that’s mucking up my life
remove the sludge that slows my engine
saps my get up and go


new oildrain out the sludge
pour in new ideas
so I can run more smoothly
head in new directions
explore new horizons


tire worn while I’m at it
rotate those old thoughts
don’t let them wear me down
in the same sore places
keep them from making me miserable
in the same old way
endangering my life as I drive through life

I don’t need a whole new me
just a daily tune up
every 6000 minutes or sooner

lifetime guaranteeif I take good care of me
I could last a lifetime
satisfaction guaranteed


When in doubt

bad catpernicious thoughts
in my brain
determined to declare me
winner in this battle of

angry words lurk in
stamped addressed envelope in
my purse
each syllable soaked in
revenged intent
‘gainst him her
refusing to be

count to ten
if needed to
ten thousand
count blessings
god things
number hallowed gifts
intended for
hollow spaces

listen to
heart-meant cautions from
loving lips of

read meaning-true
paragraphs of hope from the
same hand in
better times

recite prayers of
try to mean it

drop not into
blue box
drop into god box

Poems for recovery

powerpoetry_logo_0I had an amazing experience this week. After a year of social media exploration, accumulating over a thousand Twitter @docflamingo followers the hard way (thanking them, not buying them!), I found myself receiving a sudden flood of Retweets, those very hard to come by Twitter accolades. Were they for my novels? Were they for my travels in France? Or even my classic car adventures?

No…they were for my poetry, specifically my poems about recovery. I discovered that there are some very needy souls out there in this way too impersonal social media world, hungry for words that comfort, challenge, and bring about change.

So I have established a special page on my website called POEMS FOR RECOVERY devoted to sharing my own experience, strength, and hope. I will add more as each day passes.

I have had an early morning practice for the past six years of keeping a daily diary of my own recovery journey. I read a page out of one of my Twelve Step daily readers, re-type it, and then journal as I am inspired by the experience, strength, and hope of others. I find that angry feelings, resentments, disappointments, and grief simply fade away as each entry progresses. Occasionally, I have turned those written thoughts into poetry. Now I see that doing this simple daily exercise in written meditation is not only a help to me but succor to others.

shareI would love to see these shared. We never know who might need to gobble up a crumb of truth and hope today. How special it would be for you, friends and strangers alike, to share your own recovery journey in return. Your voice may be a lifeline for a sinking soul.

Do not cling…

worth itdo not cling
shrink wrap yourself
around something
not yours to have
not love
nor money
nor any object
of your desire

save endless
hours of emotional
wear and tear
avoid exercise in futility
you cannot stick
to Teflon dreams
that resist
the irresistible you

believe life gives
what is yours to have
let feelings linger
until dissolved
seek poetic companions
who inspire
pick author’s brains
who encourage

decide to be cheerful
just for today

Being enough…a mantra

A friend passed this on to me. Certainly food for thought:

enoughWhat if for just one breath, I was enough?
That I didn’t have anything to gain or lose, to become or change.
That I, in this body, in this moment was enough?
How much more space would I create in my heart for happiness?
For contentment?
For love?

For just this one breath, I am enough.

flamingo_flying_med_clIn my Doc Flamingo persona, I am a licensed Psychologist in California and after a 40-year career as a therapist, am now serving as the Mental Health Clinical Director for a large health plan providing medical and mental health services to over 500,000 Medi-Cal recipients in 14 northern CA counties. In my Karen Stephen writer persona, I invite you to LIKE my AUTHOR FACEBOOK PAGE and tell me about yours.