by Tara L. Carnes

sitting in my rock garden

          with gratitude

this Thanksgiving

the autumn sun warms my back

tree shadows s t r e t c h across the

dry pale grass

steepled together in prayer

soft chirps of tentative choir birds

mingle with

          far away dog yawps

                    muffled thumps of falling acorns

                              a woodpecker’s rat-a-tat-tat ostinato

                                    accompanied by the steady forest buzz

the golden/red/orange/brown canopy

holds its breath




a breeze stirs and

leaves let go

floating gently down

joining the congregation of leaves

who await my feet’s

shuffle, shush, crunch

The Rose in the World Winter 2017:  8. Print.

Dream Journeys

by Tara L. Carnes

A wild and crazy road trip

          across the causeway

               over leaping turquoise waves… 

The hotel has a bar

I stop for drinks with the shadow

who sings songs in a language I need

I pass through the rooms of days long past –

a busy restaurant kitchen

a darkened bedroom

a noisy classroom

trip over a dusty childhood coffee table

sneak through someone’s wedding

joyfully spill chicken & dumplings on the floor

at a family reunion─

struggle through piano lessons

with a stern Hugh Laurie

I chase my Father 




                    the serpentine feminine path

and find myself

on the opposite side

of where I began

Presence:  An International Journal of Spiritual Direction  Vol. 21 No. 4, Dec. 2015  Print.


by Tara L. Carnes

when things get really bad

I slip into chapel

and talk to Mater

curled at the end of the pew

in her quiet alcove

I feel safe

the hum of traffic

and the clatter of students

fades away

warm sunlight

streams through

the jeweled colors

of Mater’s window

I love her pink gown

crown of stars

and the way her head is

bowed and listening

I close my eyes like hers

and know that

she understands despair

how it feels

to see your child

being hurt

and not being able to stop it

I beg her


please keep my baby safe

give me strength




The Very Edge Poems, Ed. Polly Alice McCann and Araceli Esparza, Flying Ketchup Press, 14 2020, p. 19.

Fractal Dreams

by Tara L. Carnes

sometimes when I am very still and just be

I am allowed a look under the veil

behind the scenes of infinity

a cosmic kaleidoscope opens behind my eyelids

each fractal more beautiful to behold than the last

spinning and twisting out self similar patterns

reds, greens, violets and blues

a breathtaking iteration feedback loop

unfolding and multiplying down an endless tunnel

silent visual music playing out the song of the universe

in this dreamworld of sonorous solitude

I understand the connection of things

The Voices Project, 19 December 2018.  Web.

Heart of Serenity

by Tara L. Carnes

Click here to read poem

The Concert of Cerridwen’s Joy

by Tara L. Carnes

I enter the concert hall

          with my saxophone

case and

          find myself



legit musicians


Cerridwen beams, hands me

          a score

and cues the beginning

          keeping time

yet leaving room

          for interpretation.


          encircled by

leaping and frolicking phrases

          I feel the vibrations

reach my secret self

          and join in

tasting every note



the notes are provided

          or not…

I improv through

          these empty spaces

in my score


as the song unfolds

I am surprised

to hear

a doumbek

an mbira

a bodhrán

a shakuhachi

          all the instruments

of the world

          woven together

with my


in this concert

          of Cerridwen’s joy

SageWoman Magazine, 2018. 93 Print.


by Tara L. Carnes

it’s the postcards that make me connect

with the photograph

of the woman lying on the ground

surrounded by postcards

I take lousy pictures so

everywhere I travel I buy a few postcards

to help me remember

every day new pictures of random violence

are on the news




terrible things that happen in other cities

other countries

this woman buying postcards

blindsided by hatred driving

          a speeding car

it could have been me

which postcards had she chosen

from the rack on the bridge

the Union Jack, the Palace of Westminster

the one with L  O  N  D  O  N  spread out in big block letters

or the ones smeared in her blood

as she lies vulnerable on the sidewalk

surrounded by shaken tourists

witness to it all

a trip they will never forget

The Poeming Pigeon:  In The News, The Poetry Box, 2018, p. 167. 

Divine Gardener

by Tara L. Carnes

I am the garden earth –

limbs of mucky soil outstretched

I am the solemn, watching moon –

ripening lushness, light anew

I am the twirling, sparkling stars –

dancing head over heels ‘til dawn

I am the fidgety night critters –

who holler, yawp and trill

I am the whispering, waving grass –

emerald garment dappled in dew

I will myself be still

as gentle hands

extract stubbornness

and pride,

gently root out

distrust, fear and



shaken and tossed


Snapdragon: A Journal of Art & Healing  5.1 Spring 2019.  Web.


by Tara L. Carnes

breathing in and out

the trees

gently raise their arms

in blessing

humming with

Divine energy

electric shimmering,

winking leaves,

sighing and

whispering love

sunlight and shadows

God’s caress. 

The Rose in the World, Winter 2015:  14. Print.

Henna Hands

by Tara L. Carnes

 still my profile pic

our arms outstretched

curling flowers and beautiful designs

 after the henna dried in the weak sun

we celebrated Holi

busts of color splattered everywhere

puffs of pink, yellow, blue and orange rose up

as we danced and welcomed Spring

The Big Windows Review, Fall 2018: 13.  Issuu. Print.

January 23rd

by Tara L. Carnes

“The caged bird sings with a fearful trill of things unknown but longed for still and his tune is heard on the distant hill for the caged bird sings of freedom” – Maya Angelou

ten years ago today

this miracle occurred

our emancipation day

from you

from your abuse

leaving everything familiar behind

we leapt out in faith

trusting the Divine to catch us

traveling slowly through the

spiral of transformation

cycling through grief

reliving dark paralyzing fear

tingling pricks of feeling awaken

healing by

sharing our story

moving beyond our story

hearing others’ stories

as survivors we soar

no longer victims encaged

each day growing

stronger and bolder

singing our song of freedom 

Cholla Needles:  Issue 15, Cholla Needles, 2017, p. 71.  Print.


But They Don’t Fall Down

by Tara L. Carnes


my ex sent me

a drunken email

at 2:08 a.m. and copied our judge


he called me a “Weeble”

(among other things)

for my refusal to stay down

after repeated

legal punches


I printed a

picture of Weebles and

glued it to

my heroes-poster- collage



Ghandi walks

Rosa Parks sits

Malala speaks

Mother Teresa touches

Corrie Ten Boom hides

MLK marches

Sacajawea leads

Joan of Arc charges

Hildegaard sings

Nelson Mandela forgives

Crazy Horse fights

Julian of Norwich guides

Philippine Duchesne teaches

Joan Chittister preaches

Arab Spring protesters shout

Burmese Monks challenge

D.C. Mayor Bowser paints




and a lone

Chinese student

stares down a tank

in Tiananmen Square


“But They Don’t Fall Down” Presence:  An International Journal of Spiritual Direction Vol. 27 No. 4, Dec. 2021 Print.