By Glory Cumbow

Look Up

Oh, please,
please look up.
I know the consuming temptation
to lock eyes arrow-straight ahead
refusing the risk 
of averting your gaze elsewhere
and accepting the landscape immediately before you
as the only possible reality.
Oh, but please, 
please look up.
Within the strict parameters of frontward vision
that neglects the peripheral,
your perception is mighty slim.
You might behold a rose bush,
but all you will know is that singular bush.
Yes, it is lovely,
but why limit the beauty in your life?
You would miss out on the ivy swirling up the trellis,
or the apple tree heavy-laden with fruit.
So do yourself a favor,
and just
Otherwise you will splash through the puddles,
with squishy, soaked socks
but forsake the rolling thunderheads as they rule the sky.
Wet and shivering,
unsheltered and alone,
the misery ahead of you is a fraction 
of the grander portrait you’ve been painted into.
do not withdraw from the red-tailed hawks circling,
the dragonflies darting,
the travelers a mile high
jetting off to destinations unknown,
the constellations spelling out fortunes.
rub your eyes,
and for your sake and mine,
please look up.

It Doesn’t Translate

Come here and watch close,
because I want to show you something
that you won’t believe.
Watch as her nimble fingers 
thread the needle,
then delicately sew the pattern,
piercing and pulling.
Her precision and patience 
are unparalleled.
Marvel at her craftsmanship
of the scenic cross-stitch masterpiece.
I know, 
I was shocked too.
You know just as well as I do
that her hands have 
choked the life 
out of innumerable days,
years, experiences,
hopes, and dreams. 
Now that her mind is going,
and she no longer has the presence of thought
to scorch the earth,
we see that she was capable of beauty
all along.
Is this a redeemable quality,
or is it too late for all of that?

Conversations Worth Having

When the dolphins regale you with tales
from the depths of the sea,
that is a conversation worth having.

When the hummingbirds pause long enough 
to greet you with pleasantries and honorifics,
that is a conversation worth having.

When the squash, watermelon, and cabbage
sing their ripening song,
that is a conversation worth having.

When the spring irises giggle 
and crack jokes,
that is a conversation worth having.

When the moon spins a yarn
and gives in to tell just one more bedtime story,
that is a conversation worth having.

Narrowly Avoided

My muscle memory 
has me filling and heating the tea kettle
before my brain realizes
what my hands are doing.
I’ve switched my mind off
to avoid the spiral.
Instead, I drift over to the window
to focus on the early birds 
catching the worms.
The worms just want to get some fresh air
and to quietly enjoy their existence
of warm, moist dirt.
But the birds mercilessly prey upon them.
It’s not fair, is it?
The soft-bodied, 
appendageless worms
can’t defend themselves
against the whetted beaks with acute aim
that descend from the high ground.
This unjust slaughter 
is truly reprehensible.
And it happens every single day,
morning after morning,
the sunrise bringing a fresh hell
for the lowly creatures of the earth.
Who will mourn for them?
The squeal of the tea kettle
snaps my attention away from the massacre.
At least I dodged that spiral.

Glory Cumbow is a writer living in North Carolina. She works as a strategist helping other writers to get their work published. She is dedicated to the arts and works with local theatres and sings in her community choir. When she’s not writing, she enjoys traveling with her husband, catching live shows, and visiting art museums.

3 thoughts on “Look Up and Other Poems

  1. I enjoyed Glory Cumbow’s poem “Conversations Worth Having” the most. I found each part stimulating and refreshing. I found myself thinking about what she wrote in that piece long after I read it.  Frank Kowal 


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