Penelope Coaching and Consulting – Poetry from Heidi Seaborn


Give a Girl Chaos

Selection of poems from Give a Girl Chaos.




Chaos arrives screaming—born


                                                under a certain star    shifting


                                                            every day that follows




            is an unplanned dinner party


            the neighbors stop by for a drink      and never leave




Chaos  lives in homes


                        in bottles         stashed             in the linen closet




                        in dreams  


when the lights go out       


                                                            and families turn upon themselves


Chaos is cancer


        rooting our bodies’ richest soil




Chaos  never


                        travels light     over packs      overstays


                                                                        delays departures       




            another name for a dark heart




 back alleys of our world




seas rise     maelstroms slash


                        skies seethe


                                    fires spark                   spread                                 




O she is hungry these days


                                    this goddess of Chaos    this mother




once a girl who dreamed big


a girl who birthed a universe



imagine what she could do now




a girl who harnesses Chaos


can whip          winds into a horde


                                                of butterflies   


hush hurricanes     settle


storms             salve spirits



O give a girl a little Chaos


see what she can do




Don’t bother to knock come on in


you are meant to be here






                                                Chaos is the way in.






Stop Motion


~after a photo of frozen monarch butterflies taken in Michoacan, Mexico by Jamie Rojo








Once in Santa Cruz


            hundreds of monarchs swirled


                        around me




                                    with eyelashes   fingers


then flew to Mexico.






Clutter of paper tigers




                                    spread across a canvas of snow.




Wings fanned in all directions   frozen          


                                                            in flight.






Sometimes we fail to see the signs—


don’t    not now   maybe never


drive when you’re tired


walk alone at night


marry that man.




We fly into cold weather


                                    wings of persimmon  




                                                            gold     flash.                                   





Travel Advisory for Turkey


~A suicide bomber killed five including two Americans, and injured 36 others in a busy tourist area in Istanbul, March 19, 2016




I will not snake the Spice Bazaar maze in Istanbul,


past the sacks of psychedelic colored baharat and herbs.


I won’t inhale cumin, sumac, saffron and mint.


I will not bring home tuzlu nuts and Turkish Delight


or know the bolt of Arabica coffee sipped from a demitasse


with a bite of beyaz peynir cheese.




I will not heed the imam call to prayers,


look to the minarets to guide me to the Sultanamhet mosque,


wrap my Pashmina over my head, shoulders, slip off my shoes


find my place among the women,


stand, kneel, touch my head to carpet, stand.


The prayers a requiem for the dead, the dying.




I will not haggle with the rug dealer as he and his cousins


roll open another hand-knotted Anatolian carpet, blood


red, starred with indigo and gold blossoms.


“This one. Ma’am, this one best for you.”


It will not arrive on my doorstep months later


wrapped in burlap, unfurling a scent of shisha smoke.




I will not see girls, braids bouncing as they skip


to the jump rope’s beat, the sing-song song.


Boys dribbling, rising to layup, block an imaginary basket.


The ball tapping from outstretched hand to hand,


skittering off down the dirt alley, mothers pulling


aside curtain doorways to scold.




I will not eat charred sheep kebaps


or drink rati and pick lüfer off the bone by the Bosphorus


imagining Ottoman trading ships navigating its length.


I will not journey to the Hattusas


as the sun illuminates history, stories, what remains


from thieves, Pergamon’s curators, ancient battles




like this war: the remnant of an Imperial tapestry,


a lost province, gaming foreign powers, the Euphrates


knotted near the border, its mouth burned dry.












            ~Krabi, Thailand 2013




Our bed smells of coconut milk. Outside


            the tide washes through splay-fingered


                        mangrove roots, leaving a lacy stitch




with each wave


            as a fisherman heaves


                        his longboat onto the beach.




An acacia tree shades


            the gardenia bush beside


                        this pink house on stilts,


                                    salt air.



A boy riding a lemon-colored motorbike,


            drops boxes of peppers


                        at the kitchen door.


                                    Across the road,


the sign stabbed


            into the grass warns


                        Entering Tsunami


                        Hazard Zone




Edging the jungle,


            a golden girl


                        nests in the pungent


                                    branches of a mango tree.


She sees beyond


            the ocean’s edge,


                        the earth curving away,


pulling the tide like a blanket.












Bearing Fruit






At first I wanted to keep you                     




                        like a sweet yellow plum




I picked on a New Hampshire back road


at the slick start of day




blackberries slipping brambles, tar sticky




 as you were at birth




baby boy


            tucking your little wings


                                    against the sweat


                                                and seep of my milky body




I held you till morning


to see you in the light that bled


                                                through the window




when it came time to name you


cotton-swaddled boy




I scrawled your name






gave you a father




gave myself away


like the bride I wasn’t/was


mother so happy


mother to a boy


plucked from the ashes of a fire




            with the thought of you angel








you  ribbon-tailed kite




flight  flight  flight     


over fruited lands.



A Girl’s Guide to the Galaxy






I hadn’t seen stars in ages   sky          tarred with winter’s brush


            tonight they turn on    one by one       as if stirred to life by motion


lighting a path home               I could follow it          build a house in the galaxy


                                    its milky wonder my milky tea     



would I stand on my porch at night                look for Earth—       


                                    for the girl discovering           sea stars in tidal pools


               the woman lying in a field in Bourgogne                 inhaling stars


before hitchhiking on to Florence   love waiting       counting on stars


                        to guide her up            into a Himalayan night           as the moon


summits Everest         slips into China.         


                                                                        time backbends   stretches


            a yogi              centering to nothingness                    



before exploding—


                        a burning starry universe                   



from my celestial perch


            I see     myself             raise     my son’s finger


                                                to trace the big dipper   little dipper




                                                honey onto this         


                                                            and every night.





A Clean Kitchen



Sometimes I worry that the world’s got a cold heart. Will it ice over like food left too long in my freezer, little crusts of frost growing fungus under the Tupperware lids? My freezer needs to be cleaned & by that I mean the refrigerator must be cleaned, everything pulled out, shelves wiped & by that I mean the kitchen too, oven, range, cabinets & by that I mean the whole fucking house & the raised beds in the garden need to be planted & the house & the garden where I write at my desk with the dog’s dirt & fur curled around my bare toes & the hum of the refrigerator reminding me it wants to be cleaned. I just read a poem from a poet that wants a clean heart, but I want a clean kitchen & a clean poem & frost-free heart.



Single Handed



Hold steady


Ease into the wind


I remember my father’s


Directive—hold a firm tiller


into the wind, sails luffing.




Sail in, come up, catch the wind’s


edge. I know to ride its strong thrust,


anger seething along a straining seam


blowing apart, when to fall


off, let the wind


rage on past. To need


no one, to sail solo.





How It Ends






I think of you. I see our road,


pavement worn, an elephant hide




smudged, yellow line dividing


our coming and going; you,




like the furred grass, shoulders edging


down the sloping hill




to the stone beach. Now I hear the gulls


swooping into the sea.




I’ve walked beneath the moon’s slice


until the jagged glass under




my skin polished sea smooth. You are


my blue washed days.




We untangle our garden


exhale persimmon sun.




the Orcas breach.





In the woods behind our home


a massive hornet’s nest, emptied.




A gossamer paper lantern, we


light a candle, send it burning




into the night. Ah, the hopes of hornets,


you and me.  The road ends here.





Give a Girl Chaos

Selection of poems from Give a Girl Chaos.