neither craven nor valiant
an indifferent air
calm and collected
all invited
within easy reach

the end

for everyone

Tori Burris Inkley

[Blackout Poetry – excerpt from Moby Dick by Herman Melville]

My Dad

So I’m not terribly close to my dad. I suppose. At present. I used to be… when I was a little girl. A little less as a teen. A little less still in college. And then after I married and moved to California, we basically maintained a telephone relationship, seeing each other once every year or so. But for over a decade now, we haven’t seen each other at all. Even the phone calls ended somewhere along the way. And then the coup de grace came around the end of November 2016 when I found I just didn’t have the energy anymore.

Let me make it clear that my dad is not a bad man. In fact, I truly believe at his core, in his heart, he is a good man. It’s just that he and I are polar opposites when it comes to many of our beliefs, and we hit a wall we couldn’t get around/over/through. The distance had been growing for years, but on this last issue, my own anger became so fierce that in order to save myself, I had to cut ties. So I did.

I guess it doesn’t really matter what the last straw was. It’s enough to say it was huge. And we were both headstrong enough to not back down. Social media was not my friend, as I took quite the virtual beating from some of his pals. So I made the decision and I broke free from the situation. I’ve honestly never regretted that. My heart and soul and peace of mind required me to do so. I’m grateful I had the strength to follow through because the anger and negativity was eating me up.

So after almost four years, we haven’t really found our way back to each other, although I finally began answering his texts a few years ago. The messages between us are short and factual and almost formal in nature. Oddly though, they always end in “I love you”. You see, I never stopped loving my dad. Even though we grew WAY apart… he’s my dad. Two years ago, when my oldest daughter was planning her wedding, I decided to extend the olive branch and invite him and my stepmother to the wedding. I’m not really sure what response I was expecting, but they RSVP’d with a “No”. Part of me was relieved I suppose, but part of me was incredibly sad. I guess in the excitement of the upcoming wedding, I had envisioned a happy reunion and some sort of rekindling of a father-daughter relationship.

In the two years since, we have continued to text. The subject matter seems to always revolve around someone’s health and doctor’s appointments. Boring and predictable, but at least it’s some sort of contact. My love for my dad continues, and I have no grandiose ideas that things are going to change much. This morning I found out that he’s been admitted to a rehabilitation center due to some health issues. I’m worried. I’m sad. I’m wondering how it will all turn out and if he knows when I text “I love you” that I truly do mean it… even though we haven’t really spoken in years.

I’m not terribly close to my dad. But he’s still my dad.

Note: My dad passed away around 2AM this morning (6/4/20). And I’m so incredibly sad. I truly did love him. He was, after all, my dad.

The Tide Turns

The tide turns…
Coming in…
Coming in…
Going out…
And I relish it.

The energy and the spirit flow to me
And I drink them in…
Every drop

This is a welcome change

Will the world stop if I take a moment for myself?
… if I care about myself
… if I focus on my own energy
… on my own balance
… on my own soul

I smell the sea in my nose
Taste the salt on my lips
Feel the sun on my shoulders…
Yet I’m miles and miles from an ocean

Instead it was given to me…
By me…
In a thought
In a word
In a feeling
In a wish

I am the ocean
I am the waves
I am the energy

I am
And I am

Tori Burris Inkley

Breathe In, Breathe Out

Breathe in, breathe out.
The rise, the fall.
Breathe in, breathe out.
Be proud, stand tall.

Relax, relax.
Slow down your pace.
Relax, relax.
Smile on that face.

Wake up, wake up.
No time to sleep.
Wake up, wake up.
Promises to keep.

Faster, faster.
We need it now.
Faster, faster.
We don’t care how.

Breathe in, breathe out.
The rise, the fall.
Breathe in, breathe out.
Now do it all.

Tori Burris Inkley

Shout Out To Us

I watch
And I wait
Worry and wonder

Surely they’ll see
Maybe today’s the day
But the hate continues
The divisiveness remains

Blind eyes turn once again
Ears refuse to hear
Or upon hearing, refuse to listen

These are our sisters, brothers, mothers, fathers, CHILDREN
Skin is skin is skin…

The human plight is OUR plight
The crumbling country is OUR country
The hopeless suffering is OUR suffering
The uncertain future is OUR future

What once seemed a joke, is now simply sad
And the anger roars and the words cut
And suddenly the truth doesn’t matter

And suddenly the truth doesn’t matter?

When did this happen?

How did this happen?

Why did this happen?

The fear
The fury
The “faith”
The future?

And suddenly the truth doesn’t matter?

Tori Burris Inkley




high wall
great power
feared by world

woman standing looking
fresh and green she longed for
desire increased
woman knew she could not

husband worried
our house shall die

man loved wife
no matter the cost

In the twilight
he climbed over the wall
and took his wife

longed for more

her husband once more
was afraid

How dare you thief?
You shall suffer
frightened husband
have mercy, I had to
My wife would have died

baby daughter
in fear
took away

beautiful child
shut in
no doors
only a little window
she stood beneath the window and cried

she heard voices
in her loneliness

we cried

we cried

frightened man began to talk
his heart stirred
no rest
no fear
he was kind

I will go away but how

we shall escape together

the young child
separated from the world
lay on the ground
she cried

dearest she
beautiful bird
no longer singing
in despair
with life, but the thorns pierce

the dearest roam in misery for months
no happy and content

Tori Burris Inkley

All Yours

Be at peace, dear child
Let the grass tickle your toes
and the sun warm your shoulders
This life is yours
All yours
Only yours

The laughter
The love
The tears
The heartache
All yours

Do not shy away from the hard times, dear child
For those are the times you discover who you are
The laughter and the joy are magnificent
But in the salt of your tears you are found

Use every moment of this beautiful life, dear child
To learn to stand on your own
And if while standing, you discover how to run,
Or to fly,
Or to just breathe,
Then every single tear was worth it.

Tori Burris Inkley

Early Mornings

I love early mornings.
The quiet semi-slumber of the world…
Birds using their morning voices,
as the chipmunks run and play without worry.
Fresh air, dew on the lawn, light breeze…
and quiet.
This time is lost on those who hate mornings,
rushing to work,
cursing their schedules,
running behind…
I know.
I’ve been there.
Still am sometimes.
But as the grass tickles my toes
And the sunlight hits my shoulders,
I realize… I just may be a “morning person”.

And shhhhhhh…
I’m okay with that.

Tori Burris Inkley


like the ocean
like the sky
like my 1976 celica after an old boyfriend dented and scratched it and I had it repainted

like a carolina tarheel
like my favorite light sweater
like the eyes of my oldest daughter when she was an infant in her great-grandfather’s arms

like a sapphire
like berries for sal
like suede shoes in the 60s that you had to stay off of

like a jay in the trees
like the moon of kentucky
like eyes crying in the rain

like midnight
like dress uniforms
like a slurpee at your local 7-11

like marge simpson’s hair
like the body of an avatar
like a lonely fall weekend with a cold wind blowing and no motivation to be found

Tori Burris Inkley

Shuffling Thoughts

In the cool morning air I sit
Half awake and full of questions
Longing for quiet relaxation
On a beach perhaps?
Or a mountain peak?
The clouds cover me and the trees embrace me ever so gently.
The day is young, but I am not.
Caught between mother, daughter, wife, friend, self…
Shuffling thoughts and prioritizing
Waiting for clarity
Longing for peace
Begging for strength…

Life is funny.
Life is cruel.
Life is beautiful.

And here I sit… shuffling thoughts.

Tori Burris Inkley

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