Thursday, June 01, 2023

Framed Moments

Lake Tahoe, CA
 —Poetry and Photos by Sue McMahon,
Cameron Park, CA


My mind is swirling again
and I can't seem to stop it
like a freight train is coming right at me
sometimes passing too close

and I feel the ground tremble at my feet
the still air is pushed aside when the
train passes causing a brisk breeze
while my hair flies up in a frizz

When the train passes close
like this there are moments
when my eyes fixate on a passenger
who is staring at me with a look of fear

wondering if this woman will get hit by the train
right before their piercing eyes?
I turn, I step back, I hide
I run away from this framed moment

I pause
I erase this thought
the train has passed, and I breathe,
and step out of the swirling moment

feeling the sun's warmth on my face
yet blurring my sight
it comforts my soul
and I can breathe


I felt like my mind was going to explode
There were so many details to do for my
train trip
and my anxiety was waiting to spill out
It was driving me off-course and was making
me sick

The stress was taking too much real estate
in my mind
so I sat down to rest, and tried to get off
this merry-go-round that was spinning in
my head
I drank some hot tea too and the ride seemed
to stop

I returned to packing, remembering how cold
it would be in Alberta where my boyfriend
would be waiting for me to arrive, I closed
the suitcase and pulled on a wool sweater

Headed out the door and into chaos on the
my mind began swirling again
what if I got to the train station late
and my head was in a full-cycle rinse spin?

I breathed in deep and
closed my eyes during the Uber ride
and got there in plenty of time
loaded my luggage, and boarded wide-eyed

but before my foot left the last step
at the depot, a shot of steam from the train
shot up and I froze, lost in its mist,
This moment lingered and tried to drain

all my courage to travel away on my own
I fought the spinning and took one more
step up into the train and was seated at last
And the train chugged away as the engine


Lucy chewed through her leash the other day
I left her alone for less than two minutes
And she walked into my room
Untethered, untamed, and untied
Smiling her awesome smile
I too am untamed, unchecked
And prone to wandering
Down dusty gravel roads
I am unannounced, unnoticed
And invisible it seems
To most human eyes
Yet I smile my best smile
As I blend into the wallpaper
And floor, still unseen
Left alone for a lifetime
This scene spins
in my head
as I hike up this
mountain called life


Today’s LittleNip:

—Sue McMahon

My mind’s abilities are bundled
In a pile of hazardous waste
I feel the tip of the plume
Ready to explode and ooze out
All over, wirra, wirra, ready to expose
My inner thoughts and past woes
Like a tectonic plate buried deep in my soul
Shifting, moving, wanting to break free
The grip is ebbing, I let it go,
Alas, alas,
I can let


May was Mental Health Awareness Month, which I feel like we didn’t adequately acknowledge, but here are some poems from Sue McMahon, letting us into some of what she has felt over the years. I guess June 1 is not too late—it’s never too late, in fact, to pay attention to Mental Health Awareness, and thanks to Sue for reminding us of that and for sending her fine poems and some photos of serene Lake Tahoe. Every month is Mental Health Awareness Month, whatever your status in that department!

Sue lives in El Dorado County and is active in poetry there; tonight will be a reading at 6pm of writings from the Antepasados Ekphrastic Workshop which was facilitated by Lara Gularte on May 25. Mary Mackey will read at Poetry in Davis at 7pm tonight (plus open mic); and Poetry Unplugged at Luna’s Cafe features readers and open mic in Sacramento, 8pm. Click on Medusa's UPCOMING NORCAL EVENTS ( for details about these and other future poetry events in the NorCal area—and keep an eye on this link and on the Kitchen for happenings that might pop up during the week.

The June issues of Sac. Poetry Center's online monthly newsletter,
Poet News, is available now at


 Sue McMahon

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