Inside My Shell



Baby on the Beach by L. Clarkson Circa 1870


Inside my shell I am still a little girl

Hiding from the boogeyman

Hoping the sound of the sea doesn’t wake him.


Today—the shell against my ear

There is no sound

The sea isn’t singing

Its swishing song.


Another song fills the well

Familiar and haunting

From the center of the spiral

A low, rumbling, wail.


Still a little girl

Afraid of the boogeyman

Hoping the sea

Won’t wake her.



The shell I choose

Could be the nautilus

I spiral down into its center

Revealing only a tiny sliver of me or maybe

Shut tight as a clam

Filtering the brine of you

Are you real?

Are you safe?

Perhaps, opened wide

As Botticelli’s “Birth of Venus”

Revealing the pearl within

It all depends on you.



Holding a bright pink, plastic bucket,

She skips along the water’s edge

Looking for seashells,

Finding dead fish and crabs

Baking in the summer sun.

She stares at their death

As though she understands

The sands’ murderous burning.


This beach was littered with seashells once

Sand dollars half buried

Could be lifted whole

Before the Grand Isle shore

Was littered with oil derricks

And foreign fishermen.


Now the beautiful shells are gone

Replaced by dead fish and tar balls

She still skips along

Empty, bright pink, bucket and all.

© 2017 Bessie Adams Senette




















Baby on the Beach by

  1. Clarkson Circa 1870



lc_featureThe poet chooses nothing. We live in the spotlight of no one. We exists to weave words into consciousness. We were born with the capacity to stand on the head of a pin believing that the brisk winds of change will only help to grow our wings when we fall. Whether we crash into the cauldron of darkness or soar to newer heights is not our concern. Words choose us not the other way around. Today I choose wings lifting me to the higher consciousness of common human decency but, if I fall instead into the dark void, I trust that I will still find inspiration to guide me back to my longing for love.

For Leonard Cohen

“You want it darker

We kill the flame”

The knight of darkness

Has left his castle

To return to his king

On the battlefield

Where words, bleeding

Pleading, send us all into the abyss.

Leaving behind his pen and paper

He sketches a new image

of himself as his wings catch

The morning sun.

All he had to give, he gave —

Nothing more, nothing less.

Do not wear your mourning clothes

You wordsmiths.

Take up his pen and paper

And carry on.

© 2016 Bessie Adams Senette


Changing and Unchanging


“The people in town talk about the unseasonable weather as if they and only they can.”* As if the world of humanity hasn’t been pillaging and polluting their cadie for centuries. Planet earth groans with the weight of our species. Cracking open treacherous, rain-filled vortices, spewing toxic gases from the underworld as though begging for our attention. The tears of Gaia overflowing riverbanks, melting glaciers raising water levels to destructive depths, all the while we wade deeper into denial.

When hurricanes devastate our neighborhoods we pay attention for a little while then soon fall asleep while others around the globe awaken to their own disasters.

Are any disasters truly natural ones or do we contribute to them all? What cataclysm will it take to awaken us all to authentic empathy for our precious earthly home, its people, its creatures? History does not bear witness to the probability of that awakening but perhaps future avatars will prevail. My hope rest in them.

*Debra Bailey- writing prompt 10-5-16

Mothers Pray, What Else Can They Do?

The color green

Forms a core of strength in cruciform

At the bridge of her nose

She holds her infant

Gently in the crux of her arm

Swaddled there sleeping


Praying for a boy child

Born into a world of hate


She reaches for heaven’s gate


Calling down

Ancestors, angels, and grace

To remember him now in this

Space of peaceful bliss


To walk with him

When what it means to be him

Awakens to what others think he is


Swirling violet ribbons into her love prayer

As they answer her desperate call

The ancients, spectral wisp,

Gather around, above and below

Dispelling doubt and tantalizing hope


She knows to teach him how to stand

Means watching him fall

Watching him break

Watching him forget


This moment

“This placement in faith.”

after Dennis Paul Williams’ “Placement in Faith” from “The Road to Indigo”

© 2016 Bessie Adams Senette

Embryonic Self

The result of one determined to heal at the Healing Art Retreat based on my book, “Cutting the Clouds.”

Clare L. Martin

“Embryonic Self*,” mixed media, by Clare L. Martin

A tree held in its branches
a womb that carried me.
My strong heart
beat brilliant red
through fluid translucence.
A thick cord
connected me to roots
of the tree
into the blood
of the earth.

Who knew I would experience
such sorrow, such joy,
once born into the world?

*Dedicated to Bessie Senette.

Clare L. Martin ©2016

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Photo by T Senette

Louisiana Pines


Gentle rolling highways through

Northwest corner, from the toes of the Ozark foothills

To the marshy toes of the boot-shaped state,

Host to cultures with unexpected wonders.


Acres of standing pines

Singing a river song in soft breeze,

The pounding of mechanical pumps on gulf waters

Pulling oil from primordial depths,

Singing a different song than those

Who fish the salty waters and

Chank-a-chank in a different language.


Pining for the old days

Before those sounds were known.

When pelicans filled the sky and

Seagulls shouted joyful finds of

Fish schools too vast to measure,


When Grand Isle’s shoreline was

Not yet dotted with platforms,

Christmas tree lights, and natural gas torches

Reaching thirty feet above the horizon,


When marshland covered itself in

Vibrant colors of migrating flocks,

Wings slapping salty humid air,

When my father and his father before

Had only one care — that day’s catch.


Catching now the scent of pine,

I remember his face as he retold

From childhood memory how

Plentiful our cadie once was

Before Louisianians pined.

© 2016 Bessie Adams Senette

Flooding Home


Photo by Trudy Gomez

If you pronounce chère as in chère ami like the longhaired pop singer formally married to Sonny Bono you probably don’t know much about our beloved homeland in south Louisiana we call Acadie. You have probably never stood on the bank of Lake Martin as the roseate spoonbills paint that lake in sunset colors. Nor have you ever fished for blue point crab with chicken necks on a string. Most likely, you haven’t watched a flock of great white cranes overhead in a clear blue sky surrounded by so many shades of green you no longer wonder about the vast selection of paint chips at the local hardware store. If you say crayfish instead of crawfish and pee-can instead of pa-cawn you have probably never stood in your mother’s kitchen smelling a dark roux awaiting the holy trinity of onions, celery, and bell pepper or heard the sound of a spoon striking the black-iron skillet that was handed down through generations of one pot cooks. If you think only of mother and father and brother and sister when you hear the word family, then you probably never attended a Sunday dinner at your grandmère’s house that included four generations of family that could number 50 or more. If you don’t know that French is our first language and the ear of our elders translated English differently than you, you wouldn’t know that the zinc is where you wash the dishes, the ice box is a refrigerator, the hose pipe is used to water your garden and the campus parked in your backyard is the RV camper that your 30 year old cousin is living in until he can find a job. If you don’t know any of these things, then you probably don’t know that in this 500-year flood event of 2016 we do appreciate your prayers and your donations, and while we could use some help, we are not waiting on you. We are picking up the pieces and taking care of each other. We have been doing this in south Louisiana since before the Great Derangement. This land of abundance and immeasurable beauty is our home and we are its people who know it and believe in its resilience. How could we not when we have done it for so long? So if you want to talk about us on CNN, you might consider changing your tone from pity to admiration.

Peace Be With You


Does it suit you to laud it over others the free reign you have been given to do and say whatever, whenever? I have a message for those who scoff at common human decency. We all are a little crazy. We all have something that we think, do or say that would offend someone, somewhere. Consciously or not, we all contribute to suffering. Maybe that is why all the sages of all the ages agree that peace is an inside job.

Celebrate Leftovers

Be wary of the obvious.

Know that the best bits

Aren’t found on the surface.

Dig deeper in search of the
Grillade on the grits,
The confetti after the explosion,
The crumbs leftover when the cake is gone.

Real beauty lies in the
Small bits that remain
After the party is over.
Be willing to claim the unsavory bits

Let them linger on your tongue.

The deeper truths
Can only be discovered
With the practiced, yet instinctive

Navigational skill of your inner pigeon.

To locate them in the cavernous maze
Of justification and rationalization

Disguised as your life
Distracted by your successes and failures,

To distinguish the finest details of the

Artist’s brush stroke that created the

Most authentic bits of you,
Eagle sight is needed.

Don’t settle for shallow sight.

Hear the discordant song and create a new one

That only you and the owl can hear.
If the cobra sways while you glean the

Leftover crust of your unleavened life

So be it. Dance to that song.
Know your leftover bits and celebrate them all.

© 2016 Bessie Adams Senette

Hope Blossoms Still


Photo by Bessie Senette

I find myself wondering recently about what it would take for me, a woman of deep faith in Divine Right Order, to become hopeless. Are there not enough global horrors already for that to happen? Then, the evil strikes so close to home that I awaken each day asking what next? I could so easily succumb to the numbness that threatens every aspect of me. Have I become too soul weary to hope for love to conquer all evil? That is the belief that sustains me —  that love always prevails.

01 Photos Besi


Mère Mère

The smile is rare

Captured long ago

Before the bitterroot

Bent her mouth the other way.

How many tragic beats

Does it take a heart

To crystalize?

The Great Depression

Three dead babies

War threatening
A favorite son

The yellow fever


The shoulders
I stand on seem invincible

Do I know what it would take

To freeze my mouth?

                                                            © 2016 Bessie Adams Senette


If you spell guru out loud you will hear, ” Gee You Are You.” All that we need to guide us through life is a connection to our truest self. Any decision we make that is based on someone else’s  belief will have consequences that might be good in the short term but eventually will fail us. If you don’t know what to believe or who to trust, you have probably lost your ability to trust yourself. You were born with that ability and all you need to know lives within your own heart.

imagesDon’t Call Me Eve and Then Curse Adam

Don’t credit me for your successes then curse me for your failures.

My job is just to point to the apple.

I have no role in whether you bite or not.

Make a choice and let the consequences teach you the next step.

If you think your choices don’t matter,

Ask yourself why the ancients created all those gods to worship —-

They wanted a puppeteer to blame or sing praises to.

Even then, no one wanted responsibility

And no one understood the Great Mystery.

That hasn’t changed.

The words fate and destiny speak of interconnection,

But we just want control —-

Someone else to bite the apple

So we can say, “See, I told you so.”

If our paths cross and you credit fate

Because all you found here was love,

Will you blame me when I’m gone?

Look inside yourself for the answers,

Trust that any choice you make will have consequences,

Good or bad, own them.

Don’t call me Eve and then curse Adam.

I bit the apple because I wanted its sweetness.

He bit the apple because he didn’t want to be alone.

Don’t feel sorry for either of us,

We navigated the consequences well

Even if the story people still tell about us

Is that we created hell.

Hell is real but we each create our own.


© 2016 Bessie Adams Senette