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A Chocolate Afternoon
Mary Jo Balistreri

The Florida sun says yes as it sits on my back.
            A huge raccoon says enjoy as it paws a find from someone’s lunch.
                        The alligator, banked on the berm, doesn’t care.
A winding path of rich, dark chocolate courses through my body,
            collides with the headache the doctor promised,
                        chocolate one of his don’ts.             
I hear the voice I have chosen to ignore, take off my shoes,
                        walk barefoot in the tide.
Royal terns flock in the February sky. Crowns gleam
            as they rise and swoop in auric arabesques.
Pelicans are swans gliding on waves; 
            ibis, one-legged yogis on sand.
I ask myself, on this opulent afternoon,
            is there any other way to live but

© by Mary Jo Balistreri.
Used with the author’s permission.


Mary Jo Balistreri was a concert pianist for most of her life, but in 2005 she began writing poetry after the death of her seven-year-old grandson. Poetry gradually helped her transform her grief into something resembling acceptance. Mary Jo’s award-winning work is widely published and she is the author of four collections: Still, gathering the harvest, Best Brothers, and Joy in the Morning. In 2014, Mary Jo began writing haiku and haibun and, since then, has turned almost entirely to Japanese forms. Mary Jo lives in Wisconsin; learn more about her at






Post New Comment:
Yes, Jo! It's all about ignoring those voices, taking off our shoes, and just eating the chocolate, isn't it? Thanks for the reminder!
Posted 02/24/2014 08:23 AM
A beautiful Florida feeling poem, you said yes to the sun and then everything became a exuberant Chocolate afternoon. Thanks for reminding me how to live in the now.
Posted 02/22/2014 08:13 PM
oh why oh why am I in WI in Feb......?! Chocolate and your poem make it more bearable (and chocolate is worth the headache to me as well :) Judy
Posted 02/22/2014 05:26 PM
Thank you to everyone who posted. I really appreciate it. Jo
Posted 02/21/2014 04:38 PM
Wow, Jo. So impressed you can still find all this beauty after the blows life has handed you...
Posted 02/21/2014 02:53 PM
Donna Pflueger:
Oh Jo! I followed the path of your italics - Yes Enjoy Don'ts! And this weekend, I will take you up on that! Wish I could "walk barefoot in the tide" with you. Wonderful poem!
Posted 02/21/2014 10:56 AM
becky evans:
A marvelous, sensuous poem with concrete details that create a vivid scene! Rich with opulence and exuberance -- shining with auric arabesques (what a lovely image with musical sounds!). Oh, that we may risk the danger that lurks to live with joy!
Posted 02/21/2014 10:31 AM
Frank Carl:
Frank Carl Your poem has captured the essence of living well.
Posted 02/21/2014 10:28 AM
Gail Goepfert:
Oh Jo, this is so beautiful! I am there with you. I love the way you have incorporated voice into your poem. Oh for ocean waves!
Posted 02/21/2014 09:47 AM
Wilda Morris:
Jo, you have done it again! What a wonderful reminder with which to start a new day! And so poetically expressed. ~ a chocoholic
Posted 02/21/2014 09:16 AM
Janet Leahy:
I walk inside this poem and see the terns swoop, pelicans glide and ibis on one leg as blustery winds swirl with snow outside my window. Now I'll search for chocolate. Thanks Jo.
Posted 02/21/2014 08:09 AM
indeed, that is the way--thanks for the reminder!
Posted 02/21/2014 08:09 AM
Nope, no other way. Thanks, Jo. Jeanie
Posted 02/21/2014 07:54 AM

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