ExhibitsSpoken Word & Art › Murmurs of the Mind

Murmurs of the Mind: Free Verse by Bob Barancik

Read by Roxanne Fay, a Tampa Bay actress, novelist, and playwright.


It would be scrumptious to know some real secrets that explain things that no one else knows. 

You wouldn’t have to ever walk around looking lost and ready to burst into tears by the mystery of it all. 

You could feel superior…not inferior. 

Perched on the highest branch of a great cypress tree like a resplendent regal parrot that just silently smiles and refuses to squawk at the pathetic squirmy antics of the little creatures on the ground. 

But all I know is the obvious...the pain of a stubbed toe, burnt fingers, a zit, the repetitive repulsive crush of a crazed black lab that humps my left leg, and that damn seagull that keeps shitting on the windshield of my used car.

The Buddhists say it is all “Maya”— some colorful god or demon tricking us into believing something that is not true.


But, life’s minor miseries seem real enough to me and not a cosmic trick to mislead or test my faith in the unseen.

But…I could be lost and not know it.

There are 5 things I dare not say; my lips are sealed. 

There are 6 things I dare not do; I sit on my hands and wait for instructions. 

There are 7 things I dare not dwell upon; so I snack endlessly on peanuts. 

There are 8 things I dare not grab; fortunately, all are well out of reach. 

But there is 1 thing I dare not ask of you; and we both know the answer.

A kumquat wanted to become a tangerine. 

The tangerine dreamed of being a tangelo. 

A tangelo wanted to meditate like a navel orange. 

The navel orange strived to be a pink grapefruit bathed in bright morning sunshine—cut in half— and served with a sharp silver spoon to a virgin queen.

I woke up this morning and realized that it could be my last day alive. 

But now it is almost sunset and I am still here— typing. 

You are also alive and still here—

Perhaps you are well?
I cannot tell from where I am. 

Soon it will be dark and in a few hours time to go to bed and drift into dream infused slumber. 

An endless cycle of eyes open and eyes shut we both share. 

Even if you are an atheist we could recite this child’s prayer before bedtime: 

Now I lay myself to sleep
I pray the lord my soul to keep.
Should I die before I wake
I pray the lord my soul to take—

to where...

I wonder?

We have always known who we are—
no matter how far we’re blown off course.
To wrestle with remorse is to struggle
with the wind until our life force is spent.
Our real home is in the present.

She was of 2 minds and 3 opinions.
He had more finely layered theories
than a thinly sliced Spanish onion.
They were more nuisance than nuance—
Arguing about everything and nothing at all.

Let me be petty.
It will test your patience
and my skill to make mountains
out of molehills...
They won’t let me become captain
of the Yale fencing team or shout
obscenities to Vladimir Putin’s face
and spew my vicious spittle on his
smooth Russian cheek.
But I can rant and rave about
too tight cycling shorts from Amazon
not being quite right or delivering
the promised carefree miles uphill.

Some swear the old man upstairs
is god. Others swear that God is all
in our head and dies when we go
brain dead. Enough said…
time to get out of bed.

I blame a chair for being a chair.
Its four legs just rest on the floor.
All it aspires to is to be a seat
and wait for my old buttocks.

I waited for an apology that never came…
and continue to wait for a half-baked explanation of their pointless cruelty…
and have become sated by the silence
of nothing forthcoming.
But cruelty always has a point…
like a sharp dart aimed squarely
at the heart.

I stopped at a place others have tarried at before—
but it's new to me. I see a ferryman on the River Styx
up to his old tricks—and I quickly move on.

I am not done yet.
There is more to do.
I’m just not through.
What must I get to
solve the puzzle and
win the game?
What beast must I tame?
Who must I see?
I wish that I knew their name.


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