Thursday, July 11, 2024

Poetry Friday: "You and I" by Jonathan Potter

This one is for Atticus because he's the best thing about me.

"You and I" by Jonathan Potter is a short poem, just ten lines, nearly perfect. 

It begins: 

You are a warm front
that moved in from the north,

and then it winds through other marvelous metaphors and ends:

And I am the discoverer of you.

Depart from me now, dear reader, quickly, quickly, and spend a moment with this little gem here.

Thursday, June 20, 2024

Poetry Friday: Richard Wilbur, "The Writer"

Although I've shared Richard Wilbur's "The Writer" numerous times (along with loads of other Wilbur treasures), I never tire of this gorgeous poem. It fits beautifully with the relationship theme I've been chasing — this week, we drop in on a father and his junior-high-school-aged daughter. (I love the final lines so much.) 

The Writer

by Richard Wilbur

In her room at the prow of the house
Where light breaks, and the windows are tossed with linden,
My daughter is writing a story.

I pause in the stairwell, hearing
From her shut door a commotion of typewriter-keys
Like a chain hauled over a gunwale.

Young as she is, the stuff
Of her life is a great cargo, and some of it heavy:
I wish her a lucky passage.

But now it is she who pauses,
As if to reject my thought and its easy figure.
A stillness greatens, in which

The whole house seems to be thinking,

(Read the rest here, at And to hear Richard Wilbur read it, go here.)


Thursday, June 13, 2024

Poetry Friday: January Gill O'Neil

Simple, lovely, and simply lovely: to my dearest women friends, a relationship like no other. 

In the Company of Women
by January Gill O’Neil

Make me laugh over coffee,
make it a double, make it frothy
so it seethes in our delight.
Make my cup overflow
with your small happiness.
I want to hoot and snort and cackle and chuckle.
Let your laughter fill me like a bell.
Let me listen to your ringing and singing
as Billie Holiday croons above our heads.
(Read the rest of this short, wonderful poem here, at 


Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Friday, June 07, 2024

Poetry Friday: "Forty Years" by Mary Oliver

        Photo courtesy of Sponchia at Pixabay. 

The last two weeks I shared poems that were simple, lovely, and simply lovely as they touched on the intricacies of relationships. This week, another in that vein: this one's about the poet's relationship with language. 

Forty Years
by Mary Oliver

for forty years
the sheets of white paper have
passed under my hands and I have tried
    to improve their peaceful

emptiness putting down
little curls little shafts
of letters words
    little flames leaping

not one page
was less to me than fascinating

(Read the whole thing here, at the Poetry Foundation.) 


Photo courtesy of Sponchia at Pixabay

Thursday, May 30, 2024

Poetry Friday: "The Raincoat" by Ada Limón

Continuing with last week's theme of poetry that is simple, lovely, and simply lovely while touching on the intricacies of relationships, I give you Ada Limón's "The Raincoat." 

I'm sharing some of the most significant lines to tempt you to go read the whole thing. It's only twenty-five lines in total, but I know how Poetry Friday is. I know it's sometimes hard to read everything, click through to everything, and take in everything you want to take in. But you won't regret the time it takes to read these twenty-five lines. I promise. 

The Raincoat
by Ada Limón

When the doctor suggested surgery
and a brace for all my youngest years,
my parents scrambled to take me

...I never
asked her what she gave up to drive me,
or how her day was before this chore. 


(And the end of the poem:) 

...and I saw a mom take her raincoat off
and give it to her young daughter when
a storm took over the afternoon. My god,
I thought, my whole life I’ve been under her
raincoat thinking it was somehow a marvel
that I never got wet.

Fill in the blanks and read the whole thing here, at


Photo courtesy of Jupilu on Pixabay

Friday, May 24, 2024

Poetry Friday: "String Quartet" by Carl Dennis

This is a simple and simply lovely poem by Carl Dennis that masterfully touches on the complexity of music, art, and human interaction. 

String Quartet
by Carl Dennis

Art and life, I wouldn't want to confuse them.
But it's hard to hear this quartet
Without comparing it to a conversation
Of the quiet kind, where no one tries to outtalk
The other participants, where each is eager instead
To share in the task of moving the theme along
From the opening statement to the final bar.
(Read the whole poem here.) 


Enjoy your time with this string quartet, and be sure to visit Michelle Kogan for this week's Poetry Friday round-up. 

Photo courtesy of Pixabay. 

Thursday, May 16, 2024

Poetry Friday: "How Do I Know When a Poem Is Finished?"

This applies to so many artistic endeavors. When is a poem finished? What about that essay? Your book? Does that painting need a little more attention? Should I have another go at this drawing? 

Is anything ever finished, really? There is always more time, more attention we could give. But sometimes we have to say, "This will do. This is good. This is what I had to give, in this moment, at this time in my life, at this stage of my ongoing evolution. This. This is enough." 

How Do I Know When a Poem Is Finished?

by Naomi Shihab Nye

When you quietly close
the door to a room
the room is not finished.

It is resting. Temporarily.
Glad to be without you
for a while.

Now it has time to gather
its balls of gray dust,


(Read the rest here, at 

Friday, May 10, 2024

Poetry Friday: "Water" (an ode to the recent sump pump failure)

Welcome to the "Drying Out the Basement" edition of Poetry Friday. 

Do you have a sump pump? Do you know what happens when your sump pump malfunctions during an extremely rainy April? I hope you don't know. I hope you never know. 

On the other hand, this recent incident could be considered child's play compared to some of my past dances with water. 

My first experience with flooding — later dubbed "The Great Flood" of Fairbanks, Alaska — was when I was seven years old. My father was stationed there and we were living temporarily in a basement apartment until base housing became available. After heavy summer rains, the Chena River overflowed. Our entire apartment filled with water. This is how we left the apartment complex: 

I don't remember the three nice men who whisked us away, but the other occupants of the boat were my mom (holding my little brother), me (pointing at something), and my sister (waving). 

Here are a couple of photos of the aftermath as the flood waters were starting to recede. (Don't worry about that hair! It's just my mother's wig!) 

Given that I have this joyous little occasion on my flood resume, I suppose our recent experience barely rates a mention. No boats were needed in our basement the night the water came in, though at times it felt like a raft might come in handy. (I exaggerate. A little. There was much bailing of water.) Still, I don't recommend losing a sump pump. It's been a long, messy, stressful time. 

Oh, water! The gift that sometimes feels like a curse. Ralph Waldo Emerson understood it so well. 


by Ralph Waldo Emerson 

The water understands
Civilization well;
It wets my foot, but prettily,
It chills my life, but wittily,
It is not disconcerted,
It is not broken-hearted:
Well used, it decketh joy,
Adorneth, doubleth joy:
Ill used, it will destroy,
In perfect time and measure
With a face of golden pleasure
Elegantly destroy.


Thursday, April 25, 2024

Poetry Friday: And now for something completely different

Things have been, understandably, pretty somber around here lately. So I thought I'd change course a bit and share something to make you smile. 

If you've ever needed a blurb for your book, or have been asked to write a blurb (I've been on both sides of that equation), this will ring true. And while it's true that "the art of blurbing isn't hard to master" — Oh! For a world without blurbs! The bane of a writer's existence. 

Enjoy this nugget from Barbara Crooker and be sure to visit Ruth at There is no such thing as a God-forsaken town for the Poetry Friday round-up

with apologies to Elizabeth Bishop

by Barbara Crooker

The art of blurbing isn't hard to master.
Pick three quick phrases, fill them in with quotes,
so full of compliments, they're thick as plaster.

So what if all of this just seems like bluster?
Don't try to separate the sheep from goats.
The art of blurbing isn't hard to master.

"No ideal reader lets this book go past her."
Use adjectives like luminous but note

(Read the rest here.) 

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Poetry Friday: "My Mother's Shoes" by Frannie Lindsay (on my mother's passing)

I can't remember how I found Frannie Lindsay but I'm grateful I did. She is known for her work in the intersections of poetry, grief, and trauma. This particular poem hit home in ways untold.  

No poem, of course,  is a perfect parallel to one's life, but parts of this poem were close to perfect. My mother's shoes — the ones my mother wore in her last weeks of life — were brown. (You can see them above.) They had zippers, not velcro, but they were a favorite, as were Lindsay's mother's. My mom wore her brown shoes the day I took her to the ER in December. They went with her to the nursing home a week later. They sat in her room, next to her dresser, in February and March, when she would put nothing on her feet but the delightfully cute cat slippers that everyone complimented her on, or the warm cozy socks that I'd packed in her suitcase. 

And months ago, when my dad was still alive — although, again this poem is not a perfect parallel, because what is perfect? Nothing I've encountered — he cared for my mom in ways that I couldn't fully appreciate until I was the one caring for her, the one tending the details, watching for the signs of need, ministering to another with careful and gentle attention. 

The beauty of this poem needs no explanation. It simply is. This is the story of millions of couples, millions of families, millions of caregivers. And it is the story of one couple, one family, one caregiver, and their daughter. 

Rest in peace, my dear, sweet, strong, stoic mother. 

My Mother’s Shoes
by Frannie Lindsay

Toward the end she only wore
her brown ones, the Velcro not quite
holding anymore; toes scuffed

[I hate to violate copyright and couldn't find a good way to contact the poet for permission to share in entirety, so I'll skip ahead here. The poem continues]: 


but her husband always fetched
the brown ones, helped her
to the armchair, eased the crew socks
past her bunions, rubbed
her vein-mapped calves, slipped
the left one then the right one on
the way a kindergarten teacher helps
a scared new pupil into her galoshes; then
he placed each foot, each gorgeous foot,
against the wheelchair’s rests, and
wheeled her deferentially
to the dining hall for breakfast.

(Read the whole poem here.) 

Read more about Frannie Lindsay here, at the Poetry Foundation


The Poetry Friday round-up is being hosted this week by Jone Rush MacCulloch

Thursday, March 14, 2024

Poetry Friday: "The Lake Isle of Innisfree"

Some days call for a reliable, beloved, gorgeous one from William Butler Yeats. 

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

by W. B. Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,
And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made:
Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee;
And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,
Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;
There midnight's all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,
And evening full of the linnet's wings.

I will arise and go now, for always night and day
I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;
While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,
I hear it in the deep heart's core.

(This poem is in the public domain.) 


The one and only Tanita Davis is hosting Poetry Friday this week. 
Join her for all kinds of poetic goodness. 

Thursday, March 07, 2024

Poetry Friday: "Don't Go Into the Library" by Alberto Ríos

I've missed a couple of weeks of Poetry Friday. I was very busy and then I was very sick. 
Well, okay, not very sick, as in seriously sick, just sick in that sort of, "I have the stomach flu and it feels like I'm seriously sick but I'm not and I know this will pass eventually," way. And then, after three or four days, it did. 

After the first, worst day, I was able to read and I was grateful, as I always am, for the library. I read Severance by Ling Ma and Someone by Alice McDermott and I read Betsy-Tacy at night because it's good medicine. (That one, of course, was not a library book. That one is part of the foundation of our home.) I also tried to listen to an audiobook for my book club but I kept falling asleep during that one — it's a book I loved many years ago but on this go-round, I kept tiring of the author's pretensions. 

I didn't haul my sick self to the library, by the way, lest you think I was being careless or stupid. I had several library books around here and Atticus brought home the McDermott book, read it, liked it immensely, and then told me he thought I would like it too. He was right, as he usually is about books I like, love, hate, and treasure. 

At any rate, I thought it was time for some library love, so here, once again, is "Don't Go Into the Library" by Alberto Ríos. A gem. 

Don’t Go Into the Library
by Alberto Ríos

The library is dangerous—
Don’t go in. If you do

You know what will happen.
It’s like a pet store or a bakery—

Every single time you’ll come out of there
Holding something in your arms.


(Read the rest here, at


(Photo courtesy of Oliver Götting/Pixabay.)

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Poetry Friday: "Invisible Work" by Kwoya Fagin Maples


I subscribe to "Poem-a-Day" at, but I must admit my attention ebbs and flows. Sometimes I faithfully, and happily read the poem each day. In other seasons, poetry piles up in my Inbox and I later mass-delete in a frenzy of Inbox cleaning.  

But recently I was walloped by marvelous finds two days in a row — Eve L. Ewing's "eschatology" (which I shared last week) and Kwoya Fagin Maples' "Invisible Work." 

Obviously, that was enough to launch me back into my daily habit. Enjoy this beauty! 

Invisible Work

by Kwoya Fagin Maples

or teachers,      guides whose gestures      I recall better than names

            so much I’ve been taught I have yet to know

but ode            to every stitch of braid past my mother’s fingertips 

sewing countless

                                     buttons for every day my grandmother

cooked and cleaned house twice

& Sis. Eugenia Foster 

who kept my brother and I in summer who taught me 

              steeping and drinking tea  & how      I could call for someone 

but not cry       when they passed over

the wind chimes too        all their constant worry with wind

even after her stroke        my grandmother Dorothy rose on cold 



(Read the rest here, at 


Margaret, at Reflections on the Teche, has the Poetry Friday round-up this week. 

Friday, February 09, 2024

Poetry Friday: Eve L. Ewing, on talking to bus drivers and the end of the world

Eve L. Ewing said of this piece: 

"This poem started out as being about the everyday moments that sustain us, born from an interaction with a bus driver. Due, probably, to both the times we live in and my generally apocalyptic character, it also became a poem about the end of the world." 

I gotta love any poet who combines small talk and eschatology. I'm there. 

by Eve L. Ewing

i’m confident that the absolute dregs of possibility for this society,
the sugary coffee mound at the bottom of this cup,
our last best hope that when our little bit of assigned plasma implodes
it won’t go down as a green mark in the cosmic ledger,
lies in the moment when you say hello to a bus driver
and they say it back—

when someone holds the door open for you
and you do a little jog to meet them where they are—


Read the rest here, at

I think perhaps my favorite lines from this one — though it's hard to pick a favorite — is: 

"and actually everyone who tried to keep me alive, keep me afloat, /and if not unblemished, suitably repaired."

Carol Varsalona, at Beyond LiteracyLink, has the Poetry Friday round-up today.

(Photo courtesy of William Larsen, Pexels.)

Thursday, February 01, 2024

Poetry Friday: James Weldon Johnson

I love this one from James Weldon Johnson (not that I could ever pick a favorite from among all these treasures.) 

Enjoy all kinds of Poetry Friday goodness with Mary Lee Hahn at A(nother) Year of Reading

Before a Painting

by James Weldon Johnson

I knew not who had wrought with skill so fine
What I beheld; nor by what laws of art
He had created life and love and heart
On canvas, from mere color, curve and line.
Silent I stood and made no move or sign;
Not with the crowd, but reverently apart;
Nor felt the power my rooted limbs to start,
But mutely gazed upon that face divine.

And over me the sense of beauty fell,
As music over a raptured listener to
The deep-voiced organ breathing out a hymn;
Or as on one who kneels, his beads to tell,
There falls the aureate glory filtered through
The windows in some old cathedral dim.

(This poem is in the public domain.)