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.) 

Friday, January 26, 2024

Poetry Friday: When a poem gobsmacks

It's surprising sometimes, the way Poetry Friday just works. You think of a poet, and you're drawn to that person, their poem, that moment. And it's the perfect poem for that imperfect day. 

This morning, coming late to the Poetry Friday party, I thought, "What shall I throw into the mix? What about some Barbara Crooker? What about that one mentioning glorious things around us?" These are days when I find myself looking for glorious moments in the smallest of things. 

I found the poem and was gobsmacked. I'd completely forgotten that this poem swerves into mention of her mother, medically struggling day by day. I looked at the screen, blinked, looked left, then right, as if I'd see the source of this coincidence. I didn't see anything, but I feel it. All around us. 

Later today I'll go to the hospital where my mother, too, is having more bad days than good, where I, too, will look around and try, try fervently, to remember all that is glorious around us. 

All That Is Glorious Around Us

is not, for me, these grand vistas, sublime peaks, mist-filled
overlooks, towering clouds, but doing errands on a day
of driving rain, staying dry inside the silver skin of the car,
160,000 miles, still running just fine. Or later,
sitting in a café warmed by the steam
from white chicken chili, two cups of dark coffee,
(Read the rest of Barbara Crooker's poem here.) 


Friday, January 12, 2024

Poetry Friday: Anne Porter, "Living Things"

I find Anne Porter utterly charming. 

Porter began seriously pursuing her poetry at the age of 64, after her husband, artist Fairfield Porter passed away in 1975. Her first collection of poetry was published 1994, when she was 83 years old. 

Read more about her here, at the Poetry Foundation

For a longer bio, go to Best American Poetry, where Porter, after being asked why she was still writing at her age, said that "art may be the only pursuit that old age can't wreck":

"You can't sing anymore, you can't dance anymore, you can't drive anymore — but you can still write." 

Here's to continuing to create living things in 2024. 

Living Things
by Anne Porter

Our poems
Are like the wart-hogs
In the zoo
It's hard to say
Why there should be such creatures

But once our life gets into them
As sometimes happens
Our poems
Turn into living things
And there's no arguing
With living things

(Read the rest here.) 


Tracey Kiff-Judson is hosting today. Join her as she ponders Monopoly pieces and pulls together the Poetry Friday round-up. 

Thursday, January 04, 2024

Poetry Friday: "Journey of the Magi" by T.S. Eliot

Apparently, I haven't posted this one since 2020. (I thought I predictably posted it every single year but apparently, I am less predictable than I think.) Therefore, here is my not-quite-annual trek with Eliot. 

Journey of the Magi
by T.S. Eliot 

'A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins,
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

(This poem is in the public domain.) 


What an astonishing poem, a melding of earthiness and supernatural doings. Eliot captures that down-to-the-bones discomfort of a life-shattering event, an alien revelation, the combination of comfort and terror. 

You can also listen to Eliot read it here, at The Poetry Archive. 

Thursday, December 28, 2023

Poetry Friday: Jason Bayani's "Someday, Again"

When this poem appeared at, Jason Bayani said of it: 

"There was a point where I started to question what I was doing as a poet and if my voice was even needed, which I think was a necessary question for me to explore. But for a while, I didn’t write because that question made me uncomfortable and I tend to avoid discomfort. I don’t know if this poem is me facing that; maybe it’s a beginning, a negotiation of some kind, a way to find my way back to the table, or a way to understand my poetics inside of a world in collapse."

Have you been there? Have you felt that? I have, and I so appreciate the kinship of a fellow writer who admits that we sometimes need to find our way back to the table. 

Someday, Again

by Jason Bayani

I’m waiting for the words        to catch up to my heart    which is 

elliptical at the moment            there’s an apology 

even I am expecting to bore out of my throat

                                                                         but what for            what for 

I am continuing to write in a font        that displeasures me 

            everything shifts so rapidly

my body           the environment           my body            the environment

why not return to something as aggressively unspectacular as arial 


(Read the rest here.) 


The lovely and talented Michelle Kogan is the gracious hostess this week for the Poetry Friday round-up. 

(Photo courtesy of Public Domain Pictures.) 

Thursday, December 21, 2023

Poetry Friday: "Winter: Tonight: Sunset" by David Budbill

Photo courtesy of Pixabay

Life has been a bit of a challenge lately. (Am I always saying that? I need a new thing to say.) Anyway, this poem had me nodding my head in recognition and agreement. Twice recently, in my gratitude journal, I said I was thankful for: 

walking to the mailbox in the cold, crisp night air 

Winter: Tonight: Sunset

by David Budbill

Tonight at sunset walking on the snowy road,
my shoes crunching on the frozen gravel, first

through the woods, then out into the open fields
past a couple of trailers and some pickup trucks, I stop

and look at the sky. Suddenly: orange, red, pink, blue,
green, purple, yellow, gray, all at once and everywhere.

I pause in this moment at the beginning of my old age

(Read the rest here.) 


Jone Rush MacCulloch has the round-up this week. 

Thursday, November 09, 2023

Poetry Friday: I'm hosting! (No overthinking allowed.)

I was thinking, overthinking, and waffling about what to post. Then, as I grew tired of waffling, overthinking — and, let's face it, just plain thinking — Atticus suggested that I post "Autumn in New York." One really can't go wrong with Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong, can one? No, one cannot. 

Ramona had thoughts too. She suggested the nothing-but-poetic scene from You've Got Mail in which Joe Fox expresses the perfect fall thought.

So, dear reader, if you too do not want to overthink anything but would simply like to bask in the beauty of Ella and Louis, and the joys of a screenplay by Nora Ephron, join me:  



Mr. Linky is helping me round up this week's Poetry Friday posts, 
in his always-helpful, linky way. 

Thanks for joining us! 

Thursday, November 02, 2023

Poetry Friday: "I wanted to be surprised."

Of course, we should be careful about what we want. Reality is always surprising. 

I've been away from the blog for a while. Life has taken many surprising turns in the last few months and I'm sad to have to share that my father passed away. We'd seen such decline in the last year as he battled a rare, aggressive form of cancer that spread to his bones. When he opted for hospice care, we got him moved into a beautiful place and he died two days later. I was surprised by that, but also by hummingbirds and by an Oscar Wilde quote that played a part in Dad's last days. In addition to grieving the loss of a man who spent 89 years on this planet, we've been handling the many details that need to be handled, and now I'm working on moving my mom — who still lives two hours away from us and had to go into Memory Care — to our town, which will make everyone's life better and days happier. I have so much to say and to write about caring for one's parents, but today is not the day for that. Today, I just want to share some wisdom and loveliness from Jane Hirshfield, who is always a balm to my soul. 

I wanted to be surprised.

by Jane Hirshfield

To such a request, the world is obliging.

In just the past week, a rotund porcupine,
who seemed equally startled by me.

The man who swallowed a tiny microphone
to record the sounds of his body,
not considering beforehand how he might remove it.

A cabbage and mustard sandwich on marbled bread.

How easily the large spiders were caught with a clear plastic cup
surprised even them.

I don’t know why I was surprised every time love started or ended.
Or why each time a new fossil, Earth-like planet, or war.
Or that no one kept being there when the doorknob had clearly.

What should not have been so surprising:
my error after error, recognized when appearing on the faces of others.

What did not surprise enough:
my daily expectation that anything would continue,
and then that so much did continue, when so much did not.
(Read the rest here, at 


The round-up this week is being hosted by Buffy Silverman

Photo thanks to BarbeeAnne at Pixabay

Friday, September 29, 2023

Poetry Friday: I need a little Emily Dickinson today

 But then, who doesn't? 

If I can stop one heart from breaking,
    I shall not live in vain;
    If I can ease one life the aching,
    Or cool one pain,
    Or help one fainting robin
    Unto his nest again,
    I shall not live in vain.

This poem is in the public domain. 


Have a beautiful Friday and may you ease one life the aching today, 
or be on the receiving end of such kindness. 

Saturday, September 23, 2023

Poetry Friday on a Saturday: Irene Latham's new book!

Look at this gorgeous cover! 

When I heard that Irene Latham had a new book coming out, I was over the moon. (I know, I know. I had to say it.) I've long admired Irene's endless talents. She is a wordsmith, poet, art aficionado, editor extraordinaire, and an incredible collaborator with the-also-endlessly-talented Charles Waters (whose work also needs to be checked out as soon as you have time to get lost in his website). 

What's the new book about? 

The premise of the book is intriguing: these poems are a catalog and overview of items we, humankind, have left behind on our neighbor in space. Some items are moving and meaningful (an American flag, a gold replica of an olive branch, the ashes of astrogeologist Eugene M. Shoemaker, a family photograph of astronaut Charles Duke) and some are merely "space junk" (check out the book for that fun array) but every object and poem inspires a thoughtful reaction. 

My first dip into The Museum on the Moon: The Curious Objects on the Lunar Surface left me charmed. The illustrations, by Myriam Wares, are consistently bewitching but also varied enough to match the mood of each poem perfectly. 

My second dip into The Museum on the Moon had me thinking about how stealthily educational the book is (in every marvelous sense of the word.) It left me wishing that I was still a homeschooling mom, teaching my daughters about the world (and the space around the world) through beautiful books. The Museum on the Moon would have inspired an entire unit study/deep dive for us. I miss those days, but that doesn't mean that this book doesn't have a place on my bookshelf. I will never stop collecting gorgeous picture books that send me over the moon. I'm delighted to add this one to my collection. 

Be sure to also check out Irene's MOON Discussion Guide and her Museum on the Moon Padlet


The Poetry Friday round-up is being hosted this week by Carol Varsalona at Beyond LiteracyLink