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This Is Not a Poem

Thank you for your interest in my poetry. I've appreciated your reading along at My Poetry Studio. It has been a joy to share my work with you.

However, I must simplify my overflowing creative life. So, on July 1, I'll close the doors on this studio. Before that time, please make copies of any poems on this site that you might wish to keep.

I hope that we might continue our acquaintance in other ways. If you aren't already a member of my reading communities, I'd love if you joined one or both. The first community receives Staying Power, a free weekly care package for creative, compassionate spirits. The second receives Staying Power Plus, my monthly round-up of author news.

Though I'm closing the doors of this studio, I'll still be writing poetry. How about you?

As Salman Rushdie once put it, poets work "to name the unnameable, to point at frauds, to take sides, start arguments, shape the world, and stop it from going to sleep." Pretty essential work. So, please, keep writing!

If you don't write poetry, by all means, keep reading. Who would we writers be without you?

I bow to you in gratitude. May you be well. May you be happy. May you be at peace.

Deep peace,

The Day That Weeps

The day that weeps
is the day we no longer weep
because we can no longer love
enough what needs to be loved

which is just about everything
that weeps

even trees drip tears

Play notes: I wrote this poem in response to a reader's email, written, she said, on a "weepy day," the birthday of her recently deceased mother.

This Life

is a coin
whose worth
depends upon
the pocket
it travels in

Many pockets
only count it
rare and precious
once they’re fraying
at the seams

Every coin
in every pocket
has two sides

Heads is me
Tails is you

(or maybe
it’s the other
way around)

All I know is

flip it right
and it lands
on its edge

and spins
        and spins
                and spins

Play Notes: Wrote this for fun on my birthday, March 26. 

First Hug

Someday soon we will hug again,
even if we weren’t big huggers before,
and for the rest of our lives
we’ll tell stories about our first,
just to relive where we were,
and who it was,
and when,
and how good it felt,
and how relieved we were
after a pandemic year of drought
that our thirsty bodies still knew how
to swallow each other up
in this strange and tender thing we humans do,
binding beating heart to beating heart.
We’ll tell how the entire world
shrank to that one embrace.
We’ll tell how once we finally let go
we pulled each other back 
into the shelter of shared breath and flesh
and stood there, hanging on and on, 
storing up the feel of all we’d missed
against the fear of losing touch again.

Play notes: I've been quiet a while. Life has been intense since Dad died. Mom has been hospitalized three times with what we in the family suspect might be Broken Heart Syndrome. But this week she got her first hug since last April, from a staffer in her elder care community. Oh, that was great medicine! And I knew, hearing her tell the story, that I needed to write a poem about it. May you enjoy your first safe hug soon.

Looking Up

     Before the Great Conjunction of Jupiter and Saturn
     December 21, 2020

Bright as stars
the distant friends
travel low
across the sky,
creeping toward
each other
by slow degrees,
as if centuries
of wandering alone
through empty space
have made them shy
to meet again.
The moon conceals
a knowing smile
to see them
drawing near,
while here
we pause,
look up
through night,
crowds of
lonely silhouettes
hoping for
a cloudless view,
to watch
the tiny lights align—
this, we pray,
a great celestial sign
that one day soon
we will reunite
with those
whose touch
we miss,
so far away,
in separate orbits.

Play notes: I drafted this in December around the time of the Great Conjunction. Due to atmospheric conditions where I live, I couldn't see it. Hope you did!


            for my father

The night before you died
I dreamed a wooden ladder
rose straight into the sky,
propped against only a wall of air
yet sturdy on its feet, like you
in that faded old photo, tall and lean,
knee-high in a field of ripening beans.

I wasn’t with you at the end
but I know that when you left your bed
you mounted that ladder, young again,
body light and nimble, clambering up
the rungs worn smooth by shoes
and stained from use like wooden spoons.
After a few uncertain steps,
your long legs took them two at a time,
a rapturous climb to glory,
up past the crowns of maples and oaks,
up past the tops of barns and silos,
up past the soaring vultures and hawks,
up through the thin cool veil of clouds.
Now and then on your way to the stars
I see you pause upon that ladder,
look down from the heavens,
not to gauge how far you’ve come
but to gaze with love on what you loved.

Play notes: My father, Lynn Allen Cole, died of COVID-19 on January 3, 2021. I started this poem the next day, based on a dream I had the night before he passed. (Dad, I know you didn't much like poetry unless it had to do with farming. Maybe you can tolerate this one?)


            for my father

Hanging up
from the call
I set to cleaning
the floor,
the sink,
the counters,
the fridge,
as if the grim
I heard
were grime
I could
scour away,
a pail of
dirty water
I could
pour down
the drain.
You were
father to
fields and barns,
too much
a man
to spend time
in a kitchen.
Yet for all
my scrubbing
this is where
the stubborn stain
of your suffering

Play notes: My father was diagnosed with COVID-19 on Christmas Eve. He is now under hospice care. Love you, Dad.