My debut novel originated from poems that were written as a catharsis, my own peculiar way of healing years of unanswered questions and unresolved angst over my mother’s mental illness.  In my teaching years, I saw some of the best student poetry emanate out of some of the worst socio-economic and personal home lives you can imagine.  My friend Carol Baldwin writes poetry when she gets stuck on her WIP, particularly when she needs to go deep into the emotions of a particular character.   My point is, poetry can be very therapeutic, good for your mental health, and yes, even good for your writing.

Many people are hung up on the formality of what they think poetry is or should be.  Take it from me.  I have no formal poetry writing credentials to offer, but I know that deep down in my heart and or my gut there lies some emotion that can only be expressed in a rolling, unrhymed free form that I call poetry.

Recently I know too many friends or family members who are seriously ill.  Some have already died.  It happens to all of us.  There is only one way I can truly get to the bottom of my depth of despair, and  that is through poetry.  It soothes me, and heals me, and clarifies the way forward.

I wrote this last summer, angered by the death march of a dear friend.




A rare July morn in Charlotte

fooled by blankets of grey clouds

or global mistakes into offering

cool mid-summer oxygen,

it can make you giddy

as in remission.


I long for a glimpse of the grey-blue heron

sailing down the black-water creek

more grey, the heron

than blue, more hidden

this morning, than not,

hidden like Jeanne’s killer.


The illusive vicious murderer

remains at large.  It left

a Hansel and Gretel trail,

booby-trapped a network of intricate paths,

death traps disguised.

Specialists called in,

now hopelessly dismissed.


A splash of yellow flits across my path.

I swerve, as if old ladies on wobbling bikes

can mow down a young Oriole

on a July morning.


Would it be justice served,

a tumble-down spill into murky, tepid waters

for an old lady who’s dodged bullets

all these long years?


Is death by a meandering creek

any more just than an army of insidious cells

marching in rampant and unstoppable syncopation

through an innocent body?


Obviously the sleepy creek has better

things to do today, while a hell-bent sun

pronounces death to the wispy, cool morning.


I work up a sweat peddling back home,

embarrassed by the small price I pay

for these aging breaths,

the breaths I keep stealing

all the way home.










  1. I am honored to be mentioned in a blog post in which your poetry sings so beautifully. Ah. I can’t even touch a finger to what you have expressed in this poem. Ethereal and yet very down to earth. Love it.

  2. Thanks for the kind words, my friend. But you’ve written some mighty fine poems yourself, and I hope you keep up with that practice and are compiling a collection as you go. That’s how books get started, you know!

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