Poetry Corner

In my spare time, I write poetry. Most of it is free verse, though I love haiku and sometimes challenge myself with a more complex form. I will post poems here periodically.

I rolled a 5 on my 20 sider the day
You threw a +15 love potion my way.
The DM of the Universe laughed
And said I was doomed
To love you forever;
There is no antidote to true love’s bond.
But, it’s a blessing as far as I can see.
We have each other’s backs
When fighting Orcs and evil wizards,
And share adventures, loot, and mischief
Not to mention the odd pint
And storytelling marathons.

Another perfect day
Basking in your love.
I cannot remember what we did,
Only that we were together,
Walking the road less traveled.
Holding hands and laughing
As we meandered
Through the wooded glen
And watched the goslings play.
Stopping by a little stream to rest,
Wrapped in each other’s arms
Dreaming of our lives to come
Safe in the bubble of our love.

There is a love
That flows like a river
Deep and calm;
Swirling around the roots
Of a willow tree
Bending and swaying
In the warm breath of the Universe.

There is a faith
That reaches like a root
Strong and sure
Deep into the thick mud
Supporting and nourishing
The heart of a willow tree.

There is a hope
That glistens like a raindrop
Light and clear
Sparkling on the willow leaf
Cleansing and refreshing
The spirit of the willow tree.

In the spirit light
That glows like a candle
Warm and kind,
Rest the souls of those
Who seek the secrets of the willow tree,

Two families and traditions blend
Using the strength of the willow
To dance in the breezes of what may come,
And, there is a love.

The changewinds blow with hurricane strength
Buffeting our little ship about.
We must tack with the wind
Or be blown to bits
And crashed upon the rocky shore
Of missed opportunities and regret.
But, our ship is strong and so are we.
We accept the challenge and begin,
Laughing at the fate that brought us here,
And steering for fairer seas
Of Love and Tranquility.

Words cannot describe.
It’s more than deeds, thoughts, feelings.
Sum greater than parts.

Your caress is like the sun’s kiss on a balmy day.
Your laughter makes music in my heart.
Your voice soothes the savage beast within.
Your arms keep me safe and warm.
Your love makes my heart sing and my spirit soar.
Our conversations meander like country roads,
As we explore the big balls of twine along the way.
Even weeding the garden is fun with you.
Integrity, kindness, generosity,
Intelligence, and self-awareness
In one oh-so-loveable package.
What more could I ask?

One small decision
To go left instead of right,
To take a risk, not take a flight,
Or simply forgetting
To close the garden gate,
All can alter your ordered fate.

In a tiny moment,
A fraction of time,
You meet your love,
Or lose your mind.
Only in memory
Are the effects known.

What seemed bad
Becomes good
Once you see the whole.
Each experience a journey,
A lesson for your soul.

It’s always there
Whether we notice or not,
It’s effect rippling from us
To the world in ways
We can’t fathom.
Complex in its simplicity,
That’s synchronicity.

It’s those moments, large and small
That build the bond of mate and friend.
Laughter is the glue that holds
Friends together through thick and thin
For long walks and deep talks,
Movie nights and sword fights,
Hurts healed and things congealed,
Drunken gaffes and hearty laughs,
Missed saving throws and crossbows,
History and mystery.
Years go by and stories grow
Funnier and weirder each time they’re told.

Your voice caresses me as I dream;
I hear your faraway voice recite
The words I long to hear
“At last, at last.
We can be together,
You and I.”
Phantom arms enfold me;
In my sleepy state
I know that they are yours
And that you, too, long to hear
My laughter on the wind
Delighting in our love.

I asked God
To send me an angel
Who would help me
Find my way.
Then, I met you.

I prayed for someone
Who would love me
Forever and for always
And, I met you.

I asked for someone
I could love with,
Laugh with, and grow with.
I met you.

My heart cried out
In pain and loneliness—
A frozen wasteland,
Until I met you

I was afraid
That I would never find
Someone to share my life.
But, now I have you.

And, now I have
An answer to my prayers,
Someone to laugh with,
Someone to love and cherish.
My heart sings
And I am no longer afraid
Because I have you.

Two beings separated in space and time
Seeking the other, though they know it not.
Drawn by bonds more powerful
Than logic, geography, or travail.
At last, they reach each other’s side.
Resonating at the same frequency,
Neither can resist the attraction
They dance ever closer
Until they become one.

Golden cat with Cheshire grin and pendulum tail
Staring down from the top shelf of the bar
Knows I wait in vain
Though I start at every opened door,
And search for your beloved face
Amongst the people walking by.
Another coffee, then I’ll leave,
And hope you call to say
There was a mistake–
You came on the wrong day.

A low rumbling pierced the deep fog
Of her sleep-filled consciousness.
Black faded to gray and the mist cleared as
Slowly opening one eye,
She found herself gazing
At a miniature forest of hair
Curling willy nilly
Across the hills and valleys of a chest.
Her fingers rested,
Like giants surveying their domain,
Amid the tangled tufts of fur.
Sleepily, she shifted position.
At her movement,
Strong, sinewy arms enfolded her
In their loving embrace.
Sighing, she wriggled closer,
Drifting off once more to peaceful dark.

A low rumble and a crash
Startled her awake.
As she looked around—
The rumble was only thunder.
The miniature hair forest
Was only her old, wornout
Teddy Bear.

Icy fingers reach through my jacket
As I huddle in the howling wind
Whipping the lift chair to and fro.
Why did I leave the warmth
Of my lover’s arms?
Such an ungodly hour, this pre-dawn time
When the sun barely peeks above the horizon,
And the icy grip of night still holds.

Then, as I reach the windswept crest
The peaks around me begin to glow
Pinks, blues, purples bouncing off the snow
As the sun raises his head
From his mountain pillow.
“This must be what God sees,”
I think in awe.

Breathing deeply of the
Pine-scented, oxygen-starved air,
Peace fills me and I remember
Why I come as supplicant
To worship here in the snow
The mountains are my cathedral,
Laughter my bell.

One last last look and I descend,
The wind whistling in my ears
As trees flash faster and faster by
And icy granules abrade my cheeks.

Pausing to rest, I look back to see
The glistening white slopes
Pristine but for my loving turns.
Heaven is here–in this place,
At this time.

There’s an elephant in the living room
That we’ve pretended isn’t there.
It’s so big we can barely see around it
As we share our social cares.
Chatting nonsense, playing nice
While the elephant grows larger day by day.

Sometimes, it reaches out a window
To nibble on a tree,
Or steals a cookie
Meant for Aunt Louise.

The elephant’s so big now,
It can’t fit through the door.
We’ll have to raise the roof
And remove the second floor.

How did it grow so big, you ask?
We really couldn’t say
All we know is that we saw it
Sitting here today.

The time has come to let it go
To give it space to roam.
When it comes back to us
We’ll make it feel at home.

Past is past, done is done.
The bridge is built,
The water has run.
Shall we cross together,
With our love outshining the sun?

Many-hued soldiers
Marching stiff and straight
Along the sidewalk border
And around the garden gate.

Passionate reds, happy yellows
Bright blues and luminous purples
Line the walks in cheery tribute
To those who brave the wind and rain

Rainbows bursting into view
Through the fog and dreary weather.
Reminding us that spring has come again.

Forming perfect pirouettes high above the waves,
Leaping joyously as one,
Extravagant abandon in every turn.
Their long, gray bodies flash past,
Whirling and diving faster than the eye can follow.

Disappearing for agonizing moments,
Only to burst forth exuberantly
Grace, beauty, athleticism in one sleek form,
Displaying their prowess in friendly competition.

Laughter and excited chitters echo across the water,
Which glitters in the light.
With their permanent smiles
And intelligent eyes mocking
They drench me with a splash.

Chasing playfully as children and lovers do,
Poetry in every acrobatic pose.
Dancing on the waves
As they depart.

A final leap and twist
Silhouetted by the setting sun.
As they say “Farewell”.
Dolphins dance for joy.

Unfinished Poems
Unfinished poems litter my mindscape,
Floating motes of thought
That tantalize and tease
But elude my capture.

Thoughts of love, of hate;
Of death and life;
Of men and friends.
Whispering softly
To my conscious mind,
Only to dance away
At the last second.

I devise clever traps
To catch these mysterious wisps,
But always some shadow
Blinds my sight
Until they are gone,
Lost in the canyons of my mind.

I know not where
These poems grow,
Deep in the wilderness
Of my thoughts,
Nor do I understand
What sustains them there.

Until one day,
Inspired by the Muse,
A poem finishes itself
Of its own accord
And springs full-grown
From my pen.

1998: written at a Poetry Slam in Fargo while listening to other poets perform. (Poetry Slams are part beatnikesque poetry reading and part performance art.)

Mountains of yellow grain
Stand majestically
In the shimmering heat.

Dust swirls and the augur roars,
Causing yellow avalanches
And reducing majestic mountains
To pebbled piles.
There is only here
Only now.

Yellow avalanches fill
My dreams, my thoughts,
Reverberating in my soul
With metronomic precision.
Arms ache, shoulders burn.
Shoveling grain
Is a Zen thing.

1999: written while waiting for friends to show for my birthday party. I was remembering the previous summer, when I’d gone down to Worthington to visit the Perkins and to help on the farm. Pretty sad that two people the same age as my parents could outwork me, and not even seem tired!

The wind whispers of danger,
Frightening and alluring
As I gaze across the vast,
Brilliant white emptiness.

So much depends on my reaching
Across the void
And bringing back supplies
So desperately needed.

My mind screams, “Impossible!”
My heart whispers, “You must!”
Whom do I listen to?

I put one foot in front of the other
Plodding onward, ever onward
Across the emptiness
Leaving only lonely footprints
As testimony of my passage.

1986: creative writing class

An angel left the world today,
Gone far from the fear and pain,
Floating now amidst the clouds and stars,
Watching over loved ones left behind.

Sorrow not for her, my friend,
For she can laugh and play
Among the stars
And ride the tails
Of comets passing by,
No longer trapped
By her mortal coil.

And, when you feel
The warmest kiss
Of a gentle breeze,
Know she guards and guides,
Abiding until you
Can ride the comets, too.

© 2003 M Katherine Brown
1992, 2003: wrote the original version in 1992 for a friend, and then couldn’t find it, so I rewrote it today. This is a significantly different poem than the original, though the first 2 lines are the same.

The somber giant awoke
To a brilliant flash of light
And a loud boom.
The pungent smell of burning pitch
Tickled his nostrils
As the orange, yellow, and red flames
Danced on his face
Amidst the pine and fir of his beard.

Centuries of slumber had rooted him in place
And he could only watch in helpless agony
As the small, yellow-jacketed creatures
Made their way toward him.

They came in groups of twenty
Scrambling up his steep side
Toward the source of his pain,
Working feverishly to save him.

A sudden wind fanned the blaze
Into a roaring furnace
Of heat, fire, and smoke.
Then, the Storm King cried in anguish
As his would-be rescuers
Racing uphill through the haze
Died in the raging flame—
Fourteen young souls
Who would never rise again.

In honor of the 14 firefighters who died in the Storm King mountain fire © July 6, 1994: M. Katherine Brown

Thirteen lights
With futures bright
Snuffed out too soon
By two with hidden wounds
Who succumbed to forces Dark.

Fifteen families torn apart,
A community with a broken heart.
Children forced to grow too fast,
Innocence robbed—a gaping gash.
Blood feeds the forces Dark.

How can we begin again?
Can anyone ease our pain,
Caused by the evil forces Dark?

We must arise
And wipe our tears.
Then, find the fire
That feeds the flame
Of light and love
To rekindle the spark
Of forces Light.

April 20, 1999: In memory of the children and teacher who died that horrible day. Littleton, CO is the last place anyone thought something like this could happen. A cautionary tale for all of us…

The April day dawned cold and gray in southwestern Tennessee. The once beautiful southern landscape was ravaged with signs of a battle just passed. Musket balls had pierced the trees along the winding road, and ruts made by cannons marked the passage of the chaos from a few hours ago.

Abandoned, broken artillery lay scattered around the battlefield, reminding Americans forever of the war. On that fateful day, the blood of thousands permanently stained the southern soil, and the pond, in a now quiet glen, was red with blood.

The wounded had come to this pond to wash their wounds and to die in peace. Gradually, the pond had become a rich crimson color from the wounds of the once healthy young men. As these young men waited to die, they cried out their anguish over their sweethearts, never to be seen again. Then, as a dying soldier breathed his last, peace returned once more to Shiloh. But, was it really peace?

Neither the birds sang that day, nor did the animals come out of hiding. For many days, all was quiet, as if waiting the return of dead soldiers. Memories of the violent battle whispered through the trees. Animals looked on the barbaric humans playing their games of death.

The forest still becomes quiet when people visit, and the sounds of battle still echo through silent woods. The trees still weep with their musket ball scars because nature is slow in healing so large a wound. Then, memories pass on to other times.

1979: written for 9th grade honors English and based on the trip to Shiloh with Beth, Ma and PaPa in 1977.

The old man’s face,
Wrinkles forming canyons
In the dark expanse.

Brown, gold, weatherbeaten as the desert.
From its depths arise a startling blue.
The blue of a deep, vast lake
Reflecting the summer sky
Sometimes appearing deep and warm
Others—stark and hard as the winter sky
Reflecting off facets of ice.

Eyes changing expression as the land varies season
From the thundering anger of a summer storm
To the warmth of a soft spring day.
From the starkness of winter
To the depth of a twilight hour.

As he spoke,
The face of the land
Blurred with that of the old man
Until they were one.

Copyright © 1987, M. Katherine Brown
1987: written for a creative writing class, and one of the winners of the poetry contest that garnered me a $500 tuition waiver

They call.
A cougar cub has been found
Injured and forlorn.
He must have strayed from the cave
When his mother didn’t come home.
Oh, they found the mother alright—
Felled by a poacher’s rifle.

They bring him to my office.
He is so small, so helpless.
Much too young to be
Away from the den.
He’ll never survive.
The wounds are too deep.
Only his soft fur warms him
Now that his mother is gone.
What can I do?

He impales me with his gaze
So trusting, so innocent.
His mewling cries
Of pain and hunger
Echo in my ears.
This child of the wilderness—
A baby still.

Harmed by man’s intervention.
“It’s nature’s way,” they say,
“Let him die.”
I know what I must do.

A bottle warms on the stove
As I dress his wounds,
Healing by man’s intervention.

1987: written for a creative writing class, and one of the winners of the poetry contest that garnered me a $500 tuition waiver

Waves gently lap against the sand
As the tide ebbs,
Exposing the treasures of the sea.

As the sand chases the waves,
Tiny coquinas form flocks of butterflies
And purple scallops make patterns,
While the whorls of whelks and conches
Invite inspection.

Pink, white, and black murexes with spiky points,
And pin shells lie in wait for tender bare feet,
As Lion’s Paws and Lady’s Slippers leave tracks
Among the seaweed.

So many shells that they crunch under foot,
Making new patterns with the shards.
Inner spirals appear,
Haunting in their symmetry.

Starfish slowly bake in the noonday sun,
Too slow to reach the live-giving water.

Occasionally, the sea offers rarer treasures,
Empty eggs cases, their former residents now food
For hungry fish,
And delicate Angel Wings,
Glowing white against the pale sand,
Or large Tulips,
With hermit crab squatters.

Treasures abound if you but know where to look.
Each spiral, color, and stripe make a curious symmetry,
Pictures that change with the tide.
God’s shell work—Ever changing, always beautiful.

Copyright 2002 © M. Katherine Brown

Gentle waves caress the sand,
Teasing each small grain with
The soft touch of a lover’s hand,
Erasing echoes of the recent past
And decorating the beach anew
With treasures of the deep.

Laughter drifts across the bay
Caught in the ocean’s salty breath
As people watch the dolphins play
And wish that they were free
To sing and dance along the shores
Where songs of mer-folk linger.

Creatures from the depths arise
Guided by the silvery cries
Of moonbeams playing in the foam.
Mysterious shadows
Whisper secrets in the mist,
And then return to hallowed haunts.

All is quiet down below—
Life and death a silent song.
Time and space seem to slow
In the juxtaposition
Of implacable calm
And perpetual motion,
Which is the essence
Of the ocean.

Copyright 2001 M. Katherine Brown

Feelings buried deep inside
Forgotten in the endless tide
Of worries, concerns, surviving.
Taking them out to be examined.
Can they stand the glare of the sun?
So much easier to lock them away
And never show them the light of day.
What cost to keep them hidden—
Living only on the surface;
Never sharing or caring?
A bland existence that.
Yet what pain to share
And be rejected.

Circa 1991

Surrounded by people
Who call me a friend,
My hollow insides echo
Like the vibrations of a bell
After the sound dies away.
Each beat of my heart
Starts the echo anew.

The pain of it—
The loneliness.
I reach out
Longing for a touch,
Any small word of care.
But the others, too,
Are prisoners of their pain,
Each agonizing in the dark, alone.
And touching only the surface,
While inside the bell tolls on.

The bell tolls the funeral march
Of love, friendship, and intimacy.
No time to care, it cries.
No one to care for, I answer,
As the echo reaches
The end of my soul,
And dies.

Circa 1989

We may not always agree
Or believe in the same things,
But trust in me.

I will almost definitely
Make a mistake or two.
After all, I’m only human.
Don’t condemn me,
Just trust in me.

I will learn what to do,
Aided by the strong foundation
You laid with love.
Trust in me.

You raised me
To be a good person:
Intelligent, strong,
Independent, kind.
You taught me well,
So just trust in me.

Circa 1983: written sometime during my freshman year of college

The corrosive acid eats its way
Into the soil, coming nearer
To the roots of the once beautiful rose,
Now drooping in the acid’s dark presence.

Can you see how the acid creeps
Rapaciously up the stem?
Blackening, ravaging
Until the rose groans in defeat—
Crumbling, dying.

1987: written for a creative writing class, and one of the winners of the poetry contest that garnered me a $500 tuition waiver

A rosy-cheeked, dimpled Bug
With those clear gray eyes,
Full of smiles and pain.
So innocent,
Yet knowing all.

I wish I could protect you
From the harsh, cold world—
Wrapping you in the cocoon
Of my embrace
Shielding you from hurt.
But, I know that doing so
Would harm you even more.

For a cocoon
Becomes a coffin
When it prevents
The butterfly’s flight.

Stretching your wings
Is painful to be sure,
But a necessary task
To reap the reward
Of a nectar pure.

So, bask in the sun’s love.
Float on the breeze.
Dance among the flowers.
Nourish the seed.

Love, laugh, cry if you must.
Be caring and kind,
Share your sweet love,
But don’t forget to care for
The most important one of all—

Circa 1985

Though words often fail to show it,
With this poem I hope you’ll see
Everything you mean to me.

From your eyes alight
With humor and love,
To your arms that contain
An abundance of hugs,
From your hearts overflowing
With generosity and insight
That taught me to spread good things
Wherever I go,
To your feet that have carried you
Through high times and low,
I love you so much more than
My heart can hold.

I wondered what would’ve occurred
If Virginia had not preferred
The fuzzy slippers from Page,
Which then set the stage
For your loving marriage,
And for my eventual birth.

No beach walks, no long talks.
No pictures made with loving hands.
No afghans to keep me cozy and warm.
No stories told or history learned
No lifetime of laughter and memories shared.
The Universe would have been a poorer place
Without your love to fill it.

Your home has always a refuge, a place of mirth,
Filled with love, kindness, and fun.
So thank you for the example you’ve shown.

You are my angels, my advisors,
My confidantes.
But mostly I’m just glad
That you’re my grandparents.

M. Katherine Brown, © 2001

I never knew it was possible
To love someone so completely
Until I saw you
Sleeping in your mother’s arms.

Ten fingers, ten toes,
Chubby cheeks and rosebud lips,
With just a bit of fuzz for hair.
The smell of talcum and milk
Lingering as I nuzzle your head.

Trusting fingers curl around my collar
As you softly sigh,
Then sleepily open one eye
To gaze at your adoring fan
Who’s come to pay homage
To your arrival.

Reaving up, you pat my face.
As I kiss your precious hand,
You smile knowingly,
And rest your head
On my shoulder,
Dreaming once more.

2003: I wrote this as I thought about seeing each niece and nephew for the first time.  I can’t imagine loving any children more than I do Josh, Allen, Kayla, Logan, Tate, Janie, Makenzie and Nora.


Talking, laughing, fun
Sharing the good times and bad.
Keeping secrets safe.


Talk, play, argue, love
Spending time together is
A precious gift shared.


Complexities arise.
Relationships change over time,
Still we care and love.


Brother, sisters–friends.
Unbreakable bonds of love
Shared trials, and fun.

2003: Written today as I was playing with some haiku ideas.  (Haikus must follow a 5-7-5 syllable pattern.)