Original Poem 22: I Chose Liz


My first name is Elizabeth.

Noble and Davis are the names of my family,

and these names shape my identity.

Elizabeth was given to me,

Inspired by Betsy, who

has been my mother’s friend for many years.


I went by Elizabeth for years,

but at age seven I decided to call myself Liz.

I guess that’s the age when you start to discover who

you are: you can think more abstractly, things become more familiar.

And it was up to me

to take charge of my identity,


because I was taught to act independently. My identity

was strengthened by a single mother for years

and influenced by liberal parents who wanted me to be me.

Elizabeth felt classic and regal, but Liz

was a better fit. As I grew up, I learned about who

I was: both sides of the family


had been in America since the time of the settlers, and their families

who immigrated before them identified

as English, Irish, Welsh, and perhaps a few others, who

I don’t know much about. For a few years,

I obsessed over all-things Irish. I remember when my grandpa said to me,

“Did you know, Davis used to be Davies in Welsh, Liz?”


I’ve never been to England, the land of famous Elizabeths.

It was home to my family

when my parents lived abroad before they had me,

before I even had an identity.

I’m going to visit England in less than a year.

Perhaps I’ll run into You-Know-Who.


I married a man whose

name is John Hereford, and I have now been Elizabeth

Hereford (which, in my opinion, sounds very British) for the last two years.

And one day we will have our own family,

and choose names, and shape our children’s identities,

and perhaps they will have green eyes like me.


Technically speaking, Elizabeth Hereford is who

I am on paper; but my family knows me as Liz,

the girl who at seven years old chose her identity.


Original Poem 21: Seg-men-ting


This poem is dedicated to #BlackLivesMatter

July 16, 2016


Children learn to segment words

And blend them back together

To create

A word

An understanding

I-f         s-ou-n-d-s           r-e-m-ai-n           s-e-g-r-e-g-a-t-e-d

Understanding become laborious or unknown

A segment means one of several pieces that fit with others to constitute a whole

To segment is to divide

Segment is synonymous with segregate

To segregate is to separate or isolate one thing from another

To divide something from it’s whole

We teach our children that they must blend words together

So they can understand:

l-o-ve, l-o-ve, love

Yet not enough of us believe in the importance of teaching integration

And when people don’t learn how to blend themselves together

They become illiterate to humanity

And understanding is lost

Right now

We are l-o-s-t


Do you hear the sound

Of tears that drop like men onto the ground?

And we ask ourselves, “What can I do?”

Teach your children to blend

That they may understand

Original Poem 20


June 21, 2016

Sonnet for our 2nd wedding anniversary


The second anniversary is cloth,

Like sails drifting by. Our love has grown.

The lighthouse flame shines bright and hot

And through the gentle breeze love’s song is blown.

I’m yours no matter if the seas are rough,

Though pleasant things have been in recent times,

I hope the love I show you is enough

That is brings warmth and joy for our lifetime;

And in the years to come we’ll journey on,

Each step we take, exciting and in pace

With all our goals we’ve met and see beyond,

I see a bright horizon, star filled space.

So when the moon on solstice night shines bright,

I’ll stop to look at you and think, “It’s right.”

Original Poem 19


For Mother’s Day, I went with my mom to see the van Gogh exhibit at the Art Institute.

I also wrote this sonnet for her, which depicts parts of her past fused with elements of motherhood and the present. The first photo is of my mother during a flute lesson in India.

A Portrait of My Mother

Your past is foreign, India your heart,

to us, whose life you made in motherhood.

You shared your stories, let us be a part,

and from each one we grew and understood

your talents, more than Vishvarupa’s arms,

your courage, honesty, compassion, smarts

your humbleness disguises many charms,

that we in secret are your counterparts

and mimic traits that we admire more

than we admit. For I am more aware

of beauty in the world, and I explore

the depths of others and myself. I swear

that you have taught me more than you will know;

the life you paint inspires like van Gogh.

Original Poem 18: The Arrow


This is a wedding poem, written for Claire and Ryan 3-19-16

Screen Shot 2016-05-03 at 5.38.10 PM

photo by Kathleen Quinn

The Arrow

If love was a straight shot,

it would miss the point:

The point of staying up late

to proffer liaisons of laughter and

contented, quiet companionship

while the other finishes an essay.

The point of acquiring a speeding ticket,

while over-eagerly rushing to Beloit

just to arrive in the nick of time

to spectate the other’s game.

The point of skyping at odd hours

while the other explores

the essence of la vie in Nantes.

The point of dwelling in frigid temperatures

in the dead of winter in a place

where space heaters don’t cut it

and door frames don’t close it,

but cuddles from the other

make things alright.

The point of sleeping in the mud

no shower, no tub

to bask in cheers with beers

and your bearded dear.

The point of driving back and forth

from Chi to High and High to Chi

to balance labor and love.

The point of waking up early on Sundays

because the loss of sleep is worth

the joy of joining family for brunch.

The point of dropping on one knee

even though it’s raining out

to turn a good thing into a lifetime.

The point of cheering each other on

and feeling all the more confident

because the other is by your side

in this journey called life.

The arrow cannot miss when guided by this kind of love.

Original Poem 17: Reed Song


“Reed Song” is a poem that fuses the pantoum and the pastoral forms, written to celebrate the upcoming marriage of my dear friend, Claire Reeder.

The rules of the pantoum: The first line must be the last line of the poem. The 2nd and 4th lines of each stanza become the 1st and 3rd lines of the following stanza

November 7, 2015

Reed Song
Love is comfort and forthcoming,
and appearing in new forms
is the truest love, still growing.
Love is strong when it transforms.
And appearing in new forms,
love may challenge our conventions.
Love is strong when is transforms.
You are filled with love’s intentions.
Love may challenge our conventions.
Once the shepherds played their songs.
You are filled with love’s intentions
and you’ve found where you belong.
Once the shepherds played their songs,
and the reeds stretched toward the tune.
You have found where you belong,
a place with golden leaves and moon.
And the reeds stretch toward the tune.
The music echoes through the air
from a place with golden leaves and moon,
and a couple dancing there.
The music echoes through the air.
In good company friends look on
at the couple dancing there,
as spring awakens on the lawn.
In good company friends look on
and in the distance there’s a humming
as spring awakens on the lawn
love is comfort and forthcoming.
Also read “The Passionate Shepherd to His Love” by Christopher Marlowe: http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/173941

Original Poem 16: The Beowulf Poem


I wrote this poem in April of 2014 after reading a children’s version of the story to my class… And I completely forgot about it until now! I’ve stumbled upon it, as I am currently fishing through all of my old documents to recover first grade lessons, memories, and other useful artifacts (I’m teaching first grade this year instead of Kinder).

The Beowulf Poem

Shoulder strings dangled

like silver strands,

reeking of lifeless days to come,

bleeding tomorrow never come.

Screams interrupted

the lively feast of sons,

a breach unforeseen,

but was sure to come.

Mothers quaked at the

somber sounds of the unnatural

mother smothering sons. So long,

young souls, you’re not forgotten,

for fathers shall not forfeit.

And feign delight when she falls,

for revenge soon finds its culprit.

Original Poem 15: Refrain



I wrote this villanelle poem during my poetry course at Grinnell. I wasn’t fond of it then, and still think it needs tweaking now, but I like that it is a bit edgier than my normal writing style. However, what remained constant when writing this poem was my love of playing with word meaning. I found a unique opportunity in this poem to use the word “refrain” for its double meaning: v. to abstain from an impulse and n. a refrain, phrase, line, or group of lines repeated at intervals throughout a poem. In noun form, the word “refrain” compliments the villanelle poem in an amusing and playful way.

Refrain by Liz Davis


You see me as a drop of rain among many

sprinkling droplets, yet I worship

you, and—no. I must refrain

from drinking too much champagne

and saying impractical love-sloppy (stop me!) shit

to you. I am a single drop of rain,

a teardrop sphere, driven insane

by you—and it’s hard to admit,

but you already know. I must refrain

from pouring my heart down the drain

every time I skip, then slip,

then take a sip because of you. I drop like rain,

roll down your hard veins, and gain

nothing, feeling desperate pain when I strip

and you say no. I must refrain

and give up this drowning campaign,

a weathered obsession.

You tire of rain.

I must refrain.

The Watcher


I read a poem called “The Watcher” at the funeral of my step-grandmother, Annette. She was also known as “Grandma Nut” for a number of reasons, including her health conscientiousness, her sense of humor, and her artistic nature.

Annette, September 13, 1930 – April 26, 2015

“The Watcher” is a beautiful depiction of motherly love and attentiveness, and in a way the poem absolves children of their tendency to resist or roll their eyes at a watchful and concerned mother. In fact, ironically, the poem comforts the mother’s children by reassuring them that their mother is still watching from heaven.

“The Watcher” by Margaret Widdermer

She always leaned to watch for us
Anxious if we were late,
In winter by the window,
In summer by the gate.
And though we mocked her tenderly,
Who had such foolish care,
The long way home would seem more safe,
Because she waited there.
Her thoughts were all so full of us,
She never could forget,
And so I think that where she is
She must be watching yet.
Waiting ’til we come home to her
Anxious if we are late
Watching from Heaven’s window
Leaning from Heaven’s gate.

Original Poem 14: How do I know my heart belongs to you?


This is a sonnet that I wrote to my husband for our one year wedding anniversary ❤

June 21, 2015

How do I know my heart belongs to you?
Of fate or choice is of no consequence,
In truth, love’s beauty thrives as I pursue
A constant light of love with confidence,
Just as a ship seeks safety by the shore,
And fears of ruin fade when light appears,
My aspirations, clearer than before,
I sail toward happiness when love’s light steers.
Forget the sunken wreckage of the sea,
Two mother ships that bravely faced their storms,
Our flame’s enough to last eternity,
Love’s providence, you need no longer mourn.
I cherish our unwavering life together,
Love fills my heart and brings me constant pleasure.