Original Poem 22: I Chose Liz

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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 20

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June 21, 2016

Sonnet for our 2nd wedding anniversary

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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

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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

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

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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 16: The Beowulf Poem

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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 13: Out of Sync

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Out of Sync

October 13, 2014

Put down the tab.

Let me get it.

Together.

Above us the stars light up,

settling into night’s mist,

taking wishes into account.

I stare at you. You stare down,

eyes diverted from the world,

views missed, moments passing,

out of sync with nature’s beauty

and mine.

Original Poem 9: Untitled

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there is a campfire
surrounded by bodies embraced
by the night’s touch of country air
there is a girl
who shivers in her cotton
warmed by light embers
there is a man sitting on a stump
who recalls cutting down
the burning wood with his son
there is a tree
standing no more than nine feet away
from the fate it has escaped
it hears its brother cackling in the flames
laughing, as the sparks tickle its bark
there is a proud little boy
egging on the fire
supervising its existence
there is a bucket of water
waiting patiently
to dampen the skin and calm the laughter

2006