Door County boasts a thriving poetry scene – weekly readings, long-established critique groups, even its very own Poet Laureate to promote the ancient art throughout the county.
Door County’s tight-knit community of poets pen poems as diverse as this community and its inhabitants, calling upon memories, figures of their past, drawing inspiration from the landscape, their imagination, and one another.
A callout for poems to grace the pages of Door County Living received an overwhelming response. These are just a handful of the meticulously crafted, poignant and compelling poems submitted by the poets who call Door County home.
~ Sally Slattery, Literature Editor
By Judy Roy
Today at mass, Father Bob
announced that he’d met God
at the Valmy Laundromat,
where he brought his shirts and socks,
along with altar cloths,
for their weekly purification.
A few parishioners laughed.
Father Bob fixed them with his one good eye.
He said that after a preliminary exchange of credentials
he’d asked God (who wore a gray shawl
and had Her hair pinned up)
if She ever had regrets at what she’d made.
He thought that war and fratricide might make Her list,
but She replied that these were our choices.
Her only second thought was snakes.
Then she gathered up her laundry,
put it in a red plastic basket
and went out the door.
She might have winked;
Father Bob wasn’t sure.
Judy Roy, a Wisconsin native and retired teacher, has been writing since she first learned to hold a pen. She is a co-author of Slightly Off Q and Two Off Q. A solo collection of her poems, Now and Then, will appear this summer. She lives in the woods north of Baileys Harbor.
By Barbara Larsen
Sun filters through the tall white pines.
Shadows play tag on the green grass
that roofs the earthy homes
of the tolerant dead.
A stone on each grave lists facts,
adds words the living find important:
Will remember her smile…
Landed Omaha Beach – D-Day…
Say they were happy, say they knew it…
The dead are nonjudgmental, welcome
those who stop here to study words,
absorb peace. If sojourners listen
they hear whispers or perhaps
just the susurrus of the pines.
Barbara Larsen, Door County Poet Laureate, 2011– 2013, has been active in teaching and promoting writing activities for 30 years in the county. She has published six books of poetry.
By Sharon Auberle
in the coffeeshop
a man is writing
and I nearby
by his words
so neatly marching
across the page
endless row upon
row of obedient
not a single desertion
from the ranks
rarely pauses or looks up…
my words are gypsies
black-maned and mustached
hurtling down the page
leaping from line
in tattered skirts
out of darkness
tinkers and tramps
mad as hatters
battling up into the light
Sharon Auberle is a writer and photographer, the author of a memoir in poetry, and several collections containing both her poems and artwork. For reasons which are still a mystery to her, she has authored a blog – “Mimi’s Golightly Café” – for eight years, which contains a potpourri of her images and words.
A Revelation of Stars
(for Joe…who sees just enough…to still think I’m beautiful)
By Jami Hanreddy
Spots of food from last night’s meal
or even yesterday’s oatmeal
hardened onto porcelain kitchen sink
and he gave no thought or wink,
to the time to soak and scrub or what she feels?
Bits of almond from last night’s snack
decorating the bathroom sink in fact
from spitting in the sink no doubt
after brushing his teeth to get the particles out,
a little present left for her with lack of tact?
Dots of coffee drips on the new hardwood floor
leading to his study door and
carpet adorned by crumbs of toast
seeming to be a boast
of carelessness, and no thought of her forevermore?
These were the things, because they took up hours,
that once led her to irritation, then resentment, even rage and roars,
until, walking the pups one starlit night on their nightly dance,
which might have held so much more romance,
he told her he could not see the stars.
Jami Hanreddy lives in an interspecies household in Ellison Bay with Joe, Fred, Emma and the wolf that hangs around trying to mate with Emma.
By Hanne Gault
a most unlikely candidate for the position.
Overweight and self-indulgent,
never without a cigarette ashing itself
liberally on tante’s furniture.
He had a hard time letting go
of a bottle of booze till he finished
every drop in a single sitting.
No rosebud either when it came
to off-colored expressions,
and as far as was known never
had a regular job but spent his days
at the Royal Library until it was time
to go home, with his decoy briefcase.
And there was I, hanging on him
every chance I got.
Listening to his stories,
laughing at his jokes.
He called me funny names
and I called him uncle Ho.
He wrote songs for all occasions,
especially family events,
with alacrity he skewered
everyone’s quirky spots
but always with a twist of love.
His heart as big as the Titanic.
Often he asked me for a little help
and I, in ecstasy by the honor was told
to go find “good words” and bring them
back in my father’s old cigar box.
When done writing he would ask my opinion.
In my young years I wondered why
this unlikely man so held my childish adoration.
I know it now.
Hanne Gault, author of You Are From Where?, has lived in Ellison Bay since 1997. She belongs to two poetry groups and has published poems in Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar, Free Verse and Peninsula Pulse. She won third prize in The Joanne Hirshfield contest, was nominated for a Pushcart Prize, and was featured in the 2012 late summer issue of Door County Living.
By Ralph Murre
a man is singing
Los Chicos de mi Barrio.
But I hear Las Chicas, I think.
And I think
about the women of my neighborhood,
old now, like me.
Because a man of many years
surely cannot remember
young girls, cannot remember
anything of their dark eyes’
flash in dancehall light.
He has no recollection
of locked together
of the sweet, sweaty
He thinks mostly of willows
and rivers now. Songbirds.
Still, a man is singing
in a language I do not speak,
and I think
about the women of my neighborhood,
old now, like me.
Their soft bodies and hard looks,
their thin lips, unsmiling.
But beguiling still,
these chicas viejas.
And still, there’s a chance –
there’s something in their step
that could be dance.
Ralph Murre, a longtime Door County fixture and curmudgeon-in-training, is the author of four books of poetry to date. His poems have been published in journals too numerous and obscure to mention and his readings have been generally tolerated by audiences around Wisconsin and in several states farther afield.
Sitting Now in Doorways
(In response to “Somewhere nearby,”)
By Francha Barnard
Ah, we chicas sway still –
somewhere in our memory,
lean on your sweat-drenched shoulder;
two pair of feet turn in tight, matched rhythms
beat – beat, beat
turn step step,
bodies blending trunk to trunk
and under dresses – now loose cotton,
we remember silks,
waists cinched tight,
We remember arms that held us,
loose pants draping
dusky muscled legs and more.
Dark-lashed half-closed eyelids,
impish smiles escaping.
We still hear low in our inner ear,
the soft purr of your humming,
the swush of your huaraches moving
over hard-packed earth.
You may think of willows now.
We will think of you.
Francha Barnard works at her poetry and plays at her art, mostly handmade paper and collage. Sometimes the three even combined. She finds inspiration all around her in nature and by crawling back into her own memories, often with surprising results. Her poems have appeared in numerous publications. She is a member of the Word Women poetry critiquing group.