Peninsula Poetry: In Honor of Francha Barnard

During October, the Door County Poets Collective is honoring the late poet Francha Barnard.

Francha Barnard

Francha Barnard died close to her 76th birthday this year. She had retired to Baileys Harbor in 2005 after a lengthy career as a librarian in Sheboygan.

Shortly after she arrived here, she joined the poetry community through workshops, becoming a member of Word Women and the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets. She co-edited the fellowship’s 2017 calendar on the theme of water with Estella Lauter, and as a member of the Door County Poets Collective, she worked on two anthologies: Soundings and Halfway to the North Pole.

In addition, Barnard established the tradition of presenting a local poem each month at the Baileys Harbor library; took over mounting a poetry show in the Meadows Gallery each spring; changed the work exhibited on the Newport Poetry Trail each quarter; offered a monthly opportunity called Art Speaks for ekphrastic writing at various galleries, sponsored by Write On, Door County; and was an enthusiastic supporter of Words on Fire, an annual program of poetry and music at Door Community Auditorium.

Barnard performed these and many other services on behalf of poets and poetry. In her own poems, she was primarily inspired by the natural and the social world immediately around her, but also on occasion by her own memories. Poets and readers throughout the county and beyond will miss her voice and her lively, creative spirit.

Peninsula Poetry is a monthly column curated by the Door County Poets Collective, a 12-member working group that was formed to publish Soundings: Door County in Poetry in 2015 and continues to meet.

Honor System Shopping
In a handcart at the edge of a yard
three houses west on County EE
a bounty appears in late July
and reappears daily ’til the end of fall.
Though the farmer is never seen,
you can follow the harvest by crops in his cart.
First, mixed lettuce — at least six kinds in purple and green,
each offering a different shape, tang and bite.
Then broccoli, tight new baby heads,
carrots that taste like carrots, fat and sunrise orange,
beets, their long greens peeking from a bucket,
cabbages, red and white and heavy,
parsnips on lucky days, ready for roasting,
cauliflower heads of creamy white and gold,
last squashes: butternut, patty pan, acorn,
and pumpkins for carving or others for baking.
Tiny prices appear on each piece —
all paid on the honor system in a wide-mouthed jar
for your coins and bills or for making change,
another with bags to ferry home your load.
No corn though —
his brothers on the farm around the corner
specialize in that,
fill a wheelbarrow of cobs and replenish it often.
Same honor system used for payment.
From the Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar 2017, published by the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, Francha Barnard and Estella Lauter, editors.
Ice Water
Yesterday wind from the south —
ice floes purled in to knit together
until the bay was a shawl of white.
Strong north wind this morning
unravels the garment just-made,
sends its threads back to deep water.
From the Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar 2019: Celebrating Wisconsin People, published by the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, Poet Fabu, editor.
Noisy Nights
If you sleep with a skylight
the vagaries of rain
can come close and har
the fingertip of a shower starting,
the popcorn of a steady downpour,
the staccato of a sudden deluge.
In the house on a bluff 
above a big lake
most nights wave-crash on rock
delivers a repeat rhythm,
sometimes gentle, sometimes
blocking all other sound.
for the uninitiated
can be a challenge.
From the Wisconsin Poets’ Calendar 2015, published by the Wisconsin Fellowship of Poets, Jeannie Tomasko and Steve Tomasko, editors.