My Verse

 I have loved poetry as far back as I can remember, and now, after years of reading and studying poetry and poets, I have a little better appreciation and understating of what poetry is about. I started writing down lines of verse almost as soon as I starting to read and enjoy poetry. My preference has always been for pre-twentieth century poetry, which is mostly written in rhyme, so most of my verse has some rhyming scheme. Much of my verse is not original in style, but rather emulates the styles of other poets. It was some time after I began writing verse before I realized that I was doing that, but I haven’t worried much about it. [Emily Dickinson (1830 –1886)] is one of my favorite poets, and her work has influenced me more than that of other poets – in substance and style. I have included some of my favorite verse here, along with notes about the verse or circumstances under which I wrote it.

Portrait of smiling girl in white shirt sitting behind desk and

Katie Smiled

Katie Smiled when we met –
Looking up from the chair she sat in;
Ann Landers, you love to get
Sweets into your column –
So, put this in:

Say I’m romantic,
Say I’m a fool …
By looks and brains denied,
Say I’m over the hill –
But add: Katie Smiled.

I wrote the above verse about a real-life incident and a real person named Katie, but it emulates the style, form and content of the poem, [“Jenny Kissed Me”]] by Leigh Hunt.

Sleep or Leap?

Dragged myself this Morning
To the edge of my bed –
To peer out over the precipice –
And ponder my Mortal Fate:
Stay – and sleep – or Leap?
The eternal, infernal options
Were of no little moment
At that Moment – one might say –
Because, I had not
At that moment read –
The Obits for the day!

A Promise Made

Alas, when last I saw my friend,
I told her I’d see her after;
Now all is left is my regret
And memory of her laughter.

The void between that promise made –
And when it’s finally kept
Exceeds the universe I know
In length – and height – and depth.

I wrote the verse above after the unexpected death of a dear friend. It is written in the style of Emily Dickinson, one that builds drama in the first stanza and then resolves that drama in the second. The verse is also similar in purpose to one of Dickinson’s poems.


A flock of curious pansies
With mocking colored masks –
Craned their long and slender necks
To watch me as I passed.
The curiosity I aroused –
Had a short-lived stay,
For when I circled – round behind –
No heads were turned my way.


If my being sad –
would make you happy,
I’d go out and gather grief –
Invest in desperation –
Beyond most all belief,
But if I saw you happy,
There would go my grief –
And with it my investment –
No bailout – no relief.

If my being happy –
would make you happy,
I’d go out and corner joy –
Invest in love and charity
And watch my fortunes grow.
I’d share that joy forever
Compounded interest – that –
No bank could hold the dividends
My investment would begat.

This above verse is also written in the style of Emily Dickinson, but using an investment metaphor for love was my own idea


The Price of War

Join up brave young patriot –
Duty calls – and pride,
With flags a-waving smartly –
And a parent at each side:
One who asks you not to go,
And one who cheers you on,
Reluctant mother, willing dad –
The seeds unequal sown.

Welcome home fallen hero –
With solemn steps – and pride,
In flag-draped coffin – carried –
With a parent at each side:
One who begged you not to go,
And one who cheered you on,
Grieving mother, regretful dad –
The burden equal borne.

The verse above is one of my all-time favorites. It suggests a disagreement between a young soldier’s parents over his volunteering for military service which adds to the sorrow of losing a son – and it brings home the emotional conflict between service to country and the attendant sacrifices.

This Man

This Man – This dark black Black Man –
Lived at the lower end Of what’s known now as
Main street – In the hamlet of Toomsboro, Ga. –
To reach the site where this man used to live:
Walk down Main Street
From the Swampland Opera House  Building –
Across the Central of Georgia Railroad tracks –
Pass the old train depot,
A row of shanties on the left –
And what was once two funeral homes
On the Right.

Now – stop and look right –
just before you reach
Where the big white Black schoolhouse –
Used to sit on its haunches –
With its back to milky-white
Commissioner Creek,
And stare up Main Street:
Past the funeral homes,
And the row of shanties,
Past the train depot
And the railroad tracks –
And – into the face of
The Wilkinson County Bank.

This Man worked hard at lumber yards –
At whatever he was asked to do –
Repaired worn-out lawnmowers,
And helped out in the little restaurant
His family ran on the premises –
Which served delicious hotdogs –
To Black and White Folks.

This Man knew his place
In a White Man’s town –
He Politely answered yas suh, no suh
Or thanky suh – When asked –
And nothing – when not.
He never rode in the front of a bus,
Never entered the front door
Of a White Man’s house –
And never overtly questioned a sign
That read “Whites Only.”

But – before he died
This Man had sent
Every child  that he sired and raised
Off to college and a life –
This Man dreamed about –
And helped build –
But never got to live.

The above verse is about a man whom I got to know while growing up in the hamlet of Toomsboro, Georgia.