the hummingbird

how the hummingbird knew
I would deliver him is unclear
and somewhat miraculous

the flash at his throat
reminded me of you –
that gleam before the deeper
hours of night descend

how true that some longings
can never be emancipated

© Sarah Whiteley


I’m just learning this morning of Cynthia’s passing. She was immensely talented and I’m so grateful for her support over the years. She was kind, and lovely, and I will miss her little corner of the ‘net most terribly.

Rest well, dear Cynthia!

The Muse is usually a she
according to art history.
More than once I’ve
served in that capacity.

I’ve also known it as a he
a love, an ardent kind
of sustenance, a boon
to heart and mind.

In the end I think
it is a voice inside
wherever the best
part of me abides.

It is ancient, bardic,
will not be cajoled
or come when called
or do as it is told.

“Do the work,” it says,
“and leave the door ajar.
Do not worry.
I know where you are.”

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losing my keys


keys lie nestled
in my right pocket
where they can remind
fingers that there
are roots to be had

connections that
cannot so easily
be pulled, no matter
the direction taken
by forgetting feet

which ride out strange
asphalts, and long
grasses, stretches
of sky so wide we
all lie swallowed by it

shadows in the valley
call out to the mountain,
where I’ll one day
just let these keys
slip out unnoticed

ah well! someone
will undoubtedly
find them and send
them on their way
back home again

© Sarah Whiteley


there’s nothing quite so fine
as drinking prison wine

sitting on upturned milk crates
with an aging Boxer dog

and the best red-headed smartass
I’ve ever had the pleasure

of not completely falling for –
not like all those others

some lovers leave and others
you just can’t shake,

but none of that matters –
there’s comfort in the heft

of a good friend’s laughter
and forgetting in a bottle of rye

for those times when time
doesn’t go quite fast enough

and you can’t leave that burden behind


6:57 AM and light’s early overture
has warmed the cherry petals just enough
that the faintest scent of sweet emerges

maybe it’s more than just scribbling poets
who note these moments and mark the time,
mentally ticking off the mileposts to restoration

but this morning’s note is more than that –
today’s surfacing defines a full ten years,
and the cherry trees have bloomed to remind me

when my bus crosses John Street, I lose it –
cry quietly against the window at sunlight
pushing obdurately through the newest leaves

but by tiny degrees, I still find comfort
in the indomitable certainty that gently-scented,
spring will always return where you cannot

© Sarah Whiteley

A little sad today – marking the 10-year anniversary of losing my little brother. Don’t think I made a complete fool of myself on the bus – at least I hope not. I do find the cherry trees comforting. The bloom does go on.

On a side note, I do not recommend beginning spring by simultaneously breaking your toe and ripping the toenail off. Can we say ouch?! Yes,… yes we can. With a few other choice four-letter words thrown in for good measure!

on some October morning

I cannot categorize this new sort of loss
cannot place it in the drawer with the newspaper clippings
and the final smudged photo that I have of us together
to lose the place where we last sat
in those second-hand chairs beneath the light-limned canopy
of grape leaves, where you smoked your cigarette
and slouched, as was your habit,
while I let the sun dry my hair
it was early October and just days from now
the sky will break open again on the day of our parting
you said little – you always said little –
my brother, I did not know the chapter of your passing
had been written already and that we were just pages away
from the saddest sort of forever

to let go of this place of leavetaking
this little white house with the red geraniums
and the garage where time fell away
into the dust of all these tomorrows
that continue to rise without you
it is like losing you all over again
and now coming home is to another place entirely
where you have never been, have never breathed
and we have never sat in silence, on some October morning
watching the curling ascent of smoke
from the tip of your forgotten cigarette

© Sarah Whiteley

At times it really strikes me as odd to post pieces of poetry that divulge such personal snippets of my life and yet I am hesitant to expose the underlying meaning… the story behind the poem. Perhaps it’s best at times to leave poetry as it is – open to interpretation and thereby more relatable to the reader. But sometimes I feel the overwhelming urge to say “this is what this means.”

I’m having an unexpectedly difficult time with something and it’s caught me so off-guard that I feel a bit like I’ve been knocked off my feet. Some of you have gleaned I lost a brother a few years ago. It was an extremely difficult thing to go through – not just his actual loss, but the way we lost him. You see, I did not know when I last saw him that he already knew he was dying. He chose not to say anything to his family, and I have to say I more than respect that decision. He was able to enjoy, without the burden of our sorrow, his last months on this earth. And while it means I never got to say goodbye to him, I do (truly do) understand his motivation.

Now the place where we were all last together (the place, in fact, where he passed) will no longer be home. I always knew this was a possibility as my mom and her husband lease the house – and now the house is being sold out from under them. And it’s happened so quickly that by the time I am able to fly out there in November, they will have already moved. In some ways, maybe this is a blessing. But in others,… well,… like I said – I cannot seem to categorize this particular loss.

I have officially sent out my first submission for consideration. I have no grand illusions of success. Afterall, this is a first attempt. And I sent it off to a very lofty height indeed – one bound to end in a thump. My poor, poor cover letter sat relatively naked, with no prior publication credentials whatsoever with which to clothe it… I imagine other cover letters will point and laugh.

But there it is. I’ve sent it. My first real try at serious publication and I’m proud of myself for taking the step. And I’ll try very hard to remind myself of that when the inevitable thump comes.