A Word of Cheer

“A little smile, a word of cheer,
A bit of love from someone near,
A little gift from one held dear,
Best wishes for the coming year.

These make a merry christmas!”

–John Greenleaf Whittier

Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays, Blessed Season of Light to all my followers, readers, fellow writers and artists and keepers of joy.

I’ve updated my music track list (to the right) to include some arrangements of Christmas pieces I’ve done over the years. I hope you’ll enjoy…

and Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas


After August

Sometimes it’s nice to shift the creative focus a bit and work on something else. It’s been a long while since I sat down to compose any new piano pieces, but that’s just what I’ve been doing for the past week.

I have to say it feels good to write music again! I’m definitely not a pro at this thing – just like in poetry, I write what moves me using the tools and sometimes dubious talents I’ve been given. (How’s that for self-deprecating?)

But I’m happy to share it with you (even if it’s not exactly poetry). Here’s After August – I hope you enjoy!


I have stumbled
upon the occasion
of your lips
and wander wondrously
betwixt – bewitched

© Sarah Whiteley

Just a quick note to say I’m still writing. But I’ve also been keeping myself busy with composing a new piece of music – I know! the first in quite some time! So if posts are tapering off, that’s why.

Also, I am quickly heading into the fall busy season at work (like being sucked into a black hole) but I am determined to keep up some form of creative pursuit in spite of the brutal days. Normally I would say “see you on the other side” in another couple of weeks, but I think I’ll just let what happens happen – and if I can squeeze out a few pieces of poetry in the melee, then so be it.

And stay tuned later this month for a little giveaway! Who doesn’t like free stuff?!

how to survive

survival lies in pocketing
what small moments I can,
so that later they might be
pulled out and palmed,
turned over by questing finger,
examined by much-deprived eyes

here are the snowdrops
bedecking the mossy rocks,
and this one’s the blazing splay
of last Tuesday’s sunrise
dripping down the mountainside,

and here are those few
stolen strains of Bach
sounding the robins
to their sleep at the end
of a work-worn day

© Sarah Whiteley

Just a quick note to say I am still alive. Buried beneath the weight of thousands and thousands of pages of tax returns, but yes – still here. I really do think I survive this time of year by seeking out whatever small moments of peace that I can; by taking the time to say “look! here is something beautiful that I can carry with me in my mind.” And coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.

Li’l Darlin’

I’d cross any street
for the hint of your lips
for the twirl of you
’round my skin
you know you leave me
thin as restraint can be
without breakin’ like waves
if you’d just let me
lay it out long and easy-like
drawin’ down these lines of you
lay ’em down for lengths like mine
let hesitation drown
unhurried in the sweet slow thrum
of fingering beats
Basie and Li’l Darlin’
could smooth out
the edges of anyone’s night
Sugar hums it with me
makin’ everything as sweet
as that first pinch
of need deep as breathin’
I’d cross any street
for any taste of you

© Sarah Whiteley

:::strongly influenced by Count Basie’s Li’l Darlin’:::

the flame tree

bide not, beloved,
tarry not long,
for the sweetgrass is calling
and the light is nigh gone

here in the hollow
where first you kissed me
I will wait, my beloved,
beside the flame tree

I will cut me a branch
as red as my heart
and whittle you home
where we’ll ne’er be apart

“oh!” cries the sparrow
“ah!” calls the crow
the hills will not tell me
where my dearest did go

stay not, my lover,
away from my hand,
for the blackbirds are crying
low o’er the land

they winnow and plummet
away from their rest
their song e’er repeating
is the same in my breast

oh, bide not, beloved,
leave me not by,
alone in the hollow
to wait and to sigh

“oh!” cries the sparrow
“ah!” calls the crow
the stars will not tell me
where my dearest did go

the wind’s in the rushes
the moon’s in the pine
the sweetgrass now whispers
you never were mine

consign me not, dearest,
behind the church gates,
but bury me gently
where for you I did wait

there in the hollow
where first you kissed me
I will wait, my beloved,
beside the flame tree

“oh!” cries the sparrow
“ah!” calls the crow
the flame tree will tell you
where your dearest did go

© Sarah Whiteley

a song of home

song in silvery descent
beats in sweet repeats
the tug of lodestones,
the clamant lure
of westward-leading
winding winds,
I sing the binding beck
of springing grove
and blooming troves of heather,
let the tune renew
the sweet enchantments
the road has written
upon my straying shade,
in engaging turns,
in immeasurable measure,
render the notes that lead
back beyond between
to that garden without walls
and the elemental charm
of the wanderer wending home

© Sarah Whiteley