A Year with the Poet

Writer’s write. It’s our thing. An obsession that must be fed. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I’ve shared my lifetime writing experiences in previous blogs, but I don’t think I told you about the time I tried to write song lyrics. It didn’t end well. I presented my then husband a song I’d written and he informed me it didn’t have a hook, so I never did that again. Until Uisneach.

Having had the brilliant idea to write about a bard, The Prophecy needed songs and stories. So, I tried again to write poetry and songs. Honestly, I didn’t think the songs were so hot, but they worked for the story. As I started writing Runes, the waters of lyrical inspiration bubbled again. The muse took me by the hand and led me into what I called ‘The Year with the Poet’. 

First, I bought a couple of books on poetry. But terms like hexameter, pentameter, consonance and assonance gave me a headache. Those books, one by a favorite poet, Mary Oliver, found a permanent home in the bookcase. I probably wasn’t a poet.  

At the same time, I discovered a lyricist, Jacob Lee, whose writing totally inspired and excited me.  Analyzing his songs and poems and those of other poets and songwriters, made me realize that poetry is just another form of story and it doesn’t have to rhyme exactly, or necessarily. What it needs is some sort of pattern or theme and a voice. The voice of the writer.

Playing around with my own poems became a fun exercise. Of course. Playing with words is always fun. Here is an example of one of my first poems that arose out of the beautiful, annual experience of the dragonfly swarm in my yard. I did a little research on the life cycle of dragonflies and came up with this, which could be a metaphor for love that didn’t last forever, or of our own, human life cycle.

Like Dragonflies in August

Leaves unfurl, tender flags of green.

Under womb like water, and nature’s early drum,

Life is born in eyes that barely see.

Hearts beat that do not know of what’s to come.

And yet, we hope to be the dragonflies in August.

Sun beats upon our fragile mosaic wings,

Making strong what once could barely fly.

Release, let go from reeds we used to cling.

Soar high above, in blue and cloudless skies.

Sparkling wings, weave and dance, and love like dragonflies in August.

Colors change from green to brown and red and gold.

Strength fades, beauty doesn’t last forever.

The sun that once warmed our limbs has now grown cold.

Though in the spring you said you’d leave me never,

We say goodbye, try not to cry, for dragonflies in August.

Cold, dark nights increase in time and length.

Leaves have shriveled, dried and dropped to hardened ground.

Falling through the icy air, wings crack and lose their strength.

Drumming fades, beating hearts no longer make a sound.

Missing you, remembering days of dragonflies in August.

Reading and writing out of one’s comfort zone and one’s genre is important to the craft of writing. It fosters creativity and growth. It prevents one from getting in a writing rut or slump. It encourages one to imagine new ways of using words, finding a stronger voice and discovering new ways to build worlds, plot and characterization. It helps us become better writers.’

On a more personal level, writing poetry or lyrics is a way to process and express how we feel about things. During a time when I was really struggling with the state of our union and the state of the planet, I wrote “Salvation”.


Henny Penny. Joshua’s call

The sky is falling and crumbling walls

Breaking news, hardened hearts

Break us down, tear us apart


Is there a pill to save a nation?

Truth has taken a holiday

Across the world on Aladdin’s sleigh

News is fake, my stomach aches

Site of the wave, sound of the quake


Is there hope for a re-creation?

Is there a cure?

Is there a healing?

Is there a way through the dark?

End of times. Recycled planet

Wilderness voices draw like a magnet

Dante burns, Plato hides in darkness

Plastic waters, environmental karma


Does end game become zero population?

Annihilation becomes the way

To save the earth and save the day

Give up to forces beyond our control

Descending further down a black hole


Are politics now a form of castration?

Is there a cure?

Is there a healing?

Is there a way through the dark?

No, wait, it’s not too late

This is not our fate

Breathe, relax, imagine

Hate could fall to compassion


Humanity its own salvation

I lay no claim on being the greatest poet on the plant. Far from it. That designation applies to songwriters and poets far more talented and inspiring than me. I do believe my writing and my creative well has derived benefit from writing outside my wheelhouse. Give it a try. You may surprise yourself. I know I did.

About The Author

For Heidi Hanley, reading and writing are like breathing. On her 5oth birthday, she got serious about turning her passion for writing into a goal to publish. The result is The Prophecy, Book One of the Kingdom of Uisneach series. The Runes of Evalon, the second book in the series, is due out in April. Heidi lives in New Hampshire beside the Connecticut River with her husband and a Scottish Terrier. She has enjoyed a career as a Registered Nurse, Interfaith minister and is currently serving as a Hospice chaplain. When not working, you will find her reading, sneaking away to Maine, or and in the garden with the birds and faeries.

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