The Calligrapher

This poem was inspired by listening to my friend Laurie talk about the process of making art–hers happens to be the ancient art of calligraphy. If you would like to know more about her work, her contact information is located at the bottom of this post.
The Calligrapher
by Julie Sumner

Each breath she inhales
Expands in her mind,
Quickens patterns written
in her sinews,
Language-lettered views
Letters bloom like
Ink-stained lilies
While words forest fibrous
paper landscapes.

She exhales and pulls
The brass pen nib,
inked and full,
Memorized motion flows,
Training the ink to the paper
Like a clematis to a trellis–
A vine-twined word-garden grows,
And one stray weed of a stroke
Bears witness
That our words, our gardens
Have no less loveliness
In their brokenness.
For more information about her art or to purchase or commission a work, you can contact Laurie at

Her Voice

Sometimes, the mere act of speaking in your own voice is the most frightening possibility.

Her Voice

by Julie Sumner

He meant well
He answered all the questions
The nurse meant for her–
She sat in the corner chair,
Her small self curled
just so,
Regarding them both
Like a bird caught in a snare.
For one vivid second,
Blackbirds diving in noonday sun
Glimmered in her eyes,
Then fled.
He meant well
He answered all the questions
The nurse meant for her.

How could he have known–
I only wanted to hear
Her voice.

Bet the Moon

I was thinking about long shots when I wrote this poem and it is inspired in part by a horse named Donerail and his rider, Roscoe Goose. They won the 1913 Kentucky Derby and beat the greatest odds ever of any horse and rider in the Derby, 91 to 1 against them.

Bet the Moon
by Julie Sumner

Absolute certainty is the riskiest bet-
Bet with your heart, not your head-
Gamble it all on the dark horse,
Jockey in red,
A local upstart who keeps his balance,
Balances his slight weight
Against staggering odds-
Ninety-one to one against long shots, local boys, underdogs.

Absolute certainty is the riskiest bet-
Bet it all! Bet the moon!
Then watch it roll and tumble down,
Still white as sugar in your spoon,
And when finally it lands
In your waiting coffee cup,
Let your face beam down on it,
Like you knew it all along,
Knew how this one payout would end up.
Recommended Reading:

You can read all about Donerail and Roscoe Goose in this article by Adam Himmelsbach,

The Reader

This poem pays homage to the fast-disappearing phenomenon of unearthing treasures printed on paper in an otherwise unassuming stack of books…

The Reader

by Julie Sumner

I imagine you wandering
In a silent forest of library books,
Stumbling across
This poem
As your eyes are walking past–
Looking for a detective story,
Or maybe a soufflé recipe,
But you stop here,
Obeying curiosity not duty–
You crack open the page,
Creamy and speckled with words
Like a kestrel’s egg,
The poem warms
Under the incubation
Of your gaze–
You read it
Into life.