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This is a page for a few selected & revolving POEMS (& art)
by Sue Memhard.
Some have been published, some not. More are added occasionally.

If you wish to use a poem or any part
of one, for any reason, you must

contact me
for permission.

Thank you.



squashing a
my friend says
sorry sorry sorry

I have said it too

it is a
to the god
of peace



Available Art: Fundraiser 2011



you know what I mean:
could fill us up forever.

it would curl and slither and sprout
its way into the farthest vessels....
winding through the labyrinth of brain
down into the burping belly.

I mean
imagine how the tender fern shoots
could tickle the most tactless of tongues.

I don’t know about you but
I want wintergreen soup
caressing my female places.
I would not need hormones
I would only need green tones
singing…ringing in my ovaries.

my upper arms hunger
for oak and hemlock stew.
I would stop lifting barbells
yes I’d work out on coral bells
firm and strong and free.

I long for
little leafy things fluttering through my veins.
I would be so happy
never hungry again.


(published in Equinox Literary Journal, 2008)



"Light in the Jungle"

spring turkeys


the turkeys are here again!
like children lined up for lunch, they
chatter up the morning news and
hurl themselves, fattest first, across the road.

they’re so close I feel I must know their names.
strutting down our snowy canyon drive
through the still-white mound of yard
past the swings and
onto the neighbor’s land, liberated for

recess they wander askew.
the toms posture and preen
spread their enormous fans, jiggle neon wattles and
boast with great gobbles of fire.

my sweet dog quakes--
desperado scrambling frantic through the house
careening and crashing toward doors.

silent through sirens and bells, she howls a savage din
and from inside the glass roundly tromps
the beastly prey.

all this clamor the
sound of spring pushing in
sweat and noise, feathers
bones hair and flesh,
the way of this world
and those seeking
earth or branch or sky
in it

me to

and then

breathe again
just that.



Fairy Tale


in October I bring in the fairy things.
you see, it’s too cold for me, and
they’re much smaller than I.

still, the garden looks bare
without the chairs
and I think they must be missing their slide.

but leaves might bury them
and ghosts would scare them
and they aren’t at all accustomed to the wind.

so they have to move
and I want to help
but this year again I was late.

I think I know where they go
I’ve seen them, I know
flying away with the geese!

I think I spot them holding on
when the wings dip low
but they are, as I said, quite small.

so I’m going to believe
that they find the perfect place
with warm bright spaces inside.

and I’ll imagine that they’re dreaming
of coming back in spring
and playing in the garden where they hide.





"Fairy Dream"

peace rally 2003


The Senior Center started it.
O say can you see it?

Saturday morning by the old stone church
After dawn’s early light
In the center of a small New England town
I so proudly held a sign saying

It was 17 degrees before the wind blew tears
From our eyes and the perilous fight had begun.
O’er the ramparts we watched,
Mobilized the day before by e-mail.

There was an old woman on my left.
She had no sign and when her son arrived (he was maybe 55)
someone found one for both. “Peace Is Patriotic”
it said: proof for the Right.

A younger woman held our flag
with broad stripes and bright Y
held it through the perilous cold
while her mother stood by, gallantly beaming.

“Drop Bush Not Bombs”
another sign suggested.

We were up against it I thought.
The rockets’ red glare
The bombs bursting in air
But I was wrong
The flag was still there.

A thousand hands waved
From cars streaming by
And the banner yet waved
Families honked and cheered
So proudly we were hailed.

A half hour had passed. Hardly
twilight’s last gleaming.

After a while it was just too cold
and I left. Some members of the Senior Center
were still there, yet waving.

In the land of the free.
At home, and brave.


(published in Equinox Literary Journal, 2008)





I know how the world is saved.

It’s not what you might think:

angels, archangels, the

whole big gang swooping down in

triumphant raptures of light --

blazing wings beating back the darkness


while those who prayed sincerely

for just this occasion are

snatched up –

maybe a few artists,

dogs, well-mannered children

plucked up too for good measure.

Perhaps you picture

the cheerful group carried off


to a small new mountain

where everyone can rest for awhile,

wobbly and slightly dazed, but

shimmering, transformed,

breathing out.


Ah, but this is not what happens.


Consider, rather, a young boy

knocking at the door.


There is something he holds, tightly

cupped inside his palms.

He is pink with cold and excitement and his eyes are

two bright beams of delight.

And as you open the door (he

undoubtedly hoping

that you don’t recall his name, but you do),

you notice the Buddha

almost buried under the snow,

gaze gracefully settled


on you, the boy and whatever he’s got

hidden in his hands, the



“Happy Easter” the boy says

and offers it to you.


The egg is beautiful, weightless, broken.

You can see the tiny ragged pieces,

the clear tape holding them

and when he places the shell in your hands

it is so perfect that the air expands around you

and there is no sound


only the breaths,

the delicate puffs floating up to the sky.


Then your old dog sniffs

beside you. Then the crow calls

once or twice from the dense trees, and you remember

that you are still here on earth,

though the air has

just now completely dissolved into light.


And there are two small objects inside the egg.

Their tin foil wrapping shines

through the cracks, and

it’s true that the contents

seem a little squished.


But it doesn’t matter what’s inside.

Can he not see that


you are standing there

shimmering, new,

already transformed

by a gift

from the soft pink happiness of the world?




night dream


tonight again
the raccoon is crouching beside the skunk.
like two escaped con men cuffed as one
they crunch and paw the evening’s plunder.

and I fancy them old
friends, after all these years still
exchanging schemes for
the next night’s late romp.

their bodies are so close to each other—
and now to me -- as I step outside in the darkness
that I am astonished (but they are not!) --
even as my flashlight beam

lasers their neon green eyes
and they become a small
four-eyed night monster,
one sided with black and white stripes.

oh, they are too busy with simply
eating and getting along with each other
to think about me. I am just
another creature of the day dream

and they know nothing about that.




Visiting Harriet at 95




How nice to see you!

Shall we have our tea on the porch?

At last, the sun is out!

Now tell me, all about YOU.



There is a story about that

I want to tell you.

Perhaps we can go to the garden.


We once looked for bluebirds, in the earliest Spring

before the swallows built their nests in the barn.

Now tell me, about the life you love.

Did you, too, once march in the streets, singing?


Shall we go to the garden now?

We’ll pick raspberries

And feel the land in the afternoon light.

Perhaps I’ll sketch the old oak

with my old blind eyes.


Sit with me, in the garden.

Are the swallows here?

The corn will be ready soon.

Do you think the soul is forever?


Let’s read about the peonies again.

I want to fill my arms again with the white and pink flowers.

And I want to hear about the egrets,

stepping lightly over things.


How I do love this world.


Stay for a while, in the garden.

A sweater is perfect for me.

Are you warm enough?




I’m too old.

I’d like to speak with God about that.

But right now I want to hear everything

about you.


The morning light in the garden is very beautiful.


(Read at the Memorial Service for Harriet Elliston, first Radcliffe College anthropology graduate in 1928, world traveler, lifelong social & community activist who marched with Martin Luther King. Conservationist, naturalist, professional gardener, farmer, artist, master storyteller, devoted wife, mother & grandmother.)

The follwing is an excerpt from a bio I wrote for her, on the occasion of an exhibit of her watercolor paintings I co-curated with her grandaughter, Lelia Orrell Elliston:

In fact, Harriet is an artist in the true sense of the word. Her human rights activism, deep commitment to family and community, her dedication to conservation, the environment, farming and gardening are sustained by an intellectual intensity and devotion to belief which exemplify the creative life.

Thank you, dearest Harriet. You will always be in the light.


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