Poems as Gifts: The Idea Itself Is a Gift

This past weekend I had a birthday and a concert. My best present: my mom, who flew 3,500 miles, rode a shuttle bus for two hours and a ferry for 45 minutes to attend. But I received another gift, from my writer friend Iris Graville. Actually, Iris gave me two.

Gift #1, this poem. It was written by our local poet John Sangster, who died with tragic suddenness last winter. John was a musician and a writer, like me, and when I first heard “Once More,” I connected instantly. So having it sent to me on the eve of my show AND my book launch felt especially meaningful.

Once More


Say you write.

You awake, eager

to return to pen and paper.

Those words that came to you 

last night. A poem?

You read aloud, your ear keen

for each line’s pulse,

for the sound words make

as they bump against each other.


Say you play.

You reach for your instrument,

old lover, familiar in your arms.

You tune, fret that first note,

round and golden,

then set to work, metronome slow.

You study your hand,

how the wrist rolls as the pick

pushes through the string.

Later:  melody, pulse –

how do you hear it, 

feel it?


What do you want?

Once more, that path to a part of you

you do not know. When what appears

on the pen’s trail surprises you,

when music arrives beyond thought,

when the instrument plays you.



"Say you play..."

“Say you play…”

Gift #2 is the idea, which I hope I can internalize, of giving poems as gifts. I have other friends who do that. When my dog died, my friend Lorna sent me a poem, and I was grateful. Now, I’m becoming determined: I’m going to start saving up poems to give as presents when the moment is right. Why wouldn’t I? Look how good it’s made me feel.

Anyone else out there already doing that? Anyone wish to share an especially moving poem you like to give to people, or one you have received? 


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