Category Archives: poems

Wholly Human

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

Fannie Lou Hamer
was beaten by a policeman
until he couldn’t beat her any longer,
so he had his partner continue
the beating.

That day, Fannie Lou
left part of her brain
there on the ground,
but she didn’t leave her courage.
She came back for more.

Because she only wanted
her people to be free,
free from fear,
free from beatings,
free from death
just free to enjoy life,
to be wholly human.

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Why Night Was Made

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

I’m sure night was made
when man invented war
so that darkness would
put her arms around him,
slowing him down
so that he could think things over.
And then at dawn
start new again.

I’m sure night was made
when war came to this family,
breath knocked out of the man,
the woman and child 
languishing in the street.
Darkness would give them
a few moments of relief.

I’m sure darkness was made
when man invented war.

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Laughing as He Went

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

Now,
they want to clip
the ears of the Gray Wolf,
clip them back
until the wolves are almost decimated,
weakening their packs
to almost extinction.

The native tribes of Wisconsin and Montana
have stood up for the wolf.
They see themselves parallel to the wolf.
They too were killed back
to almost extinction,
starved and hounded,
brothers to the wolf
in life and suffering.

The hunters carry away
the great, large bodies of wolves
in their arms, 
laughing as they go.

I remember the Gray Wolf
that morning as he rolled
down a steep embankment,
looking like a great ball
of white and gray fur,
laughing as he went.

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Sherry Grant from Auckland New Zealand,

a classical musician and poet, sent Ethel a poem about one of her drawings:

Sherry Grant’s poem:

To Your Melody


By Sherry Grant (Op.2786)
2021-11-22


Utter magic! Webs of colours you freely spin,
Bittersweet young passion, time left beguiled,
Hesitant tears rush, sensation penetrates skin,
Hopelessly tangled knot, hearts racing wild.
At the edge of a dream two unicorns meet,
Sigh after sigh, clearer the shape of ecstasy,
Each ascension a fresh fountain so sweet,
This heaven built for you and me, our intimacy.


©️ Sherry Grant, Auckland, 2021-11-22, Op.2786
Inspired by ‘To Music’ by Franz Adolf Friedrich von Schober (Germany, 1796 – 1882) and
Alexander Scriabin‘s ‘The Poem of Ecstasy’ (Le Poème de l’extase), Op. 54
©️ ‘Song of Ecstasy’ (pastel) by Ethel Mortenson Davis (USA)
https://fourwindowspress.com/2012/01/14/song-of-ecstacy

Ethel Mortenson Davis’s drawing that inspired the poem:

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Elephant Track

By Ethel Mortenson Davis

Last night two men
slept close to an elephant trail,
hoping to see the herd.
In the morning
they discovered an elephant track
between their two sleeping bags.

We are the same.
We are part of them,
they, part of us.

This morning we ran
to catch a glimpse
of the last of October’s light
as she lit the tops of trees on fire,

and heard the voices of cranes,
high above our heads,
that we have heard 
a thousand times before.

But still, we were lifted.

A great river
drifts through us.
She glimpses us
to see if we have caught
the ripples she throws out.

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There is Still Time

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

But there is still a sunrise this morning,
red for rain.
We can still count the stars in Orion
and see the night sky.
There is still a dog at the end of the bed.
He is a guardian of our souls.
There is time to reach beyond smallness
that resides in our hearts.

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Fawn

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

Your spotted back fits well
in the dappled light of the wood 

as you wait utterly still
for the night and her returning.

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The Songs They Sing

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

This place. . .
I cannot say. . .
Its name is different. . .
for the people
that did not stay.

The bird song
is a different song, 
a song from a different tongue.
Was it music from Potawatomi?
or Ojibwa?
Was it Ottawa?
or Menominee?

This place looked
different then.
Those people’s tongues
are lost again.
They drift in and out
of foxfire embers.
Where are their songs? 
The songs they sing?

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Kevin Michael Davis

February 16, 1982 – July 23, 2010

Overlook Tower

Arches of Scoria

Arches of scoria,

bridging eye to eye,

we lean back, falling gently. 

Stones like hands

catch our curiosities

at the cusp of a cool wind. 

Delicate branches reach down:

fingers wrapped around supports of light

peering through a passage of silence. 

Our eyes close momentarily,

and the passage inundates with another kind of light. 

The train,

several minutes late – as usual –

leads us to bustling boardwalks and ocean breezes.

Thronged by movement,

silence shies away,

its wisdom stowed between new verbs.

We must pay heed.

For in silence,

the arches collapse into a volcanic flow

and collide into the ocean’s embrace. 

Cool winds carry us, as equals, to stark realities.

Frailty inspires us. 

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I Will Wait

by Ethel Mortenson Davis

I will wait

for the foxfire tonight,

for the glistening jewels

of the wood.

I will nuddle

along the lopeway,

following the gallery

worn in paths by the deer.

I will nudge the white dag

that sits on top

of the marsh,

she, a low-lying friend.

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