On Guns

Twenty ducks float on the waves of the bay…

Teacher tells the children a wild animal
is loose in the building. They must hide,
stay together until he is caught.
Bad guys are in the school and they
have to wait for good guys to come.

Twenty ducks paddle and swim this day…

A bullet hits a child, kills a child.
Tender flesh hugged a teddy bear in bed,
small fist clutched a frayed blanket,
child sat on Santa’s lap, whispered…
Bloodied mass brings the coroner to tears.

Twenty ducks bobble, bullets spray…

First grader left a heart crayoned red,
hand-lettered note, “I love you mom.”
Bullets pierce a child, kill a child.
Twenty children who smile in photos
eyes filled with light, no longer see.

Twenty ducks blind, life blown away…

Kiss on the child’s soft cheek—
Kiss mom, dad good-bye,
Dora the Explorer lunch box filled,
peanut butter and jelly sandwich…
Bullets shatter a child, kill a child.

Twenty ducks dead, blood on the bay…


On the beach a blowout tide—
Sandbars, tide pools, Gulf water

recedes exposing live shells
scattering late afternoon light.

Eyes fixed on finding tiny olive,
limpet shells that will drop through

the narrow neck of a bottle
to be carried away to mountains.

With each careful choosing,
a shell holds sea’s memory.

One live shell wiggles free and
I cast it into the shallows,

soon swallowed by waves
secure offshore.

Mid-summer when I miss
the ocean most these tide tossed

shells pull me back—
splashing salt water,

walking wet sand barefoot,
holding the sea in my hand.

Seeking Shells

Falling through the Glass

The moon fell through the glass last night,
          shattered patterns on the floor,
          sprinkled shards, opalescent bright.

The moon fell through the glass before
          I could save it, catch it, hold it close
          before I could break its fall from

 ink blot sky, before I could warn the floor,
          shut the door. The moon tumbled
          through cloud and mist,

careened past mountains, almost missed
          the glass it crashed, surprised
          that it could fall so far.

 Moon smashed its darker face,
          hidden in the black of space,
          scuttled on the floor.

Now, darkness wears moon’s new masque,
          falling through the glass.

Lorraine Walker Williams

About the poem:A poem of memory is always triggered by what once was and a longing to return to a happier time. For me, the beach is a healing place that gives me a measure of peace..


A Sampling of Lorraine's Poetry


My mother stands in the kitchen
pouring cream over sliced bananas,
cream skimmed from the top of
a milk bottle delivered that morning,
her flowered housedress
hangs loose on her frame.

On holidays she hand-whips cream
laced with powdered sugar and
vanilla into white mounds— her apron
catches stray spatters. She scoops
thick clouds onto pumpkin pie,
as light splays silver on her hair.

Years later she chooses cream puffs
from a bakery. I see her sitting at
the table late afternoon with tea and
the newspaper, a wrinkled hand
lifting a fork to thin lips with a smile,
her glasses tipped on her nose.

Behind her, a window opens to farmland
where once the clink of glass bottles
left on the step could be heard and
cream always rose to the top.

Lorraine Walker Williams

The Turquoise House

There’s a turquoise house down the beach,
a turning point where we draw the line
to walk back up the sand.

Sometimes a swift pace in sneakers,
sometimes our feet splashing surf.

We step around royal terns resting,
pass a rare reddish egret fishing.

Glancing out to sea, pelicans
fly in formation, dip wings into a dive,
waves and tides in steady motion.

I look through photos of us on the beach
smiling, so happy in those moments—

I want to turn back to those afternoons
and once again walk with waves,

birds huddled at shoreline
sand littered with shells and
our footprints sinking in sand,

making our way to the turquoise house.

Lorraine Walker Williams

About the poem:This poem began when I noticed that most of the paintings in my home have paths. As I wrote, the poem moved outward to images that define our island sanctuary.

About the Poem: Upstairs at night I often look through the skylight at the moon. It breaks through and thus began the poem.  Playing with rhyme creates music in the lines

Lorraine Walker Williams

Award Winning Poet

About the poem: Thinking about my mother who loved cream, I could see her in the kitchen at various stages in her life. The images that came to mind felt camera ready as I wrote.

**This poem was selected as the Poem of the Week by the National League of American Pen Women to launch Poetry Month (2016).

NLAPW Website: http://wp.me/p2Us6N-14m

About the Poem: A draft of this poem was written after the massacre of 20 children at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut. I was still working on the poem when I walked along San Carlos Bay and ironically counted 20 ducks. This poem is one of two ArtPoems I read on Saturday, February 27 at the ArtPoems Performance at BIG ARTS. Artist, Scott Guelcher chose this poem and created the artwork which accompanies this poem. In the work he has 20 rubber ducks, 20 of the word “DUCK”, the 20 children’s names and ages. Watches in the piece are set at the begin time 9:35 and the end time 9:40. There are 154 empty bullet cases since there were 154 shots. The date, December 14, 2012 and many words and items from the poem are in the artwork. Scott and I are extremely proud of this ArtPoems collaboration.

Sanibel Paths

Lead me to a tree-lined path opening
on a dune, where I sink in sugar sand.

I’ll walk the line of wind and waves
along a shell lapped shore.

Follow me beside the bay— I’ll trek a sandy trace
where snakes cross like scribbled lines

and tortoises indent their nests
to camouflage the space.

Bring me unspoiled land— I’ll gaze on ponds
and pause past alligator signs—

Perhaps I’ll spy an osprey, talons spread
atop a branch filleting his fresh catch.

The bike path rolls a welcome lane,
yellow lined, twisting near blossoms, leaves.

Paths lead us, beyond the next
turn or curve, pulling us from here

to there, a journey with surprise
that draws us in

one step at a time—
to what awaits on either side.

shots fired from a Bushmaster
inflict mortal wounds…parents
claim broken bodies they had given life.
Bullets killed this child, guns killed this …
child...killed this…child...killed…this…child.

Twenty ducks float on the waves of the bay…
Twenty ducks paddle and swim this day…
Twenty ducks bobble, bullets spray…
Twenty ducks blind, life blown away…
Twenty ducks dead, blood on the bay…

 Lorraine Walker Williams

All poems on the site are in Lorraine's new book, Simply Sanibel Poems.

Lorraine Walker Williams