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…


 

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: I began writing this poem after reading an article about freedom of the press. Diverse opinions need a place at the table.

Seeking Shells

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.

Poetry

A Sampling of Lorraine's Poetry

Lorraine Walker Williams


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

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..

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.

About the poem:This poem began as an observation of the simple act of braiding hair. Since the poem is written in sestina form, the six end words of the first verse have to follow a pattern and repeat as end words in the next 5 stanzas. This challenged me to expand images and move in new directions until the last 3 lines which bring us back to the simple act of braiding.

Two Braids: A Sestina


Her child’s hair wet from the shower,
the mother’s fingers caress her head,
comb out tangles, separate
long strands, twist one on another.
The child holds her head still
as braiding rhythm repeats.

Her grandmother watches a pattern repeat,
brushing her daughter’s hair after a shower,
wrapping her close, wanting time to stand still.
Soap clean, she kisses her head.
Her child grows, years fold one to another,
mother and child like two braids, separate,
 
like sun and falling rain separate.
Days and seasons repeat,
streaming one to another.
Clouds, heavy with rain before a shower,
undone like braids on the head.
Hair falls free, air becomes still.

 Grandmother’s hands still
remember silk strands separate
like moonlight on water at the head
of the bay. Wave after wave repeats
tide’s ebb and flow, showers
starlight from night.  Other

voices summon the days, other
dreams fade from light, still
the grandmother showers
love on the child, cannot separate
the braid she weaves and repeats
through time and space in her head
 
to breath’s rise and fall of the child’s head.
Distance carries one away from the other.
The braid spins out, rhythm repeats
flutters on feathered wings. Still,
their hearts never unravel or separate,
love steady as rain in a shower


forms a rainbow, shines on the child’s head still.
A mother separates one fine strand from another,
fresh from the shower, braid upon braid repeats.


Lorraine Walker Williams

Award Winning Poet

I Wish I Had Better Sins
from Split Poems


I wish I had better sins than not pleasing you.
Mea culpa. Let me offer the sin of lust desiring
to be loved above all else or that nasty sin of lying
tucked with tassels of truth like a silly hat.

I wish I had better sins than anger sputtering words,
black and sticky on the tongue. Please give me
the sin of greed, avarice like a cocktail
served with crushed ice to settle my alarming need.

I wish for the sin of gluttony, wantonly eating and
drinking to distress. Allow me to lounge across the
table and overeat my words and vomit them on
your plate. Forgive my gross lack of better sins.

I am distracted by envy and her green-sequined sister,
jealousy gossiping about my sloth of better sins.
Help me to reach the epitome of hate or murder
although I know I will never learn to fire a gun.

Do I wish I had lied or been unfaithful?
No, I must confess I am only guilty of pride and
slow to understand all the sin you tried to hide—
I wish I could offer you better sins.


Lorraine Walker Williams


A Seat at the Table


No matter the challenge or price I may pay,
no one can stop me from having my say.

Words flow like water, flooding and
rising through power and play—
No one can stop me from having my say.

Report and repeat what they may,
oozing, recusing fake news day by day.
Who would dare stop me from having my say?

Distraction, delay may seem far away,
little by little our rights slip and fray.
No cameras record what I want to say.

So I tap away, words in the silence,
crippled, forgotten, one click away.

Still, one voice joins another, a growing display—
No one can stop me from having my say.


Lorraine Walker Williams