Category Archives: Poetry

book poems

A book of my poems? Why, yes, it is.


Red Dress Press publishes first author-designed book.

Linger, Love. by Liz Shine is a collection of poems written and edited over twenty years. Placed together in this single collection, they present a sort of essay regarding the human heart, its possibilities and its limits. The poems span childhood to adulthood, address many subjects including identity, relationships, parenting, and divorce.

You can buy the book here:


Follow Liz Shine elsewhere and share these posts!

More poetry, please.

Children should read more poetry, and not just the rhyming, humorous kind in the style of Prelutsky or Silverstein, though I love those poems too. I guess what I’m saying is that children should read more for the experience of language and how it effects you without having to puzzle out a central idea, because I think it’s extremely difficult to do the work it takes to makes sense of difficult text if you haven’t already developed an appreciation for how words can pluck away at your senses in endless compositions.

The other day I gave my students the Robert Hass poem “TIme and Materials” to read and respond to. Their response in some cases was strong and surprising. “These aren’t even words!”, one student remarked about how as the poem moves on, letters start to disappear, a trick that if you’re open to the play of language strikes you as brilliant. But, if you’ve come to expect that words follow rules and our primary objective is to understand, the tricks of poets can be maddening.

I had a conversation recently where a friend remarked that she couldn’t believe how much homework there is in first grade these days. It’s true. And have you seen the nature of that homework? Is it any wonder that so often the struggle with our best students as English teachers is they are so concrete? Even when the write about poems or fiction, their default is to say “the writer explains”.

I’m probing the edges of other topics here, finding it difficult not to follow the tangents. I started with “children should read more poetry”, and I’m tempted to say what I really mean is something about the impact of over-testing or global economic terror or the information age, but no, what I really mean is just that. By the time they come to me in high school, poetry is far more strange to them than it should be.


Buy my books here.

Follow Liz Shine elsewhere and share these posts!

Poem written at a meeting

I find that writing poems during meetings makes it easier to pay attention…

No time for reluctance.
Observe buds about to bloom,
new colors waiting to paint the world
from top to toe, eager
to join in the movement building as the song
of seasons reaches the toe-tapping moment
just before the dance,
the eruption of joy.

Five fruit trees line the walk from home
to the park where my dog has not yet learned
to return the frisbee that sat
on the highest shelf of the closet
all winter, while we leash-walked
in the fading light of fall, then
the moon’s coming out: winter.
All of them new-bloomed, white.
When did this happen?
How did I miss it?

Now I’m tapping my toe too and the dog
is running after the frisbee he won’t bring back,
celebrating his catch, his neck straining
to hold the disc higher, higher yet
as he prances round the lawn.
The birds chatter, spurring us on.
I imagine you, love-eyes,
across the dew-wet grass.
The tapping of my foot quickens pace,
seeing you there. A vision.

There was no decision to dance, and the dog
has joined me, dropped the disc
to explore a new curiosity.


Buy my books here. 

Follow Liz Shine elsewhere and share these posts!

Today a poem happened.

My students were taking their final and I was reading a book recommended by a friend (Journey of the Heart by John Wellwood) when a poem happened to me.

Linger Love

Whether you and I
lying in the cool grass of evening–
your leg crossing mine–
my fingers brushing your palm,
the moon will glow.

Whether we take that switchback
trail at dawn, laughing into
the open space our bodies created
around us and between us
under the moon’s light-blanket,
the stream whose flowing sound inspires us now
will play its part in the earth’s concert.

Oh love! Linger here
even when–especially when–
I alone observe the moon,
stroll singular beside the chattering stream.


Buy my books here. 

Follow Liz Shine elsewhere and share these posts!

Writing poems when I should be grading papers….

In high school, I was the worst student. Couldn’t bring myself to read or do anything that I didn’t feel like doing. Some things never change. Spent an hour this morning writing this poem, when I really ought to have been grading papers.

Thanks Kristina, for the inspiration!

Pecan Pie

Seed pods in the mortar,
I think of the way the word
tickles my lips.

Elbow-grinding with a marble pestle,
I pull three cinnamon sticks
from that spice jar we bought in Santa Fe,
and laugh at how we were then:
a short laugh, abruptly ended,
because you’re long gone and that feeling
is worse than dead: Alive, but homeless.

Crust ephemeral, flaky,
of course pecans and
corn syrup and eggs.
You critiqued my pecan pie with lke a pro,
and I offered unflinching advice on your barbecue,
because when it comes to cooking–we knew–
Four hands are better than two.

It’s 2 A.M.
I’m baking a fucking pie!
An oft used diversion from prurience.

Sitting on the sun-porch
in the warm midsummer air,
pie in the oven,
I’m thinking that the way we cooked
is also the way to build homes and make love:
Four hands, one heart.


Buy my books here. 

Follow Liz Shine elsewhere and share these posts!

Birthday Poem

Every year for the last five years, I’ve written a poem to celebrate my birthday. I just can’t think of any better way to express my gratitude for life than writing a poem. My birthday isn’t until Thursday, but Thursday’s poem happened today. It’s a pantoum. Strange, because I don’t tend toward rhyme of form. It just happened that way. A culmination of some loose threads that came together and formed this poem I think. A thought, an image, and a conversation with a friend about the difference between song and poetry.

Be born in breath

There are at least one hundred ways to be born,
not including the first–birth.
Each day begins at break of morn.
And, inevitable, death shadows this earth.

Not including the first–birth,
be born in breath, free-flowing.
Yes, inevitable, death shadows this earth.
But, shadows are born from the light of life loving.

Be born in breath, free-flowing.
Light draws the seed-sprout from its earthy grave, a peony.
But shadows are born from the light of life loving,
just as light pours your shadow, holding my shadow, before me.

Wake with dreams on your tongue. Eat fruit for breakfast.
Each day begins at break of morn.
Peel, slice, let the juice drip to your elbow. Regarding light, don’t fast.
There are at least one hundred ways to be born.


Buy my books here. 

Follow Liz Shine elsewhere and share these posts!

A writing prompt

Take a book you are reading and choose a passage that you like. From that passage, pluck out 25 imagery words that stand out to you. Write something that contains those 25 words.

I did this last fall with my juniors. I wrote while they wrote. We pulled the words from the book we were reading at the time, The Things They Carried.

Here’s what I wrote:

Nalgene, new canteen:
a necessity.
It’s said that our bodies are mostly water,
and water is a symbol of life, of purity,
the deliverer of all things,
so I trek up this loose-rock incline
relying on balance, repetition,
and vanilla cake goo.

Buddha blush in my cheeks,
I stop to drink in the smell of lavender,
tilt my head back to look at the sky,
wonder on the necessity of things.

By dusk, I am home,
fatigued, a killer ache in my legs.
I have not washed the dust off my feet,
because I am ignoring sensibility just now,
like when I was four and used to give my older
brother the silent treatment because it drove him mad.

There’s nothing on TV but premium rubber,
so I fantasize about throwing my shoe at the finger-smudged screen.
Boom. But I don’t.
I click the screen to black, stand up, the burn in my legs
traveling into my spine, up through the top of my head.
My posture’s been rearranged and
I can’t think of anything I can know with certaintly—and that’s the beauty
of this other trek I’m on.

Follow Liz Shine elsewhere and share these posts!

Happy Poetry Month!

Check out Robert Lee Brewer’s Poem-A-Day Challenge over at Poetic Asides.

I’m doing it! After school each day, I supervise kids who’ve gotten in trouble while they pick up trash, wash walls, and clean windows. Today, I wrote my poem on a legal pad while I was walking around the school with them. 🙂 I think I’ll try this method again tomorrow.


Buy my books here.

Follow Liz Shine elsewhere and share these posts!