Kitchen Talk

My poem Kitchen Talk was featured today on Poetry Breakfast, just in time for Mother’s Day. My thanks to Editor Kay Kestner.

A timeless, woman-shaped tableau—
grandmothers, aunts, cousins cooking,
laughing. Amy is expecting a baby—
her first—and the love, advice 
and questions are as nourishing 
as the bread baking and red sauce
simmering. Names? What hospital? 
Do you need a crib? Her due date 
is the winter solstice. Such fortune! 
Meant to be! Women’s joy shared 
through centuries at village wells,
over tea and quilting frames—new life, 
hope, this fragile human gift.


My poem “Friends” was published today by Poetry Breakfast. My thanks to Editor Kay Kestner.

I heard her story on the plane from Pittsburgh
to LA, smiled politely, shut my laptop, listened,

nodded. She was going to meet a childhood friend,
discovered on Facebook after sixty years. I walked

with her to the terminal, took her arm on the escalator,
felt her excitement and her faltering age.

When they saw each other, arms reached out,
and I was forgotten in their greeting. They didn’t hug,

but held the other’s face gentle in their hands,
tears in their eyes. There would be time for memories,

photos of children and grandchildren, husbands now dead.
But for now, they stood close, reading lifetimes in lines

and furrows—refuge, intimacy, secrets and confessions,
first kisses and heartbreak. I searched my mind for a friend

like that, someone so close we’d need no words if we
should meet again. Then I headed toward baggage claim.


So pleased to have a poem published in the Silver Birch Press series “One Good Memory.” A lovely painting accompanies the poem on their site.


My mother was a hard woman,
not given to hugs or laughter.
But once when I was quite sick —
I must have been 4 or 5 — she sat
beside my bed, and I felt her cool,
soft fingers on my forehead, easing
my headache, brushing back my hair,
until I finally slept. That was when I knew
she loved me, though she didn’t say it,
then, or ever.

Artist’s Award in Rattle

Thrilled to win the artist’s award in the Rattle Ekphrastic Poetry Contest, working from the gorgeous photograph by M-A Murphy.

June 24, 2022

We stood hesitant that day, feet anchored 
on the splintered pier, sun blistering, glacial 
lake gasping cold. It was the year Julie and I
grew boobs, started cramping, felt stirrings
we didn’t talk about, even to each other.
C’mon in, the boys called, but we hung back,
more aware of our bodies than ever before,
the fathoms-deep water, the reach
of mountains and sky⸺the precipice 
of everything.

Today & Other Seasons

My second poetry book has been published by Kelsay Books. Here’s what reviewers say.

Today and Other Seasons moves through landscape and memory. With a startling economy of language, Sarah Russell writes of coyotes ‘silent as smoke’ and an Amish market’s ‘chubby garlic bulbs, currants round as BBs, bunioned ginger toes.’ Sarah writes not only with stillness and precision, but with understated humor describing an old wringer washer as a ‘dowager on a dance floor’ and the courtship of finches as ‘a warbled discussion of real estate and love.’ There is so much to savor in this fine small collection.” — Sarah Carleton

“In her second collection, Sarah Russell embraces the fleeting, fluid rhythms of time. Her lyrical, quiet attentiveness to the natural world often evokes Mary Oliver. We encounter ‘an abacus of starlings,’ and the smell of ’dust and rain like a lover’s musk.’ Her pleasure at the daily routines and people who mark our lives recall the poems of Ted Kooser. She pays affectionate tribute to the uncle who taught her cribbage, and to a Montana rancher feeding cattle, his ’pitch fork separating clouds of gold, strewing it like a Silver Wolf high roller.’ Throughout, Russell’s images surprise and resonate — a hawk in winter, ’not wishing for tomorrow or warmth or spring — alive only in what is.’ Yes. — Mary Rohrer-Dann

Unmasked by Sarah Russell (WEARING A MASK Series)

My poem “Unmasked” was just published by Silver Birch Press. Thank you, Melanie, for organizing these themed poetry events.

Silver Birch Press

denise-jans-hFkjrSF8JtE-unsplash 2copyUnmasked
by Sarah Russell

I shivered when I took them off,
those masks of forty years —
I stood naked in a new day.
Who was left?
Could I find her?
Would I love her?
Would anyone?
I set out to build a woman
without masks.
It took a while.
I lost people
and found others —
fewer than before.
They knew me when we met.
I knew them.
None of us wore masks.
All of us were naked.
But the sun was warm on our skin.

Photo by Denise Jans on Unsplash

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: It took tears, rage, alienation, and some deep regrets to find the woman who lived behind masks other people expected me to wear. The peace I feel was worth it.

RussellABOUT THE AUTHOR: Sarah Russell’s poetry and fiction have been published in Kentucky Review, Silver Birch Press, Red River Review, Misfit Magazine…

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A great review by Charles Robert Lindholm – The Reluctant Poet. Thank you so much, Chuck!

The Reluctant Poet

Reviewed By Charles Robert Lindholm – The Reluctant Poet

Reading Sarah’s Book – I Lost Summer Somewhere
Is Like Opening A Box Of Chocolates Late At Night And Taking Just One,
Only To Find As You Are Reaching To Turn Out The Light
That You’ve Eaten The Whole Box In A Single Sitting!!  You Just Couldn’t Help Yourself!!!

I Started Reading Sarah’s Book During An Extreme Texas Thunder Storm
At Five O’clock In The Morning To Flashes Of Lightning And Rolling Thunder
And Didn’t Stop Turning Pages Until The Storm Was Long Gone And I Reached The Final Page!  A Mesmerizing And Delightful Journey For Me.

Robert Frost Is My Favorite Poet.   After Years Of Reading Thousands Of Poems From Other Poets To Share With Followers On My Blog, I Have Finally Found In Sarah’s Writing, A Poet Who Is Able To Capture The Same Wondrous Feelings, Observations Of Life…

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Review in Scintilla

My thanks to Scintilla.Info for a wonderful review of my poetry collection. Here it is:

Book Review: I lost summer somewhere, Sarah Russell

I lost summer somewhere, Sarah Russell

Poetry: I lost summer somewhere, Sarah Russell

Local (State College, PA) poet Sarah Russell has given us a collection of poems that are heartfelt and moving. I lost summer somewhere is poignant, elegant, and sometimes emotionally raw. Reading it drew me into a world of love and loss, of new love found, of letting go of an aging parent piece by piece, of being with someone at their most vulnerable point, of watching granddaughters grow into a world we could never have imagined. At times it was a nerve-wracking white-knuckled journey through life. But it is hard to find someone relate that journey with the grace, beauty, and dignity that Russell achieves.

Anyone who has ever been in love can both relate to and laugh with her poem, “If I Had Three Lives.” She starts,

“If I had three lives, I’d marry you in two.”

This humorous look at love then goes on to imagine her life where she did not marry him: writing, reading lots of books, vacationing in Maine, practicing yoga…and then admitting,

“And I’d wonder sometimes / if I’d ever find you.”

This quirky love poem acknowledges that marriage has changed her in ways that might not always meet her ideal (“I’d be thinner in that life, vegan”), but in two of three lives she would choose him and in the third life she’d long for him. Honestly, that’s more than a lot of us get!

The titular poem is a metaphor for aging. The poet realizes that she has entered a stage of life when geese have abandoned their nests and wildflowers have finished their blooms. I love how she says to the geese as they leave,

“I’ll stay here, I tell them, I’ll air out / cedared cardigans. chop carrots / for the soup tonight, cross / the threshold of the equinox, / try not to stumble.”

Any of us watching the years spin by faster and faster can appreciate both the sense of loss and the acceptance of our future, whatever that may be.

Although the poems offer much to every reader, I believe that women would especially appreciate Russell’s perspectives. She writes as the wife who watches a marriage crumble, as the mother there with a daughter making a difficult choice and living with that, as the grandmother advising her middle-school granddaughter. Sometimes, like in Learning to Play Baseball, she is the bemused woman struggling to communicate with a man. She is the woman watching herself age, falling in love again, appreciating new seasons of life.

That being said, this book is not “for” women or men. It is for anyone who loves language, who loves poetry, for anyone who has loved and anyone who is watching an aging parent decline, for anyone who has enjoyed an “Indian Summer” of life and found a second love and held a child. Sarah Russell’s poems are beautiful and passionate, and I lost summer somewhere is a special collection.

Lawrence – by Robert Ford

A marvelous poem by Robert Ford, voted Reader’s Choice at Algebra of Owls. Both the poet and the journal are worth following. I’m never disappointed by their offerings.

Algebra Of Owls

In Miss Owen’s English class we learned about The Writer,
a local hero, or at least he’d come from a town near ours
we’d heard of, and had written poems and books, and died

abroad. He wrote a novel famous for being about fucking,
she told us – or something – and for having the word cunt in it,
and getting banned. Her fish-batter hair bounced as much as

hair as short as hers could, and her cavegirl face with its dark,
moon-lidded eyes, ground pepper as she said the swear-words,
and feasted on the bony silence they’d milked. After the bell,

we mooched about in the schoolyard like sheep just shorn,
our tongues and lips clumsy with disbelief, the crown jewels of
our vocabulary now strangely blunted in our mucky little mouths.

Robert Ford lives on the east coast of Scotland. His poetry has appeared in both print and…

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Mary Oliver

I just learned that Mary Oliver has died. She is one of my favorite poets, and one who inspired me with her plain language and sensitive observations. The world is lonelier without her.

When Death Comes

When death comes
like a hungry bear in autumn;
when death comes and takes all the bright coins from his purse

to buy me, and snaps the purse shut;
when death comes
like the measle-pox;

when death comes
like an iceberg between the shoulder blades,

I want to step through the door full of curiosity, wondering:
what is it going to be like, that cottage of darkness?

And therefore I look upon everything
as a brotherhood and a sisterhood,
and I look upon time as no more than an idea,
and I consider eternity as another possibility,

and I think of each life as a flower, as common
as a field daisy, and as singular,

and each name a comfortable music in the mouth,
tending, as all music does, toward silence,

and each body a lion of courage, and something
precious to the earth.

When it’s over, I want to say: all my life
I was a bride married to amazement.
I was the bridegroom; taking the world into my arms.

When it’s over, I don’t want to wonder
if I have made my life something particular, and real.
I don’t want to find myself sighing and frightened,
or full of argument.

I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.

– Mary Oliver
From New and Selected Poems
Photo source