Hello from Virginia (Who Happens to Live in Virginia, USA)

Hi, Everyone,

By way of introduction, I have been writing poetry for almost my entire life. I’m 61 and retired from my job as a writer for a pharma company almost two years ago to help care for my husband’s parents, both of whom have now passed on. (I miss them terribly.)

I had a blog, A Light Beyond the Hedge: Poetry and Somewhat Social Commentary for about eight years, but suspended it because of the current political climate in the US. I will bring it back at some point, but for the moment, I’m very excited to be joining the Poetry Marathon. It will be the second time I’ve participated (half-marathon last time and this time, too!) and I’m looking forward to not only seeing what my brain has stored over the last two years but also what my fellow poets will contribute.

To prepare, I’m writing a list of possible themes and a short idea on how to approach each one.

A big thank you to Caitlin and Jacob Jans for hosting this mad effort!!

XII. God Said



God said
I’m sending you on
a lonely mission
this time.
It’s gonna be scary,
you might well feel lost,
but here:
and He handed me a guitar.

I might have liked a gun better,
or a peaceful sleep,
but nope.
He gave me a guitar.

So I learned to play it,
and it became my voice.
I hid behind it, I hid in front of it,
I scared men off with it,
but mostly I loved it.

So, thanks, God.
When the bus rolls through
the Pearly Gates,
I’ll play the song
I wrote for you.
I hope you like it,
and I hope you sing along.


Art: Nashville, Tennessee, 2015 by Virginia Galfo

XI. A Meager Meal

Every Saturday my lover and I
Gathered with the other well-fed
volunteers to load meals into a van,
and then drive to our stations in
Manhattan to hand them out,

Mothers pushing strollers with
Crack-glazed eyes, and
Old men in ill-fitting overcoats
lined up outside Harlem Hospital
In the bitter cold
Waiting for the van.

The grand meal consisted of
two slices of white bread with
two slices of lunch meat,
an apple, and a half-pint of milk.
For those gifts, people waited
sometimes hours for the us to

One cold February night,
We’d handed out over 100 meals,
And when we got to the last man
In line, there was nothing left.
He looked into my eyes and
a tear slipped down his cheek.

I took a  20 dollar bill
out of my pocket,
put it in his hand
and walked all the
way downtown
as the snow fell.

I never went back.

Yet, to this day, decades later,
I still remember that man,
and the meteor-like impact
he made on my soul.
He made me feel his hunger,
The unfairness of his life,
His longing for warmth,
And how little I could do
With a single tear.

X. Childless Mother


My children come to me in the night.
I hear their thin, airy voices calling
my name, and it startles me awake.

Each one lost before the fourth month,
All ignored except by me, but know this:
They had names, futures, destinies,
but I never got to hold them.

It wasn’t spoken of
after the deadening
well-wishing comments
of you’ll have another and
there must have been something
wrong with the baby.

I didn’t have another,
and all these years I have mourned
alone, silently, and without comfort.
Still, I hear their voices,
I imagine their dimpled baby hands,
Their graduations and weddings.

And I wait for them to come to me
in the night when all is quiet,
as their angels gather around my bed,
and they call my name.



Art: Richmond, VA 2014 by Virginia Galfo

IX. Winter Dawn


The winter trees
Stand as sentenils,
Their bare branches
Sheltering those
Who cannot leave.

I hear the sparrow’s trill,
The chipping marble-sound
of busy cardinals at dawn,
and I shake off the North wind.

I know what it is
to miss the changing palette
of sky, and the thrumming
of morning
pushing past the night.



Art: Windsor Forest dawn 2016 by Virginia Galfo


VIII. Beyond What We Perceive



I make no apologies.
I see ghosts;
I have felt their breath
upon me,
their fingers through
my hair.

I have flown past
The farthest stars
Carried in the arms
Of Angels
And I know there
Is no such thing as

So, it’s no wonder
They come to me,
They talk to me,
They comfort me.

But you,
You are frightened
by the very notion
that spirits are among us.
You think of rattling chains
and moaning winds,
You assume
Your religion forbids
Us from returning –
But you are wrong.

I have slept on icy planets,
I have dreamed within the sun,
I have awakened to a song
Sweet as a wind chime
On a hot summer night
I have shaken off
this mortal coil,

Yet, you see me,
and you need make
no apology.

Art: Blue vase 2013 by Virginia Galfo

VII. Have You Met My Friend, Proust?



Proust was a man of many words.
If you could say it in five,
He’d say the same thing in 50,
and I loved every line.

So often, I find myself
staring at the empty page
seeing a polar bear
in a blizzard eating snow.

My words become
Lightning bugs
Signaling in the night;
only to disappear
as I draw close –
twisting my ankles
on the roots of despair.

Hats off to you, Marcel.
It took you 54 pages
to give your mother
a kiss goodnight and
It took me 30 years to read
Remembrances of Things Past.

I suppose somewhere in
the Universe, that makes us
Even Steven.

Just one thing before you go
back on the shelf–:
May I borrow your pen?

Art: Typewriter; Country Music Hall of Fame, Nashville, Tennessee 2015 by Virginia Galfo

VI. My Unchangeable Past

I would like to say I shudder
When I look at the past,
but I don’t.

I did the best I could
With what I had,
so too bad

If I wasn’t good enough.
Maybe you weren’t
good enough, either.

After my grandmother died,
I spent two years
trying to get back to her.

In her presence,
I had no past,
I had no sorrow.

Only with her
Was I ever
good enough.

V. Ode Upon an Alligator

Katie and Eric 025

Please don’t pet the alligator,
don’t throw rocks and aggravate her.
With her crooked, toothy smile,
She can chase your for a mile.
And DON’T go riding on her back,
Or she may have you for a snack.
On this, your life may just depend,
The alligator ain’t your friend.

Art: North Fork of the St. Lucie River 2012 by Virginia Galfo


IV. Snapshots in Real Time


Without meaning to,
I’ve taken mental snapshots
throughout my life
that never leave me.
Random things like

A boy crossing the street
in front of the house on Poplar Street

My grandfather waiting for me
On the train platform in Ocala

The sapphire blue of
the Mediterranean sea

Sometimes the images
ambush me when I least
expect it, flickering past,
demanding I look,
insisting I remember.

I must make a confession, though.
I have a paper bag in my
dresser drawer that contains
12 rolls of undeveloped 35 mm film,
some more than two decades old.
I have no idea what images they
contain, and no desire to find out.
I can only imagine the sleep I’d lose
if my brain ever got a hold of them.

Art: Street scene in Gloucester, Massachusetts 2015 by Virginia Galfo