Poem for the Spider Outside the Back Door

In honor of National Poetry Day, I’m returning to my blog with this poem about today’s early morning encounter

Spider out back

copyright Emily Livingstone 2017

This morning

your expanded web

had filaments spreading across the doorway…

…across the porch…

…down to the garbage bin.

When I opened the screen door,

your web shook, and you

drummed your legs angrily

against the center, ignoring

my recoil.

Your kind have reclaimed our yard of late.

There is one on the fence,

by the front of the house,

and one in the pine tree out back.

There are webs in the grass

and in windowsills.

Be warned, spiders.

Some places are too close,

too frequented,

and you are not welcome.

But, please, do not send your children

inside to crawl

from under the bed

to bite our skin at night

or march down our throats.

Live in the forgotten corners,

out of reach, and feast on what you find.

We both are selfish,

and we will both defend

what we imagine to be ours.


Is it true that we swallow spiders when we sleep?



Poem for Visiting Walden Pond in 2016

We leave the crowded, paid lot

and migrate with others

in their assorted  groups,

speaking assorted tongues,

across a highway

and down to a rocky beach

where a few are swimming,

even in October.


Our daughter’s favorite thing

the whole day

is this beach:

she clutches stones in her hand

feeling their heft,

she kicks her feet back and forth in the sand,

creating half sand-angels as she sits,

and she holds up leaves, sticks, and stones

to see if they will make a sound

when joined by her hands.


We join a path around the pond,

and pass people in both directions.

How strange it is,

and I’m sure I’m not the first to mark it,

that so many gather here

with family, friends, cameras

to see a place famous

for solitary communion.

There were moments of that quiet.

People gazed upon the granite markers

of Thoreau’s invisible cabin,

and read the words of his placed

here and there.

And there are places to see a cormorant,

close up and unconcerned,

used to the pilgrims who visit.

And there are moments when we look through the tree trunks

and see only the pond in the sunlight.


Resuming our walk on the path,

I press my palm against tree trunks

and feel their bark, individual,

full of life.  Our little one fusses,

and I sit on a stone

and breastfeed her in a moment

both private and not private.


We bring her to the beach,

once more before we go,

and she concentrates,



and improvises

with nature’s bits and pieces.


We breathe the scent of the pine needles in.

We feel the sun on our faces.

We change our daughter’s diaper

in the trunk of the hatchback,

and drive home.

A Walk in the Woods (of Maine): Reflection and a Poem

Copyright Emily Livingstone -  2015

Copyright Emily Livingstone – 2015

First of all, exciting news!  Available tomorrow, 6/21/15, the new FlashDogs Solstice Anthology!  As posted on the FlashDogs website, “2 books.  143 stories.  48 writers.”  I’ve only read my own and one by Brian S. Creek (which was wonderful).  Can’t wait to read the others!  All stories are flash fiction inspired by photos which are either light or dark.

FlashDogs Solstice Anthology, available tomorrow, 6/21/15!

FlashDogs Solstice Anthology, available tomorrow, 6/21/15!

So the photo–this is where I’m lucky enough to spend the weekend.  My husband and I are up in a rented house in Maine on the water.  The school year is nearly over (just a few more days!), and the time here is giving me a taste of the deep, cleansing breaths to come.  It’s been a busy month, as I’ve been working on keeping up with end-of-the-year schoolwork and some personal obligations.  The end of the school year is always a tense time for the students and for me, as I have those final conversations with parents I’ve been talking to at various points throughout the year, and sometimes have to deliver tough news.  We’ve also had a tense environment at work due to budget constraints, and it’s been very hard saying goodbye to some close coworkers.

After the drive up here and listening to the beginning of Stephen King’s Duma Key (thanks for the recommendation, Lisa Pais), we’ve been in for some quality family time and relaxation with some beautiful scenery.  I woke up to my wonderful brother cooking breakfast for everyone.  We chatted for awhile and walked the beach.  My husband and I skipped rocks.  He’s much better at it, but I got a few!  Then, we headed out to poke around in some galleries and get lunch.  This afternoon, we took a walk to check out the wooded scenery at a more leisurely pace.

Copyright Emily Livingstone - 2015

Copyright Emily Livingstone – 2015

The house where we’re staying has sentimental significance to my family.  My aunt and mother, who are up here all week, used to come here as children.

smaller trail

Copyright Emily Livingstone – 2015

Copyright Emily Livingstone - 2015

Copyright Emily Livingstone – 2015

I know that I have been less than consistent with my blog in the last few months, but with the school year ending, I plan to do much better.

Copyright Emily Livingstone - 2015

Copyright Emily Livingstone – 2015

For now, a poem, written as I sit with my family on the screened-in porch, enjoying the remains of the sunset.

Dusk on the Porch

Sitting in a green rocker,

wool blanket tucked under my chin,

I am surrounded by family,

and we are wrapped in layers,

not giving into the deepening chill

now that the sun has set.


We hear the cries of sea gulls

and the melodic, repetitive gong

sounding on some buoy,

out where we cannot see.

There is also the occasional

cry of a loon.

To this, we add our own

natural noises:

quick, excited speech,

low, reflective murmurs,

bursts of laughter

that may make other wildlife

turn their heads

or take a step away.


The last sound

that I pick out,

like one string

in a tangled weave,

is the water lapping quietly

against the rocks.

That one is last

because it is at the

subtle heart of the others.

Copyright Emily Livingstone - 2015

Copyright Emily Livingstone – 2015

Poem: “Bay View”


Bay View

The tentacles of the man-o-war
stretched out
across the bay,
hard to see at first glance.
The iridescent bubble where the tentacles originated
couldn’t be seen—
was perhaps at the far side of the bay, by the rocks,
where children were splashing,
unaware of the danger.
The polar bear growled, reminding me
that I had to feed him,
that no time could be lost.
I threw the cold herring at his eager jaws,
making my voice firm,
taking control.
There are more creatures in those waters, myriad predators and prey.
From where we stood,
the bear and I,
atop a brown cliff overlooking the bay,
I prayed for great turtles to come, to dismantle the man-o-war,
biting into its pillowed center,
snapping through the tendrils,
immune to the venomous sting.
All of this was beautiful.
All of this was terrifying.