Archives For poetry


Mary Liz Ingram —  January 26, 2016 — 1 Comment
Tree full, ink doodle

Tree full, ink doodle

I cracked the window an inch,

letting in an icy draft

filled with the chattering of birds,

dotting the yards,

punctuating the trees.

The smallest movement sends them

flying in a blur.

Red-wing blackbirds, waxwings, grackles

cowbirds and red-breasted robins,

a congregation of busy, nervous feathers.

Cat comes running up the sidewalk,

her body alive with eagerness for a feast

if she can catch one.

No luck yet.

“I meant to do my work today but a brown bird sang in the apple tree…” -Richard Le Gallienne

Sunny California

Mary Liz Ingram —  April 23, 2015 — 1 Comment

It’s been a while since, months can pass so quickly, but I find my thoughts daily straying to my few days on the Pacific.

I left the downpours of an Alabama spring behind and spent some time on the shores of California. A rare retreat alone, my husband and I felt like excited, curious children on a grand adventure. We ran around Hollywood Blvd., drove down the coast in a little red rental car, climbed over the rocks and tidal pools of Laguna Beach, went whale watching, and Stephen took a surfing lesson while I giggled and watched.

It was glorious.

With such incredible surroundings – the tallest palm trees I’ve ever seen, the sky catching on fire as we watched the sun sink into the ocean, dolphins, gray whales and sea lions right in front of me – I planned to paint and draw a lot.

But, I enjoyed myself so immensely and found myself so relaxed, I didn’t feel like doing much of anything besides staring at the ocean and listening to it sing. I found the words of Mary Oliver’s poem “Today” drifting through my mind: “Today I’m flying low and I’m not saying a word….Quiet as a feather. I hardly move though I’m traveling a terrific distance.”

Here are a few paintings, doodles and thoughts from those transforming days in California:

Pacific Ocean treasures, watercolor

Pacific Ocean treasures, watercolor

When I saw this collection of ocean treasures – shells and seaweed, sticks and pebbles – I was reminded of the poem “Breakage” by Mary Oliver as well. I recommend you read the whole poem…all of her poems, really. They are so simple, so beautiful.

I go down to the edge of the sea. How everything shines in the morning light!


First you figure out what each one means by itself,

the jingle, the periwinkle, the scallop full of moonlight.

Then you begin, slowly, to read the whole story.


Winter Trees

Mary Liz Ingram —  February 23, 2015 — Leave a comment

Everyday, lately, I watch the winter trees. Some days they are dancing in the wind, some days they stand still as statues. Often they are mobbed with chattering black birds.

The dark, bare branches look like ink against the gray sky, so I drew them. I let the ink drip down the crinkled paper, as I held it upside down. When I turned it right side up, I found a tree:

Winter Tree, ink

Winter Tree, ink

Today, the trees were rain-soaked and slowly moving, here and there. I wrote down a little poem while I sipped my coffee:

The trees stand

like frozen sentinels

drenched by a cold winter rain.

They watch me with

arms spread high and wide

daring me to hear them

to feel the bare morning

to come out of my house

and reach to the sky.

Wet to the bone

they tease me

as I sit in my warm chair

wrapped and snug.

With waving wet arms

they tell me to come out and see

come out and dance

and feel the rain.

Grain of Sand

Mary Liz Ingram —  September 16, 2014 — 1 Comment

To see a world in a grain of sand
And a heaven in a wild flower,
Hold infinity in the palm of your hand,
And eternity in an hour.

-William Blake, Auguries of Innocence

Magical evening, original photography


If you follow my blog, you may have noticed it’s been awhile since my last post. I’ve taken a few steps back to regroup, to build my garden, to reflect, absorb and let peace grow and guide. This time of retreat ended with a magical week with my family at Grayton Beach. I took this picture on the evening we arrived, and was blown away by the beauty of our world.

We played and read, built sand castles and dug holes, swam and walked and enjoyed every second, living in the moment.

I doodled every day and recorded my thoughts in words and art:

“A week at the beach, life relaxed.

Cotton candy clouds on early mornings, we beat the sun.

Thunderstorms in surround sound, we watch from the porch, candles flicker as clouds flash.

Feet in the blinding sand, we become one with the sun, warmly wrapping us and renewing our souls.

Splashed by aqua waves, we wade deeper into the mystery of the sea, finding new things and taking in life.

Rejuvenation. Perspective. Enjoyment. Refreshing retreat as the world swirls vividly around us.”


The Feisty Blue

Mary Liz Ingram —  July 30, 2014 — Leave a comment

Blue Jay, pastel on handmade paper

Blue Jay, pastel on handmade paper

A mass of blue jays scatter the trees

Hopping mad they scream out angry calls

From the branch to the roof to the bush to the sky

A flurry of feisty blue

They eye the ground intensely

Switching positions without pause

I stop and stare at the feathered spectacle

Counting the moving birds in vain

Five no six, they hop and caw and screech

Wary of their sharp eyes and open beaks

I creep forward and spot a foe

A white cat perches nimbly among the azalea

With a shake of the bush, the cat escapes

The jays begin a cautious lessening

Still emitting a jumbled unity of warning

Such fierce attention and determined vehemence

Encased in those feathers of blue

Summer Rain

Mary Liz Ingram —  July 28, 2014 — Leave a comment
Rainy Day, ink doodle

Rainy Day, ink doodle

The sweet, hot smell of the first drops of a summer rain

Like an old friend we welcome it back and it steams off the baked asphalt

We inhale the familiar scent of renewed life

Saved from drought, the parched earth soaks up every drip

We rush outside in our bare feet, my little one giggles at the spray

The rain trickles down her nose, curls her wet hair and it plasters to her cheeks

Water beads on her little arms and drips off her chubby elbows

All smiles, dimples, rain and dirt, she plays with sticks

She stirs mud with her toes, the ground that was hard and dusty minutes before

A good summer rain that restores the dry soul

It lifts drooping leaves and greens the earth with life like resurrection

Spring Prelude

Mary Liz Ingram —  March 19, 2014 — 2 Comments

Morning 1

In the Mist, watercolor & ink

In the Mist, watercolor & ink

It is a gray spring morning, damp and cold, when new buds are barely making a show.

Branches like gnarled claws, grasping into the mist that shrouds my morning drive.

The air is still and heavy, a floating moisture clings to my hair and coats the ground, muffling and capturing the sounds of waking birds.

A calm beginning, a waiting quiet, resting before the bright burst of spring.


Morning 2

Cherry Blossoms, ink doodle

Cherry Blossoms, ink doodle

A sleepy morning takes its turn, as warm rays burst through the heavy clouds.

Yesterday’s fog is lifted and I close my eyes to the renewing glow.

Cherry blossoms turn their face to the sun, opening bit by bit as winter fades.

Hope arrives as dreary days pass away and nature drinks in the light.

Old Rusty Train

Mary Liz Ingram —  January 26, 2014 — Leave a comment
Speeding along, with rhythmic persistence, miles covered by churning wheels.
Barreling forward to each destination, no unplanned stops or slowing on the horizon.
Without forethought, the emergency brake is pulled, a screeching, steaming, crashing halt.
With a wheezing sigh, the train lies still.

Always moving, never resting, the time had come to stop. No phone, no work, no have-tos. I pulled the emergency brake on my full, ever-pursuing busy life.

As I approached my front door and weekend respite, I felt the embrace of a self-chosen hibernation. Once the door closed behind me, nothing or anything lay ahead. Quiet, rest, refueling was expected.

But that’s not how a train stops without warning.

More like a shaking, grinding, shuddering, momentum-stopping standstill.

Welcome to my Saturday morning: the aftermath of a much-needed break from everything.

I slept…I puttered…I slept…I puttered…I ate at my parents, then returned to climb in bed at 7:30pm. My head hurt all day, like being purged from the addiction of busyness.

Come Sunday, I felt clear. I felt calm, rested, connected in a real ways. Detoxified of stress, anxiety, pressure, burdens, I began to recover and reemerge with a more restful, more mindful perspective. A greater goodness crept into my tired should. My thoughts settled on family; I said “yes” more to my children. Half-formed thoughts stirred and stirred.

I followed the free string of my thoughts, now cleansed of distractions, and found myself thinking of our stories. My heritage, how I came to be here through my family. We seem to listen so late, wait so long before grasping the value in the stories of family. I decided it is time to listen more intently, to learn the stories in the lives of others. To understand the paths of my family that kept converging until mine began 32 years ago.

Like a magpie, I’ve collected treasures: symbols of the past, bits of history, connections to another time and place. I looked at a few of my favorite things and ended my weekend journey with a crock pot of taco soup and a dinner visit to my grandparents, where my children played dominoes with my Paw Paw and my baby sang “Wheels on the Bus” with my grandmother. It was  a night that unexpectedly glowed. A moment that would not exist if I hadn’t stopped and listened.

I found a different peacefulness from pulling the brake. It equipped me with a new grounding that helped me survive the tangled week to come…

At night, especially on these clear, cold January twilights, I hear a distant train whistle blow. Signaling approach, calling goodbyes, reminding us to pay attention. The train pushes on, going places in the darkness with light bright and pace steady, knowing when to stop, when to refuel and when to commence another journey.

Old Rusty Train, 8x10 pastel

Old Rusty Train, 8×10 pastel



Mary Liz Ingram —  October 10, 2013 — Leave a comment

Repetition. Sometimes it is spirit-crushing monotony; sometimes it is a rhythm.

Lately, as my husband and I have been collapsing on the couch each evening, we have discovered a more defined explanation for our weariness. It occurred to me that all day we slowly and repetitiously teach. We train the puppy, “no bite, no bite, no bite, no bite.” We teach the baby, “sit down, sit down, sit down, sit down in your high chair.” We teach our son to read, our daughter to spell and learn place value to 1000 (in 2nd grade?!). I teach preschoolers to respect their teachers, follow the rules, be kind to others. My husband teaches teenagers to discover themselves, to make good choices. Teach, teach, teach. Over, and over, and over.

It may sound like I’m being negative. It is tiring sometimes, this repetition. But I do not intend negativity. It is a gift, to teach. To mold and shape and grow. It requires a growing patience, which I am trying hard to acquire more deeply each day.

In reflection upon this discovery, I reclined on the couch in a quiet moment and scribbled down a quick, unrevised poem.


Drip,  original photography

Drip, original photography

Teaching every moment
Teaching at work
Teaching my children
Teaching my dog
Teaching myself
Like a constant dripping
Reminding the same behaviors
Reciting the same words
Watching for signs of answers
Slowly shaping
Gently molding
Patient work
That doesn’t end
A gift
Often unrecognized
To others and ourselves
So we remind ourselves
Teaching brings goodness


Mary Liz Ingram —  August 28, 2013 — Leave a comment

A vacant desk waiting for that quiet moment

An empty chair waiting for creative companion

A tired artist waiting for a calmer day

A busy mind waiting with gathered thoughts 

Waiting through the new starts, the new schools, the busy days

Waiting for the rhythm to return, the mind to be renewed.

Vacant, original photography