Free Verse by Mary Jo Balistreri

Archeology of Desire

Steam curls its way up the spout,

unfurls petals of mist that displace

the winter of a cold kitchen.

My gramma cups her hands around

the blue-willow cup, its glaze

cracked and veined. She lowers

her face to the heat, takes a sip

and rests her head against the back

of the rocker, the hiss of wet wood,

our background music. Soon

the stories spin from her mouth,

worn from telling, smooth

as softest flannel. How they tint

the bleak day in warm pastels.

She guides me through the prairies

of youth, the furrowed ground

of growing old, of births and deaths

of children and husband, crocheting

the past with mauve shadows laid

against the gray simplicity

of the North Dakota Plains.

by Mary Jo Balistreri (USA)

About Charlotte Digregorio

I publish books. I have marketed and/or published 55 titles. These books are sold in 46 countries to bookstores, libraries, universities, professional organizations, government agencies, and book clubs. In 2018, I was honored by the Governor of Illinois for my thirty-eight years of accomplishments in the literary arts, and my work to promote and advance the field by educating adults and students alike. I am the author of seven books including: Haiku and Senryu: A Simple Guide for All; Everything You Need to Know About Nursing Homes; You Can Be A Columnist; Beginners' Guide to Writing & Selling Quality Features; Your Original Personal Ad; and my latest, Ripples of Air: Poems of Healing. The first four books have been adopted as supplemental texts at universities throughout the U.S., Canada, India, Pakistan, and Catalonia. They are sold in 43 countries, and are displayed in major metropolitan cultural centers. These books have been reviewed, recommended, and praised by hundreds of critics, librarians, and professors worldwide. I am also the author of a poetry collection: "Shadows of Seasons: Selected Haiku and Senryu by Charlotte Digregorio." Two of my books have been Featured Selections of Writer's Digest Book Club. I am regularly interviewed by major print, radio, and television organizations throughout the U.S. I regularly sign books at libraries, chain bookstores, and university bookstores, and do poetry readings at art centers, cafes, tea houses, and galleries. I was recently nominated for two Pushcart Prizes in poetry. I have won fifty-nine poetry awards, writing fourteen poetic forms. My poetry has been translated into eight languages. I do illustrated solo poetry exhibits 365 days a year in libraries, galleries, corporate buildings, hospitals, convention centers, and other venues. My individual poems have been displayed at supermarkets, apparel and wine shops, banks, botanic gardens, restaurants, and on public transit. I have been nominated and listed in "The International Authors and Writers Who's Who" in Cambridge, England and in the "Who's Who In Writers, Editors & Poets U.S./Canada." I hosted my own radio program, "Poetry Beat," on public broadcasting. My poetry has been featured on several library web sites including those of Shreve Memorial Library in Louisiana and Cornell University's Mann Library. My background includes positions as a feature editor and columnist at daily newspapers and as a magazine editor. I have been a public relations director for a non-profit organization. I am self-employed as a public relations/marketing consultant, having served a total of 118 clients in 23 states for the past several decades . In other professional areas, I have been on university faculties, teaching French, Italian, and Writing. I regularly give lectures and workshops on publishing, journalism, publicity, poetry, and creativity to business and professional groups, and at writer's conferences, universities, literary festivals, non-profit organizations, and libraries. I have been a writer-in-residence at universities. There have been about 400 articles written about me in the media. I have served on the Boards of writers and publishers organizations. My positions have included Board Secretary of the Northwest Association of Book Publishers. I served for five years as Midwest Regional Coordinator of The Haiku Society of America, and for two years as its Second Vice President.
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9 Responses to Free Verse by Mary Jo Balistreri

  1. MaryJo says:

    Thank you, Charlotte.

  2. Paul Beech says:

    Gosh, MaryJo, what a gorgeous poem!

    Your gramma in her rocking chair, bringing her prairie past so colourfully to life over a hot cuppa in her rocking chair, reminds me strongly of my Grandad Dawson, a WWI veteran decorated for bravery in the trenches, later a Chief Inspector of Police.

    Sitting in his favourite chair, he’d hold me enthralled with stories as the sun went down beyond the curtains and I could see him only in silhouette.

    What wonderful grandparents we both had MaryJo. Aye, how lucky we were.

    My very best,


    • MaryJo says:

      Thank you Paul for sharing your Grandad Dawson. He does sound wonderful.
      I agree, we are both lucky. It’s fun to swap stories.

  3. Maureen Weldon says:

    A cold and hard Winter, your Granny in her rocking chair hands wrapped round her willow patterned cup, now warmer your Granny telling wonderful memories of the past.
    Thank you, Mary Jo, I loved your poem.

  4. MaryJo says:

    Thank you Maureen. I’m so glad you liked the poem. I used to sit with her so often. Their hard lives remind me that we can certainly move ahead with ours.

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