top of page

Annie and Twin,

five years old

to Annie's World, in Poetry

Creative writing is one thing to do, to fill "alone" time. Annie never thought of poetry as a career, so she was free to write as she wished. She started writing poems in High School but did not pursue it as a hobby until a friend offered to teach her, later in life. As with her photos, Annie eventually sought like-minded people, joined workshop groups, and learned from them.

Philosophical, sort of...


(First published in The Poet's Domain Vol. 35, November 2021; Revised version published in PSV Centennial Anthology, 2023. The poem was read at Annie's father's memorial service, November 5, 2023. He passed away aged 95, having caught a bus to the hospital for his last illness - independent as ever.) 


A coiling many-chambered human heart –

a nautilus – in death it breaks apart;

its form deforming under stilling sand,

unless recaptured by a human hand.


By pearl and silk, or dirt and rags rebuilt,

a shell grants someone brilliance or guilt.

So, was he soaring to creative life;

or shellfish, butchered by convention’s knife?


That person whom we loved – a man or saint?

The one derided – villain? Oddly quaint?

What author walks the beach to pick it up –

our spiral shell – and see its heart lit up?


Its owner breathed and moved in sandy bed;

we might have known him there; not raised him, dead.

Let’s make him once-more living – give him style –

avoiding hasty judgment without trial.


How lies the light upon the sand today?

Who walks with us, about the salted bay?

Alas, a different shell entices on,

while waves envelop this; its moment gone.

Anne Emerson


(First published in The Poet's Domain Vol. 35, November 2021)


Whatever! Does it matter

how someone sees the world?

Is there objective truth

out there, in here, or curled?


Are there opinions only

that must be reconciled?

Or might we find a place

where truth is domiciled?


A dreamer, sometime student,

thinks Einstein was mistaken –

ignoring human will

and what it might awaken.


I tell this man he’s wrong –

it’s not the human role

that Einstein’s math ignored –

it’s every living soul.


Together, we agree,

the Universe is growing.

It’s fashioned by the mind

and we say where it’s going.


Anne Emerson

Being Annie, and Twin...

How do I Twin Thee?


How do I twin thee? Let me tell our ways.

We shared our features, thoughts, our heft and height –

joint-impact keeping each girl out of sight

without the other’s echo-haunting face.

We two, observed as one, learned every day’s

most pressing need, in dawn or dark of night –

to share space freely and respect her right

to be herself in our “together” place.

Apart, now grown, our childhood lesson’s noose

has made me echo you with twin-like faith –

which, little recognized, you’ll hate to lose;

for absent twin’s still present in the breath,

smiles, tears of both our lives; please - if you choose -

bring back two trusting souls from living death.


                            Anne Emerson, Williamsburg, August 2023

We were popular as bridesmaids. Even, once, for someone who did not know us well. I wonder why!

Garden Party,

or Jocks and Nerds


For bronzed and toned athletic stars,

it’s sandwich-time, with drinks – upon

a stripe-rolled lawn – to share with nerds.


Oh, what a party! What a show!

Well-orchestrated, smooth and charmed;

the jocks belong, for sure, but nerds?


Whatever are they doing here,

without the muscles and the brawn,

among Olympic crème de crème?


The stars have nerves like tempered steel –

and quick, to turn upon a dime;

they’re honed and trained, as “win” machines.


The nerds seem nutty, almost stupid,

watching things that others don’t –

they live in half-another world.


What does this oddball guest-list share?

The Queen of England asked them in –

Olympian golds, all types – to tea.


So here, upon a storied lawn,

do Bridge, and Chess and Tiddlywinks

chitchat with Swim and Track and Crew.


It’s not observed in outward frame -

so who might catch a champion’s heart

that beats in muscles of the brain?


Anne Emerson, March 2022

My twin said she wasn't actually given a gold medal for being on the Bridge team that won the Venice Cup (Women's World Championship) in 1985, so I have to post her silver medal instead, for being on the team that lost in the final, in the Bridge Olympiad in 1984.

People Poems

Dandelion Seeds

(First published in Poets Domain 2015)

To a Child

It stands, strange misty globe, above the green.
With round eyes beamed to it, you kneel beside
the perfect, star-filled sphere. In time you lean,
bewitched, to touch its gentle, giving side.

It's gone. Look, there's another--downy grey--
a tiny techno-sculpture, sun-suffused.
It waits for breaths of wind to lift away
a dainty cargo, seeds--like cat hairs--loosed

at last, to sail the cloudscape, light as thought.
Let's help the breeze. Hold carefully, and blow
to see the fairies gambol and cavort.
You watch in awe, your second spring, although

someday there'll be no mystery at all--
you'll romp here and ignore the fluffy ball.

Anne Emerson, March 1995

Dandelion Seeds DSC_0100 smfxd crpd cpyrtd rszd.jpg
Map of migration in Algeria cropped.jpg

The poem at right is about Cairo, Egypt in the 1970s. The map above represents migration streams within Algeria between 1966 and 1977. Re-printed with permission. If anyone thinks urbanization results mostly from rural-urban migration, they might want to think again, as they look at the figure. Clearly, there were many migration streams to and from large coastal cities.

Leaving the Land

(Revised; first published in NoVA Bards 2019) 

Why might we move?

Dazzling lights; derided farms?

Glamor, grit, or glory?


Threading throngs too many for sidewalks,

buses carry riders on roofs,

hanging from windows,

filling rear platforms – feet within,

swaying outward from the crowd,

one hand holding on.


Who wants to be one grain of sand among millions?


On the sidewalk, a woman lying –

eyes crusted white;

black rags hanging over

bones protruding, barely wrapped in flesh;

two small coins in a cup beside her.

Passers-by step over and around her.


Who cares to be this broken branch or these blind ones?


Amid dry and dusty desert dunes,

arriving at the pyramids, a taxi slows.

Many hands slap and stick onto its windows –

hands of teenaged boys:

“Buy mine! Buy mine!”

They surround and breathe on tourists

exiting the taxi.


What sorrow sends young people to hustle school?


Maps of human flows give hints:

migrants pour into cities from cities

as much as from farms.

Movers choose city or oil field

over farm or empty desert.


Why? Does the land lack a living?

Would a drought end it all?

Swollen bellies; mournful eyes –

who wants these?


Why do cities grow and give work,

but land does not?

Anne Emerson

On a Beach Far from Home

(Not previously published)


Where ripples send a dancing light

to sand-soft sea-bed while I swim;

where mild sea-breezes play on sleeve-free arms

deep into jasmine-scented dusks;

and where traditionists throw stones at youth

for dancing on the shelves

of a Roman amphitheater;

yes, there, far from safe and chilly England,

a youthful charmer once contrived

to befriend me.


He loved to finger-spin a beach ball,

or zing a goal at Bar-B-Foot –

two steps ahead of any challenger –

and to laugh because it was so easy.


Did he say to me, about a woman –

as night closed in, one dreamy evening

while we sat together in the sand –

“Je l’ai violé”?


Was I lucky that my French

was not so good?  

Some small violence, I told myself –

and when they met again, he said, “Elle a rit.”


He told me this, in part, as to a friend –

we still were young and did not know

that people laugh

in the face of calamity;

then he sat, with mouth half-open and eyes –

thinking eyes, learning eyes, (watching eyes?) –

echoing his incredulity.


It seemed that his expression sprang

from those same roots whence leapt his joy

that he could master spinning balls

and opposition, with his hands

as no-one else could do.


Did he intend to play a little cat-and-mouse with me,

enjoy the game, and laugh at winning –

believing that a woman is no different from a ball?

Or that the game is fair?


“J’ai voulu profiter de toi,

mais je t’ai trouvé comme ça,

et j’ai pas pu.”

                                     Anne Emerson

Portrait Sitting

(First published in Poets Domain, 2016)


He's three years old.

His mother thinks I'm playing with him

to get a laugh for a photograph.

But he has learned to toss the ball


and watch

as I move side to side and back for it.


I smile,

retrieve the ball,

and think, "He's misbehaving. Take him home."

I introduce the lettered blocks.


His mother dotes:

aware of me, she asks of him,

"What letter's this?"


"Of course he knows; he's smart,"

I think.


 Anne Emerson

This is a beach far from home, but the man in the picture is not the subject of the poem at left. The dog behaves a little like a small child (see poem above) - and he knows when he is misbehaving!

bottom of page