Into the new year: Words for 2017

The song that means the most to me today. (Yes, it’s a story of lost love, but in this case, make it an older sister who’d expected to grow old taking care of the younger one).

And a new poem…

One View From Shadow

One stands upon dark winter’s sill
And shudders at the gathering gloom
The candles gutter from a gust
That chills the room

One at the banquet fears to breathe
And silent and unmoving stands
For Time might hear and make her leave
And still her hands

Ten thousand voices in her head
Are frozen now in breathless fear
Stories untold cannot be read
No one will hear

The clock ticks on as shadow spreads
As winter falls, and cold congeals
The one pushed into shadow dreads
What time reveals

Which stories now will live or die
Which tales will to the banquet bring
Their secrets for the guests to whom
It is still spring

The shadows gather close but won’t
Silence the stories pressed by night
The words will come until they don’t…

One lifts her pen to write

Holly Lisle — Dec. 28, 2016

In memory of my sister, Julie.

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48 responses to “Into the new year: Words for 2017”

  1. […] at the top of this page (which I sent to Matt at 3:34 AM on 12/6/20) includes the date and time because my half-sister, Julie, died in 2016, before her birthday, which was December […]

  2. Juneta Avatar

    Beautiful poem. The Scorpions are one of my fave too. Congrats on getting back to fiction. Looking forward to read more new stuff.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Thanks. It’s good to be back, even though I’m getting there in a slow and crabwise fashion.

  3. Reziac Avatar

    Wow, the Scorpions sound good for a bunch of old dudes 🙂 Haven’t heard anything from them since their hard rock days, must be 30 years or more. May we all have that kind of longevity in our chosen fields.

    1. Holly Avatar

      No joke. That, however, was a helluva song to start with.

  4. dragon Avatar

    Regardless of idiotic political posturing everywhere, may this year’s solar journey be kind to us and give us the strength for the next one, as long as possible.

    Happy New Year

  5. Karen Giuseppe Avatar
    Karen Giuseppe

    Lovely poem! Holly, happy new year to you also! All the best to you in the new year!

    1. Holly Avatar

      You, too, Karen. Thank you.

  6. Sylvia Nickels Avatar

    Lovely! Happy New Year, Holly, and everyone who shares this ‘banquet,’ defies time’s shadows, and – just keeps writing.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Hear, hear!

  7. Jean Avatar

    A wonderful, powerful poem.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Thanks. And hugs. I hope this year will be better for both of us.

  8. Lori Avatar

    The image this poem brings reminds me of Charles Dickens Villainous Character Ms. Havisham, from Great Expectations. I knowledge this is most likely not what you were thinking, but I had fun writing this short description of what I saw.

    It is as if she is standing before her wedding cake long untouched in the dark of winter. The only light is from the candles dim and cold. She stands in fear of accepting that she did not get married. And refusing move forward in time, she ruminates, hiding from what she had made of her life, with empty thwarting thoughts of spite and hatred because of the tales that never came to be.

    “Stories untold can not be read” and all the things that didn’t happen can not be said. And if none remember when I am dead, at least there will still be cake*.”

    *(But the cake is a lie)

    1. Holly Avatar

      LOL! The cool thing about poetry is that it CAN be interpreted differently than the author intends.

      The gust that chilled the room was my sister’s unexpected (at least by me) death. The rest is me dealing with the reality of that, the squamous cell cancer found (and removed) in my tongue last year, and the reality of the passing of time.

  9. Amy Avatar

    Lovely words. Lovely response from Hannetjie.

    Though I have to point out – your muse is so anxious for next year that you’ve dated your poem Dec 28, 2017

    1. Holly Avatar

      Numbers and I are NOT friends.

  10. Stewart Hildred Avatar

    Every good wish to you Holly. I have enjoyed your courses, your updates and your continued optimism. Have a truly great and profitable 2017.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Thank you. I really appreciate that.

  11. Helene Pulacu Avatar

    Happy New Year everyone!

    Poem made me smile, thanks. 🙂

  12. David Antjhony Avatar
    David Antjhony

    New Year Greetings, Holly

    1. Holly Avatar

      Thanks. And happy new year!

  13. Ewelina Avatar

    Happy New Year Holly and all visitors to this post!
    This is a beautiful poem. thank you.

  14. Nan Sampson Avatar

    This speaks to me on so many levels. Thanks Holly, for everything! Happy New Year – may it bring everything you could hope for and more!

  15. Clare Little Avatar
    Clare Little

    Happy New Year and warm wishes for a great 2017! Thank you for your direction and insight. Nameste.

  16. Debra-Laurent Tachibana Avatar
    Debra-Laurent Tachibana

    Holly, I hear you. Four years ago, I had a year like this one. It took a long series of poems to express all that I felt about it. Here is One.


    It started at lunch one day when her leg petrified

    One helped her to the car
    Two checked her in
    Three took vital signs
    Four wheeled her in a chair to a small room

    Five settled her on the gurney
    and brought warm flannel blankets
    Six took a history and ordered tests
    Seven wheeled her to ultrasound
    Eight spread warmed jelly and glided a wand stem to stern
    Seven wheeled her back again
    Six confirmed the diagnosis
    Five taught her self-injection

    Two checked her out again
    One walked her to Nine and Ten in the pharmacy
    Eleven consulted on surgery
    Twelve gave a second supporting opinion

    She walked outside under the trees and cried

    Eleven accepted her decision
    calling Thirteen to arrange it for the next day
    One took her home again

    She awoke and packed a bag

    One drove her across the lake bridge to admitting
    Fourteen checked her in
    Fifteen walked her to pre-op prep
    Sixteen and Seventeen gowned her
    and performed indignities
    Eighteen and Nineteen helped pull the sheet
    that transferred her to another gurney
    Nineteen wheeled it into a sterile room

    Twenty and Twentyone set the IV
    and swabbed betadine
    Twentytwo arranged ultrasound and digital monitors
    Eleven arrived with clean hands

    She entered a dream videogame
    that travelled through her limbs
    The moments became tightly focused on details
    lost between short-term and long-term memory

    Eleven and Twentytwo wrapped tight dressings
    Nineteen took her back to where she started
    Twentythree took over and made her drink water to prove herself
    Hours later Twentyfour sent her away with One

    She climbed and climbed and climbed
    into her own bed
    Midnight arrived with terror
    One called Nine-One-One

    Twentyfive through Thirtytwo arrived
    with flashing lights
    They carried her down and down
    to their own gurney

    Thirtythree drove them to the local ER
    Thirtyfour checked her in

    Another transfer to another gurney
    on gripped sheets and a nylon plate
    Thirtyfive observed her and ran more tests
    finding that the worst had passed her by
    Near dawn Thirtysix gave a voucher to
    Thirtyseven in the cab that took them home

    Behind the scenes Thirtyeight through Fortythree
    continued to work at their laboratory benches
    in the clinic and both hospitals
    Fortyfour through Fortynine
    continued filling prescriptions
    Fifty through Fiftyseven
    continued to chant and pray

    She fell backward and backward
    into their waiting arms

    One checked on her in the dark
    She was still breathing
    They breathed out and she breathed in

    One breath

    1. Holly Avatar

      And hugs. There are years like this. They devour us or we survive them and move on. I’m glad you survived, moved on, are here to breathe in. Breathe out. And in again.

      In… that’s the big one.

  17. Ken Casey Avatar
    Ken Casey

    Happy New Year, Holly!

  18. Deborah Turner Avatar

    Best luck in 2017. I look forward to what comes. One of the first things you wrote in HTTS, is never let fear stand in your way (I’m paraphrasing here). It struck me, because when I stare into my computer screen, I often see Fear staring back. I tell it, “I believe in me.” So I tell you, “I believe in you, too.” Together, all of us here can banish Fear and rock this world with our words.

  19. kate Avatar

    I loved the poem. I have found words for both teaching some and creating new worlds. Now all I need is confidence. After my first international sales, I hope 2017 is the year I will find the last piece of my inner triad.

    1. Holly Avatar

      You’ll get there. And HUGE congrats on the international sales. 😀

      1. kate Avatar

        thank you. I did a small workshop for beginning writers since it was my master’s capstone, then the person who bought that also bought symbol and stone since I referenced it in the course. I was excited about that. first international sale.

  20. Michelle Owings-Christian Avatar
    Michelle Owings-Christian

    Holly — what an awesome poem. Keep writing. May your words flow freely in 2017 and continue to be authentic and heartfelt. Bright Blessings Cedar

  21. Charlotte Henley Babb Avatar

    “Which tales will to the banquet bring
    Their secrets for the guests to whom
    It is still spring”

    Winter is coming. Bring stories.

  22. Stephanie Avatar

    This is absolutely beautiful, Holly. Heart-rending, actually. In remembrance of your loss this year, it reminded me of my own when my mother passed. I was 24. Though that was 18 years ago, there’s not a day goes by that I don’t miss her horribly, and not a week without telling at least one of my kids that I can’t ask her for this recipe or for that story from my childhood. I can’t even fill out papers at the doctor’s office without being reminded that -no, I don’t know why I’m allergic to sulfa, just that my mom always said I was.

    Her unwritten stories haunt me to this day.

    And your poem touched everyone of those feelings.

    1. Holly Avatar

      Thank you. And hugs. My sister was the hardest loss I’ve borne so far.

      Life is glorious and amazing and wonderful, but the fact that it ends is brutal.

  23. Rohi Shetty Avatar

    Happy New Year, Holly!
    Wonderful poem. I wonder if it would be even more inspiring in the first person – “I” instead of “one.”
    2017 is going to be our year – the year of the writer and the poet. Hooyah!

    1. Holly Lisle Avatar
      Holly Lisle

      On the use of “one”.

      Sometimes you need to step outside yourself to gain perspective. This year has given me reason to need that perspective, and the use of “one” reflects that need for distance.

  24. Cathy Perdue Ryan Avatar
    Cathy Perdue Ryan

    You’re like a little beacon out there, Holly. Thank you for shining.
    Just put ‘the end’ to my first really finished novel – my goal for 2016. Now I’ll start your course on revision and ‘sideways’ writing and tackle one of the other stories waiting in my que.
    Looking forward to sharing 2017 with you.

  25. Beth Camp Avatar

    Holly, your creativity and commitment to writing, as well as your willingness to teach as you write from the heart, inspires so many of us, even those who haven’t taken a ‘big’ class from you. May 2017 bring you healing and lovely new stories. I’m remembering way back in human history, we told stories around the fires to keep the dark away.

  26. Michelle Miles Avatar

    So many stories. So little time. May you pen all the stories of your heart in 2017 🙂

  27. Anna Avatar

    Oh, yes, this one needs to lift her pen and write. Time races faster than the pen! I’m printing this out for my bulletin board. Thanks, Holly.

  28. Marie-Claire Allington Avatar

    And miles to write before we sleep…

    1. Holly Avatar


  29. Hannetjie Joubert Avatar
    Hannetjie Joubert

    My dearest mentor!

    My words will never be as eloquent as yours. I tried to write a poem in answer. Oh yes, my right brain says hi!
    It’s waving like a lunatic and jumping up and down.


    Even though encroaching night
    On winter’s wings have come
    It gives way to endless spring
    The cold will be undone.

    And even though Time may loom
    And fear the words erase
    Time itself is bound by time
    Its fingers fettered by its days

    The banquet table is prepared –
    In the presence of the shadow of Time
    As it looks on in icy hate
    A Voice whispers, “child you are mine.”

    For like travelers have enjoyed this meal,
    Have stared at darkened shores.
    We all stand on this finite road,
    And wait for Heaven’s doors.

    Now the words forever come,
    No time will stop them now.
    The voices will not cease to speak
    For shadows lost and have to bow…

    May your 2017 be filled with hope and peace that passes all understanding!
    (Ps. My right brain wants to know if you’re going to give a course in poetry writing in the future?)


    1. Holly Avatar

      I love your poem. And the statement and response format is something I both enjoyed and admired from the history of poetry, where poets debated with each other in verse. Your poem is a really good example of poetry in that vein.

      On the possibility of a poetry class — my first commercial sales were poetry (SF sonnets), but I don’t have a significant body of work to give me the credibility I’d need to teach it.

      On hope… I’d like to think some part of us goes on as ourselves after we die. I don’t, but I’d love to be proven wrong.

      What I have instead of hope is the power of the press of time to finish my work before I’m done.

      1. Hannetjie Joubert Avatar
        Hannetjie Joubert

        Hugs!!! ❤️️❤️️❤️️❤️️

      2. Robert L. Slater Avatar

        Holly and Hannetjie,
        Lovely poetry from you both. Some of my favorite poems have come in response to other writers living and dead, famous and unknown. May 2017 bring many words from us all to battle the darkness.

  30. naleta Avatar

    Write on!

    May the year to come be filled with words and fun!

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