Lost Lights


My grandchildren
will never see
the lighted tunnel
with the penguin for wishing.
(Rub its head.)


Image by Amanda Jo Dahl.

They will never see
the sugarplum fairy
high in the tree;
the unicorn that changes colors;
Cinderella’s carriage
bedecked with white lights.

They will never walk
the driftwood path
to the dark and quiet lake;
the stars overhead
dimmed by green laser lights on the sand;
city lights pulsing on the hillside beyond.


Image by Amanda Jo Dahl

They’ll never drink hot cider
in the garden house;
never roast marshmallows
in the outdoor fire here;
never laugh at their reflections
in the low slung, slanting mirrors.
When they are older,
they will never kiss that special someone
under this frosted mistletoe.

My grandchildren
will never know this tradition
I spark the light
behind their eyes
with words.


This is a tribute to a Christmas lighting display on Park Point in Duluth, Minn. Marcia Hales (seen lighting a wish lantern in my photo from 2015) has invited the public to enjoy the display in her yard for years. She recently announced that 2016 will be the last year for her display. I wrote this poem very quickly after spending last evening in her lights.


UPDATE: Jan. 7, 2107 was proclaimed Marcia hales Day in Duluth. It was supposed to be the last day for people to visit her light display, but after the proclamation reading, Marcia announced the lights will go on! She’s getting a lot of community support to keep them glowing into the future.

Trail Cam in the Office


True story. This happened in my office last week.


We’re caught
inside the camouflaged box that’s mounted on a pole
in our office.
Eyes wide, coffee cups in hand
we walk down the hallway
feeling like someone is watching.

What strange natural rituals
will the camera catch —
Mating habits of the white-collar worker?
Dominance displays of the office alpha female?
A furtive mail boy stealing candy from a desk?
The shy engineer emerging from a conference call?

I suspect all the mother wolves who have had their birth dens invaded,
all the nesting birds who just want to feed their young in peace
would enjoy the sweet revenge
of these photos.

©2016  Marie Zhuikov

Nobody Dies in Spring in Duluth


Marsh marigolds. Credit: Brian Robert Marshall [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons.

April is National Poetry Month in the U.S. I couldn’t let it pass without posting a poem. This is one I just finished, inspired by a poetry class taught by Duluth Minnesota’s Poet Laureate Jim Johnson, based on Philip Appleman’s poem, “Nobody Dies in Spring.” Try your own version! It’s a fun exercise. I hope this Spring finds you well.

Nobody Dies in Spring in Duluth

Nobody dies in Spring in Duluth.
That’s when we hold gloved hands
with total strangers on the Lakewalk.
We sing sweet nothings to our dogs,
who have been lying by the fireplace
all winter, gazing up at us
with walk-hopeful eyes.
Kids yell and splash bikes through street potholes.
High school students don shorts
when the mercury hits forty-five.
Fathers take a year’s worth of family refuse
in pickup trucks to the dump.
Pussy willows sprout gray fuzzy nubbins
for mothers to cut and bring inside.
Shy yellow marigolds beckon in marshes.
White gulls cry and fly over melting snowdrifts.
The sun reaches down with tentative warm caresses.
Nobody dies in Spring in Duluth.

©2016 Marie Zhuikov


Please Vote for my Poem on Goodreads!


By Jonathunder – Own work, GFDL 1.2, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27488865

I swear this is no April Fool’s joke. I entered a poem in the Goodreads Newsletter contest and it’s one of six finalists up for vote. The winning poem will be featured in this month’s newsletter, which Goodreads says is read by 20 million people.

My poem, “Inevitable Scones,” is currently in second place by ten votes. If you are active in Goodreads, please join the Poetry Group, read my poem and vote for it if you like it.

This is the first time I ever entered a poem in this contest, and I am amazed it was picked as a finalist. I’m also excited that it has the chance to be read by so many people. For those of you already a member of the Goodreads poetry group, here’s a direct link to the voting.

Voting ends at 11:59 p.m. (Pacific Time) on April 2. Every vote counts!

* * *

UPDATE, 4/3/16:

Well, my scones poem didn’t win the Goodreads contest. Even though, as my brother would say, it makes me the first loser, I am at peace with my poem’s strong second-place finish. I’m excited by it! This is the first time I’ve entered a poem in a national competition and it’s validating to see my little book-inspired nostalgic ditty place well. Thank you for the pains you took to vote, and for your encouragement.

Bobcat Fog


Buddy and I went for a walk along the lake in the fog this evening. I love fog. It’s so . . . atmospheric. Makes you feel enveloped, safe in a wall of mist, moving mysterious through the world. Of course, Lake Superior was gray, too – water and sky indistinguishable, quiet.

As a fog-lover, I live in the right place. The dynamics of the lake and the hillside in Duluth make for a larger than usual number of foggy days.

During my walk, I was reminded of the Carl Sandburg poem about fog – how it comes in on little cat feet. He wrote that about Chicago – seeing fog in the harbor. But cat feet just don’t cut it for Duluth. Our far north fog is less domesticated, a bit more dangerous. If I were to write a haiku about fog in Duluth, I would describe the fog as coming in on bobcat feet.

Two Poets in the Cereal Aisle

Image from Pulpconnection.

Image from Pulpconnection.

I attended a reading last night by Duluth’s Poet Laureate Jim Johnson. (Yes, Duluth sports its own official poet.) Superior writer Tony Bukoski also read from his essays. It was hosted by Holy Cow Press – a local publisher that’s been in business for 37 years. Both Jim and Tony write from their ethnic roots (Finnish and Polish, respectively), providing for many laughs and some sighs. Topics included accordions, cows, gravel roads, railroads, and tractors. No saunas, though. Maybe next time.

The reading inspired me to uncover a poem that’s been incubating within me for several years. The reading must have made me think about local poets. Hot off the brain press – enjoy!

Two Poets in the Cereal Aisle

He stands, head bowed toward boxes
on the Captain Crunch shelf.
Bearded and barrel-chested,
if Hemingway had been a poet,
this is him.
The local Old Man and the Sea
is in my grocery store.

I slide over
pushing my cart softly, carefully.
Not wanting to disturb.
Will I see in his next book
a poem about golden wheat?
About waves and ships?
Short men in blue uniforms with
shiny gold buttons, and wearing
large hats?

Eyes still closed,
he reaches out his hand,
steadies himself against the shelf —
inspiration rocking and
pulling him
away from shore.

©2014 Marie Zhuikov