EPIC Poetry Group: Poet’s Corner — Homeward, January Tide, Alexandria, Louisiana 1967

Here’s the latest installment of Poet’s Corner, presented by the Edmonds-based EPIC Poetry Group.


Once there was a way to get back homeward…

~ Lennon-McCartney, Golden Slumbers

You stand on the street
in front of a house no longer yours.

Through the window, you see the table
where you sat at supper while your father
silently pushed the food onto his fork
with a piece of buttered bread

the wallpaper of delicate roses
a dissonant backdrop.

In the living room, they’ve put the TV
in the wrong place. There’s a couch
where his chair sat and a bookcase stands
where your mother’s rocker belongs.

You remember the room
at the end of the hall where you slept
dreaming of bigger towns
and bigger houses.
Where you imagined driving north on a road
that would take you away.

You pace back and forth on the sidewalk unsure,
still avoiding the cracks
and there are lots of them.
More than you remember.

Susan Frederick

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

January Tide

On this January day
the water at Admiralty Inlet is gun metal gray
its surface like badly poured concrete.
A chill digs deep into my bones
as the tide moves at the moon’s bidding.

Children wade barefoot
their sticks digging shallow trenches
their voices shouting words that are stolen
and carried away by the wind.

I shift, the log beneath me a mild discomfort
and squint West toward the open sea
trying to remember how the sand felt
between young toes just beginning their long journey
to now.

Susan Frederick

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Alexandria, Louisiana 1967

My throat was dry that day,
unaccustomed as I was
to the sweltering Louisiana air.

Barely twenty and away from home
for the first time,
I killed time
while over at Fort Polk
my young husband,
who had never held a gun,
trained for war.

At Woolworths, I slid onto a red vinyl stool
thin skirt sticking to my thighs,
while the woman to my left
put her menu down,
ready to order.

I was still deciding
when the too-thin waitress
in a pink and white striped uniform
stopped in front of me,
pencil poised over her order pad.

Oh, she was here first I said
nodding to my left.
But the waitress stood her ground,
gum in cheek,
foot tapping impatiently.

I looked over then
and saw deep brown eyes
that missed nothing.
You go first, they said.
These are the rules.

I ordered a Coca Cola.

Things are better now.
Or, are they?

Susan Frederick

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Susan Frederick is retired from her work in corporate communications and now writes poetry, short stories and essays. Her poems have won local and national awards, and her short stories and essays have been published in Gather Here: A History for Young People, Northwest Prime Time magazine and now in My Edmonds News! Susan is currently on the EPIC Group Writers board of directors and is also a member of PNWA. She lives in Kirkland with her husband.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

The EPIC Poetry Group has been in existence for four years. It is open to the members of the public (free of charge) who are interested expressing and improving their poetry writing skills. The group meets the second Tuesday of the month at the Edmonds Library from 6-7:45 p.m.



  1. Beautifully written poems, Susan. Poignant and relatable to one who is about your same age.

    I was a twenty year old fiancée of a young soldier who was reluctantly preparing for war at Fort Polk in 1967. We were to marry in the summer and I, like you, would be going to a strange place in the south, so very different from where I was raised here in the northwest. I knew it would be terribly humid and they had some really huge bugs. I was not looking forward to either. And, of course, I was aware of segregation in the south, so unfathomable to a young, naive northwestern white girl. But, shortly before our wedding date he got orders for Vietnam and Fort Polk was no longer a destination for me.

    When I read your poem I thought “ it could have been me” in your place, sitting on that stool in the cafe, young, naive and obviously a white northerner, suddenly face to face with the terrible reality of segregation, filled with so many emotions – embarrassment, outrage, fear, sadness, helplessness, resentment – that had no possible outlet but to be swallowed down with a Coca Cola. A bitter pill, indeed. Thank you for writing such a powerful poem about a pivotal moment in your life.

    1. Hi Vicki,
      Thank you SO MUCH for reading my poem, and for sharing your story with me. I’d love to hear more about what happened after — to you and to that boy. Susan

  2. Love your descriptions in the first two poems . . . Homeward reminds me if seeing my old home from the outside to the inside. I see that inide from the past and the one from now.

    January Tide is exactly the way the Sounds looks in January . . . at least from 60 years ago . . . in Edmonds.

    1. Hi Sara,
      Thanks for taking the time to read my poem, and to respond. It means the world that someone out there can relate! Susan

  3. Susan, the Lord has gifted you with beautiful words! Your descriptions are epic and relatable! I too remember the dime store, downtown, but a bit differently because I’m a bit older. Thank you for the memories you share so beautifully! Love to you sweet girl!

  4. Gail, thanks ever so much for taking the time to read and respond. You are truly a gift to all who know you — I count myself one of the lucky ones! Love, Susan

    1. Susan, the Lord has gifted you in an extraordinary way! Your words are beautiful to read and I’m sure will touch many with memories. Not all our memories are good ones, but the Lord comes alongside and makes the memories okay over time and we all come to terms with them. We are a blessed people and a blessed nation! Love to you and the family and keep writing! 🙂 Gail

  5. Kizzie,
    Thank you for taking the time to read and comment on my poems, and thanks for the kind words.

  6. Susan:
    I am taken by the honesty of your words and you willingness to deal with subjects that touch the hearts of ” everyday people.” Your poetic voice is pure and your intentions admirable.
    Please keep up the good work.


  7. Gerald, thank you for taking the time to comment. I consider you a mentor and a poet in the truest sense, and am honored to receive your words of encouragement.

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