Poet’s Corner: Gift Exchange, Kitchen Magic, Shavings

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

Gift Exchange

On a whim I change your old home-made formula

Cuppa water, fourth of a cuppa sugar

Now it’s a fancy exotic blend from an upscale nursery

“Wild flower-infused “ it claims, “With steam-distilled hydrosols

Of flowers most visited by hummingbirds.”

Worth a try, I figure

Next morning you begin rewarding me with

Visit after flitting visit, often hovering almost still

Your scarlet throat ablaze

Its iridescent sheen radiating

Wave after pulsing wave of green energy

I echo your presence outside my steamy window

Inside I’m glowing

As my happily hummed refrain from a  Golden Oldie

Sends you my “thank you”

Out back in that green sanctuary

A shiny new bounty of seeds

Sways in the breeze

At first unnoticed, it now overflows

With eager small chickadee beaks

Two small squirrels perform their seed-stealing acrobatics

Before twin Stellar Jays in a blazing blue flash

Screech competitors away

Nearby, curious crows gather in groups to discuss:

Are those tiny morsels worth all that effort?

Reaching consensus, they waddle and hop away

Thank you all, for your endless entertainment

Tom Fortin

~ ~ ~ ~

Kitchen Magic

Waves waft into me from our small kitchen

            Beef, fat, onions, olive oil maybe

Heat wraps itself around the food…and me.

Beneath all those aromas, constant scrapings

            Clatterings, openings, dumpings.

Cooking and concocting is well under way.

Above it all, the most beautiful sound

            Her contented humming, a gentle tune

            Song title unknown

            But emotion utterly familiar

My sweet, happy cooker.

Rising with the vapors she prizes

            Memories of her own beloved mother

            Season the recipes written in that old-timey hand

Her love and their loving spirit surround us all.

Tom Fortin

~ ~ ~ ~


I grimace at my half-awake face in the bathroom mirror.

Mint-scented foam drips from an unshaven cheek.

            My cheap disposable Gillette

            Performs its mundane morning duty

            As stubble flows stubbornly down the drain.

Miraculously, no blood leaks from shaky errant strokes.

Another day begins.

Years and years ago, I recall, 8th Grade year,

I worked an ancient hand plane back and forth.

Curled wood shavings littered the scarred woodshop tabletop.

Fine-grained oak resisted my crude, untrained efforts

To complete the simple squaring of a would-be lamp.

A year or two later at an overnight camp-out on a chilly July night

My Boy Scout buddies and I crouched near a pile of sticks

            Oh so carefully arranged in tent-like formation

            Novice hands wielding sharp knives

            Shaving small splinters from alder or cedar we’d scrounged.

We young fire-starters eagerly, anxiously learned our craft.

Yes, we were hungry to learn new things that night

But most of all, eager to eat!

Ah, the many trails we travel, the tales and tailings we leave behind

Marking the moments that have made us who we were meant to be.

Tom Fortin

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

About the poet:

I’m a longtime, retired high school and community college teacher with plenty of time now for “Fooling with Words.” My active interest in creating my own poetry was launched by that Bill Moyers-titled PBS series in 1998. And lately I enjoy becoming more public with my poetic attempts.

I love my present Lynnwood/Edmonds/Sno-King life. The vibrant artistic climate surrounding us here today fills my heart — and my poetic spirit — to overflowing.


  1. Tom – you are a skilled poetic story teller! You’ve given us a refreshing trip in to beautiful everyday experiences. Thank you!

  2. Tom Fortin! How amazing to see you on My Edmonds News! Loving your poetry (especially the one about Sharon cooking in the kitchen).

  3. Really great, Tom. I especially loved the descriptions in Gift Exchange. Your hummingbirds are luckier than mine. In the summer I take the feeder in and leave them on their own.
    Happy Father’s Day!

    1. LORI! Thanks for your kind words. And can’t you just picture Sharon humming away as she creates another batch of her delicious spaghetti sauce? I’m SUCH a lucky man!

    2. Lynda: Thanks for your kind words! A neighbor—and good friend—3 houses up our street has several larger hummingbird feeders, so I feel extra fortunate when any hummingbird visits our humble little feeder. Tom

  4. I loved each line of each poem. We have the bird feeder out with two cats to watch and meow. our Stellar jays and crows behave the same way. My brother was an Eagle Scout in Florida and worked with Scouts for 50 yrs. in Georgia where he settled to work. My sister cooks from scratch on their farm in Lewis. Thank you for reminders of precious memories.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real first and last names — as well as city of residence — are required for all commenters.
This is so we can verify your identity before approving your comment.

By commenting here you agree to abide by our Code of Conduct. Please read our code at the bottom of this page before commenting.