Judy Russ

Poetry isn't a profession, it's a way of life. It's an empty basket; you put your life into it and make something out of that.

–Mary Oliver

I was 12 years old when I wrote my first poem. I can't remember why I wrote it or what it said. But I do remember continuing to write poetry consistently (almost daily) for the remainder of my life, up until today.

Most of those pieces were lost, burned, or filed onto external hard drives and buried in Tupperware bins with Christmas decorations. Poetry had always been my most private pursuit; one that brought me release, closure, and connection. It wasn't until I began writing full time that I started to entertain the possibility of publishing my work.

When I finally took the plunge and finished organizing, editing, and archiving my poetry, I'd finish with about 500 "publishable" pieces. 300 of those would be organized into two separate manuscripts for full-length books, and 28 more gathered for a themed chapbook.

Over the course of the past year, I've been discerningly submitting these collections to contests and publishers. Admittedly, I'm still searching for the best way to share my poetry online. But you can view a few samples of my work below, occasionally on instagram, and can share pdf manuscripts upon request

My poetry is my heart, so I'm sincerely grateful for your interest in it.

Give Thanks

I'm suspended in the seconds between this yellow leaf detaching from its branch, its waltz to the cold and soaking earth, its final post, becoming mineral and sweet decay. Here, hands warming on ceramic, neck grazed by the knuckling breeze, feet cold on a linoleum chapel, the bounty, the gathering to come, the love to come, the renewal to come, the absolution to come, the rain and peace to come...

This momentary sermon on the mercy of endings, the power of beauty, the certainty of certainty. 

 

I check the news.

 

I add dryer sheets to a load of blankets, a window cracked, a lit candle, yellow mums hanging tough against the cooling night.

I choke on teargas. 

I fill a vase with rubber bullet shells, then pinecones, then dry hay. I harvest glossy tomatoes in a wicker basket that I leave on my neighbor's porch.

I dream of marching armies.

I plan hikes the week our foliage peaks, warming cider on the stove. I light a bonfire and watch our country burn in its smoking cinders.

I drink cinnamon-apple tea.

I paint the words "give thanks" on a wooden plank, pondering the cost of gas masks as I dot the "i".

I jog past a patrol car with pepper spray in my eyes.
 

It takes me hours to fall asleep.