Purchase Joanne's New Book Hospice House »

Joanne the Poet - The Poetry of Joanne M. Clarkson




“Lucky” in Poetry Anthology About Cats

I am so proud to have my poem “Lucky” included in the rich and diverse collection, Purr and Yowl,” about all aspects of human’s relationship to felines. It just appeared this Fall 2023. The Anthology is published by World Enough Writers and edited by David D. Horowitz. Many of my poet friends also have work included. Most of the poems are about house cats, but other wild variations are here too. There are kittens and mature cats at the end of their lives. Many poems are about adopting cats, like our Lucky. Anyone who has any relationship to cats at all will really enjoy reading this excellent gracing of poems which are as contrary, attractive and independent as the animal itself.




Blue Heron Review published my poem, “The Library on Market Street”

Blue Heron Review’s Fall 2023 edition themed ‘Heart Source and Haven’ includes my poem “The Library on Market Street.” It is the true story of many children who came to the Aberdeen Timberland Library when I served as Youth Services Librarian there. My co-workers and I worked very hard to be sure that all children and families felt welcome. In a community ravaged by unemployment and other negative effects of downturns in the forestry and fishing industries, many children lived in unstable situations. We always wanted the library to be a bright and cheerful place with lots of fun programs and also independent ways to pass the time. I hope we engendered a love of reading and made each and every young patron feel honored and valued. Here is my poem:

The Library on Market Street

Child with no address finds herself

in an adventure with the dog

she always wanted. It is afternoon

and she is locked out again.

But this place is always open

when it says it will be.

She found the library when she

visited with her fourth grade class.

Was allowed to check out a book

to take home. A book about

Egypt. But they moved from the car

to the shelter and she couldn’t find

Egypt to return. The librarian said

she would save books behind the desk

so the girl could read on weekends

or after school. Like the one called

How to Draw Horses she could use

to create her own mustang and a mare.

Then the librarian gathered the class

for a story, a silly story about magic

animals and when the children joined

in the refrain the girl laughed

for the first time in this town. She

has never been to Disneyland or Six Flags

or Yellowstone, but she comes

to the public library all summer. Scratch

paper and pencils wait on a shelf

and a new paperback about a girl

and a puppy. No one else has read it

yet. The pages smell like clean sheets.

They welcome her within them.




Colours of Memory Published in Fieldstone

My poem, “Colours of Memory,” is in the 2023 Issue #15 of the wonderful Canadian journal “The Fieldstone Review.” This magazine is published by the English Graduate Department of the University of Saskatchewan. Since it is an online publication, the entire issue can be read by going to Https://thefieldstonereview.ca.

The theme is Reversals and my poem is about a ‘psychic trick’ a fellow fortune teller taught me about how to find lost items using a ‘golden thread’ that the mind unwinds until the missing object is located. But, alas, this method never worked for me – which is the point of the poem and its ‘reversal.’ Partly it is the color – when I went to imagine an unspooling thread I got all sorts of shades but never that one. However, my colored filaments did inspire worthwhile memories….




Wild Crone Wisdom!

I am so fortunate to have two of my poems included in the Wild Crone Wisdom Anthology released this Fall 2023 by Wild Librarian Press. My friend Linda Strever also has one of her beautiful Agnes poems in this book.

My first poem is called “The Art of Chickens” and honors my paternal Grandmother Veronica Mokosh who raised chickens and sold eggs on a little farm in the hills of Wheeling, West Virginia. She was a loving person despite terrible hardships and was completely in tune with Earth and innocent living things. I have always felt so blessed she was my grandma.

My second poem about a relic I found on the beach north of Cape George where erosion has eaten away a cliffside and debris from a long ago landfill has fallen under the spell of the Salish sea. I discovered an old spoon there one day with its bowl twisted as if looking backwards. My other grandmother collected spoons.




First Love Poem in Clockhouse Review

Two of my poems appear in Volume 10, the 2023 issue of Clockhouse Review, the literary journal of the Clockhouse Writers’ Conference of Goddard College. One is about love and the other about fashion and color. Both are true stories. The journal is beautiful and contains fiction, non-fiction and even drama selections besides poetry.

The first poem tells the story of my first boyfriend, Lester, based on a single incident that all these years later, I remember well. The other is about the many nuances of black. This occasion also really happened. I had dressed to go somewhere and my young adult daughter pointed out that my blacks didn’t match. I never knew until then that blacks could clash!!!

Tuna Sandwiches

I thought we were poor until the Saturday

my new boyfriend’s mother invited me

to go with their family to the beach. I was

fourteen, her son sixteen. We were so shy,

meeting at a Catholic school dance,

we moved together without touching.

He had gentle eyes; didn’t talk much

into my chatter. It was a month before

our sweaty hands met in a dark theater,

the intensity of nearness the film’s only plot.

That Saturday, his mother gave me a can

of tuna and a loaf of white bread and told me

to make ten sandwiches. I blushed for her,

her face stiff and dry-eyed, and mashed the tuna

thin, spread a bit between bargain slices.

I don’t remember what we did that day

although we probably played softball,

the family’s favorite pastime. And that boy

probably found me a heart-shaped shell. 

I do still recall the chipped Formica

of the kitchen counter, and how the bread

sprang back with the pressure of my knife.

His mother testing me, wanting for her son

respect as much as love, unable to mask

her envy for the bliss of my first crush.




“Daughter Gesture” live on Medmic

My poem about my dear friend at her dying mother’s bedside has been re-printed in the excellent and moving online journal Medmic.

They found the poem on the Intima website where it appeared earlier this year and asked permission to publish it in their journal. How exciting is that! Online magazines receive a lot of readership.

I especially love this poem because it shows how much small kindnesses mean. It is the intimate, personal moments that truly bind us forever. Thank you Sally and Lola! And the wonderful editors at Medmic. I know I will be stopping by this journal often.




3 Poems in “Intima’s” Spring/Summer Issue

Intima: A Journal of Narrative Medicine includes 3 of my nursing poems in its Spring/Summer 2023 issue. Since it is an online journal, readers can enjoy these and the other heart-felt writing by going to www.theintima.org. To find my poems specifically, click on Current Issue, then scroll down to Poetry. The poems are in alphabetic order and are titled, “Daughter Gesture,” “Drive,” and “The Softest Cloth.”

“Daughter Gesture” is about my dear friend Sally caring for her mother. “Drive” is about a caregiver for one of my patients letting him drive one final time at age 99. “The Softest Cloth,” is a tribute to my friend Sherry, the nurse who trained my in Hospice work. She was one of the kindest people I have ever known. Here is her poem:

The Softest Cloth

The day I shadowed you, learning

Home Hospice nursing, you warned me,

on the drive to his cabin, about the patient

dying of throat cancer whose disease

progressed upwards, disfiguring

his speech and features.

His door was unlocked. You entered

like a friend. Laid out supplies

as if for a morning shave.

His eyes spoke what his lips could not.

He loved you for seeing more than a wound.

I waited at the corner of his vision,

handing you irrigation solution, powders

to erase odor, a roll of the softest

packing cloth. You chatted about weather,

praised the beauty of his woodland acre

then scaled pain no number could ever

describe, increasing dosages meant

for dreaming. As goodbye, you smoothed

sheets over bones, then gently touched

his forehead, your fingers tracing shadows

of all a face can mean.




Poem in Chautauqua

My poem “Crossing Midnight” about hearing the orcas passing in the night, is now live in the ‘Chance Encounters’ issue of Chautauqua literary journal. You can read the entire inspiring issue by going to

https://chautauquajournal.wixsite.com/website. I wrote the first version of this poem last August for the annual poetry postcard fest. This is a beautiful journal geared toward opening minds and hearts and I am so thrilled to have my poem included.

Crossing Midnight

The Orcas are passing in more than a dream.

Their great night-and-moon bodies

rising from darkened seas to breach

and breathe. At this late hour

through open windows, we hear, not see,

them. So like ourselves, gasping

after the headlong dive, born from water

into another oxygen. Lungs

synchronized with tides.

Travelers, always a pod, elders surrounding

the precious young, their wake

etches fortunes on the shore

something my mother might have said,

is saying. The sound of a fountain. A horse

after a long gallop. A rough, rogue

surf, generated on an island

where the earth shook, waking lovers

from a nap, even as it grants us sleep,

this peaceful tribe crossing midnight beside us.