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The Sound of a Collective Pulse


The news comes on—

a stream of lightning bolt events.

We feel the jolt of loss and destruction

speed through the spine

and every connected bone.

This is what it means to ache.


After five months of carefully navigating

an unsure world,

nothing feels the same.

We cannot touch.  We stand far apart.

Home feels safer.

This is what it means to fear the invisible foe.


We connect through voice, word, and video.

We learn to make time,

because all we have is time.

We learn to stand still

and drink in the vast expanse

of unscheduled hours.

This is what it means to exist.


We sit together and feel the sky burst

inside our chests.

We listen to the sound 

of a collective pulse.

This is what it means to hope.

Published in the collection, The Sound of a Collective Pulse

(Kelsay Books, 2021)

*NOW AVAILABLE to order from Kelsay Books!

Go Find Her


I’m saving a love letter for you—

for the you who only sees mirrored flaws

and faded, forgotten beauty.

I’m saving you tender words of appreciation

for the you who counts imagined mistakes

like pennies in a big glass jar—

for the you who needs to be reminded

of the sheer glory of your existence.


I’m saving a love letter for your hands—

the ones you fidget with when you worry.

Let me hold them.

Let me cover them with soft, lamb’s wool gloves.


Let me celebrate what you have forgotten.

For the you who holds lack

like a beribboned brick parcel,

balanced on curved, burdened shoulders—

let me remind you that when you sing,

leaves reach in earnest, like reaching for the sun.


For the you who blooms and bends

just to provide someone the patience of

a sea of grass.

For the you who presses pause to say,

“Thank you” or “I see you.”

I am saving this love letter in my pocket,

in case you forget to cherish the self

who walks in Light with you—

the one who embraces the fullness of your worth.

Go find her.

Published in the chapbook, Beauty in the Broken Places (Kelsay Books, 2019)

The Red Drum

(Inspired by the writing of Stanley Kunitz)


Your heart – a red drum.

Taut leather bound

to the infinite shape of a circle,

seeks the music of other beating hearts.


Sound changes,

when a strong wind blows,

when the leather is rain-soaked,

when the sun makes the circle

jump into the light.


“I made this,”

says the drum.

Dreams take shape in the air,

with each, bellowing note.

“Now change it by living,”

says the drum’s stick.

Sing a new song.

“Truth –

Of thee I sing.”


Many more layers of change

bring syncopated rhythms,

ballads of longing,

and newly discovered voices.


Your heart is a red drum –

now crimson with passion,

tomorrow the sun makes it pink –

a tender, summer rose.

Sing your transformation to the world.

Beat the drum.

Beat the drum.

Beat the drum.


Published in The Red Drum: Selected and New Poems

(Lone Gull Press, 2013)

Audio file and video remix available at The Poetry Storehouse

Video remix by filmmaker, Marie Craven, on Vimeo

One Hundred Percent

You are more than a statistic.
You are blood and bone.
You are purpose and spear.
You are part of a symbiotic whole –
an organism
that moves together,
grows together,
strives together
and thrives together.

You are a person,
not a ruffled piece of paper.
There is no refuting
your truth,
your beauty,
your authentic walk to grace.
You are here

because we are all here –
reaching for
a book on the shelf,
a roast chicken on the table,
the prescription for an ailing heart.

You are part of the 100 percent.
We are not divided.


First published in Verse Wisconsin (October/2013)

Audio file and video remix available at The Poetry Storehouse

Video re-mix by filmmaker, Othniel Smith, on Vimeo

Published in the chapbook, Amnesia and Awakenings

(Local Gems Press, 2016)

The Last Party
(for Josie)

It all begins to fade
in the land of forget-me-not years.
One moment I am dropping a slice of lemon into my tea –
the next moment
the back of my bed raises
with the click of a magic button.

Crosswords are my saving grace.
All of the clues –
a familiar comfort.
I wonder who keeps filling them in?
She should be more considerate and use a pencil.

There is a woman who comes and points
to pictures on my dresser.
Sometimes I am good at the guessing game –
sometimes not.
She is kind though and brings me a new nightgown
with each visit.

In times of joyful suspension,
the room is filled
with people I have not seen in years.
Gertrude’s fur wrap was always too showy,
but it looks good on her now.
Bill is busy serving cocktails,
while they set up another Canasta game.
It is a party of laughter and noise.
You should come –
before it all disappears.

First published on Your Daily Poem (July 2010) and again on the RE/VERSE site by Little Eagle Press (June 2012).

Published in the chapbook, Still Life Stories

(Aldrich Press / Kelsay Books, 2016) 

One Story
~Inspired by the film, Synecdoche, New York (Charlie Kaufman)

Playing the lead in a haystack,
existing side-by-side in our solitary lives,
solace comes when we join these needles together –
the thread of life.

Jumping into character,
taking leave of the present world –
who wears your clothes when you sleep?

I am just a forgotten pebble –
a spark of granite daring to glint.
You see me walking down the street –
out of focus arms and legs –
a disappearing narrative.

The screens keep getting wider –
a stage full of leading ladies and leading men.
They all spin in circles –
red curtains flying.

The cleaner, unheard,
leaves all untouched except the dust.
The man attached to his phone,
alone on the airport walkway,has a family waiting.
The actress learns her lines on a threadbare couch,
sitting on hope.
We are all One Story.

First published on Your Daily Poem
Published in the collection, Unsung Love Songs (2010)

Audio file and video remix available at The Poetry Storehouse
Video re-mix by filmmaker, Marc Neys, on Vimeo

Poems by Cristina M. R. Norcross
© 2010-2021

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