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All There's Left to Say
Mary Jo Balistreri


When the scent of wild strawberries wafts from the woods
and returns the juicy-sweet meadows of childhood,
when the double pleasure of present and past throws me
this heady bouquet
on a day already fully flowered with gifts,

 I praise.

While on the cedar boardwalk through the mangrove forest,
when glossy green leaves reach out,
when tangled and twisted prop roots snare imagination's
strange wildness and warblers, unseen, call out in song,

I praise.

And when at last the calm pond of the Gulf stretches
blue beyond the horizon and sews itself seamlessly to the sky,
when it lifts the edge of its white-skirted flounce to the sand,

what can I do but praise

and praise again

as thousands of filmy wings flit backward, forward, hover
their last hurrahs, their last two weeks in the air
after a lifetime of water—
these dragonflies, damsels, their new resplendence
mating, creating—Oh joyous affirmation of life--

Praise and praise and praise.

From Still (FutureCycle Press, 2018).
Used here with permission.


Mary Jo Balistreri was a concert pianist for most of her life, but in 2005 she began writing poetry after the death of her seven-year-old grandson. Poetry gradually helped her transform her grief into something resembling acceptance. Mary Jo’s award-winning work is widely published and she is the author of four collections: Still, gathering the harvest, Best Brothers, and Joy in the Morning. In 2014, Mary Jo began writing haiku and haibun and, since then, has turned almost entirely to Japanese forms. Mary Jo lives in Wisconsin; learn more about her at






Post New Comment:
Wilda Morris:
What a beautifully written and inspiring poem! Thank you, Jo.
Posted 06/21/2020 11:22 AM
Thank you Mary Jo for reminding me with a beautiful poem all the beauty everywhere around us just waiting to be seen.
Posted 06/17/2020 01:35 PM
Lovely poem based on great observations. You are also a master of long sentences! Hapy birthday yesterday. Barb Germiat
Posted 06/10/2020 12:01 PM
a big thank you to Jayne and all of you who have written today. I�m grateful for each comment. Thank you.
Posted 06/09/2020 08:41 PM
Happy birthday! Thank you for sharing this lovely poem!
Posted 06/09/2020 08:23 PM
Lori Levy:
Beautiful language and images. Happy birthday!
Posted 06/09/2020 06:01 PM
Just beautiful images, Jo. Especially liked the idea of "imagination's strange wildness." Hope you are having a wonderful day today. Marilyn Z. Windau
Posted 06/09/2020 03:18 PM
Patt Clark:
The poem reminds me of how nature can uplift someone.. I hope you are spending your birthday drinking in nature�s beauty on one of your walks.
Posted 06/09/2020 12:36 PM
Beautiful, Jo! I loved "the juicy-sweet meadows of childhood," Happy birthday!
Posted 06/09/2020 12:33 PM
Arlene Gay Levine:
Magnificent,Jo, and may your special day be so as well...
Posted 06/09/2020 12:14 PM
Janet Leahy:
We needed this poem of beauty and appreciation today. From the "sweet meadows of childhood" to the "filmy wings of the dragonflies" the language here is lovely. In the pause of today Jo, I wish you a happy birthday.
Posted 06/09/2020 10:43 AM
michael escoubas:
Happy birthday, Jo! Wonderful gift from you to the rest of us lucky readers.
Posted 06/09/2020 10:30 AM
Sharon Waller Knutson:
Happy Birthday Jo and thank you for this uplifting well written praise poem full of alliteration and lovely description.
Posted 06/09/2020 10:07 AM
There is a birthday song I learned while singing with a group of beautiful women "God Danced the Day you were Born" = singing it now from a distance. I am a lifelong lover of the ocean , the sound of the waves is a prayer to me-- but never did I see their "white skirted flounce"before! What a blessing. Thank you Jo
Posted 06/09/2020 08:58 AM
Larry Schug:
Exactly what so many in the world are begging for and have every right to experience. It's up to those of us who have it to make sure all do. This is a beautiful poem and I know I should not be politicizing these words. They are a wonderful insight into what is possible, a goal on which to focus.
Posted 06/09/2020 08:32 AM
What an uplifting poem and so full of beautiful images. Thank you Jo and Happy Birthday!
Posted 06/09/2020 08:02 AM
Love this poem! In everyday, so much to be thankful for.
Posted 06/09/2020 05:51 AM

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