A Poem For National Poetry Month

Did you know April is National Poetry Month? I’ve always admired poets. They say so much in just a few words. I’m working on this myself, not the poetry so much, but trying to be less wordy in my writing when I can be.

For National Poetry Month, I’m sharing a poem!

I’m pleased to share a poem written by friend and fellow blogger, Lois Hjelmstad. Lois is the author of Fine Black Lines:  Reflections on facing cancer, fear and loneliness. It’s a wonderful book. I highly recommend it.

I was fortunate enough to have Lois write a guest post a while back called Why I Did Not Choose Reconstruction. If you missed it, do check it out; it’s well worth a read.

The following poem by Lois is one of my absolute favorites because it says so much to me about forced posititivy – a huge pet peeve of mine in Cancer Land.

Cancer or no cancer, I just know you’ll appreciate it too.

No Lifeguard on Duty

by Lois Hjelmstad

It is difficult

when one is drowning

to wave to the people

on shore

one wants to be

friendly, of course,

but perhaps it is

more important

to keep


Don’t you just love that?

I sure do.

Maybe someday I’ll tackle writing a poem or two myself!

Cancer or no cancer, have you ever felt like you were “drowning” due to too much “waving”?

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No Life Guard on Duty by Lois Hjelmstad, A Poem for National Poetry Month #poerty #poems #breastcancer

16 thoughts to “A Poem For National Poetry Month”

  1. Thanks for sharing this, Nancy. I love how only a few perfect words sum up exactly how a cancer diagnosis makes us feel and describes those around us who can only stand by and watch. Keep swimming. Yes, love it. xoxo

  2. Nancy, this is one of my favorite poems from Lois’ wonderful book. It gives me goosebumps. Yes, the forced positivity is one of my pet peeves as well.

    Thank you so much for your kind words about my blog and my poem. I so appreciate it.

    I bet you would write great poems. Worth giving it a try? Anyway, we all have poetry within us.

    1. Beth, You’re so welcome. Like I keep saying, I’m in awe of poets. I love Lois’ book and her poems are my favorite parts of it. I look forward to reading more of your poems too, Beth. Another book perhaps??

  3. I so relate to this poem. During treatment, people wanted to visit or do things they thought I’d like or find helpful. Rather than “waving from the shore,” I had to tell them I just wasn’t up for it as I tried to keep afloat. Having visitors felt like the extra strain that would drown me. Thanks for sharing this, Nancy. I love poetry.

    1. Eileen, Thank you for taking time to comment. Good for you for telling others what you did and did not need at that time. Doing so isn’t always easy is it?

    1. Philippa, It is a stunning poem isn’t it? I just love it. Thanks so much for commenting. It means a lot especially knowing all you’re going through of late.

  4. Nancy,
    Wonderful poems by both Beth and Lois! So stark and heart-wrenching, which is exactly what makes them so powerful. I love Lois’ poetry too and appreciate the link to Beth’s. Poetry, or any writing, can be so therapeutic and cathartic for anyone going through challenges like breast cancer. Here are two links to poems I have written, in two separate blog posts. I hope the links work.




    1. Lisa, Your comment really makes me consider tackling writing a poem… Thanks for sharing the links to yours. I’m off to check them out!

  5. Happy National Poetry Month!

    One of my poems will be published in
    an anthology, THE CANCER POETRY PROJECT 2, https://twitter.com/CancerPoetry
    which is due out any minute.

    Here is another poem I would like to share with you:

    There is no After

    It’s Autumn, and so, everything’s dying. Beautifully.
    Or so it seems. Foliage, aspen and maple, drift, deciduous,
    outside our window. Even in a violent wind they come to rest
    gently amid the living, pale, crumble, return to the soil.

    The window isn’t open, but through the glass, we see
    winter approach. You are not dying, or so it seems.
    In truth, our Autumn is simply stretched out so far
    we can’t take it all in. We must live beautifully to die beautifully.

    J. O’Nym

  6. Thank you, Nancy, for sharing my poem. And thank you, my dear friends, who love it. It came to me while I was walking one day with my husband and we chanted it all the way home so I wouldn’t forget it. For any who might want the info, I wrote Fine Black Lines in 1993, added an “Afterword” in 2003. My website and blog are at http:ow.ly/gumQr. I’d love to meet you there!

    1. Lois, It was my absolute pleasure. I love it. Thanks for sharing how it came to be and thanks for sharing more info about your site.

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