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Poems by Francine Marie Tolf


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Francine Marie Tolf’s poetry is like the leaves she describes in one of her poems: “green fire in morning sun.” Spill Some New Brightness opens in a place where grief and gratitude walk hand in hand: “Sometimes something wonderful occurs, / a sister you thought exotic but brittle / becomes your best friend, maybe through / mysterious and troubling circumstances. Maybe / she has a breakdown.  Speaks with demons. / Walks through bright and terrible fields.” (“Sometimes”).

In this spiritual gathering of pain, love, beauty, and injustices, devastating moments surface: “I thought of that immigrant woman clutching her child / as ice-black water rose, the merciless moment / she had to breathe ocean into her lungs / and I said out loud, Where were You? / How could You let this happen? / No answer except diamonds sparkling on lake water.” (“Hidden Beach”).

We spend time with women, sisters, mothers, people on the bus and in the grocery store, assisted living patients, children, trees, tiger lilies, “mallard ducks swimming in melted snow puddles.”

Tolf gives us the beauty of ordinary but dazzling moments: “Blinding white, the sudden wings beat / in front of my windshield, as if / the gull had dropped from a horizon / of sapphire sea and chalk-bright cliff / instead of this dreary March sky / hanging low over a parking lot edged / with a Dollar Tree, a Taco Bell, / black-crusted snow.” (“Transfiguration in North Minneapolis”).

Compassion for animals, strength from nature, a community of gratitude to help heal and experience a whole life … these are the gifts Tolf offers to readers in her latest collection.

FRANCINE MARIE TOLF’s poems and essays have been published widely in journals both local and national. She has received two Minnesota State Arts Board Grants and grants from the Elizabeth George and Barbara Deming Foundations. Francine lives and works in Minneapolis.

Prodigal (2012)

Poems on Nature, Animals, Language, and Discoveries that occur when one of these intricate living strands intersects with another.


How Still the Riddle (2017)

Poems by Francine Marie Tolf

Art by Gale Tolf

How Still the Riddle
Read a Sample
Chrysanthemum Leaves
Hidden Beach
Transfiguration in North Minneapolis
To the Hawk on the Window Ledge