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Poetry: My Perspective with a Connection to "The Lovely Bones" by Alice Sebold

I am a high school English teacher who is passionate about writing, theater, directing and enjoying a positive life with family and friends.


Poetry - An Outlet to Vent, Rage, Heal, and Understand

I am not much of a poet. I don't often write poems. I certainly do not put in the time or effort to craft my poetry muscle, like so many great poets do. But on occasion, a poem comes pouring out of me. I tend to write them down, revise them in the moment and then let them sit. After a time, I go back and read the poem again. I think about revision, but then let the poem rest, as poetry is writing in the moment, for me anyway. Poems capture an image or a feeling or a moment. Many of the poems that have erupted from me over the years have been too personal to share, as poetry so often comes from the rawest moments of our lives. I tuck my poems away in journals or in books, so that they can surprise me and remind me. In a rare moment, I am going to share two poems I found this morning as I searched for the file of an old lesson plan I wanted to consult.


I have just finished listening to The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold. It is a book that was on my pile of books to read for years, and finally I picked up the audio book at the library to listen to in my car. It is the story of a young girl, Suzy, who is raped and murdered. The story is narrated by Suzy as she looks down on her family from heaven. There are so many moments in the story where Suzy wishes that she could reconnect with her living family on earth. She reveals herself to her family and her friends, but often they miss it. All of these moments in the novel remind me of a poem I wrote after my grandfather died so many years ago. I wrote it and then tucked it away, never sharing it. I suppose at that young age I was afraid to expose myself to the world. It is nice to look back at the young writer I was.


Billybuc expresses similar thoughts to my poem in his hub...

  • An Open Letter To Mr. Death
    The author has a chat with Death and lets him know that no matter how hard he tries, he can never take our loved ones away from us.

Living On

As the wind rushes by my ears

on a warm summer evening

Or as the rain runs down my face

on a foggy spring morning

And when the sun shines in my eyes

so bright and round and true,

I think of you with fond memories

the things you said,

the tears we cried,

Scroll to Continue

the happy smiles,

And I know you’re in my heart.

I often wonder, as Sebold’s Suzy did, if there is indeed a connection between the living and the dead. I wonder this when a random thought of my grandmother jumps into my head when I am at my busiest. I wonder this when a loved one who has passed on lingers in my dreams. Whatever a person believes exists beyond this earth, it is a nice idea that our loved ones are present all around us.


As hard as life can sometimes be, it is the life we have. So when I hear of a young life lost or taken or wasted, it makes me wonder at the loss. What could a person lost so young have become? Why are some lives taken so violently, as in The Lovely Bones and so many real life scenarios? Why do some people choose to take the only life they have been given? In April 2000, I wrote the poem that follows below. I wrote it after I heard the story of a local college student who had jumped to his death from a bridge. I didn’t know this person, yet his death had an impact that prompted one of the rare occasions where a poem does pour out of me. I suppose it was my attempt to understand this action that for me is not understandable.


Jumper, Please tell me why

Leaning over the edge

staring down into eternity,

does something beckon you?

Is the pull too strong?

You succumb to it and lean too far.

Falling. Falling. Falling…

to eternity?

Perhaps panic strikes you.

Falling too fast, yet faster still -

There is no one there to catch you.

Do you cry out,

or does your breath hang above you

teetering on the edge?

Maybe peace and tranquility hold you.

You waft, a feather on the breeze.

Like Sylvia, you fall

back, back, back

into the womb.

Is life so bad you have to try again?

In life there are no do-overs.

In life there are no do-overs. Living this life I have been given, I appreciate and cherish the occasions when I can pour my thoughts and feelings onto the page. I think Alice Sebold did that in her novel. Writing, poems and prose alike, is an outlet that allows so many writers to vent and rage and heal. I am thankful for that, especially in those moments of loss and confusion.

Poems and article are the original work of Donna Hilbrandt. All rights reserved.


Donna Hilbrandt (author) from Upstate New York on May 06, 2013:

Thanks, Jools99. I agree. What is awesome is that every time someone reads this article and comments, I have a moment where I reminded of my grandmothers and other loved ones who have passed on. That brightens my day every time. Thanks for reading and giving me that moment today.

Jools Hogg from North-East UK on May 06, 2013:

Loved this article - like you, I often think about that connection between me and the people I have lost over the years. It is strange to often think about a friend who has died or my grandmother and the 'feeling' that I get when I think about them - the fact that those thoughts can elicit such a response tells me that nobody is ever gone as long as I think about them. I am an agnostic but find others' spirituality very interesting - I believe in Richard Dawkins idea of everyone leaving behind 'memes' - parts of their personality that we remember, things which mean that even after their death, they have a 'presence'.

Donna Hilbrandt (author) from Upstate New York on March 20, 2013:

Thanks jb. I appreciate your praise of my poetry.

jbshaban from California on March 20, 2013:

Oh Donna! Your poetry is so concise and telling. Please share more with us whenever you are so moved. The best poems aren't thought out, but thrust upon us from the soul's reaction to forces beyond our control. Once again, I see our taste in reading is similar. First The Bell Jar, now The Lovely Bones. I'd love to befriend you on Goodreads.

Donna Hilbrandt (author) from Upstate New York on March 04, 2013:

Kasman, thank you so much. I find it tough to put my poetry out there, so I appreciate you kind words :)

Kas from Bartlett, Tennessee on March 03, 2013:

I really enjoyed the living on poem. As a songwriter, I feel drawn to poetry in some mighty ways. I tend to put my heart on my sleeve when I write because I want people to hear the passion in my words and voice when I sing. It spoke to me so you're getting voted up! Good job.

Donna Hilbrandt (author) from Upstate New York on January 21, 2013:

Thanks so much Green Art! That novel struck me and stirred up a lot of thoughts and memories.

Laura Ross on January 21, 2013:

Your poem "Living On" is beautiful! I could relate to it's message without any difficulty. I've felt the presence of family members who've passed away at different times during my life as well.

I totally enjoy how you wrote your thoughts down in this hub interweaving your thoughts on the book the"Lovely Bones" and incorporating a poem set aside and rediscovered.

Donna Hilbrandt (author) from Upstate New York on December 27, 2012:

Thank you, PDXKaraokeGuy. That poem, which I wrote many years ago, has helped me through the passing of many loved ones. I appreciate your kind comment.

Justin W Price from Juneau, Alaska on December 27, 2012:

Living on is great. A nice comfort to those of us who have lost loved ones (which I imagine is everyone) and those of us afraid to be forgotten after we pass. Nice job!

Donna Hilbrandt (author) from Upstate New York on October 12, 2012:

Thanks, mama kim 8. What I was trying to convey is that I don't write poetry often. I suppose I was also considering that I am no Maya Angelou, and I don't necessarily aspire to be. But, so many nice comments about my poems may inspire me to pick up the poetry pen a bit more often. Thanks so much for you support and enthusiasm.

Aloe Kim on October 12, 2012:

You say you're not much of a poet.. but they were fantastic ^_^ I loved them both. I especially loved the one you wrote when you were younger ^_^ Voting this a bunch!

Donna Hilbrandt (author) from Upstate New York on October 08, 2012:

rajan jolly, I agree that poetry is inspired from our deep feelings. Thank you for your kind words.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on October 08, 2012:

These are beautiful poems donnah. I feel poetry springs forth in response to things we feel deeply about.

Voted up, beautiful.

Donna Hilbrandt (author) from Upstate New York on October 08, 2012:

Thank you, vespawoolf. Poetry is one of those things that I sometimes can't figure out where it comes from when I write it. I think it is inspired. I do hold all the people I have lost in my heart, and that poem has helped me do that each time someone I love passes. I appreciate the read and comment.

Vespa Woolf from Peru, South America on October 08, 2012:

I also believe poetry is a healthy way to express our feelings. I love the poem you wrote in memory of your grandfather. You hold him in your heart. The one about the young man who took his life is also very thought-provoking. I like the stanza: "You waft, a feather on the breeze./Like Sylvia, you fall/back, back, back/into the womb." Great imagery. Thank you!

Donna Hilbrandt (author) from Upstate New York on October 03, 2012:

Thank you so much suzettenaples. I am inspired more and more to write by the readers and writers here at Hubpages. Thank you for your support.

Suzette Walker from Taos, NM on October 03, 2012:

donna75: You are a beautiful, caring and empathetic person. These poems are wonderful - beautiful words and images - no need for you to think you are not a poet. You are! Very heartfelt. I encourage you to continue writing poetry. I especially liked 'Living on' - it is beautiful.

Donna Hilbrandt (author) from Upstate New York on October 01, 2012:

Thank you, kashmir56. I am an occasional poet who has a stroke of inspiration once in a while. I wish it were more often, but allow life to overtake the quiet moments sometimes. I appreciate your kind comment :)

Thomas Silvia from Massachusetts on October 01, 2012:

Love your awesome poems, you are a better poet than you think !

Vote up and more !!!

Donna Hilbrandt (author) from Upstate New York on October 01, 2012:

Mhatter99: It wasn't my intent to apologize. I was just exploring my relationship with poetry writing. Thanks for your kind words.

B in blogs: I am honored that you would share my work with your daughter in order to help her find a way to heal. I have no words. Thank you.

teaches: It is sad when someone so young gives up and has nowhere to turn for support. If only that young man knew what wonderful things life has the potential to offer. Thank you for the read.

Dianna Mendez on October 01, 2012:

Writing allows me to share many thoughts with others. It is a therapy for many writers. I feel sadness for the person who jumped - having no outlet or support to rely on. Great post.

B in blogs from Alabama, USA on October 01, 2012:

I applaud your openness and for you sharing your poetry with the world; that took courage. Poetry is deep and personal. Your poems were like a window into your thoughts, in my humble opinion. I've shared the article with my daughter DaVelma, who lost a friend a a little shy of two years ago to suicide when they were in middle school. It was very hard on her and the other surviving group of friends to deal with such a loss so young. I encouraged her to write out her feelings in some way, too. Thanks for the springboard!

Martin Kloess from San Francisco on September 30, 2012:

It kind of sounded that you were apologizing for these fine poems. There was no need to. They are wonderful! Congratulations.

Donna Hilbrandt (author) from Upstate New York on September 30, 2012:

Thanks, Bill. I love looking back at what I wrote when I was younger. It sparks memories and inspires me. It also puts into perspective how and why I write today. Since I joined hubpages, the 'why' has become more of a focus, and it is doing me a load of good. I appreciate the read, as always.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on September 30, 2012:

You summed up beautifully why I goes beyond is a chance to allow my heart and soul to speak.

Well done Donna!

Donna Hilbrandt (author) from Upstate New York on September 30, 2012:

Thank you whonunuwho. The gift of writing is a miraculous thing, and I feel lucky to have discovered it. Thank you for your kind words :)

whonunuwho from United States on September 30, 2012:

I share your feelings and emotions and your expression is well accepted. I find an emotional outlet and satisfaction in my writing and at the same time I strive to leave a message that I hope all who reads appreciates. Thank you for your well written work, donnah.

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