Annie Harpel

Annie was born in Illinois, grew up in Orange County, and now lives in a quiet beach town along the Central Coast of CA. She is a poet, essayist, fine art photographer and artist. Her poetry has been published in local newspapers and online literary journals including Drabble and First Literary Review – East, Heart of Flesh and a previous issue of Impspired. She has taught poetry workshops at several county libraries and is a member of Cambria Writers Workshop. She says poetry is her raft, star, song, umbrella.

(love) lit from within

flutter through the open space
of night

in a sea of lights
each looks for the flicker pattern
of its mate
a signal, that  
two can illume a path
brighter than one alone

love and loss

when we begin
we are already ending

day turns to night
sun rises and sets
stars twinkle 
until they fall

tides kiss the sand
wind blows the seed
new life can begin, wherever it lands

rivers trickle toward the ocean
rocks get tumbled and polished by the streams

we awaken, we fall asleep
we walk paths filled with beauty
and mystery
there is trauma and triumph.
we have expectations that fall short 
and trust in blind faith

we look for love in the smallest corners
collide with happiness when we least expect it

change and regret, every minute lived
is another gone by toward goodbyes
amends and apologies
gratitude and praise
the voice silent
or the heart spoken

some days we will be the umbrella
some we will be the raincloud
life can be lived in a hundred years
or taken in a moment shorter than a breath

from the first piece of paper
which bears our name
to the last
whisper or shout

love in between


mind baptism
soul immersion
into the waters
of the unknown

intuitive nature
desire for the softness
of a language
cairn memorial
trail markers of existence
fragments of a broken heart
milestones, tombstones
tributes, tribulations

dialogue of the senses
thoughts and feelings
preserved on paper
and those kept silent
in the notebook
of the timekeeper

what I have
is what I began with
the mystery of 
my story

Monostich poems- a single-line poem which expresses a complete thought.

Not all light is good; the screen revealed my metastasized cancer as a constellation of dots connecting bones, liver, kidney, spleen, lymph nodes, and intestines, a glowing crisscross of lines to untangle.


The loneliest place during my cancer journey so far; surrounded by a team of doctors telling me my diagnosis – incurable.


Bad news, good news from different cancer doctors; It’s like a ping pong match between grim and hopefulness.


As I wait for a miracle to quell the infinite number of tumors, I am humbled by the loving-kindness of friends helping me hold on to the hope for a cure.


Cancer is taking away my “best by” date; I’ll never know what I could have become before I reached the end.


full circle

Once cancer has consumed my body, all the stardust held within will be released along with every wish that I ever made.


after the peony blooms

Incurable cancer has taught me that I am no different than my favorite flower; we will both leave earth, ascend into another time, become part of the mystery which awaits us.


Death is nearby, but so is grace; when death comes calling, I will answer “Hello”, and transfer it to grace.


cancer may have invaded my body, but it has not penetrated my heart, it cannot quell the love I have for friends and family, nor can it take away the sun and moon, or stop me from wishing on a star or tasting a raindrop.

my cancer is like a gate; will it close and lock me out of tomorrow or will Mother-Father-God intervene and keep it ajar for a little while longer.

I cream the butter and sugar, add eggs, vanilla, baking powder, sift in flour, chocolate and some love; thirty minutes later the fragrant smell of my favorite Mississippi Mud brownies fills the air that my type of tumor won’t let me indulge in, but given as a gift to friends, I enjoy it vicariously through them.   


common threads

(for Kathleen)

you and I are sisters
not by blood
but by brokenness
vulnerability, survival 

we believe 
that our loved ones 
are still with us as angels
the verse in a poem  

we seek God 
for healing
find unity in community

we want to love and be loved
be fruitful
live with intention
seek to find that which is holy
where the sacred memories within our heart
bear losses with a 
heavier weight
because we experienced 
unconditional love
and grieve its absence

miracles happen in the quiet, unexpected 
as do blessings
God’s timing
brought us together
to help carry each other through 

where our story will end

when I decide to give up the cancer battle
I will close my eyes
hear surf splash against rocks
imagine otters floating among waves
feel salty air touch my face
remember the essence of our love
as we sat on a bench 
staring at the space between sea and sky

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