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"Poetry is the evidence of life. If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash." Leonard Cohen

Wednesday, June 22, 2016


S.E.Ingraham writes, has always written, as long as she can remember. Some days - her memory is not that reliable - but on others, she is able to state with certainty that she's been writing for over six decades.

She now pens, mostly poetry, from the 53rd parallel (Edmonton, Alberta) where she and the love of her life share space with two Pugly dogs.

Her poems mainly concern her years as a mental health consumer (blessedly over now but still of concern); social justice activism, and bearing witness, and, as Sylvia Plath once said:"I write because/There is a voice within me/That will not be still." She concurs.

She began writing in elementary school where she was born and raised - Scarborough, Ontario - one block from the famed Scarborough Bluffs - cliffs so magnificent, she dreams of them even now. Is it any wonder they find themselves in different aspects of her writing?

As do the Kawartha Lakes - at least one of them - Belmont Lake - Big Island specifically - the place where she and her family spent many summers during her childhood. A place she thinks of fondly as one where they were all their best selves.

Ingraham has been married almost 47 years, has two grown daughters, and three grandsons. She has become very private about her personal life, but, is happy to speak about the ways in which she has been honing her craft - workshops and online MOOC's - and is thrilled to count such luminaries as Thomas Lux, Robert Pinsky, and Claudia Rankine among those whose lives have touched hers as she continues to pursue excellence in poetry. She counts the time spent with the ModPo gang under Professor Al Filreis out of the University of Pennsylvania, both as a student and now as a CTA, as some of her most remarkable, valuable hours - both for learning about poetry and for learning about life.

She has had some publishing success - both online and in print, in publications among which are: Shot Glass, Red Fez, Pyrokinection, FreeFall Literary Journal, the Poetic Pinup Revue, and numerous Kind of a Hurricane Press anthologies (including two "best of years" Storm Cycles).

Ingraham has enjoyed some awards also, for instance: Table for Three, 2013 First - Tom Howard/Margaret Reid Poetry Contest; Superman's Sheet placed in Free Fall's end of year poetry contest 2013 (published in Winter 2014 issue); several poems were selected to hang in the Hickory, North Carolina Art Gallery beside photos by acclaimed photographer Steve McCurry; and a sidewalk poem here in Edmonton is etched in stone in perpetuity.

(Ingraham's successes are listed elsewhere on this site under "Achievements": scroll to the bottom of the home-page to the links there. A link to a record of educational accomplishments and workshops is there also. These links are updated periodically.)

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


In the dim-
dark unnatural
light I watch
your oxygen
levels fluctuate
as you battle
to breathe
and hold
your icy
hand flanked
by mine, trying
to rub
life and
warmth into
your surprisingly
tiny digits.

Even retaining
fluid, your
fingers remain
the nails
neat and
short, although
ghostly pale;
the lunula
at the base
of each
perfect nail
invisible against
your pallor.

My own
pair  seem
the gangly
and helter-
a rough map
of my life so
far; when you
stop, will

Sunday, January 11, 2015


I came close to crumbling earlier this week
Near the edge of that place, the one I know
Better than to approach usually, or especially, casually
But learning of a late night visitation by gendarmes
Ready, or so it seemed, to condemn me
For my inky ramblings - I felt ready to capitulate,
if for but a single moment

Until, rising swiftly through the mists of malaise
that had accompanied me across an ocean and
a country, continent-wide
I was able to generate some common-sense
Shake off both ill feelings and a general ennui
that crouched ready to seize me should I
become any less vigilant

End the paranoia shrouding me - begin to list
the reasons not to give into
whatever these latest accusations were about
By the time I met the authorities, I was able
to channel my truest self - writer, advocate and
most importantly...

mother who sadly has only one concern; my child
who has gone somewhere I don't recognize for
reasons I cannot fathom...
There seems no end to the betrayal that she needs
to ladle out, hoping to render me gone
Not sure what that's about...I am, after all, gone...

But it's not her fault; she feels threatened, frightened
somehow... it's the death of our relationship, I know it
These latest acts have proven we are done,
more grieving but even that is nearing an end;
...the smell of over, is heartbreak.

*the words in italics are the twelve chosen and needed to be used as part of this week's Whirl

Tuesday, December 9, 2014


Twirling her cape like a matador,
she stepped into a haze of dusk,
shot through with the final remnants
of a deranged sunset ; daisy-chains
of coral, peach, and salmon,
strung along the horizon, fighting
against the dark.

It was her favourite time of day,
and when she felt most alive
As others were headed home
from work or school, no longer
having to feign interest in whatever
boring things caused them to traipse
through their days,
She was just starting to rouse, feeling
her blood course, her breath quicken

Like an animal let loose, she felt
herself strain against the sane
She knew she should stay in the cave
until full darkness fell
But the melting day enflamed her so
Made her want to filet something,
just cut it into pieces
There's comfort in a blade's keenness
She would exchange light for sharp soon.

Monday, December 8, 2014


From beneath a layer
of black so dark
it could only be pitch,
or ebony
crept the tiniest bits
of something hopeful --
Could it be possible,
after months
of down-turned smiles
which are after all,

What is the lightning
around the edges
of the slate horizon
Was it the dawning
of not only
a new day
but something else
After so much mourning
and desperate dark,
what could this be coming,
what could happen now

But of course,
she knew it all the time...
when you have endured
so much time
stumbling as if blind
in dimness so black
as to be ebon,
as to be soot
What had to follow...
what had to be
the crack under the door,
the flash along the horizon

Her heart swells
as she recognizes
the most lambent
lights of all...

Christmas, only
breaths away
it is indeed
she spend it atop
the highest hill
in the City of Light...
Her eyes grow wide
as the plane sets down,
she's home --

Sunday, December 7, 2014


We were on our way out of town
when it came on the radio
A  little girl was missing:
the vehicle being described
as seen in the neighbourhood where
she disappeared...
Well, it matched the one we were driving
out of the city.

What the hell—
Sure there's lots of '88 GMC, navy Vandura's.
But how many of them have three round white rust spots
on the sliding door.
Plus a diagonal slash on the driver's door.

I slowed and pulled over to the shoulder.
Both of us stared  into the dim interior, calling softly,
"Punky? Hey Punky?"
We crossed our fingers, she either wasn't there, or if she was,
 she'd be just fine.

*This is based on a true story: six year old  Punky Gustavason was the subject of Edmonton's largest manhunt when she was snatched in 1992; she was  raped and smothered, left for dead two days later - she died before she was found.

Our van was one of the ones investigated because it fit the description...we were out of town when the child was taken, but it was still creepy. Her killer was not caught until 2000, and it took until 2005, with DNA evidence to convict him.


Were I the praying type, I would want to say thank you
for so many things I am fortunate to have
I know, for instance, just how lucky I am to have that man
right over there,
Yes - that's the one...he,  who loves me like crazy
Who always has and always will, and tells me so, each
and every day
I know what a difficult person I am, not only to love, but
especially to live with
Oh - I'm not a criminal, I'm not even a nasty person...but I
do come with some pretty elaborate baggage
And my love has not only helped me tote these bags, he's
been with me at many of the stops along the way
When I've needed to off-load some of them, or actually
unpack them - he's stayed right beside me

In addition to being thankful for this man who is my
partner in every meaningful way,
I'm also grateful for the father he was when we were raising
our girls -- especially during the times I had to be away,
working on going through some of the afore-mentioned baggage
He is still the most wonderful father, I've ever known, even if our
children don't always reflect our combined parenting skills
-- more a function of my shortcomings than anything he has or
hasn't done, this I do know
My gratitude extends to being appreciative for still being alive
and healthy enough to enjoy the love of an exceptional man

In a complicated way, I am grateful too, for both of our children -
two much loved daughters who I used to describe as being both
the sunshine and the thunder in our lives
One has had perhaps the hardest year of her young life...a divorce
from a man she still loves but cannot stay married to, her choice:
but not made lightly, and so not easily...and the total ostracism from
her sister's life because of her choice; her one-time best friend,
her sister has cast her out of her life and out of her nephews' lives
as well
Ostracism - such an ugly word, yes?
Much as I love our second daughter, the eldest, it is she who has
brought the thunder to our lives this year
And while I am thankful that she is still physically healthy - at least
I assume she is— I have no proof
She has also ostracized her father and I, from her life, entirely
And from her family's as well...I give thanks for our grandsons who
we no longer get to see
I am grateful that we are healthy enough, I hope, to wait...
Perhaps she will come to her senses in time to see her way out...