The Lava Storyteller

Island of clay, sand and earth—
liquid lava now silent.
You are the land of trees dripping mangoes
and goats clinging to cliffs.

Bare feet read braille—
ancient explosions—
black crumbs and dust from when earth
was the only inhabitant.

Island of Saba—
the earth speaks of ancestors—
still humming the old stories—
still laughing over a bottle of sweet Malta.

Cristina M. R. Norcross
Published at Verse Wisconsin online with an audio clip
Published in the chapbook, The Lava Storyteller (Red Mare Press, 2013)

One Story

There are nearly thirteen million people in the world. None of those people is an extra. They're all the leads of their own stories.

~Charlie Kaufman, from his film, Synecdoche, New York

Playing the lead in a haystack,
existing side-by-side in our solitary lives,
solace comes when we join these needles together –
the thread of life.

Jumping into character,
taking leave of the present world –
who wears your clothes when you sleep?

I am just a forgotten pebble –
a spark of granite daring to glint.
You see me walking down the street –
out of focus lines of arms and legs –
a disappearing narrative.

The screens keep getting wider –
a stage full of leading ladies and leading men.
They all spin in circles –
red curtains flying.   

The cleaner, unheard,
leaves all untouched except the dust.
The man attached to his phone,
alone on the airport walkway –
his family waits.
The actress learns her lines on a threadbare couch,
sitting on hope.
We are all One Story.

Cristina M. R. Norcross
Copyright 2009
(Published in The Red Drum (2008) and also Unsung Love Songs (2010).  As heard on Blog Talk Radio, The SpeakEasy Cafe, "Sound of Ink" Open Mic Poetry.  Download the FREE podcast with my poem from this show HERE.) 
This poem was also published on the Your Daily Poem website, November 2010
Featured in the video remix, ONE STORY, by filmmaker, Marc Neys, on Vimeo.

The Dancers

(Inspired by the painting by Dint Sweitzer)

We are these three couplings,
They are us and we are them -
each symbiotic curve and bending of oneness.
We are naked in this blue light of love -
this dancing dream,
where every step I take
is towards our chosen path.

In unison, we move to sapphire notes of passion
and lavender melodies of quiet love.
Arms entwined,
limbs in parallel movement,
color-coded love -
bonding your touch to my tender skin,
jumping in delightful response.

We are these three urgencies
of longing, whimsy, and connected heat.
You take me in your arms,
and I know my feet will never touch the floor -
in this life or the next.

Cristina M. R. Norcross
Copyright 2010
(From the book Unsung Love Songs / 2010)

The Red Drum
(Inspired by the writing of Stanley Kunitz)

Your heart – a red drum.
Taut leather bound
to the infinite shape of a circle,
seeks the music of other beating hearts.

Sound changes,
when a strong wind blows,
when the leather is rain-soaked,
when the sun makes the circle
jump into the light.

“I made this,”
says the drum.
Dreams take shape in the air,
with each, bellowing note.
“Now change it by living,”
says the drum’s stick.
Sing a new song.
“Truth –
Of thee I sing.”

Many more layers of change
bring syncopated rhythms,
ballads of longing,
and newly discovered voices.

Your heart is a red drum –
now crimson with passion,
tomorrow the sun makes it pink –
a tender, summer rose.
Sing your transformation to the world.
Beat the drum.
Beat the drum.
Beat the drum.

Cristina M. R. Norcross
Copyright 2008
(From the book, The Red Drum: Selected and New Poems / 2013)
Featured in the video remix,
THE RED DRUM, by filmmaker, Marie Craven, on Vimeo.

The Sound of Old Coins


I need to let go –

let go of old coins

that jingle and clatter –

a rusted tinny tune,

making my pockets sag.


I need to let go –

letting in handfuls of light

that filter through

and spread like cave crystals.


I crave quiet moments –

floorboards creaking in the blue-black night,

and a chorus of pond frogs

expanding and contracting.

These are the sounds that flow with thought –

wave upon wave of rhythm,

insisting that I listen.


The yearning and restlessness of blowing leaves,

the car that keeps driving,

the sought after sense of belonging –

this – and what is to come –

tenderly sits on my windowsill

and waits.


These are my stories –

the smooth white stones in my palm.

I carry them with me in bundles

wherever I go.

It is in the shock of brightness

and in the absence of sound,

that I hear my life calling.


First published in the WFOP Museletter 2011

Published in the chapbook, The Lava Storyteller (Red Mare Press, 2013)

Chanting in Florida

(Inspired by a painting by Dint Sweitzer)


Deep breaths,
long strides,
white sands.

I walk in silver silence –

surrounded by moon dust mounds

and tall, golden feathers of beach grass.

The only thing I hear is

the sound a cup makes
when filled with water –
the ocean whispers her answers.
This uncertain life
will never be certain.


The blue offering of sky

receives my words –

their breathy, raw prayer –

a thankfulness for living –

that dances like a kite streamer,

before disappearing into a pinpoint.

Held in my cotton head scarf,

that blows and bends in the wind,

is my chant –

the refrain that saves me.

Deep breaths,
long strides,
white sands.


Cristina M. R. Norcross

Copyright 2011

First published in, The Lava Storyteller (Red Mare Press, 2013)


What I Wish for You

What I wish for you is more –
more of what I have loved,
more of what you seek to find,
more adventures than I could ever imagine,
so that the experiences lather up beside you,
like the froth of an ocean wave.

What I wish for us is that this thread of connection,
that vibrates like a chorus of guitar strings,
sending out melodic stirrings,
stays in motion.
Let us never stop touching
the furthest point in the distance.

What I wish for tomorrow
is that there could be a field of tomorrows,
populated by an expanse of red poppies,
heralding the dawn.

But, this tomorrow I wish for
exists beyond my reach,
so I will hope that the day after that is a good day.
It will be a day that I will exist in forever –
this paradise we speak of –
this home we return to when God’s loving embrace
is the only garment our spirits wear.

Cristina M. R. Norcross
Copyright 2008
(From the book, The Red Drum: Selected and New Poems / 2013)

A Crow's Path

(Inspired by the photography of Pat Bashford)

In the shadow of a tree’s roots,
the image of a proud bird appears.
Wings outstretched –
flight is imminent
for the ancient, black crow.
He speaks of secrets –
an oral history
of magic and bird lore.

Tree of life,
giver of hope –
the white path
is a cluster of clouds
winding its way
through the brush
after touching earth.
Far from home –
from the sky.

The crow brings news
of tomorrow
with his song.
Fortune’s melody –
lyrics hang in the air,
awaiting translation.

Branches reach
and seem to move
with the flow
of life.
It is a dance –
nature’s choreography.
We observe this rhythm –
what the natural world
holds in balance.

Keys to understanding,
pieces of a puzzle –
one day,
this will
be simple again.

Cristina M. R. Norcross
Copyright 2007

Published in the book, Living Nature's Moments, with Pat Bashford / 2014

All is in Balance
(Inspired by the painting “She Slept Like a Log” by Holly Kallie)

The water’s current is a lullaby.
The air brushes her hair in sleep.
The wood’s grain welcomes floating dreams –
exquisite balance.

Beautiful dreamer,
with peach skin warmed by the sun,
let deep waters stir beneath you,
so that waking life may carry the torch.

With an essence so clear
that a bed of stones
reflects stardust at night,
your center shines with purpose –
a beacon to the heavens.

All is in balance
in this restful, water reverie.
With cupped hands,
carry your heart’s light
to the body’s temple,
and offer up
the balm of peace you seek –
to others.
May this lapping at the shore
of love’s haven
be our cradle.

Cristina M. R. Norcross
Copyright 2008
Click HERE for a preview of the fine art
giclée for this poem and painting on Holly Kallie's website!

On the Rocks
(Inspired by the photography of Pat Bashford)

Today is Tracy’s birthday.
Perched on jagged rocks,
with her foot firmly in the groove of
a rust-colored crack,
she contemplates the sky’s message.
This is a private celebration.

Tonight her friends will bring
frilly, purple gift bags,
filled with tissue papered surprises.
Her husband will cover her shoulders
with the warmth of his hands
and a new alpaca sweater.

The cake will be sweet.
The music will be a loud drum in her chest.
What Tracy wants most though
on her thirty-second birthday,
is the promise of lighting just one candle
on the smallest, white circle of frosting.

Each month is a breath of hope
and a sigh of disappointment.
Tracy and her husband
wait for the joy of a baby
to fill their world –
to make their twosome
expand in heart and soul,
to become a rounded three.

Tracy sees a wave rise and fold under
in the deepest part of the beyond.
This makes her smile.
The sky is lifting,
as her mind opens
to hold the mist falling from above.

This will be the month.
The dream will grow,
if she creates the space
for little hands and feet
to kick against her warm, inner hearth.

Happy Birthday, Tracy.

Cristina M. R. Norcross
Copyright 2008

Published in the book, Living Nature's Moments, with Pat Bashford / 2014


(Inspired by the photography of Pat Bashford, Sunset Over Marsh – Plum Island)

Virginia knew she was supposed to forgive him.
What else was this sunset for,
but a perfectly set stage of reconciliation?
Orange and red streaks
dripped down from the sky,
like the honey treacle topping to a decadent dessert.
How could someone remain angry
with all of this confection in the air?

He forgot her birthday –
Virginia handpicked a card
and some porcelain treasure
in anticipation of his mother’s birthday.

His personal calendar befuddled him.

After words were thrown across the room
in a tangled mess of diction
and jettisoned consonants,
the sky opened up.
Virginia walked out onto the porch,
looking at the marshes,
but not really looking,
until she noticed the orange tornado
Treetops now glowing
like red coals,
Low-lying clouds –
the color of burnt yolks.

A single line of light
cast a reflection in the water.
All paths pointed back to the front door.
With her hand hovering above the handle,
Virginia took a deep breath
and listened.

Cristina M. R. NorcrossCopyright 2008
Published in the book, Living Nature's Moments, with Pat Bashford / 2014

Island Cottage
(Inspired by the painting by Irene Ruddock)

My little island is this cottage.
A sanctuary’s view of serene blues
and plush, mossy greens.
There is respite from the world here
and yet –
it is here that the world rests.

Ever-expanding circles
of cross current waters stir
just beyond my shores,
and the sea beckons to be sailed.

My spirit flows with the tides.
I have traveled afar
from the comfort of this cottage.
A seafarer’s journey in the mind
brings back a multitude of gleaming treasures –
sunset hues warm enough to bathe in,
and cresting waves that glisten like so many diamonds.

The sky opened up this morning
and the tawny red roof of my dwelling
grew darker with the gliding sheets of rain.
Dancing on the windows was
the reflected light from my soul’s next voyage –
a beacon to guide me home.

Cristina M. R. Norcross
Copyright 2006
(Published in the book, Land & Sea: Poetry Inspired by Art, with Irene Ruddock)


(Inspired by the painting by Ted DeGrazia)

Two horses walk
into the milky white expanse of the desert.
One rider guides the path
that casting shadows lead.

A weathered red blanket rests
on his shoulders like a torchlight.
The sky is a pale turquoise
that has been white washed by the sun.

Alone – the rider bends forward
as if the very thought of his journey
weighs heavily on him,
curving his weary spine.

“I have been here before,” he thinks.
“My people have always walked this land,
and I shall be here again.”

This thought echoes
beneath the horses’ hooves.
A vibration moves the earth just slightly
until the ground hums a familiar refrain.
The rider is no longer alone.

History rises like steam
and he sees not an endless journey,
but a road filled with Light.

Pausing to gently lower himself off his horse,
the rider allows his dry, cracked feet
to be bathed by the golden earth.
It is shimmering with glinting flecks of agate and granite.

“I have new shoes,” he thinks,
“and now I will walk.”

Cristina M. R. Norcross
Copyright 2004
(Published in the Summer/2005 issue of Yawp Magazine in Ottawa, Canada)

You Are Not Really Here
(Inspired by the Photography of Pat Bashford)

You are the breeze
that blows a white kitchen curtain
up high above the vision of a field,
while cornbread browns in the oven.

You are a pair of faded, leather sandals
with wooden beads decorating the toes.
They could take you anywhere.

You are the light that flies away
like lightning bugs –
the little sparks from a bonfire.

You are the mighty tide coming in,
challenging the shore.
You are the undercurrent
sending starfish into a spin.

Food will sustain you.
You have form within space.
Your body rests,
so that your spirit may travel
in the dreamtime.

You are not really here.
Your soul has another home –
your birthplace
and your resting place.

Cristina M. R. Norcross
Copyright 2008

Published in the book, Living Nature's Moments, with Pat Bashford / 2014