"As a poet, I write in kinship with the nature that surrounds me. Whether therapist or poet, I seek to engage with people in genuine ways that connect us as humans, whether for solving problems or creating art in a literary form"
Mary Ricketson, Murphy, NC, is a mental health counselor and a blueberry farmer. Her published collections are I Hear the River Call My Name, Hanging Dog Creek, Shade and Shelter, Mississippi: The Story of Luke and Marian, Keeping in Place, and Lira, Poems of a Woodland Woman, Precious the Mule, and STUTTERS, A Book of Hope.
She won first place in the 2011 Joyce Kilmer Memorial Forest 75th anniversary national poetry contest.
Inspired by nature and her role as a mental health counselor, her poems reflect the healing powers of nature, a path she follows from Appalachian tradition, with the surrounding mountains as a midwife for her words.
She writes a monthly column, Woman to Woman, for Murphy’s weekly newspaper, The Cherokee Scout. She is a Certified Clinical Mental Health Counselor in private practice in Murphy, NC, and an organic blueberry farmer.
Stutters, A Book of Hope
"Stutters - A Book of Hope" represents a departure from Ricketson's previous works, delving deep into her personal history. Initially hesitant to explore her stuttering journey through poetry, she found herself drawn to the subject, even when she sought to avoid it. Through her evocative verses, Ricketson captures the struggle, the darkness, and ultimately, the joy that emerges from embracing one's unique experiences. Each poem serves as a testament to her spirit and resilience.
Precious the Mule
Precious the Mule is a story of humanity, compassion, and kindness. A mule gets injured and then draws the attention of a neighbor who walks past. Set in winter and springtime in a small cove in the Appalachian mountains, a relationship develops between mule and human. This poemetory, story in poetry, weaves Mary’s poems into a memorable story that joins sorrow and suffering with joy and hope.
available by publisher or on Amazon.
Lira, Poems of a Woodland Woman, Redhawk Publications, 2021
Lira was always alert,
kept her eyes and ears
ready for signs, signals,
sounds of life, awake
to ways of joy and laughter.
She had been married
to a dangerous life,
fled to the wild for peace
and safety in nature.
Like a goddess, Lira
had a devoted following.
Three deer, one red tailed hawk,
a ring tailed pheasant
and maybe a sleek red fox
walked the ground she worshiped,
kept as near as their wild selves allowed.
Magic, a spotted Labrador, tamed Lira
with his predictable presence,
persuaded her to trot his trails,
check out puddles and creeks,
join the routine of his day.
Magic grew attuned to Lira’s moves.
Black, white, red, and blue birds
scanned the skies. Bees and butterflies
spiced up summer like green sage
and honeysuckle gold.
Lira slept in the woods
like she belonged to the wild.
When a young bald eagle showed up
one sunny afternoon, Lira kept Magic
in her cabin, not to scare away that bird.
Disorgananza, privately published, 2000
Out of Print
I live in house disorgananza.
Alarm rings. I get up.
Places to go. Be on time.
No time to fuss. What is clean?
What suits the weather?
What is comfortable?
What size fits today?
In a flash I have it,
see it in my mind
a second cup of coffee
and feeding dogs and cats.
While brushing my teeth
I confirm the blue denim
jumper is clean and unwrinkled,
I need the right shirt. I know the one.
It’s not in the closet.
I dry my hair and think where.
I look in drawer number one
and drawer number two.
I look in the closet again.
I look in the drawer I forgot about.
I mess up the shirts that are not
the right shirts. I have no time
to fold them well again. I cannot
shut the drawers. I move along.
I see the clock. I look for socks
snd shoes, hoping to find
the right shirt in the wrong place.
I see the clock again.
I put on the wrong shirt
with the right jumper.
Off to work I go again.
Keeping in Place, Finishing Line Press, 2021
'Power of Pandemic'
An unseen world
alters me, shifts and shakes
these weeks and weeks
I stay at home.
One pileated woodpecker
darts down the air, dares
me catch a glimpse of his beauty
black and red, before he’s gone.
One bored cow, pastured alone
to fatten, chews on a cardboard box,
stands all day behind two strands
of electric fence.
Now bluebird pairs fly free,
follow ploy, paths of instinct.
Well out of sight a female sits,
nests her young, and waits.
Away from here,
where the groceries are,
six feet bless the distance
between me and you.
I count the days
since I’ve been touched.
Shade and Shelter, Kelsay Books, 2018
'Shade and Shelter'
White Toes lies on the covered porch
of an empty house on a quiet corner.
Tired or weak, he does not speak
his story of escape from dog to dog
aggression, his own home a mile away.
What else happened two months ago?
My Midnight does not spar, does not play,
does not test the waters to connect.
She walks on by. White Toes shrinks into the edges.
Prayers for rain abound, beg for end
of summer’s long drought.
No language comforts this canine
who will not return to his pack.
Mysteries of misunderstandings collide
in my raucous thoughts.
Now two humans have turned from each other.
I cannot explain why I shrank away
but I have told him all I know.
The beech tree spreads its broad leafy arms,
welcome embrace of shade and shelter.
I fill plastic bowls with food and water,
set them down by White Toes on my way home.
I Hear the River Call My Name, Finishing Line Press, 2007
Out of Print
My body knew
before my mind
before my voice
Make peace with loss.
Make friends with change.
A candle flickers.
Blue light drowns
in its own flame.
of hope surrender.
Let me live
where crystal clear creeks
slither over small stones,
ripple over rugged rocks,
slide through the smooth,
and rain and tears are welcome
as sunlight and laughter.
Where birth and death
run the same river bed,
I run my life.
Mississippi, The Story of Luke and Marian, Kelsay Books, 2019
'The Story Of Luke and Marian'
My daddy was loyal to his friend the salesman,
always went back up north to buy a Chevy
from his home town buddy.
Rolling down US 49, sizzling blacktop lined with pines,
hottest sun ever felt, July 1948, when I was a baby,
Luke and Marian, my mommy and daddy,
distracted us with jokes, stories
for me and two year-old Jimmy in the back.
Four days drive from Minnesota's
iron ore mines, icy lakes, memory of snow;
Mississippi's coast would soon be home,
the post WWII Air Force said so.
Hattiesburg, Wiggins, and on to Gulfport,
at last. Gas station ahead, Mommy brushed a stray hair,
dabbed a wash cloth to drops of sweat
on my face, then put on her white gloves.
Stirred up, all smiles for their first stop,
Daddy straightened his tie, pulled up to the gas station
and said Fill it up please, chatted with the white owner
while the blue shirted skinny Black man pumped gas
and cleaned the windshield.
How much do I owe the gentleman?
Daddy asked the White man with glasses
and pencil in his pocket.
Listen here, now, that stern voice warned, If you're going to live here,
understand this: No Colored man is a gentleman, and no Colored
woman is a lady. Don't ever forget.
Hanging Dog Creek, Future Cycle Press, 2014
Suddenly I remember
life is hard.
One walnut tree stands
at the end of my field.
Forty years I watch. It never wanders,
never moves, only sheds its leaves,
drops its weakest branches
when storms rage through the cove.
What is a woman,
but a tree who walks around?
Storms and seasons leave scars
on ripened beauty,
carve hearts in the bark
where mysteries of strength lie
in the eyes of each beholder.
No decision diverts the tree.
A tree does not worry about its fate.