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"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. 

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Stutters, A Book of Hope

Released 9.2023

"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.

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Purchase your audiobook of Stutters

Poetry should be heardand now you can do just that by purchasing your audiobook of 'STUTTERS, A Book of Hope' from your favorite place to listen to audiobooks!

Words Worth Hearing: A Review of 'Stutters' by Julia Duncan in the NCLR

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View the full article on the North Carolina Literary Review website

Mary's Publications

Publications are available by publisher or on Amazon

Lira, Poems of a Woodland Woman

Redhawk Publications, 2021

'Wild Allure'

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.


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

somewhere between

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

and 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

made thoughts,

before my voice

found words.


Make peace with loss.

Make friends with change.


A candle flickers.

Blue light drowns

in its own flame.

Secret shards

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.

Precious The Mule

Redhawk Publications, 2022

'Healing Precious'


The mule with the lame leg walked out and away 

from his shed four weeks after the freak injury. 

At dawn, footprints show steps during the night, 

must have been after the long rain stopped. 

Who wouldn’t want out? 

It’s Pharley’s liniment rub that fixed that leg. 


The mule’s name is Jim, 

but I’ve been calling him Precious. 

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