A Way I Sing


Out of stock

Poems by

Patty Cole

Part of the MSR Author’s Choice Chapbook Series 

40 pages, cover price: $8

Release date: August 25, 2015




Patty Cole

Patty Cole lives on a farm in Chatham County, North Carolina, where she and her husband raise chickens, goats, and scrumptious delights from their orchard and garden. She studied English and French at West Virginia State University where she graduated with honors. She has earned awards from the Fields of Earth Poetry Contest and the North Carolina Poetry Society.

Saying Patty Cole writes about death is far too simplistic an assumption. While there is suicide and haunting music playing in the background among the cows, snakes, and birds, we understand how one doesn’t need to repeat the past; rather, the pain of the past allows us to be more mindful of the present. Cole is a master at using one-word images to streamline complicated emotions. (‘Twenty little birds flew in a torrent toward an oak tree / in the middle of a meadow / then up through a sky suddenly ripped open.’) Within Cole’s collection of journeys we feel degrees of loss from a daughter losing her mother to decayed fruit in the refrigerator to the loss of young lives after Sandy Hook. Thanks to Cole’s work, we’re reminded that when we embark on any journey, we may lose our innocence, but gain deep knowledge. Drink up these poems to find the bits of your life ‘in the dust lining every room, / sticking to cobwebs where memories hang.’

—Alice Osborn, author of Heroes without Capes and editor of Creatures of Habitat

Night to Day

I stand in the backyard smoking, 3 a.m.,
no sleep for zombies like me.
Curse Hollywood horror movies.
I imagine vampires are tipping the waiter,
rummaging in their pockets for loose change,
full of cat, rat, and possum, then stealing away
to die all over again.

I die knowing the moon will raise her speckled skirt,
and the sun will subtract while the mockingbird
sings a new day—all before I’ll sleep.

Even Venus will fade.

The Fall

One of my first memories is of the color red
on the back porch by the old cistern covered
with rough boards and dark red bricks.

Late one August day a storm gathered ‘round,
and lightning split the sky as I fell on the cistern.
All I remember is the spill of color.

Red, the bricks that caught me.
Red, the scrapes on my arms and legs.
Red, the blood that dripped on my white shoes.

The feeling of a fist in the pit of my stomach—red,
a boney hand gripped my lungs so I couldn’t breathe,
and red, the lump in my throat stopped my scream.

Red—all I could see when I shut my eyes.
Red—the color of his shirt.


You were ripe peaches hanging on summer trees,
Charlie’s Angels gliding over stairwells,
down every hall, gussied in Bonnie Bell lip gloss
and Maybelline mascara.

You were big laughter opening lockers—click, click—
telling secrets about the big game the night before,
keeping jocks on short leashes.

I lived outside your margins, just another subterranean
sliding under the radar, never committing crimes
with boys under bleachers, whom
I’d never remember at class reunions.

Still I wonder if I’d worn tighter pants,
softer sweaters, flashed a sweeter smile,
tried a little harder?