String of Mysteries is from Hidden Brook Press (c) 2008


These poems explore with fascination the myriad of mysteries in everyday life. They weave images, lace together seemingly disparate vignettes, and string the reader along on a journey of sorrow and joy, searching and epiphany. Ranging from luminous instants in mundane family moments in “Blood Ties,” to reflections on the life of Jesus in “Strand of Light,” to ruminations on the many shining signs of One-ness in “Filaments,” these poems loop back on themselves and come to view images from many angles. The themes of interconnectedness, of life and death, of lessons in the “snags,” make the fabric of this book rich in its many layers. These poems become meditations in themselves. — Kathy Murtha, editorial board, Canadian Women’s Studies Journal.


Katie Marshall Flaherty’s poetry gives us the front porches and backyards of “the nation of the heart.” A man making pickles, children reading fairytales by flashlight, a woman holding the head of her dying friend –- in each poem, we are taken inside a place we know to be home. Here is a collection that celebrates, above all, what it means to be alive in the world. – Anne Simpson, Griffin Poetry Prize, Canadian Winner, 2004


Sample poems from String of Mysteries

 Reaching V


On this train, snow

wings past the window,

near strangers murmur;

the Canada geese are flying out

of formation, gone from my sight

by the time, perhaps, they reach V.

      Which is home for them?

      North or South.

Recalling the tale of the goose

who pecked the barn window

year after year after year

after his mate’s grounding

twisted wing,

I think of you, Bev;

how illness plucks us

out of V-point,

scatters the pattern,

calls us to falling

back to rest on the draft, current

of others’ wings; to letting

the Other take the tip

that cuts the harsh air.


      Dis-ease sends us North.


To places of glace,

where clear winds pierce

dull clouds,

doubt curling like frost.

Like the geese, we head home—

      faith blue in the amazing sky—

leaning on lift,

trusting in body-truth,


in the silence of air

for the honk

      and sweep of angels.



Far Away


Pictures taped on the wall,

tenderly showing sequence—

panties before skirt, socks before shoes—set me

wondering what an Alzheimer mind

feels like inside …

scrolling back to childhood

where daughters seem sisters,

déjà vus cobweb, and

Sleepwalkers startle and wake

under snowy lamp-posts

where I think I must know you but

your name dissolves like tissue in a tub.


Such a mind

a stalwart mule refusing the harness

and cart: ox cart, oxo cubes, hugs and kisses,

signatures flatten to a scrawl and this

was once poetry with words like luminous and

They say you stew in your own juices—

if you were sweet you thicken; if sour, then

Old Sneep sucking on a lemon.


How is it amnesia doesn’t wipe away language?

The life-story forgotten but not the words;

we lost the way but not the meaning

I am lost.


Aren’t we all? And to be

shuffling down the corridor vague as melting clocks,

dilly dally, daily times and dill pickles, doorknobs

opening the tin and sons become brothers,

names fall away like flesh from soup-stock bones.


Lily pad thoughts float on murky ponds,

white and clean as these daisys on the gurney,

chalk-white like the nurses’sensible shoes but somehow

those fingernails on a slate, black hole

sucking in everything like a hoover;

eightball rebounding but never sunk.

And sometimes, after long long days of staring

at nothingness:

Oh! Lemon squares!