The Sixth Sense of Loss and poems of Restoration by Betsy Hughes

picture of Betsy Hughes
Photo by Lawrence Bradfield Hughes.  

The Sixth Sense of Loss has as its subtitle Poems of Restoration, since it depicts not only terrible grief at the death of the author's husband of many years along with dire events in the world at large, but also the restorative powers of the heart and the world of nature. In the end, this is a book in which Hope and Love prevail. Early readers of the book have been delighted. Lawrence E. Hussman has written, “Betsy Hughes has earned applause for her mastery of poetic form in earlier books.  With this latest collection her status as a notable voice has been affirmed.  The poems about grief, particularly, are among the most moving I’ve ever read.  Those about climate crisis are stark and sobering.  And the brilliantly conceived and realized final section conjures the spirit of Emily Dickinson flawlessly.”  And this from David Lee Garrison: “In these deftly crafted formal poems, mostly sonnets, Betsy Hughes reveals a luminous vision of art, nature, love, loss, and, in the end, hope.  It is inspiring.  In the title poem, she reflects on the simultaneous presence and absence of her husband, seeing him and not seeing him, smelling his aftershave, and cooking dinner the two of them enjoyed.  Her work calls on us to savor life and love, and she shows us how to do just that.”
  The Sixth sense of loos cover image
  Cover image: “Grief” by Augustus St. Gaudens. 

A graduate of Vassar College, Betsy Hughes taught English for two years at The Baldwin School for Girls in Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, before moving to Ohio as a newlywed and becoming one of the founding faculty at The Miami Valley School in Dayton, Ohio, where she taught for 30 years.  She earned her M.A. in English from the University of Dayton and, in retirement, returned to U.D. to moderate courses in literature, creative writing, and the arts for its Osher Lifelong Learning Institute.  Her passion for poetry has been fueled through the years as student, teacher, and participant in poetry groups.

Winner of the Stevens Manuscript Competition, Betsy’s first book of sonnets, Breaking Weather, was published by the National Federation of State Poetry Societies Press in 2014.  Other published collections of her sonnets are Bird Notes (Finishing Line Press, 2017) and Forest Bathing (Antrim House Books, 2019).  Her poems have also appeared in The Dayton AnthologyThe Lyric, The Mad River Review, Mock Turtle Zine, and several anthologies published by the Ohio Poetry Association.

The Sixth Sense of Loss is dedicated to Betsy’s husband of 56 years, Jim Hughes, who died in 2020.  This book includes not only sonnets but various other genres of formal poetry.  Beginning with poems of grief, it goes on to explore existential/ecological crises and to find hope in the recurring cycles of nature and in the beauty and power of the arts.

Betsy resides in Oakwood, a suburb of Dayton, Ohio.

Click here for selections from the book.
Click here to read reviews and learn about upcoming events.


ISBN 978-1-943826-93-3
First Edition, 2021
88 pages

Copies of this book can be ordered
from all bookstores including Amazon
and directly from the author:

Betsy Hughes
121 East Schantz Ave., Apt. #2
Oakwood, OH  45409.
Please send $18 per book
plus $4.00 shipping
by check payable to

Betsy Hughes



Sample Poems
copyright © 2021 by Betsy Hughes


On Our Last Night Together


You fixed your gaze upon the sundowned scene,
a painting of Cape Cod at dusk which hung
above the mantel.  There a darkened sheen
of shore met vast receding tides.  You wrung
your hands, exclaiming how the ebbing waves
instead were flowing toward you from the beach,
and gestured at them with such frantic raves
I could not calm you.  You were out of reach
of reason, lost at sea in your own realm
so tangible to you that you could feel
the stirrings of the ocean overwhelm.
Phantasmagoria to you was real.
You’ve gone.  The world we used to share is left
for me to occupy alone, bereft

The Sixth Sense of Loss


Your form, familiar, sits upon the chair,
but I’m a fool to think it could be real,
for when I look again you are not there.

I hear Rachmaninoff and can’t conceal
the passion sounding with each decibel
this music’s poignant melodies reveal.

Your shirt still holds its own distinctive smell
of St. Johns Bay Rum aftershave with clove
and eucalyptus aromatic spell.

My recipe for leg of lamb, a trove
of garlic fixed according to your taste,
is souvenir of shared domestic love.

At night I tum in bed where we embraced
and touch the empty sheets’ indifferent cool
reminder that your life has been effaced.

My grief and gratitude together pool;
your absence/presence now together rule.



A sensor in the post lamp signals On
as if this day could switch to night so fast,
as if diurnal acts abruptly gone
must turn to black inertness that will last.
But just before the darkness can descend
I sense a hush, a pause for vesper time.
I put away my business and suspend
my anxious disbeliefs, while calmly I’m
preparing for the mood of evensong.
I hunger for the holy, yearn to learn
the prayer which fills the thinning air, and long
to solve the mystery of my return.
The dimming light is dying now and yet
my gratitude for life exceeds regret.

Last Stand in Australia


Remote and secret in their mountain gorge,
Wollemia Nobilis formed a shrine
of precious trees.  Close by, the flaming scourge
of fire approached the prehistoric pines.
These evergreens outlived the dinosaurs!
Their one remaining wild stand is rare.
Awaiting nature’s brave conservators,
now fewer than two hundred clustered there.
Firefighters saved these priceless trees, which yet — 
near blackened forests, blazed and razed, forlorn —
survived as if to say: Do not forget
to mourn such climate change. The ancients warn
that earth will turn, and still the world will burn
until from our complacency we learn.”

Lakota Lament


The virus took the tribal elders first.
No longer could their voices sing the tales,
Lakota sagas and traditions versed,
the brave travails of their Dakota trails.
Disease aimed pointed arrows at the old
and claimed incalculable human cost
but also left ancestral truths untold,
the sages’ memory forever lost.
For Wise Ones held connections to the past —
their history, philosophy, and art,
their language, culture, heritage — a vast
communal store of bonds now torn apart.
This modern plague infects an ancient world
with harm of broken promises unfurled.

Lunar Seduction


That autumn night when I felt all alone,
I searched for solace in my private yard
and sensed another presence in my zone —  
mysterious.  Attracted but on guard,
I watched his haunches move and heard his howl
insist as he approached my garden’s fringe.
With lupine loping he was on the prowl.
I stepped into the dark with just a twinge
of fear, excited by his piercing eyes
which glowed with white reflections from the moon.
They hypnotized me with their bold surprise
and I surrendered reason to my swoon.
Will I recover?  I am still beguiled
by nature’s urgent calling of the wild.

Annual Promise


The tactile pleasure in my fingernails
receiving lodes of richness from the earth
is greater than the sum of my travails,

the digging, planting work. I feel the worth
of fertile soil as more than just some dirt:
My little plot exemplifies rebirth,

and it’s a balm for soothing every hurt.
I watch the shoots of green break ground and grow,
then show their vibrant colors to assert

God’s grandeur, nature’s loveliness, which flow
into my Eden’s rich kaleidoscope
of happy hues.  Here’s Paradise I know!

And here’s my humble pleasance where I cope.
I tend, I weed, I nurture the array
of flowers.  They in turn provide me hope.

My garden is my favorite place to play.
Moreover, it is where I go to pray.

Paper Flowers


She clutched her souvenir from Chinatown,
the paper pellets in her nervous palms,
debating whether they would float or drown.
Although her hands were trembling with her qualms,
she dropped them into water in a glass.
The tiny paper balls — they swelled and bloomed!
Each one became a pastel floral mass,
its petals delicate but seldom doomed
to sink.  In later years the image stayed:
She felt her consciousness mature, expand,
creating poems which blossomed, did not fade.
Exotic mysteries she held in hand.
The child knew boldness on the future’s brink;
the poet grew her words to feel and think.

The Tree Tower at the Arboretum


We mount the curving staircase to the sky,
and like its bold creators dare to dream.
Ascending into air, we climb so high
that all of plant-life art becomes our theme.
To view the garden from such soaring heights
and with the birds look down upon this world
below provides the witnesses rare sights,
impressive panoramas there unfurled.
A distant quilt of geometric lines
defines the farmers’ ground in pleasing shapes.
Nearby, we see a verdant grove of pines,
designs of shrubbery and floral scapes.
The tower’s gift resides in its long views,
in hours thus spent while heeding nature’s muse.