Ribons of Light poems by Lois Matieu

picture of Lois Mathieu

In this eloquent poetry chapbook, Ribbons of Light, Lois Mathieu takes us past hardship and loss into a world where redemption and joy spread brilliant ribbons of light across the landscape of life. About the book D. Walsh Gilbert has written this: “Beginning with primal memories from grade school, a time when growing up wasn’t easy, with its cardboard / Doll house pieced together, Lois Mathieu’s Ribbons of Light courageously explores what it takes to deepen in childhood and embark on brave recoveries, personal and universal. Words from her final poem show us how talons seize the light of day—summarizing the warmth and brilliance which shines from each page of this book of fast-paced and powerful free verse able to melt ice”. 
  ribbons of light cover image
  Photograph by Mary Sullivan.

Lois Mathieu, a Connecticut native, writes poetry and fiction. She earned a B.A. in Liberal Studies from Syracuse University and an M.A. in English from Trinity College.  Thereafter, she worked in the corporate world as a manager of customer documentation and made friends across the globe during many working trips to Japan. Her poems have been issued by journals such as Calyx, Connecticut River Review, Connecticut Poets at Work, Embers, and Portland Review. They have also appeared in anthologies: the Texas Tech University Press anthology, Blood to Remember, American Poets on the Holocaust; and the Northwoods Press anthology, Sweet as Hautboys, Green as Prairies. Her poem “Counting Sheep by Night” won the Joseph E. Brodine Award presented by The Connecticut Poetry Society. Lois has written poetry reviews for the journal Gargoyle; and she is the author of three novels: Debut, Song for My Birth Mother; The Next to Last Drink (named to Kirkus Review’s Best of  2012 list); and Women Under Siege; as well as a book of poems, Snow Raining on Glass. Lois is married to writer and theologian William L. Newell, Professor Emeritus at Eastern Connecticut State University. They live in West Hartford, CT, and have two children as well as four grandchildren.

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ISBN 978-1-943826-94-0
First Edition, 2022
36 pages

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Copyright © 2022 by Lois Mathieu


Third Grade


The bell for recess rang
We scurried to the schoolyard
I asked Teddy if I could touch
The tight-knitted weave covering
The perfect dome of his head

He held his gaze firm as an icicle
Frozen against a winter sky
His face the color of my penny 
His eyes bright as timber burning
Light in the dark of night

In class he was called from his seat
To stand before Miss Mean’s
Routine of stoking his rage
That was the day he kicked a hole
In her waste bin and we sat in fear

Teddy raced home with his cousin Zerlene
With the speed of the great escape
It was hard to keep up with their pace
Running down the hands of the clock
Readying their course for another day

We sat in our seats frozen as ice
Lacking words to define the act
Our first experience with hate
Waited so long to construct the truth
Of what we learned in third grade

Night Train to Vermont


Out of the deep valley of dream
Came the whistle of a train
Smoking through the meadowland

Where passion spent on youth
Grew promises by the hundreds
And we swirled them into buckets filled
With sap from winter’s Sugar Maples

Dusk slipped in to steal the night
My dream turned suddenly to fear
I listened for your voice and heard

The ticket master call your name
As the train pulled out of the station
You kept your promise at the crack of dawn
When I felt your breath on the morning light



We went to see your Dad
And stayed all afternoon
He ordered pizza for our lunch
And brewed the coffee
That camouflaged the sound
Of hearts breaking

He invited us to view the treasures
Our sister had stored the week before
I wanted something she had worn
A pretty cardigan with buttons carved
A pair of golden earrings
A tiny owl from her collection

He handed me a pretty doll 
I gave her as a bargaining tool
To keep her from reminding me
When we were seven and three
I talked her into giving up
Her favorite doll to me

And then we stood outside
Strained to say good-bye
He would go to meet a buddy
They would have a beer
And watch the tide release
Its promise to surge so high

He’d mind the waves recalling
What she’d said—I’m glad
the summer crowd has gone away!
We promised to keep in touch
Come anytime he said and showed us
Where to find the key



On the quiet river
I hear the sound
Of song then laughter
Imagine someone calling me
Perhaps I should reply

Voices stir my yearning
The way one sip of wine
Ignites the flame that steers
A willing soul
Into the headlight of desire

Too soon the music fades
The quiet river returns
To the sound of water slapping
Against the motoring hum
In time to paddle me home