The Fortune-Teller’s Warning



image by Rebekah Choat

You will meet a handsome stranger;
say no more than is required.
Always be alert to danger;
one small spark can kindle fire.

Put no trust in smiling faces;
watch the flicker in the eyes.
Don’t be charmed by social graces;
laughing lips may yet tell lies.

Feed your letters to the blue flame;
yield your birthmark to the knife.
You must not reveal your true name;
in it lies the power of life.

Set your heart upon the straight way;
keep your eyes trained on the light.
Never turn aside from clear day
for a creature of the night.

One I know once met a Changer
riding as a fair esquire…
You will meet a handsome stranger;
say no more than is required.

~ Rebekah Choat



On Hope

It isn’t always a little feathery thing, perched atop a box slammed shut, whistling a cheery tune.

Sometimes hope is recollection: I have been here before – in pain, and sorrowing, and alone – and I have survived it. Sometimes it’s courageous enough to say “I don’t feel it, but I have confidence that I will get through this, again, with God’s help.” Some nights (and days) it is an exhausted child, not understanding what it happening but trusting his mother’s love to carry him. In dark seasons, it can only sleep, huddled in a cubbyhole with a favorite blanket, longing in its dreams for the slow but certain return of the sun.

In the Bleak Midwinter


The words of my best-loved dead poet notwithstanding, midwinter is not at Christmas time. Rather, it is now, as the grey days of January ghost into the grey days of February; now, when it’s increasingly hard to remember green and golden days of sunshine, and nearly impossible to imagine that they will come again.

My best-loved living poet understands this season well, and gives me words for the blank emptiness I often feel this time of year. But marvelously, miraculously, he also reminds me that it is a season which will pass, one which I will remember not only for its heaviness, but also for truths laid bare, strength given to hold on, and the tenacity of hope.

Because We Hunkered Down
by Malcolm Guite

These bleak and freezing seasons may mean grace
when they are memory. In time to come
when we speak truth, then they will have their place,
telling the story of our journey home,
through dark December and stark January
with all its disappointments, through the murk
and dreariness of frozen February,
when even breathing seemed unwelcome work.

Because through all of these we held together,
because we shunned the impulse to let go,
because we hunkered down through our dark weather,
and trusted to the soil beneath the snow,
slowly, slowly, turning a cold key,
Spring will unlock our hearts and set us free.

Songs for the People

image by Rebekah Choat

image by Rebekah Choat

Let me make the songs for the people,
Songs for the old and young;
Songs to stir like a battle-cry
Wherever they are sung.

Not for the clashing of sabres,
For carnage nor for strife;
But songs to thrill the hearts of men
With more abundant life.

Let me make the songs for the weary,
Amid life’s fever and fret,
Till hearts shall relax their tension,
And careworn brows forget.

Let me sing for little children,
Before their footsteps stray,
Sweet anthems of love and duty,
To float o’er life’s highway.

I would sing for the poor and aged,
When shadows dim their sight;
Of the bright and restful mansions,
Where there shall be no night.

Our world, so worn and weary,
Needs music, pure and strong,
To hush the jangle and discords
Of sorrow, pain, and wrong.

Music to soothe all its sorrow,
Till war and crime shall cease;
And the hearts of men grown tender
Girdle the world with peace.

~ Frances E. W. Harper

My November Guest


My Sorrow, when she’s here with me,
thinks these dark days of autumn rain
are beautiful as days can be;
she loves the bare, the withered tree;
she walks the sodden pasture lane.

Her pleasure will not let me stay.
She talks and I am fain to list:
She’s glad the birds are gone away,
she’s glad her simple worsted gray
is silver now with clinging mist.

The desolate deserted trees,
the faded earth, the heavy sky,
the beauties she so truly sees,
she thinks I have no eye for these,
and vexes me for reason why.

Not yesterday I learned to know
the love of bare November days
before the coming of the snow,
but it were vain to tell her so,
and they are better for her praise.

~ Robert Frost

The Poet’s Prayer, at Harvest-Time

originally published at

All Nine

Image by Becka Choat Image by Becka Choat

The Poet’s Prayer, at Harvest-Time

I have planted neither
field nor orchard.

My seeds are words.
I have sown them, here
in this small home-plot,
and any that were left
I have flung to the wind.
You alone, O Lord, know
where they have scattered,
whether they have taken root,
what fruit they have borne.

Many seem to have fallen
in poor soil, or on stones.

At harvest-time, I have nothing
to gather in baskets and lay
upon the altar. And so I kneel,
wordless, and stretch out
before you my empty hands,
which you fill again with seeds.


Becka Choat is a lifelong lover of words who spends many hours each week in a room of her own, writing or reading and drinking coffee. Her book reviews can be found at, and her poetry and other musings at You may…

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