In Retrospect

walked down
a worn trail
at end of day
as darkness spread long,
graceful shadows slowly
upon the valley of green.
I listened to sweet call of quail
serenading its mate in meadow
where once my love had sung a song to me.

© 2018 Freeda Baker Nichols

Photo by Brett Sayles on

Banner Mountain Girl #36 When the dark midnight is over . . .

In my time, I’ve seen some dark midnights, and with God’s help, I’ve watched the daybreaks arrive. I love this song, and, perhaps you will like it, too.  . . .
–Freeda Baker Nichols, “My True Sentence”


So What’s an Iona Poem?

San Juan Capistrano


Return of the Swallows

I wonder where the swallows go
until they wing
back to San Juan Capistrano
in early spring.
I’ve missed them flitting in and out
with disregard
to other birds who fly about
the big courtyard.
I always welcome their return
and hope they stay
and yet I know that they will yearn
to fly away.
Until they disappear once more
I’ll listen to
them sing their song as birds of yore
once did
like swallows do.

© 2015 Freeda Baker Nichols
The IONA form contains alternating lines of iambic tetrameter and iambic dimeter (exception: line 4 of verse 4 is monometer and is unrhymed). It rhymes a,b,a,b,c,d,c,d,e,f,e,f,g,h,g,x,h.

This is my very first Iona poem!  Just now created and it may have some errors. Maybe you’ve noticed that my recent poems have been patterns in alphabetical order. I started with an Amphion and have progressed to this one, the letter I, which is an Iona form. Books that guide me are “Poetry Patterns” by Mary Harper Sowell, and “Pathways for the Poet” by Viola Jacobson Berg.  Both of these outstanding how-to-write poetry books are out of print. They are a great tool for beginning poets. I ordered “Pathways for the Poet” from an out of print list a few years ago. “Poetry Patterns” is no longer available. It was published by Mary Sowell, who is deceased.  She was an exceptional Arkansas poet, my cousin and good friend.

        poet's tools

poet’s tools

Shepherd’s Song


Shepherd’s Song

I long to hear the shepherd’s song
of peace and praise on yonder hill.
The sheep are bleating loud and strong.
This is the place where they belong.
They graze among the daffodil.
I long to hear the shepherd’s song.
His music reaches to a throng
that gathers near an old windmill.
The sheep are bleating loud and strong.
The voice of meadowlark is still.
I long to hear the shepherd’s song.
The world is good and nothing’s wrong
where music rings o’er rock and rill.
The sheep are bleating loud and strong.
It thrills my heart to hum along
and listen to the lark’s sweet trill.
I long to hear the shepherd’s song;
the sheep are bleating loud and strong.

© 2014 Freeda Baker Nichols

Baby Bobwhite’s Lullaby

Cougar 008


The daddy quail was singing to his young
a brand-new song no other bird had sung.
He sang a baby bobwhite lullaby–
but then he hushed when Tom, the cat, appeared.
He flew away and hid from Tom’s keen eye.
Old Tom Cat was the only thing he feared.
A brand-new song no other bird had sung,
the daddy quail was singing to his young.

Copyright 2013, Freeda Baker Nichols

Hummingbird King of the Crop

A white-shell egg, the size of tiny pea
lay warm beneath a feathered tummy fluff
in nest of hair and twine on limb of tree
that swayed when April’s wind blew gentle puff.

The hut was small as walnut shell–just right

English: A Female Vervain Hummingbird sitting ...
to house the hummingbird in early spring.
When mama bird was left both day and night,
on little nest, she taught her babe to sing.
And now, the young bird’s grown and seems content
to wing above the trees and creeks and rocks.
Although he wonders where his papa went,
he thrives on nectar from pink four o’clocks.
He never frets but sings his song in trills
that echo like a love song from the hills.

Copyright, 2013, Freeda Baker Nichols