How to survive in an apocalypse

Sunset at Green Lane

It has been over a year since I’ve posted here, but I can’t apologize for this. We’ve all been trying very hard to survive the impossible and that sort of thing takes energy and time and hope. I haven’t felt very hopeful in a long time, until today. What changed? I read a book. This book taught me that it’s okay to finally admit some things to myself that I’d been dodging for years. This is why books are so important: they speak to our hearts and minds and give us permission to be human.

Anyway, I continue to write, of course. My latest Medium essay tackles racism from my point of view: Dear nice white people. I’m attempting to get a science fiction story published. If I can’t, I’ll self-publish it because I am extremely proud of this story and I want people to read it. And yes, I am still writing novels as Erin M. Leaf. I am in the midst of finishing a bonus fifth novel in my Bad Oak Boys series, and I’m excited that I’ve been able to revisit this world. It’s yummy escapist fun, and I need to write that right now.

I’m still dedicated to Sleepy Maple, my delightful vintage treasure store, full of upcycled vintage treasure, vintage jewelry, and some delightful curios. I have handmade jewelry and old lamps and teacups and hand sewn masks that make amazing gifts. If you’re curious, please check it out.

I continue to read submissions for Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY. This poetry project of mine has been one of the highlights of my life. I am always grateful for the poems people send me, and in awe of the beauty and truth poets manage to create in the worst of times.

Unfortunately, things in my life are still on a bit of a pause right now. Why? This year alone I’ve tackled face surgery for skin cancer, ankle surgery for a hole in my bone and plantar fasciitis (crutches suck so bad), tendonitis in both elbows and one wrist plus a fun side of nerve compression, persistent severe IBS and gastroparesis, exhaustion from perimenopause insomnia, reactive airway disease from allergies, the death of a years-long friendship, depression and panic attacks, and isolation from multiple quarantines all during a global pandemic. Fortunately, I have not acquired COVID to add to my collection of medical drama, however, it’s only April and I am so tired. I recognize and am so grateful for my husband and two sons who have taken care of me through all of this.

Anyway, here, have a poem. It first appeared in Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY on November 29, 2020. I wrote this one back in 2018. It is remarkably prescient.

Triumph of Death

Zombie Apocalypse

—after “The Triumph of Death” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder

Even the angels fled when Death triumphed.
Humanity died in boxes and oceans while the skies burned—
so long ago now, but still strangely familiar.
Only the birds enjoyed the view,
fluttering eagerly above the suffering.

Contemplating lunch.

The old masters were never wrong—
Auden knew this. Bruegel, too, understood
our worry: that all wars are plagues.
That plagues are endemic to the human condition.
And when the dead rise, there are those
who don’t even notice. Sometimes the music plays
while fools and false gods pretend nothing is wrong.
The emperor’s clothes are invisible.
His closets contain skeletons.
The apocalypse has already come:
armies of the dead set our battleships aflame,
and we think it’s normal—
seasonal wildfires. To be expected.
Like Hawaii’s Kilauea or autumn in Los Angeles.
New York seventeen years ago.

Someday our children will pray
for us, thinking that’s all that’s needed.
Someday our skeletons will be all that’s left.
And perhaps the world is better off
with bones. Perhaps the bones
are better off with no mind
to confuse the issue—

The zombies are coming.

No, the zombies have already come.
The zombies have eaten the world
while we stare at paintings and websites,
marveling at the worst of times.

The future is theirs.

How to Hustle

No, I’m not talking about the dance (although the Hustle remains my very favorite), I’m talking about writing! I’ve started writing again, because I want my voice to be heard in this world. Isn’t that what writers do? No matter what else I am, editor, housewife, mother, chronically ill person, artist, I’m also and always a writer.

So, I’m writing short, personal narrative essays, and I hope to publish them in various places. Poetry is still part of my heart, and I’m sure I will write some poems again sometime, but for now I’m concentrating on other things.

Here is my profile on Medium:

And yes, I am still writing novels as Erin M. Leaf. Hopefully I will also find time to work on that sci-fi short story I’ve already written. It needs revision, but I love the concept. We will see what happens this year.

I’m also working on some jewelry that I hope to sell on Etsy, as soon as I find the time to set all that up. Do you like my kitty button pendant? I’m making more! From vintage buttons!

That’s all for now. Peace out.


Autumn skies redux

Four years ago I posted about loving this season, so much so that my first website was called November Sky. And then I began publishing Autumn Sky Poetry, and Autumn Sky Poetry DAILY. This year I’m taking a break from publishing and trying to focus on writing and photography. Here are a few of this year’s autumn photos and a poem I wrote in 2005:


Strange Violet Behind Trees

—after Wolf Kahn

The house hides in dusk’s spangled purples.
It’s hard to see such colors, capricious
tones barely there once night has almost
sucked the light from the forest.
And silhouetted trees rear up
as I walk, interrupt the horizon,
their dry leaves muttering imprecations
in the magenta gleam of twilight.

You have gone and I must be careful:
the path has faded to mere shadow
and I can no longer understand
the exuberance of a leaf twisting
in the breeze. How does autumn tangle
everything so elegantly, as when crimson
replaces the decorous sheen of green?
Such willful ambiguity. I walk steadily.
The soft retreat of chlorophyll asks useless
questions. The mother tree sleeps
and misses the violet whoop of fall,
the overlapping dive of it all.

By now night has stolen
twilight’s indescribable glow.
Our house has quietly slid
into an atmospheric blur.
There is nothing more to see.
My darling, the violet has disappeared
and I’m not yet home but I can still feel
the brittle slump of frost behind the trees.


—first published on


Ask the Editor at Evernight Publishing’s 7th Birthday Celebration!


Wondering what’s HOT in publishing romance?
Do you have a manuscript you want to submit to us?
Any burning questions for an editor?

You’re in luck! I’m going to be joining Evernight Publishing’s Facebook party Thursday from 2pm – 3pm Eastern Time!

Join the party here: Evernight’s 7th Birthday Celebration

Here are all the authors chatting Thursday and Friday (all times Eastern/NY Time):

Thursday, 10/26/2017
9:30 – 10:00 AM Ravenna Tate
10:00 – 10:30 AM Sam Crescent
10:30 – 11:00 AM Lynn Burke
11:00 – 11:30 AM Iyana Jenna
1:00 – 2:00 PM ASK THE ARTIST: Jay Aheer
2:00 – 3:00 PM ASK THE EDITOR: Christine Klocek-Lim
3:00 – 3:30 PM Kory Steed
3:30 – 4:00 PM Nicola Cameron
4:00 – 4:30 PM Erin Leaf
4:30 – 5:00 PM Naomi Clark
5:00 – 5:30 PM Jocelyn Dex
5:30 – 6:00 PM Melody Jewell
6:30 – 7:00 PM Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy
7:00 – 7:30 PM Cecile Tellier
7:30 – 8:00 PM L.D. Blakeley
8:00 – 8:30 PM Roe Valentine
8:30 – 9:00 PM J. J. Lore
9:00 – 9:30 PM Angelique Voisen

Friday, 10/27/2017
9:00 – 9:30 AM Lea Bronsen
9:30 – 10:00 AM Katherine Wyvern
10:30 – 11:00 AM Jessie Pinkham
11:00 – 11:30 AM Allyson Young
11:30 – 12:00 PM Peri Elizabeth Scott author
12:00 – 12:30 PM Aletta Thorne
2:00 – 2:30 PM Tanya Jean Russell
2:30 – 3:00 PM Katerina Ross
5:00 – 5:30 PM Elyzabeth M. VaLey
5:30 – 6:00 PM C. E. Vescio / Cara Vescio
6:00 – 6:30 PM ASK THE EDITOR: Diana Stager Thomas
6:30 – 7:00 PM Lorraine Nelson
7:30 – 8:00 PM Megan Morgan
8:00 – 8:30 PM Magali Fréchette
8:30 – 9:00 PM Jean Maxwell
9:00 – 9:30 PM Libby Bishop
10:30 – 11:00 PM April Zyon Author

Mysterious white rock fingers on Mars

I wrote this poem in 2008. While writing it, I finally learned that sometimes things that mattered not at all to me often mattered a great deal to someone else. This poem is from Dark Matter, and was one of the poems that won the 2009 Ellen La Forge Poetry Prize.

Mysterious white rock fingers on Mars

Dust blows on every world, I tell her
as we stand at the edge of the cemetery.
She is angered over the deadness where the grass
wore down. While we argue solutions I think
of Mars, how a strange unburial exposed
a crater’s heart so that white rock pointed
into the landscape like the cenotaph
for a whole planet. Here the small, rigid
gravestones mock us, their marble cold
as pointed fingers. My mother insists
that some seed will fix the erosion,
but I can’t help the wind or the crows
that abandon feathers everywhere,
littering the dead with indifferent fluttering.
Nana will never notice, I say and receive
her shoulder turning away from me,
the stiffness more evident than the love
as she walks to the stone. I follow, carefully
avoiding the pansies that have returned again
this April, their tiny petals trembling like wings
against the rocky ground.


front cover

September 2015 – Aldrich Press/Kelsay Books

buy link: Amazon

The murder of the self

My older son is graduating from college this Friday with a degree in computer engineering. I would like to say oh, how time flies, or what just happened to the last twenty-odd years, so that everyone can nod their heads in understanding, but clichés will be the death of me, so I shall refrain from such indulgences. Instead, here is a poem from my chapbook The book of small treasures (Keystone Finalist — Seven Kitchens Press). I wrote it over ten years ago in anticipation of the moment I’d understand my children are grown. As most of you know, that time has come and gone, and I am trapped in nostalgia, as are all parents at certain moments.

The murder of the self

No one believes it at first. One ordinary morning,
the moon withdraws her fingers from the bed’s edge
and you wake, a single body in a great gathering of women:
veiled, recognizable only in the eye’s reflection. We peer
into each other. The individual soul is in us all, glittering
like the black wings of a crow. But the trick is on us.
The moon knew it would happen, our mothers knew,
too, how the mind would stretch unexpectedly,
and then in an odd moment, ten or twenty years later,
you wake to find grown children scattered
around like seedlings: unnoticed until their first
leaves grew green enough to matter. This disbelief
lingers. For a while, you expect something else:
a recognition, perhaps, that you have done some-
thing exceptional. But it is ordinary, like the night
is ordinary, and the moon’s hovering between
stars is ordinary. Like a tree is ordinary,
until it grows larger than you, drops
its sweet autumn leaves upon your face.

Happy National Poetry Month

It’s National Poetry Month again, and I have no plans to write a poem a day (NaPoWriMo). However, this one slipped into my head yesterday and today. A gift? Or a curse? Not sure yet.

Skill Set—Poet

Sometimes I speak in verse—
iambic lines, or worse,
trochee. It’s like a curse
I cannot stop. Perverse,
the rhymes infect, transverse,
coerce my brain. “Disperse!”
I shout. “Be still,” my nurse
responds, his voice so terse
I know I’ve gone insane.
He binds my wrists. I strain
against the bed, my brain
awhirl with mad disdain
until the meds constrain
the meter gone profane
and bold: a hurricane
of poems I can’t explain.
“Spondee,” I moan.
“Sestina. Sonnet. Koan
Limerick. Xylophone…”
And then the heavy stone
of anesthetic thrown
from syringe to bone
descends. I wake alone.
No ode, no pain, no throne
composed of metered tones
and stately palindromes
contaminate my words.
I’m sane.
And sad.
My mouth a hearse—
dead letters disperse
against my teeth. The nurse
appears. His smile is vain.
He says, “We’ve fixed your brain.”
I scowl. He frowns. I feign
civility. “My purse?”
I ask. “The universe
awaits.” He shoves it close.
I ease the zipper wide
to show the poems I hide
for rainy days and snide
remarks. Unjustified
restraints cannot divide
my mind for long. I hide
my plans, re-versified
and calm. For now. They tried
to break my muse. I bide
my time until the worst
miasma fades, and Verse
slips back into a poem
or two, or more: a tome!
Oh, poetic loon,
how sweet it feels to croon
aloud the song of moon
and line. Iambic swoons
and dactyl foot balloons
unhinge my afternoon—
a perfect honeymoon
from sane pursuits too soon
applied with syringe or spoon,
a brutal, dulling dose
of anodyne. No verse.
No rhyme. Just prose. A curse
devoid of rhyme. “No pun
for that!” I say. The nurse
returns. I close my purse
and run.

Christine Klocek-Lim, 1 April 2017

First Crocus (2017)


First Crocus

This morning, flowers cracked open
the earth’s brown shell. Spring
leaves spilled everywhere
though winter’s stern hand
could come down again at any moment
to break the delicate yolk
of a new bloom.

The crocus don’t see this as they chatter
beneath a cheerful petal of spring sky.
They ignore the air’s brisk arm
as they peer at their fresh stems, step
on the leftover fragments
of old leaves.

When the night wind twists them to pieces,
they will die like this: laughing,
tossing their brilliant heads
in the bitter air. Poetry, Spring Poems Anthology, March 22, 2007.