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Hilary Carr-Butler

Hilary Carr-Butler is a poet and musician living in upstate New York. As a younger person, she was inspired by e.e. cummings, Rumi, Hafiz, Pablo Neruda, William Butler Yeats, and Dylan Thomas. She treasures poetry's ability to open minds and connect hearts.

A tree-hugging nature-lover, she also loves NYC for its jazz, her favorite music; and for its amazing, diverse people and cultures. Hilary is currently a senior at CCNY-CWE, working on a BA in Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.

Haiku in Four Parts


August almost gone,

Cricket symphony sustains

soft rhythms of night.


My young lover’s back,

a snake in the harvest moon,

sliding through my hands.


Walking alone now,

open arms embrace the stars,

midnight mountain hush.


Guitar rides the breeze,

sounding from an unknown house,

yet drawing me home.

Autumn Storm, 2020

I stand alone, but not unloved

in the middle of this worsening storm.

Deep in this time of masks and corpses,

brother against brother,

red against blue,

science against demagogues,

what have I lost?

Should I count my losses, or should I soldier on,

knowing I’m incredibly blessed to have air in my lungs,

earth under my feet,

and to walk in the company of trees and angels?

Deep in this time of miracles and heroes,

friendships sparked across the globe in digital ethers,

communities caring,

strangers sharing,

what have we begun to let go of?

Frequent travel,

carbon emissions,

acceptance of unfair conditions.

What can we release some more?

Our habitual lack of mindfulness for the Earth

and for each other’s health,

corporate greed ranking higher than widespread human needs,

policies based on prejudice, injustice, and hate.

What was an I became a we,

and if this sometimes isn’t so,

may I speak it into being.

Letter to A Dead Friend and Mentor

Thank you
for loving me
the way the ever-present Earth loves a small oak tree--
without question, unconditionally.

And like the giving Earth,
You were firm and palpable under my feet,
encouraging my roots and branches,
connecting my roots with the roots of others, new friends.

A gang of misfit teens, a widower with time to spare,
We flowed together unexpectedly.
You lectured, laughed, and listened,
always busy weaving
our disparate, colored strands into a community,
You magnetized a chosen family.

You gathered us wild and moody teens
for camping, road trips, fishing, caving.
You fed us---
Bluefish and hashbrowns over the campfire,
Javanese peanut chicken,
Swiss Chard and pierogies, but that was not all!

You fed us Bartók, independent ideas, and other jewels.

In your magical, rambling house,
my young ears overflowed with strange wonders--
John Cage, gamelan, Cape Verde melodies, piano sonatas.
You drove us to see classical dancers from South India, Bali, and beyond;
You gave us physics lessons, silly comedies,
And films, a passage into unseen worlds---
Ingmar Berman, Werner Herzog,
and the eerie, enchanted frog sounds of Peter Weir’s Australian outback.
We all aged, we moved away.
You and I phoned, such treasured chats.
Laughter, stories stretching on for lazy hours.
We visited at times, but not enough…. still your firm bear hug!

A few months back, I watched you slip away
from now into the unknown space.
So blessed to die at home,
with loved ones singing
and circling ‘round you.

Living on your own terms, living from the heart,
For ninety-seven years, what a splendid victory!
I bow to you, I celebrate you!
I hold a stone of sorrow in a frightened fist,
I’m missing you again.

I am washed in tears, a rushing river of grief carries me,
Bruised by rocks along the way.

But afterwards, a tender quietude,
punctuated by the soft beating heart
of my unspoken thanks.

And this is life.
The body drops away…
And you would surely say,
You’d be happy to become a dance, a verse,
a humble piece of poetry.

In memory of Eugene Lefferts, known as "Unk"
who died on Feb. 14, 2022


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