scaling the summit with doraine bennett

#17 in the Poetry Potluck Series, celebrating National Poetry Month 2012.

Whenever I see Doraine Bennett’s wonderful blog photo at Dori Reads, in her cool hat and that wonderful “Ta-Da!” expression on her face, I feel like giving her a standing ovation. “Taking the stage” to make others happy is a great way to approach life in general, and Doraine’s heartfelt, insightful posts are such a joy to read.

Though she wears many hats in her busy life as reader, editor, bookseller and writer of fiction, nonfiction and poetry, I’m especially pleased to be able to shine the spotlight today on Dori’s talent as a poet. On a Poetry Friday back in February, I read her beautiful poem, “What My Mother Taught Me,” and knew I just had to invite her to join the Potluck.

The poem she’s sharing today will resonate with anyone who’s ever experienced the fear and trepidation of meeting a new challenge. That’s pretty much all of us, right? But writers, especially, will know exactly what Doraine is talking about. Scaling a mountain is an apt metaphor for writing in general. Even if there are others to cheer you on, it’s a journey you ultimately have to take alone, often stumbling around in the dark until you find the right path. Oh, but when you finally reach the summit, what a view!

Dori’s hiked to this outcrop at Satulah, climbing beneath 12-foot high laurel and rhododendron.

Doraine: I wrote this poem about five years ago. It’s unpublished, but I like it a lot. Maybe because there is a place attached to its composition—a lovely mountain cabin in the Appalachians where my husband and I spent a lot of time. Maybe because it puts into words the terror I sometimes feel when trying to get words on paper, before I know exactly where I’m going, before I know how to get there.

Dori’s favorite mountain cabin.

The Lump in My Throat
by Doraine Bennett

Stranded on the descent of Satulah,
lost between beginning and end,
I brood over stones beneath my feet,
dreading darkness.
The cold spreads across my chest,
drips down my arms,
to water nettle, burdock, bull thistle
grown over patches of clay.
I search the canopy for a shaft of light,
signaling open space,
or signs of a trail forged by another,
one more certain of his end.

I breathe slowly,
ignore the snags of greenbriar at my ankles,
the gnats settled in my eyes,
force myself to follow the trampled patch of galax
until the trees break apart.
There, on an island of rock,
I am still.
A red-tailed hawk skims the current beneath my feet.
Shadows creep across the basin
and I know —
there are no words for this,
and no way down but to scale the cliff.

Copyright © 2012 Doraine Bennett. All rights reserved.


I don’t really like cooking much, though I think maybe there was a time I did. I’m best at last minute resourcefulness. Since I’m not a morning person, my best working hours are from late morning until about seven or eight at night. So I’m forever getting lost in what I’m doing only to discover it’s past dinnertime and I haven’t even thought about what to cook. Hence, I’m very good at combining whatever is in the pantry and/or refrigerator and delivering a decent meal in short order, even if it’s late.


Easy Quiche


Deep dish piecrust

1-1 ½ cups of something chopped (8 oz. pkg. of thawed chopped broccoli, large can of salmon, mixed vegetables, leftover veggies and/or meat, or whatever you find in your pantry or fridge)

½ – 1 cup of cheese (depending on how much you have or how much cheesy you want it)

3 eggs

1 cup milk (cream, half and half, canned, coconut, almond. I’ve even used yogurt thinned with milk or water.)

Herbs/salt to taste (I use marjoram with broccoli, dill with salmon, Italian seasoning with mixed vegetables. Use your nose.)


Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a bowl, mix veggies/meat with cheese and herbs/salt. Spread evenly in piecrust.

In the same bowl, beat eggs lightly. Add milk and stir. Pour over mixture in piecrust.

Bake 45-50 minutes, until center feels firm or knife comes out clean.

**I usually make two at a time, since there are two piecrusts in the pack. Our favorites are a mix of one broccoli and one salmon.



Doraine Bennett wears many hats in the writing/publishing world. She is the editor of the Infantry Bugler, a quarterly magazine for the National Infantry Association, where she has interviewed generals and photographed drones.

As a sales representative for Delaney Educational Enterprises, Doraine spends a lot of time in schools helping media specialists and literacy specialists find the books they need to help their students. She likes selling books almost as much as she likes reading and writing them. And it keeps her up to date on what books are being published for children in the educational market.

Doraine has written over 30 nonfiction books for children. Three new biographies (Frank Lloyd Wright, Laura Ingalls Wilder, and Mae Jemison) will be available in August from Rourke Publishing.

She has had poetry in Columbus State University’s Literary Journal,, Innisfree Poetry Journal, and the Birmingham Arts Journal.

Doraine and her husband Cliff live in Columbus, Georgia, in a little house with a creek in the back yard and lots of flowers.


Previously: Menu/Giveaway/Door PrizesApril Pulley SayreMary QuattlebaumHelen FrostLinda AshmanGail Gerwin, Martha Calderaro, Kathi Appelt, Robyn Hood Black, Charles Waters, Adele Kenny, Linda Baie, Lesa Medley, Leslie Muir, Margarita Engle, Sondra Gash.


Copyright © 2012 Jama Rattigan of Jama’s Alphabet Soup. All rights reserved.