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Heather Sullivan

Heather Sullivan is an active member of Ocean State Poets, a group whose mission is to give voice to Rhode Islanders by conducting workshops in prisons, nursing and group homes, addiction recovery centers and alternative learning environments. Sullivan is the editor of two poetry chapbooks, Butterfly Wings and Poems on Branches, published by Salve Regina University, featuring the works of 75 individuals.

In 2007, Heather was appointed Assistant Creative Director of the Rhode Island Writers’ Circle, where she volunteered until 2010. In 2007, Sullivan served as a panel judge for Barnes and Noble’s State-wide Maya Angelou High School Poetry Contest.

Heather holds an M.A. in English and won First Place in Writers’ Digest’s 1999 Competition in memoir / personal essay category. Sullivan’s work has appeared in Tiferet: A Journal of Spiritual Literature; Balancing the Tides: A Newport Journal; The Writers’ Circle’s 2008 & 2010 Anthologies; Newport Round Table’s Walls and Bridges Anthology; The Providence Journal; Newport Life Magazine; The Newport Daily News and She Shines Magazine. Her essay Compassion aired on Rhode Island’s National Public Radio’s This I Believe series, and she has recorded her poetry for Insight Radio for the visually impaired.

2014 Update:  Heather's first chapbook, These Onyx Hours, is published by Finishing Line Press.

Heather's Origami micro-chapbooks & select audio* & viewable poems are available below.


Origami Micro-Chapbook

Selected Poem(s)



 Dear Girl *

Read by Heather Sullivan

{mooblock=Dear Girl}

I watch you trying to resurrect
my African violet,
as if you can hold on to me
by watering those dead leaves.
Dear girl, listen
to your Grandma: my spirit
is no more in that plant
than it is in the ground!
I’m like the hummingbird now—
not the replica etched on my headstone
or the figurine on your bookshelf,
but the live gal with jade wings flecked black
that hovered eye-level where you sat
that morning
on a step, mourning
my death and the death
of your marriage.
Perfect timing, considering,
a wise soul told you.
Perfect timing indeed:
See? You have my stuff
to fill your place.
Just keep it simple.
The last thing I baked
on the cookie sheet: cookies.
The last thing I made
in the bread pan: bread.
So, when your mind spins
backward, flit and sip
nectar from bloom to bloom.
Let go, dear girl. Let go
and grow
something new.
Heather Sullivan © 2011


Leaves Fall



Landing *

Read by Heather Sullivan


Today, the wind blows leaves
from just one tree:
the yellow one
in your backyard
that is on fire
with sunlight.

You watch the leaves
cascade in streams—
Rapunzel’s spun-gold tresses
spilling from her tower—
until one leaf
stops mid-fall,
as if gravity ceases to exist
in the tiny space that leaf occupies.

You are mesmerized
as it twirls eye-level
like an amber-winged fairy
suspended by invisible thread.

You know there is a scientific explanation
for the leaf’s hesitation—
it has been caught up in
a cross-current—
but this, rather, is a crossroads, a
you are on the brink of something,
altering the place
you would have settled,

because this leaf
reminds you
of what eye contact feels like—
the real kind:
when your surroundings disappear
and those eyes you’re peering into
become new worlds.
All at once,
the wind changes direction;
it simply shifts,
releasing its captive.
You watch as the leaf makes
its graceful descent
before landing on the terrain
of a new season,
and you know, just as the leaf does,
that this time
the answer
is in the letting go.
Heather Sullivan © 2009


These Onyx Hours


Daylight Saving *

Read by Heather Sullivan 

{mooblock=Daylight Savings}

      It is He who reveals the profound and hidden things. 
     He knows what is in the darkness, and the
     light dwells with Him.  ~ Daniel 2:22

My father shoots his photos in the dark.
The moon, his flashbulb, tacked
to a backdrop of sky.  His camera lens:
a telescope to penetrate these onyx hours.

Later, Dad brings his findings home;
like a poet, he exposes the ink sea.
Slowly, he lifts layers of darkness
from the snapshot’s surface.

until the shadows emerge in color,
until he discovers a purple blur
beneath all that night:
a lone iris lost in the reeds.

Near dawn, my father pulls this flower
from the shadows and names it Fragile Beauty.
And I think that about sums it up—
this once-hidden bloom, now here
in sharp focus—one bright yellow tongue,
one violet throat translating hope.

I ponder my father’s process—
how it would be easier to capture
images by day, but there is something
to his deliberate unveiling, his patient
(with eyes drenched in wonder)
that reveals his real nature.

My father, ever the teacher, unfolds
each of his children this way:
through such gentle illumination,
such quiet searching.  It is a good thing
Dad’s pupils are coal-black, his irises, sepia:

to filter the light
of his blinding kindness.
Heather Sullivan © 2009


 * Recorded at Symposium Books, East Greenwich 11/17/2012