Storytelling and Poetry

Did you know that Cathy is an award winning poet?…



Just won a GRAND PRIZE for Dancing Poetry Contest, 2014.  Artists Embassy International will choreograph a piece that will be danced at the 2014 Dancing Poetry Festival, Sept. 20, noon – 4 pm, Palace of the Legion of Honor, S.F.

Also won a 2nd prize for the contest.

California Federation of Chaparral Poets:

1st Prize, Lois Jeannette Dalton Memorial Award, 2014

Two Honorable Mentions, 2014

2nd Prize, Lois Jeannette Dalton Memorial Award, 2010


Benicia Love Poetry Contest, 1st Prize, 2013


Dancing Poetry Festival:

2nd prize, 2012

3rd prize, 2011

Cathy at Rythmix Cultural Center, 12/09

Paint Your Life

Sensations are the pallet of colors of your body.

Emotions are the pallet of colors of your heart.

Thoughts are the pallet of colors of your mind.

Use the artist’s brush

To paint the colors of your life

With verve, with vigor, with vibrance, with vitality.

Paint with the shades of keen observation

And finely-tinted discernment

Paint with the brush-stroke wisdom of the witness

And hues of playfulness of the full participant.

Let your artist’s eye explore shadows and light and space

And the perspective of multiple points of view.

Stroke bold. Stroke delicate.

Paint with wild abandon, sensorial whimsy, finest precision.

Paint from inside your own skin.

Paint from an open heart, an open mind.

Paint like your life depends on it.

By Cathy Dana



My Dad Believed in Love

On Father’s Day today

I found the perfect card for him,

though he’s been gone four years now.

When Jim and I got married

twenty-three years ago, my dad approved.

He believed in our love.

At our wedding in the redwoods

we asked each guest–only closest friends and family–

to bring a symbolic item

to create a Sacred Wedding Necklace:

a circle of love to remind us

that our love is enfolded by their love.

To this day, the necklace adorns our bedroom wall.

Each of twenty guests was to share

the significance of the item they presented.

Only my dad was stymied by our request.

“I don’t know what to bring,”

he whined more than once.

But in the end he figured it out:

a tiny charm of two giraffes, necks entwined.

“A visual pun,” he told us, because, obviously,

these two giraffes were necking.

My dad believed in love.

When Jim and I sat with my dad

as he eased from this world

into whatever comes next,

we held his hand,

put our hands on his heart,

told him we loved him,

told him he could go when he was ready.

Today, Father’s Day, on the carved wooden box

holding my dad’s ashes, I placed my perfect card:

a photo of a baby giraffe,

eyes soft and half-closed,

leaning her small neck

into the big, strong neck

of her daddy giraffe.

My dad believed in love.

I do, too.


The Secret of Life

dedicated to poet Denise Levertov

by Cathy Dana

It was obvious she knew the secret of life.

You could tell by the rosy sweep of her cheek

the shine in her soft brown eyes

the way she didn’t so much walk as prance about the porch,

little sister disappearing and reappearing.

We chanced upon her on a neighborhood walk

and guessed her to be about five.

She held up a hand-drawn sign:

Songs for Free,” we read,

falling in love with her on the spot.

What’s your name?” asked my husband Jim.


How old are you?”

Five and a half.”

Are you in first grade?”

No.” Shy smile.

Second grade?”

No.” Giggles.

College?” I asked.

No.” Burst of giggles.

Will you sing us a song for free?”

She nodded, paused, retreated into the house

returning with her smiling mom.

We’ll sing together,” said her mom

just as Amelia darted behind her, peeking out.

Maybe you could come back later,” said her mom.

All right,” said Jim, winking. “We’ll be back later.”

Visible, invisible. Appearing, disappearing. There, not there.

It was obvious she knew the secret of life:

She was offering songs for free.

When My Soul Begins to Sing…

I will embrace my dark side

Look directly into its eyes

Inhale its earthy fragrance

Flare my nostrils wide with fire

And dance on rooftops

Singing out my anger and sorrow

Into strong winds and soft breezes

Watch as my tears pour out to

Become healing rains

Gather my fears into a circle

And all hold hands

And breathe together in a rhythmic way

Until some grow roots and leaves and flowers

Some compost into eager soil

Some take wing and splash the sky

With a spirited grace that looks down

From above and nods, just nods,

And breathes, and the breath

Goes everywhere

And is invisible,

And is indistinguishable

From God, and

From the song of my soul.

©Cathy Dana  4/26/07

For more of my poetry visit:  Damn Good Writers

I am Host Storyteller at the Frank Bette Center For The Arts

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