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Poems by Francine Marie Tolf

Art by Gale Tolf


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Francine Marie Tolf began writing poems when she was 20—at first rhyming poems, fledgling sonnets and ballads, and later through several decades developed her craft in various forms without losing her love and gift for rhythm, sound, and music:

My golden hair is turning gray, / my sins are sinned, my wild oats flung. / Now’s the time to pen a book / of rhymes for children old and young.

The importance and appeal of nature, relationships, language, and the mysteries of our intricate connections with each other recur in these poems:

For now there’s neither eye nor voice nor sun / to question what you are, or feel, or see. / In kindness, I grant anonymity, / a gift no dawn can ever give. So come / and know some peace a while, be part of me.

These poems are comforting while mindful of the uncertainties that challenge our lives:

There is no one to cry my secret to. / A deaf wind whispers, Even if there were, / your lover could not share it if he knew. / He could not pierce the secret to its core / and share it with you even if he knew.

Francine’s late sister, Gale Tolf, created the beautiful black and white ink and watercolor drawings. Gale found inspiration in myth, legend, and fairytale, a perfect complement to these thoughtful, loving, and life-fulfilling poems.


Prodigal (2012)

Poems on Nature, Animals, Language, and Discoveries that occur when one of these intricate living strands intersects with another.

FRANCINE MARIE TOLF’s poems and essays have been published in Southern Humanities Review, Poetry East, Contrary Magazine, Rattle, and Water~Stone Review. She has received two Minnesota State Arts Board Grants and grants from the Elizabeth George and Barbara Deming Foundations. Francine lives and works in Minneapolis, where she loves taking long walks around the city’s beautiful lakes and the Mississippi River. She shares an apartment with her golden cat, Lilly.
GALE TOLF was an award winning artist, writer, and teacher with a Masters in Gifted Education.
Her solo art exhibits include Harlequinade, Mandala Gallery, Pacific Grove, CA; Women and Roses, Carl Cherry Foundation, Carmel, CA; Myths, Northeastern Illinois University; Day of the Dead, Café Express, Evanston, IL; and Midwest Mythology, Bicentennial Theater, Joliet, IL. Gale participated in group exhibits held in Chicago (School of the Art Institute, Swedish Art Museum in Chicago, Artemisia Gallery, NAME Gallery, and Objects Gallery) and the Monterey area (Pacific Grove Museum, Monterey Public Library, and Monterey Museum of Art). Gale’s illustrations have been published widely in literary journals.

December 27, 2017

A Word’s Worth Review:

“Readers will discover that many of the poems and drawings appeal to children, as well as adults and that they create the same kind of mystery indicative of the Grimm tales. ... Moonflowers, wild beasts, snakes with fangs extended, fairy queens, goblins — creatures from old mythologies and cultures rise from the unconscious of poet and artist in How Still the Riddle.Read the Review

Spill Some New Brightness

Spill Some New Brightness  (2022)

Poems with compassion for animals, strength from nature, and a community of gratitude to help heal and experience a whole life.