There’s a line in Patricia MacLachlan’s wonderful children’s book, What You Know Firstthat spoke to me as I compiled this chapbook of poems I’ve written about my birthplace, my family, and my childhood:

“What you know first stays with you.” 

Although I’ve lived in California for most of my life, that place, those people, and those early years are with me and have no doubt done much to make me who I am. I’ve been asked about the “facts” in the poems and can say only that I believe the poems are true, as true as the stories I’ve been told, the memories I have, the way things were…or might have been. Given the imperfections of memory and the need to fill in the blanks, as well as the creative impulse to give coherence and shape to a family story, a fuzzily remembered scene or place or person, and with poetic license in hand, I hope I’ve done justice to the place, to the people, and to those times. -JBC




from Finishing Line Press

Flat Water Nebraska Poem  s, Judy Brackett Crowe  2019, Finishing Line Press ISBN 978-1-63534-850-7

Flat Water Nebraska Poems, Judy Brackett Crowe

2019, Finishing Line Press ISBN 978-1-63534-850-7



“Judy Crowe’s gorgeous poems detailing her Nebraska childhood, transport the reader to a simpler time when a little girl’s happiness is an evening on the porch swing with her grandmother, “….snapping peas, eating a few, humming along with the peas pinging in the blue speckled tin bowl…”

This collection of poems is a delight for the senses; each luscious image honors her Nebraska home. Evocative, heartfelt, and deeply moving, Judy Crowe’s work invites us in. “Welcome,” it says. “Sit down and stay awhile.” This collection not only reveals but revels in a way of life now sadly gone. —Judie Rae, poet—The Weight of Roses



“Judy Crowe has captured in this volume a full and detailed vision of her Nebraska childhood—the one-room schoolhouse where teacher and children told stories, played games, and finally slept in piles of blankets and coats, waiting for the men to come through the snow and save them; where a little girl rode out in the mornings in the sidecar of her young uncle’s silver Indian motorcycle to keep him company on his paper route; where the cousins jumped from the barn roof into the house-high hay to see if they could fly. It’s a world long gone and never to return, and we can be grateful that on these enchanted pages, it’s been so beautifully preserved.” Gail Rudd Entrekin, poet—Rearrangement of the Invisible

In Flat Water, Judy Crowe gives us back the memories of a midwestern childhood that many know only from fiction and dreams: homely delight, black-and-white mornings, fireflies, hollyhocks, corn stubble, silence.

—Molly Fisk, poet—The More Difficult Beauty


May I borrow a springtime prairie sky
stretching from here to everywhere
with colors of birdsong
with wind and traveling clouds
with Sandhill Cranes by the thousands
flying in
feeding in the winter fields
sleeping in the shallow Platte
pausing on their long journey to ice.
One sleet-falling December dawn
I’ll toss that wide sky above
the Ponderosa arrow tips
and let it warm
this winter place
will give it back in a day or two
need it only now and then
to remember where I started
where I sometimes want to be
for a little while.
And later when I’m far from home
beneath the same but always different
prairie sky the horizon impossibly far away
I’ll ask to borrow my own
Sierra blue hemmed in
by those pines those mountaintops
a smaller stretch of blue
to remind me of my borders
of my own safe nest
in this world.


[published in Your Daily Poem]