Writing a novel can take months, or even years. Creating poems lets me explore ideas in short form. The poems on this page have all been published, and are among my favorites.



Lost, 1867

The 19th-century immigrant experience often inspires my work. Here, I wanted to reflect how life has both changed and stayed the same. While the loss of a bonnet may feel irrelevant today, the loss of a child evokes timeless emotions. This poem was chosen for the 2013 MARK MY WORDS AGAIN exhibition at the Pump House Regional Arts Center in La Crosse, WI where it was paired with a photo by artist Jerry Weigel.

To read the poem, click HERE.
Photo of writer Kathleen Ernst at the 2013 Mark My Words Again exhibition..


In 2012, the Franciscan Spirituality Center in La Crosse, WI, sponsored a writing competition which focused on the healing power of the natural world and God's presence in all creation. Ascension was the Grand Prize winner. My talented friend Eileen Daily painted the Orca.

To read the poem, click HERE.


Since so many 19th-century women left no written records behind, I've long been fascinated by the remnants of their lives that do remain. After writing this poem I chose to create a video version; it can be viewed by clicking on the image to the right.

To read the poem, click HERE.

To watch a video of the poem, click on the Handwork photo.

Facing Forward

I was honored to have this poem chosen for the MARK MY WORDS exhibition at the Pump House Regional Arts Center in La Crosse, WI. Artist Monica Jagel responded by creating a gorgeous piece of art that continues the story told in my poem.

To read the poem, click HERE.
Kathleen Ernst at Mark My Words 2011 Poetry and Art Exhibition.

Inarticulate, 1908

This poem was inspired by a visit to Cumberland Gap National Park in Kentucky. It was originally published in the Fall 2006 issue of Appalachian Heritage.

To read the poem, click HERE.
Black and white photo of a cabin taken by author Kathleen Ernst.