May 15 13 by Published in: Featured Poets 1 comment

Chris Longenecker, Lancaster County Poet Laureate 2012-2014, began memorizing and performing poetry in high school. Raised as the daughter of Mennonite pastors, she lived in many states (Virginia, Oregon, Washington, DC and Pennsylvania) before moving to Lancaster in 1986. From 1988 until 2005, she worked as a legal counselor for refugees and immigrants in Lancaster, Harrisburg and Mechanicsburg. Her interests include poetry (especially traditional forms of poetry), theater, plants (especially trees), walking, biking and much more. Married to Rick Shoup, another thespian, in 2000, she now works at the YWCA. Since 2009, she and Rick have been performing Robert Frost poetry in a variety of venues. Her book of poetry, How Trees Must Feel, was published in 2011, and is available at DogStar Books on Lemon Street. Chris believes that poetry is meant to be learned by heart, spoken by the mouth and appreciated by the ear. She seeks ways to promote poetry as performance. 


Enough’s Enough

For ages men have pondered sacred questions
Like how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.
My own preoccupations have been less lofty
But no less concerned with the situation we’re in.

When I was a little girl, I used to wonder
If I were standing naked at the North Pole,
Or only in my panties, how many blankets
Would it take to keep me warm and comfortable?

When I suggested five-hundred to Mommy,
She said, “That should be plenty,” and so I slept.
Had the men with the angel question come to Mother
And had she applied her that-should-be-plenty precept,

I wonder if the sages would have rested,
Like me tucked in clear up to their bearded chins,
And in the morning barely remembered the question
Except that it had something to do with pins.

I wish all five-year-olds and theologians
And all who find themselves susceptible
To endless questions that become obsessions
Such as how many casualties are acceptable

Would bring their strange conjectures to my mother,
And all their careful estimates and stuff;
For my mom will tolerate a lot of nonsense,
But she’s better yet at when enough’s enough!
By Chris Longenecker, excerpted from How Trees Must Feel, published by DreamSeeker Books, an imprint of Cascadia Publishing House, Telford, PA. Copyright 2011.


Honorable Mention

I found a tree-flung seed one autumn day,

Hard as a bone, black as a gleaming eye.

I tucked it in a crevice of my clothes

And “we shall see” I prob’ly thought or said.

How many semi-promises we make

And mean to keep; and this was one of those.

I had no more commitment to this seed, though,

Than to a thousand found on other trails

I’d meant to bury like a little kid

With promises to water every day.

If pockets had a tongue, they’d testify

How much I meant to do but never did.

So the tree that’s growing now in my backyard

Is no more mine because of a seed I threw

Into an old clay pot and then forgot

Than you are mine because of a glance I threw

Across a room eleven years ago.

If only it were that simple, but it’s not.

A promise isn’t over once it’s made

Anymore than seeds are trees just ‘cause they’ve sprouted.

To bring a tender sapling to fruition

Takes something even Saint Paul failed to mention.

For after all abideth now four things

It takes faith, hope and love… and repetition.

Water and soil and sun – faith hope and love –

Water and soil and sun through many a season.

The first three may get most of the attention,

But in the end it’s mainly repetition

That grants us trees… and anniversaries.

And that’s at least worth honorable mention.

Excerpted by permission of Chris Longenecker, author, from How Trees Must Feel, 2011 from DreamSeeker Books, an imprint of Cascadia Publishing House, Telford, PA.  Used by Permission.


  1. Linda Berger
    Sun 24th Apr 2011 at 12:24 pm

    More beautiful words from a beautiful woman. I can’t wait to get my hands on How Trees Must Feel to drink in more of her beautiful poetry.


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