the sum of small things — book release

It’s finally here and I couldn’t be more pleased!

the sum of small things

The booklet featuring photography and poetry on a wide variety of topics: creative, challenging, introspective, uplifting–much like you’ve read on my feed for some time! Order yours today for $US 19.95 + s/h e-mail me at for information on how to receive your copy!


Photo credit (background to book): Olesya Grichina via


the muse

mystical weaver of wisdom, worlds
caught in her cadence–
defying cursory commentary–
she’s neither devious nor divine,
not gregarious or gloomy,
far from frivolous, yet infusing
laughter into menacing storm.

with syllables soulfully sewn together,
she’s able to plumb
the depths, then soar to
precipitous heights, hovering
perilously above rapids,
she can dance atop
white water‘s snarl

and tread treacherous tightrope
with blisters on her feet and
suns in her eyes, watching
dreams die, freedoms flee,
compassion become a quaint
artifact, all while defying
taunting, confining cell.

she breathes both horror and hope
in single sigh, mourning
burnt flesh and punctured body,
still envisioning a world of fresh,
clear skies with expanding galaxies,
calling each traveler upward
toward untamed pinnacles.


This is a tribute to all poets who inspire–past and present. Without your voice, our world would be colorless, lifeless, visionless.

follow me on Instagram: @julia_penner_zook

© Julia Penner-Zook, 2018
Photo Credit: Tejas Prajapati via

In the coming days I will release a pre-publication booklet featuring photography and excerpts of longer poems – similar to this post. A more complete release is coming at a later date. Check back for details.


The Reservoir

ahh azure veneer, tranquil and
alluring, capturing the attention of
countless passersby,
yet even panoramic view
surreptitiously belies the
endless reservoir concealed

in pristine purity you sleep in
volcanic belly, silent testimony
to volatile birth, now
shimmering crystal clear,
cold and refreshing,
calm and rich with invisible

those who’ve sought
to discover your cavernous
depths obscured from
fleeting glances, value your
submerged treasure, tucked away
in the storehouse beneath that
captivating, dancing sheen,

teeming with energy, harboring
endless possibility,
stunning beauty,
life-giving vibrancy.
unmoved by temporal
currents and movements, and
external maelstroms



The way many people visit natural wonders such Crater Lake in Oregon has become the way we view one another. We take one glance, stand in wonder for a moment, and assume we have experienced it all. This lake is the deepest body of water in the United States.

Have you ever felt like Crater Lake? People take superficial note, possibly pay you a quick compliment, then assume they know you? This poem is for you! There is a depth about you that is truly breathtaking. So, get to know your worth; dive deeply into the untapped resources of your own reservoir; and seek out those who will honor your possibilities and help you explore your untapped treasure.

follow me on Instagram: @julia_penner_zook
© Julia Penner-Zook, 2018
Photo Credit: Stacey L. Rhoades

In a short time I will release a pre-publication booklet featuring photography and excerpts of longer poems – similar to this post. A more complete release is coming at a later date. Stay tuned for more details.


fearing no-one nor
angling for superior position
unassuming and radiant,
soaking up late-afternoon sunlight,
existing in utter contentment–
each glowing face equal in beauty,
smiling, nodding with grace
to those next to them,
bringing delight to each adoring

in desperate terror, scrambling
for protection, unutterable fear
choking breath from lungs,
which should be inhaling
spring morning air, but
which cannot be guaranteed
as lead shreds limbs, torsos,
hearts, leaving hopeful young
faces with incalculable
loss–or dead.

behind barricading fences
of steel, ideology, or creed, confining
ourselves to self-imposed ghettos,
threatening our very existence, yet
unwavering in our fervor to
hurl insults upon fellow traveler, never
pausing to ponder its consequence,
taunting those who are unlike
us, and whom we, then, choose to
alienate and “other.”

could we not learn to embrace, to
coexist as blossom and bee, nature and
hiker, sky and land, seeking to
convert or chastise no one, finding the
strength to reign in our own hearts
so we can hear one another,
love rather than judge,
for the sake of humanity–
for the sake of the children?


In the United States, this week was one similar to many others: beauty flanked by terror. Fourteen children, along with three adults were gunned down as they clung to one another in anguish. Hours later, I hiked along a springtime wonderland of blossoms and fragrance. The stark contrast birthed these words, pleaded with us all to come together, listen to one another, regardless of what effort it takes.

follow me on Instagram: @julia_penner_zook
© Julia Penner-Zook, 2018
Photo Credit: Julia Penner-Zook

Lament of 733 L St.

i confess to seeing things most
encounter only in nightmares,
or read about in reports from
another corner of the globe.

where once i felt breathless,
watching the proud and lowly chase
financial transactions, inquiring as
to their holdings,

i am now witness to transactions of another sort.

how did my belly come to
house this sinister debacle,
dehumanization–detention without
warning; removal without due process?

secrecy shrouds these human
holdings, the lack of transparency
affords no legal counsel, only
intimidation preying on those

whose eyes scream with terror, backs
bent from years of work which
those who seal their fate
have long refused to do.

i cannot bear it; i was not built for this.
is this not one human life after another
herded without recourse? is not one life–
regardless of origin, belief, status–

worth more than all else in our world?
i do not understand the human race
which turns on its very own and
hurls them to destruction.


Earlier this week Valley Public Radio (NPR) released a report on an under-the-radar ICE “holding room” located, innocuously, in the heart of downtown, mere blocks from where I call home; next to a burgeoning entrepreneurial complex; across the street from an upscale hotel. This report shook me to the core. While not in the least surprising, given the dark cultural climate, its silent proximity to all that has become familiar over the past year, bears witness to the pervasiveness of injustice and inhumanity. I must write!

follow me on Instagram: @julia_penner_zook
© Julia Penner-Zook, 2018

❤ Happy Valentine’s Day ❤

Hello, friends!

I’m taking a break from my usual posts to let you know that it won’t be long until my pre-publication photography and poetry booklet will be ready for you. I’m so excited to share it! ✍🏼📚

In the meantime, I’m giving you a Valentine’s Day offer you can’t resist!

My book, “Behind Each Face”–twenty-five Flash Fiction stories honoring women’s and girls’ lives–is available NOW at deeply discounted prices. But only between now and Friday, February 16th.

  • $0.99 (USD) for your Kindle copy here:
  • Or half-price–$7.50 (USD)–for your Audiobook here:
  • Or give your partner/spouse, mom, daughter, grandma, or friend a paperback copy for Valentine’s Day here. Or simply treat yourself! 😊

I’m even more committed to these stories now than when this book was first published. Why? Because we are hearing more and more women, girls, and vulnerable populations speaking their truth–very much like those told in these short stories! Don’t miss this opportunity! 

follow me on Instagram: @julia_penner_zook
© Julia Penner-Zook, 2015 publication release.


she’s cold, huddled in a doorway,
furtive glances revealing her fear
of forcible removal from
this space, which is not her home
but all she has, before
even this is denied.

she wakes before dawn, sullenly pulls on
jeans and a t-shirt, waiting for the woman
who is her only source of hope. in her presence
she recovers–even if for a moment–
absorbing light, healing from brokenness,
restoring family, shelter, worth.

her stomach churns as vile words are
hurled vindictively at her unprovoked–
emboldened by hostile public rhetoric.
she’s in line to pay for a few items
at the checkout. she deserves peace,
equal respect, dignity–just like me.

she clutches her throat as she sends
him out into the night. he has a job to do,
and as taillights disappear, she knows that,
without warning, he may be deemed a threat,
skin too dark, wrenching from him the
right to turn that key ever again.

she writhes in cold sweat, reliving each
forceful submission to power, secrecy,
violation which she’s been sworn to seal
tightly to her breast, never revealing
his flagrant demands to take what
is not his, and now no longer hers.

i could look away, coddled in endless
layers of privilege: “it requires too much,
holds no promise for me,” but in so doing
close my heart, sell my soul, dull my spirit.
i would miss these pillars of strength among us,
the least of these, who are rising and are
the ones who will keep this house together.


follow me on Instagram: @julia_penner_zook
© Julia Penner-Zook, 2018
Photo Credit: Joel Filipe / @joelfilip via

In the coming weeks I will release a pre-publication booklet featuring photography and excerpts of longer poems – similar to this post. A more complete release is coming at a later date. Stay tuned for more details.