Otherwise, we are safe by Olivia Stiffler


“Olivia Stiffler’s carefully wrought poems deliver the ping of truth, just oblique enough, but never obscure, and without a smidgen of sentimentality.” —Rosemary Daniell


  • Kind: Perfectbound
  • Pages: 84
  • Language: English
  • Published: July, 2013
  • ISBN:  978-1-939929-00-6


“These poems chronicle a woman’s life from childhood forward with honesty and precision.  They draw in the reader with poignant images, as when she speaks of her mother’s dying, ”. . . She is an untied balloon lifting out of reach . . . ,” or her own aging, “. . . Some days I can barely walk the distance/between my memories and my dreams/even in these sensible shoes.”  In sharing her experiences so eloquently, Stiffler helps us all relate to our journeys.”  —Anne Webster

“Olivia Stiffler’s carefully wrought poems deliver the ping of truth, just oblique enough, but never obscure, and without a smidgen of sentimentality.  They describe her life in a way that grabs us with its universality.  Stiffler’s is a unique voice, and I’m sure that her readers will be as eager as I am to read more.”   —Rosemary Daniell



What if you lived in your own little house
near to mine across the bridge? I could
walk there in winter. We could sip hot
chocolate or tea and wrap ourselves in the
spongy fleece comforters my sisters bought
you for Christmas. In spring you’d name
your garden flowers and tell me how to care
for them, firm in your belief I need to know
though I have seldom taken spade to earth.
Just as I did long ago, I would lay my problems
out. They are few now, and not pressing, but
I would reveal them the way a child shows its
bruises, so you would see I still have hurts
for you to bandage. But I am only weaving a
shroud of hopeless dreams. There will be no
Lazarus-like miracles for us, not today, not ever.


Olivia StifflerOlivia was born in Kalispell, Montana, but cradled in the Midwest by a 20-year-old mother, one of 14 children, and a father raw from both the harsh life of a Missouri dirt farm and his stint in the infantry during World War II.  She discovered writing in third grade at St. Ambrose Elementary School when her teacher, Sr. Mary Eustace, direct from Ireland, rewrote the paragraph she was assigned with such flare that Olivia tried ever after to emulate her.  Her urge to write was cemented when, as a high school senior, she wrote a “fairytale” that sparked so much controversy she was threatened with expulsion.

At 19 she married; at 20, became a mother.  A favorite professor hooked her on poetry, but she gave up college to help support her family, and the urge to write went underground.  For the next 14 years she worked as a secretary, then as a stenotype reporter–capturing other people’s words–for 26 more.  At age 52 she divorced her old life, her first husband, longstanding career, and hometown.  Olivia remarried and relocated with her current husband, a retired FBI agent, to Bluffton, South Carolina, where they watch birds and alligators and dance the Carolina Shag like nobody’s watching.  She writes what she likes in her own words.

Additional information

Weight 7 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .25 in