How Real Is our Love (a modern sonnet)


“How Real Is our Love?”

A Modern Sonnet

By Lonna Lisa Williams

(for Jose)


How real is our love?  As real as bone and blood,

As if we cut our fingertips to share

the reddest cells as native brothers bled.

The way and place we met was not foreseen

Or planned or guessed or neatly narrated.

Yet all great lovers model and inspire the rhyme

We poets place in words and meter, made to sound

Like music shared at evening story time.

Our love is like the morning star which shines

Against the longest night and most-awaited dawn;

Like hope, like Jesus who surprised us all

With Resurrection Day despite the bitter gall

Of nails and vinegar and splintered wood

He bore for us, as death to life—and love—was understood.


The Volga River at Samara, Russia

If you like my poetry, please read my books.


“Ozy” Published my Love Story!


The cutting-edge international magazine “Ozy,” with offices in California and New York, has published my love story about how Jose and I met in the prison where I taught.  You can read it here.

See my 7 books on Amazon.

Thank you, Ozy!

Touch the Sky


“Touch the Sky”

By Lonna Lisa Williams

For my (almost) husband,

Jose Rogel Mendiola

August 3, 2019


How much do I love you?

I love you for all the ways

we can touch the sky:

in aircraft, balloons, and spaceships,

by telescopes

or our bare eye—

in dreams or poetry

or prayers we tell a child,

so he feels safe at night

and will not cry.

I love you with the love of Jesus

who will come down from heaven,

among the clouds, wispy or billowing,

riding a white horse with golden bridle

and angels sounding trumpets

to draw us neigh.

I love you with a love

that will never fail or die.

I place my love like a silver key

into your open hand,

and kiss your fingers gently,

a perfect promise,

a thread to wrap our hearts

together always—

the truth without a lie,

as full of possibility

as a newborn baby’s sigh.

I love you as you tether me

to you and to this planet

with kisses, embraces, caresses

that strengthen me—and you—

to reach forever upward

and touch that sky.

And someday we will both be free

of razor wire on prison walls,

and we will lift our wings together

like an eagle, born to fly.

If you like my poem, please buy my books.

Mountain Clouds


Crazy Prison Love


“You are crazy to do this for a prisoner!” my former best friend screamed at me as I was trying to return my U-Haul rental van on a hot June afternoon.  She and her 4 kids had helped me move from Victorville, California (in the High Desert) to Bakersfield, California (in the lush Central Valley)–to be close to my fiancé, Jose.    She was not happy with me for a long, hot weekend of packing and unpacking–with no restaurant treats, a too-small budget, and a cheap motel (at least they gave us a free Continental breakfast).

“You volunteered to come,” I reminded her.  “I can write my books anywhere, and most places need an English teacher.”

“Well, just stay away from me!” she yelled before getting out of my life.

Not everyone thinks I am crazy for loving Jose, a prisoner in a private prison that contracts with the State of California.  He was born in Mexico and lived most of his life in California, where he got involved in a gang and then was arrested, tried in court, and given a too-long sentence.  We met when I was teaching the GED course in an Adelanto prison.  He was my student, new to class, who gave me a Christmas card, a New Year’s card–and his whole sweet heart.  For weeks we secretly exchanged love letters and sometimes met alone in the classroom to talk after other students left.  I wrote him into my new Selah book.  I got caught with 2 of his letters, was fired on Valentine’s Day, and then was banned from visiting him.  For 4 months we did not see each other.  Faithfully, he sent me cards for Valentine’s, my birthday, Easter, Mother’s Day.  He drew them with his own hand, with bright pencils that brought the color back into my life.


He called me at 11:30 p.m., 6 weeks ago, excited to tell me about his transfer.  His voice was calm and strong, like baritone music.  I thought that, as long as he spoke to me, I could never be afraid or sad.  No longer would only write each other letters or talk on the “monitored and recorded” telephone!  We chatted excitedly, both nervous about having our first hug and kiss.  I could not imagine how it would be to walk, sit, and eat together for hours on Saturdays and Sundays, in the prison’s Visitation room and courtyard, but I felt elated as if in a lingering, long-awaited dream.


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What I Found in Prison: Love

Antalya Wedding

My favorite of my 7 books is the perfect little fantasy novel called “Selah of the Summit.”  I poured my own true life experiences into that book but made it look like fiction. A lot of the details were added fantasy elements from my imagination, but the basic tale was true.  Writing fiction is much easier than writing a nonfiction, reveal-all book with my name as the main character and the awful viewpoint “I.”  Victims of abuse often find it easier to distance themselves from the abused person they are by creating another persona and objectively telling their story (like a drama or puppet show they can control) as if it happened to someone else.  So “Selah” tells my story of being an abused wife and survivor of other traumas, set into the deliverance tale of a desert slave girl who is freed from her castle-like prison and led to the mountains.  I even made the San Bernardino Mountains (where I lived for years) the setting for that journey.

Now I’m writing “Selah 2.”  I call it “Selah of the Desert.”  It shows my more recent history and adventures.  For over 9 months I taught full-time inside a California High Desert prison for male felons.  The hours were long and difficult, security was crucial, and I (as well as prisoners) was always closely watched.  I never expected to find something valuable there (or, more precisely, someone)—until love slipped between the prison bars.

I was miserable, sad, and lonely after the break-up of my marriage to a Turk.  I was stranded in the desert, not adventuring overseas, and very few family or friends knew that I existed (except thousands of people on social media—but they were not exactly real).  Christmas approached.  I wasn’t invited anywhere except to the Geo Company Christmas party (one night) and church (where I was new and not a member of a special group).  I kept catching viruses from the inmates and struggled through long days inside the prison sneezing and blowing my nose, always holding a tissue in one hand.  I had one friend to meet at Starbucks, but later that fell through.  I gave everyone who worked at the prison hand-signed Christmas cards, fancy ones I bought at Costco.  The last thing I expected was a sweet Christmas card from one of my inmate students.


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“Selah, the Prisoner, and Apocalypse” Chapter 1 (A Prison in the Desert)

Lonna Apocalypse Desert

I hope you are enjoying my new Selah book.  I’ve decided to make it easier to read by placing the new version of Chapter 1 here.


A Prison in the Desert

             Selah was walking in the desert late at night.  Clouds must have hidden stars and moon, for very little light shone around her.  Her eyes got used to the dimness, and she carefully stepped over rocks and avoided tall, sharp cactus plants.  In the distance she could see the mountains that surrounded the desert on 3 sides. The 4thside, westward, opened toward the Golden City and the Sea.

Selah looked at her glowing, hand-held Tech. It showed the time at 3:33.  She held her breath.  Nothing moved:  no wind, no living creature, no distant wave of sound.  Even Selah’s thoughts silenced.  Then, in the next second and the next breath, the westward sky exploded in a brilliant light.

It seemed beautiful at first:  a roundish ball of glistening white became a mushroom, reaching high and low.  In moments it leaped upward and out toward Selah and the distant desert, edged by shooting flames of red and blue, consuming everything in its path.  Later the sound followed, a shock millions of times louder than the close-up shooting of a metal gun.  It would destroy any ear that might hear it, but since it was slower, the light would already have erased everything in a cataclysmic firestorm, until even the molecules—once dazzling in the air—burned to nothing.

“Maker, are you here?” Selah asked, speaking in the total dark.  How could she still be alive to think or talk?  How could the darkness feel both cold and peaceful?

The scene changed to a simple bedroom.  Late-night blackness poured through closed, barred windows as a little light appeared inside, illuminating color.  Selah parted crimson drapes.  Pale yellow stars swirled into the darkness like a firefly dance. Selah reached out to catch one in her hand.  It glowed between her fingers.  She took a step, wishing for a tree.  A hemlock fir appeared, draping its branches around her shoulders like green, antique lace. It was the perfect place to hide. She opened her fist and placed the firefly star upon the closest branch.

“Oh, cover me,” she cried to the arcing branches.  “Keep me from the empty dark and memories.  Hide me from Apocalypse.”

She ached with desolation, pain from head to toe.

The distant sound of bells broke through the shifting images of dreams.  Selah reached out to her bedside table, pressed a button, and silenced the Tech device that woke her.

The sun was not up yet.  Faint wisps of pink and orange clouds like feathers drifted above the east.  Selah looked up at them between the open wooden window blinds.

“It was just a dream, again,” she whispered to console herself.

Her mobile Tech device blinked red, drawing her eyes to it.  She sat up and reached for it, staring at its luminescent screen that glowed with particles of blue light.  Red light pulsed through it, telling her that it would not stop until she checked the message that waited for her.

Lonna Lisa Williams 2018

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Love Is Not from a Distance

tree in sunset

Love is not from a distance;

up close and personal, it comes close enough

to pierce us

like an arrow through the heart, a spear.

Can we get the hook out?

Love is the unexpected baby on its way to a stone-cold world.

How did you get in there, so soon?

I will try to love you, and I will often fail.

I feel you hiding in my secret place, moving

like a white swan’s feathers (or maybe black)

brushing up against me, about to take flight

over waters of a vast lake, splashes of yellow against blue,

ripples in growing circles toward the rising sun

too bright to look at directly, creating, consuming . . .

You are not really mine; I borrow you for a time (too short).

I will hold your small hand tightly, sad to think that

maybe after yours grows big enough to break away

–you will forget me– Continue reading

Spring at West Lake, Hangzhou, China


Children and adults play in a park by West Lake

I went to West Lake in Hangzhou, China in May and saw so many colorful flowers and people.  Walk with me by the lake, on paths across stone bridges, through parks, temples, pavilions, and historic buildings with statues.  West Lake is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province.  For 2000 years it has been the source of inspiration for poets, artists, photographers, and even filmmakers.  My students told me the romantic story of the immortal White Snake who became a woman and fell in love with a mortal man.  The turtle god of the lake was jealous, so he imprisoned her under a pagoda.  However, the man still loved the White Snake Woman, and they were eventually reunited and had a son.  This story has been made into television series and films.  Emperors from many Chinese Dynasties visited West Lake and inscribed its famous “Ten Scenes” with poetic names like “Two Peaks Piercing the Clouds,” “Three Ponds Mirroring the Moon, and “Orioles Singing in the Willows.”  As far back as the 14th Century, Europeans visited West Lake, including Italian explorer Marco Polo, who wrote that Hangzhou “is the most splendid heavenly city in the world.”  Spring and romance are here in China!


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China’s Treasures


The Empress’ throne room inside Beijing’s Summer Palace

I went to Beijing and saw some of China’s greatest treasures, royal rooms where Emperors and Empresses sat on gold and silver thrones that were surrounded by statues of cranes, lions, dragons, and the elusive phoenix.  After touring the Forbidden City and the Summer Palace, we went to a fancy Chinese restaurant that recreated the Emperor’s throne room.  Here I am, sitting among China’s treasures and realizing that the greatest treasure is love, the human heart, and God sending His only Son down from Heaven’s throne for us.


China’s Valentine’s Day


This year, Valentine’s Day in China was on the same day as the Lantern Festival which marks the last day of Lunar New Year’s celebrations, so everywhere there were fireworks, red lanterns, and big bouquets of flowers.  Read more about how the Chinese celebrated on Digital Journal.  I hope you had a wonderful Valentine’s Day.  Even if there was no romance in your life, perhaps you experienced true love!  See how I did in my newest book, Fire and Ice.