Music & Art

TORI COUVILLION – a young, budding poet

by Robert “Bob” Bussey

I first met Tori at a poetry reading at Tamp & Grind. The ease of her presentation, and the number of metaphors that she placed in her poetry caught my attention. I also could not help but notice that she was obviously one of the younger people in the room. It takes a certain kind of person with some good self-assurance to get up in front of a crowd and let them hear what you have written from your heart. I then was able to interview Tori about some of her poems and her ideas and feelings about poetry in general.

Tori feels that poetry is a way to set into words ideas and emotions that one normally cannot express in everyday speech. Poetry gives us an outlet to express the things that we have all found to be wonderful about our world, our personal lives. (Or perhaps, the opposite of wonderful.) Tori has been writing for a number of years and in fact has several fantasy novels in the works, but it has just been recently that she branched off into poetry. She has a place that she likes to go  whenever she can to write: The Butterfly Garden in Pollack, Louisiana. It’s close to the Kisatchie National Forest and is a place of quiet and solitude. But she mostly writes at home, like so many of us, due to her full-time job constraints. (Another poet who must earn an income doing something other than poetry.)

Tori feels that our educational systems have drifted away from teaching subjects in the field of art, of which poetry is one. People just don’t understand poetry very well anymore, since they have not even the smallest amount of training in it. Most people think of art as a beautiful picture, not as how words are set down on paper.

Each of the poems set out below, are from the book of poems that she hopes to soon publish called the “Five Stages of Grief.” At least that is the working title.

Tori is a Psychology major, so analyzing and writing about grief almost seems natural.

The first poem we discussed was written in January of 2024. It stems from a real-life event. It is about the “Anger” stage of grief. There is a general acceptance that there are 5 stages for Grief as follows: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and ultimately, acceptance. While reading, you might be able to feel the anger coming through.

The poem started out in pure free form, but she tried to place some repeating structures in it. Note the repetition of “I was foolish” to drive home a point of view, an emotion. The poem progresses through a relationship. (To me you were everything – the healing to my past). That phrase brings into the poem her whole past. She is healed by this person, or this person at least provides the stimulus to find a way to heal. The person has helped her heal from a toxic past family life. But as the other person soon advised her, it was a temporary relationship. She did not want to admit that the relationship was temporary but, eventually, had to admit to that fact.

She hates (is angry) but still is enamored by this person. This is not a screaming type of anger. It is more of an internal anger.
Each time the poem says “I was foolish” the anger is building. She finally sets out that this person is a “noncaring person” (except for himself), and she wishes that she could in some respects be that same way, but she just is not able to.


To me, you were everything- the healing to my past, the support for my present, the hope for my future

To you, I was temporary- to ease your loneliness, to warm your bed, to give in to the false pretenses

I was foolish

You whispered beautiful lies and treated me better than any prince treated his prize

And for the first time, I had a taste of what it was like to actually be loved, I was reminded of what it was like to be hugged

You told me that we couldn’t make it in the long-run. Despite everything, I was never going to be the one

That’s ridiculous, but I accepted it. Your happiness first, I thought. Because living without you isn’t something I can be taught

I was foolish

To me, you were a new beginning – a chance to prove that I’m worthy of love, a way to convince myself that I deserve to be cared for

To you, I was a place holder – a warm up to other possibilities, a practice run for the next girl to come

I was foolish

It was like you had breathed life into me while killing my soul simultaneously. And still I yearned for you

Unlike ever before, I could close my eyes and see a picture-perfect little family with a little white fence and grass so green. But you wouldn’t want that with me

You said you can’t see forever, but never asked me what I could see. Never stopped to consider that I could be what made you happy, never stopped to consider me

And I hate you, I do, but I love you, I love you through and through and I wish I could not care, and take that one lesson from you

I can’t take that page from your book, because you have me a wreck with just one look, and you’ll never understand just how easily my heart was took

Because I am foolish

The next poem is about the “Bargaining phase” that often occurs during the grieving process. According to Tori, this started out as a song, but soon morphed into a poem. In the bargaining phase, people are trying to save the relationship, either outwardly or inwardly. This poem contains a rhyming pattern that is fairly easy to detect and does not detract from the content of the poem. In the poem, you can see that she is trying to convince this other person that she will give all these things if the person just stays. “I’ll be the kerosene” is a metaphor for a willingness to even destroy herself if the other person will just stay. There are other metaphors in this poem that relate to the “Bargaining” phase that I will let you, the reader, discover and interpret.

Say You Love Me

Let’s run away to a secret paradise
Where I can pretend that there’s love shining in your eyes
I don’t mind falling if we both fly
Or even if you cast me out and leave me here to die

You can send me away over the deep sea
It’s okay as long as you say you love me
Hold me down under the water
It’ll be just you and me, so you can hold me tighter

I’ll be the kerosene, gasoline, anything you’d like
If only it meant that you’d stay warm and happy at night
Just a word and I’ll be everything that you need
With no hesitation, though you were the one cut to make me bleed

You shine like stars in the sky, soothe me like the sounds of the sea
Just let me know what you want, I can be anything you want me to be
You’re my sun and my moon, down to the ocean’s tide
I’d risk it all, do everything, to be there by your side

You can kill me with your stare
And make me believe that you actually care
I’ll wonder if you will actually be there
Despite all of that, I love you through this nightmare

The third poem is about the “Depression phase” of the grief process. It is chock full of metaphors for you to discover and ponder. Hanahaki refers to a fictional disease in which a person coughs up a flower. You can find out more about Hanahaki at It refers to “one-sided” love, as does the poem.


Petals fill my lungs in a bouquet of a silent love
But yet I cannot speak those words to you
I hide behind a smile and a laugh to eclipse the truth
This is what happens when you want something you can’t have

Petals fill my lungs and now I cannot breathe
I didn’t realize loving you was such a beautiful disease
I live in the day but I’m wilting at night
Even still, I cannot let you go without putting up a fight

Petals spill from my lips, delicate and frail
Unlike the way they rip from my very soul and send me down to my personalized hell
One without knowing you – one without loving you
But I cannot say what we both know to be true

Petals spill from my lips and I have one last chance
I need you to take my hand and break me from this never ending trance
Tell me that it’s alright even if it’s a beautiful lie
Give me one reason that I shouldn’t say goodbye

I would like to cut these blossoms out
To get rid of the lingering thoughts, leaving no room for doubt
No more feelings or memories of you should plague me
I just want to finally be free

But in the end, I can’t lose you
I can’t ever go without
So for now, I’ll keep hiding these petals
That I can’t let you know about

The last poem we discussed is about the “Acceptance phase” of grief. Again, simply filled with metaphors. The Robin is the poet, or maybe you. The cage is the dilemma, maybe hers, maybe yours.

The Robin

There’s a certain beauty in the fleeting moments past
Like a robin perched on a windowsill
A few moments will the serene moment last

While time is suspended in an instance surreal
The robin stares out to the sky but
The wind breathes not a word of the robin’s ordeal

The clock ticks away as it whittles down the minutes
And reality returns with a reckoning
Time to face the world once more with great penance

For the world never stopped and the cage was beckoning
Time to return to the prison for the night
For the robin to dream of an opening

The cage door shut and locked up tight
No air will be breathed for you or for I
The chains hold strong until the first signs of light

As the truth is revealed and the sun once again rises
The cage again opens the shackles break free
The robin finds her way to a beautiful tomorrow and pleasant surprises

Little do they know the robin locked away was me
And never will I return to those bars that held me back
I will soar, and live, and love, as free as a robin could possibly be

If you would like to read more about the stages of grief, check out the following: Understanding The Key Five Stages Of Grief | BetterHelp

Tori plans on appearing at some future poetry readings. She also has a chapbook of about 25 poems in the works. We look forward to a lot more poetry from this young and budding poet.



Robert Bussey is a local attorney and poet who has resided in CenLa since 1986. He
interviews other poets and then writes these articles to help promote poetry. You can
reach him at if you are a poet and would like to be

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