Poetry for Dummies (Like Me, or at Least, By Me)

I remember when it was my turn to suggest a title for book club, and I thought we should read some poetry.

“Bwa-hahahaha!” laughed my friends from where they had slid onto the floor. “We might as well read a novel in Swahili!”

And, okay, so I can see their point. I took a few poetry classes in college, and while I loved the idea that each stanza, each line, no, each word was chosen for a specific purposes, or better yet, many purposes, so that the whole thing fit together like a puzzle, and it was only by taking the whole poem apart with both machete and scalpel that we could recognize the hidden meaning…well, that was intellectually fun, but in the same way that solving derivatives is fun. Or taking apart the toaster and then trying to quick! put it back together before Dad gets home!

Reading poetry should not feel like the written version of an Escape Room.

Thank goodness for poets like William Carlos Williams, and Gary Soto, and Mary Oliver, and Rumi, and Gwendolyn Brooks, and Carl Sandburg, and Langston Hughes, and Sandra Cisneros, and Billy Collins, who saved poetry for people like me–aka, People Who Want to Enjoy a Poem Without Having to Slit Their Wrists First, or After. (By the way, check out those poet links! It’s not to their Wikipedia page–who cares? It’s to just one great, easy-to-understand, wonderful, lovely poem by each. Think of it as a primer in poetry for us real actual people!)

So, in honor of this line of thinking (aka, the middle ground between Shel Silverstein and T. S.Eliot), I’ve decided to run a series of poems I’ve written, called “A Series of Poems I’ve Written”. Partly this is so I will no longer stalk around the house Thursday wondering what the heck I’m going to write for my blog tomorrow, and partly because I’ve finally (finally) confessed to myself that I don’t actually write the kind of poems that most editors are publishing.

So, in honor of this momentous occasion and to kick off our series with a poem that was clearly never going to see the light of day otherwise, I present you (double-spaced because I don’t know how to turn off that feature in this program) with:


A Small Rebellion


This doesn’t have enough depth, I read in the margins

in scratchy red script.


Why do writers have to be so theatrical?

Why can’t we write about something



the soft radiator of a bunny’s ear or

the rhythmic swing of a hammock?


Children’s poems do this.  They rhyme

with wild disregard for grammar, choosing instead


The pouncing kittens growling like mittens,

The warm brownies smiling like clownies.


The thing is, this is how I was feeling.

The thing is, I was capturing the truth of a moment.


At any rate,

I like the raw crackly joy of it


I am not going to change it.


Photo credit: Alan Levine from Strawberry, United States – Honest is the Best PoetryUploaded by clusternote, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28095342



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