But I’m not a poet — A Poem

I don’t usually post my work online for two primary reasons: 1.) If I want to publish the work with a literary magazine, then putting it on my blog sacrifices the first publishing rights typically required by publishers; 2.) I guard what I write like a dragon. However, below is a poem I wrote a few months back  (for fun) that I think may resonate with many writers. For me, one of the worst questions that anyone who is not a writer can ask me is: “What do you write?” Most times I shrug the question off. But in my head it goes something like the poem below. Enjoy. Comments are always welcomed and appreciated.

But I’m not a poet

and those labels, you know—my
worth pieced together in a price-tag:

hi, I’m me and I do this, that, the
other thing you’ve never heard of

and you don’t care, really, right?

oh, they tell me, you write

like it’s a disease written on my name
well, they ask, you write what exactly?

and maybe I am diseased with a word
here and there, but who cares about

exact computations, quid pro quo —
words put up with me, too, you know?

oh wait, they tell me, you write
but what? you mean for money, right?

well, I pay them, actually — the words
I mean, they’ve got to eat, bribes work too,

a little blood across the page, fiendish
creatures, really — always hungry

if you know what I mean

oh, you write, like a hobby?
they ask, it’s not your day job, right?

well, yeah I write this, that,
the other thing, you know, only that —

well, what do I know, really?
only, well, do you know how there’s

this weird syntax in your head
speaking words you’ve never spoken

doing math that that never adds up
in a language you don’t actually know?

oh . . . you don’t know what I mean

that’s too bad, because, well —
because when I really think about it

I guess I’m writing that.

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10 thoughts on “But I’m not a poet — A Poem

  1. It’s rather ironic how we are unable to put into words what we put into words. It is like some sort of intangible entity that only our soul can touch. And if we’re lucky, really lucky, it releases those emotions and feelings through our fingertips and into words on a page. And it’s the most glorious and blissful feeling in the world when that happens 😉

    I’ll be very honest with you, poetry is usually somewhat difficult for my mind to compose and sometimes digest, but this one certainly hit home. Thanks for sharing, a wonderful read 😉

    • Thank you for taking the time to read (and comment)! I think you hit the nail on the head with your first sentence. Oh, the irony. I write an array of different things about an array of different subjects in an array of different ways. I couldn’t begin to explain that to someone who doesn’t write — I’m not even sure I can explain it to myself. But we can always try, I suppose. 🙂

  2. I really enjoyed this! I have to completely agree with the first comment…I have so much going on in my thoughts and yet if someone asks, what is on my mind? Well, I go blank! It’s been a long time since I have written daily and I can compose something in minutes or take all day trying to capture those words I mean to say, and even then it changes as I write. There are so many different experiences and emotions that go into what comes out on paper. Thank you again for visiting my blog, I will add you to my favorites as I look forward to reading more from you as well!

    • Thanks so much for reading! I agree. The filter between brain and page sometimes loses things in translation, and that can be endlessly frustrating. For me, at least. But it’s still a necessary process for us as writers: to put pen to page and make words of what we think and feel. Anyway, thanks for stopping by and adding me. 🙂

  3. It’s rather ironic how we are unable to put into words what we put into words. It is like some sort of intangible entity that only our soul can touch. And if we’re lucky, really lucky, it releases those emotions and feelings through our fingertips and into words on a page. And it’s the most glorious and blissful feeling in the world when that happens 😉

    Oh, yeah. That’s a great way to describe it. 🙂

    I’ve always been tempted to answer those questions like this:
    them: So, you write?
    me: yes.
    them: well, what do you write?
    me: life, the universe, everything.

    • Exactly. I write the entirety of the universe that I see within myself. When someone asks me “What do you write?”, it’s like they’re asking me, “What is the meaning of life?”

  4. I love the poem, and personally, every time I answer the question I know that it’s imperfect. Writing has become my life, my reason for enjoying each day no matter what happens at work. I come home and engulf myself in words, whether read, written, or edited.

    And every time I attempt to answer that insidious question “what do you write?” I know that every answer I make is incomplete and borderline insincere. Saying “I write” is like a confession, with the words themselves speaking only a vanishing fraction of the meaning behind them. Those who don’t write simply cannot understand, and I have to forgive them that. While linking to my blog or stories, of course. I have no problems with readers by whatever means. 😀

    • Words are the only sanity in a writer’s life, I’m convinced. And, as you said, those who don’t write cannot understand it. I used to try to explain what I write, but now I just give a very generic answer. Something like “stuff” or “I write everything.” That usually satisfies the non-writers.

      Thanks for reading. 🙂 Putting anything I write up on a public forum is difficult, especially poetry, as it tends to be very personal.

  5. Pingback: Letters: Who are we writing to? | Words and Wanderings

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