Where Poems Come From, Part III: A day in the life

Photo by Max Mitenkov courtesy stock.xchng
Photo by Max Mitenkov courtesy stock.xchng

Throughout the course of a normal day recently, I wrote a few poems and tweeted them. They were poems to play with, to practice with. They were poems from my life.

I will use a few of these to, again, attempt an answer to the question of where my poems come from.

(“Spoiler” alert: There may be some small risk here of taking the magic out of the poetry, but I have weighed that risk and deem it worth taking.)

Let’s start in the kitchen:


close kitchen where we

revel in neat complaints

chopping onions


Much of my life is spent in the kitchen and around food. When I sat down to write, before I actually wrote this one, I was remembering a time spent in a very small kitchen with my step-mother this summer. I smiled as I thought how our shared complaints (about a range of big and small annoyances) brought us closer together (as did, literally, the tight space). I wanted somehow to capture the essence of that moment, the bitter and the sweet.


a slap of wind

turns steady breeze

through sheer curtain;


at a loss for words


I wrote this because I wanted to write something – like I said earlier, it was writing practice. I looked around, and listened, noticed the breeze, the cricket sound. Then the last line came. That’s about it. (I know, how de-magical that is, huh?)


wireless outage:

blogger makes muffins



Again, lots of my life is about food. I also try to take the light (or philosophical) view when possible. In this case, I had hoped to do some blogging work, but there were technical difficulties. In a fit of rage, I made muffins. Alas. (Turns out, objectively speaking, the poem turned out better than the muffins, which were distinctly not delicious. Lesson learned: don’t bake angry.)



on roadside



I walk nearly every day – to the pond and back again. It’s an important routine for me, physically and in every other way there is of importance. Much writing comes from these walks. I notice many things and think about many things there and back. Some nights before this particular walk, there must have been rain, because I passed many dead snakes. By this time, though, they were flat, and in some cases just the thinnest of skins. Kind of gross, but I thought it made an interesting image. There are no subjects off-limits in poetry. Anything can serve as a springboard to a transcendent truth, or even to stand on its own and be acknowledged for existing.


Where did that come from?

asks the Reader.

Pain, says the Poet.

Pain, and a full moon.

Pain, a full moon, and a fruity umbrella drink.


I write quite a bit in response to other people and other people’s poems. This one is a combination. Obviously, it’s a response to the question this series of blog posts is attempting to answer. But, also, I wrote it in the midst of reading the poems in my Twitter stream from other poets. At that time, there seemed to be much about sadness and pain, and several tanka and haiku about the moon. Not to make light of anyone’s pain – I have written my share of poetry from a place of pain – but I also wanted to add a slightly humorous twist at the end.

It is how I see life and poetry – full of an interesting range of emotion, generous enough to include pain and humor in the same breath.


3 thoughts on “Where Poems Come From, Part III: A day in the life

  1. Bethany R. says:

    I loved that perspective you shared in the last line: “It is how I see life and poetry – full of an interesting range of emotion, generous enough to include pain and humor in the same breath.”

    Thanks for letting us all read your poems and the behind-the-scenes on them.

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