Days 5 and 6, NaPoWriMo 2020

The tricky thing about writing a poem every day is that you’re not able to devote the same amount of time each day to the task. This is all the more true during a pandemic.

When I Heard the Publish’d Poet
(after Walt Whitman)

When I heard the publish’d poet,
when the degrees and publication credits were listed in her bio,
when I saw the programs and credentials that proved her accomplishments,
when I listening heard the poet interviewed where she spoke with much authority,
how soon I felt weary and small,
till later in my room I pulled out my notebook,
in the mystic quiet of the night, and began to write,
my own voice alone without qualification.


On those days, you have to be able to let go of your expectations, especially of yourself. Imitation is both the sincerest form of flattery and a time-honored form of practice.

I read
(after Adrienne Rich)

because I am the last to leave the office
building, having emptied all the rubbish
bins and hoovered and mopped
the floors…because the customer is always
right and my break isn’t long enough
to leave the store…because the dryer
hasn’t finished so I can’t yet fold
towels and empty the washer and begin
the next load…because it’s a short
distance between stops…because the news
is never good, on television or in examination
rooms…because it has not been assigned…

because the necessary alphabet looms
thick…because I am short and life is too thirsty…
because you want to know what keeps me
reading…because I am torn and returned
and refused…because nothing is left
on this strip of ready land


2020 National Poetry Month Poster-50

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