Poetry Thursday: utilitarian

worker loading sand onto conveyor belt

Poetry is not
the sole dominion
of hearts and flowers,
angst und drang,
misty, water-colored memories
or raging against the machine.

Poetry is an equal-opportunity
conveyor belt,
portable language
that works hard
in short bursts,
serving up energy
in small doses
like vitamins
or bouillon cubes:
there when you need it, 
handy, on the third shelf, in the back,
a quick hit
of inspiration
or instruction
or other non-necessary
vital nutrient.

Why not
a poem about math,
about naps,
about alternating current
or meditation?

Why not
a line
or two
or three hundred
about someone
you may never see again
or the way the light
hit the side of that brick wall
and carried you back
to your girlhood days
and the freedom
you forgot you had?

Why not
tell the world
in a way it might be ready
to hear
about hockey
or horticulture,
scissors or roping steers,
ice sculpting, sunscreen,
chemo, parcheesi
mountain rappelling,
database management,
composting, credit,
and how
to cut back on coffee?

Don’t we all 
need waking up
in one way
or another?

Couldn’t we all
use a lift 
from here to there
now and then?

Wouldn’t it
be great
if you could grab a cab
or a train
or a bus
at any corner,
rain or shine,
to take you from where
you’re stuck
right now,
to some place
you never knew existed
but is just
where you want
to be?

Is it all bottled up
for want of permission?


Here’s what you do:
take the thing you know
and cook it down,
long and slow, steady-like,
or all at once, in a flash,
then serve it up
to the rest of us.

It doesn’t have to be perfect:
it just has to be.

We’re hungry,


Image by kenhodge13 via Flickr, used under a Creative Commons license.


  1. I read your stuff
    I never comment
    I must!
    Short lines…

  2. Me too Ellen.

    I once was
    but now
    am fed,
    am now
    -ed too.*

    I have a whole slew of poems, (which were actually songs, ’cause one can fudge the rhyme/meter thing while singing) that I have written over the years. I’ve never figured out what to do with them. They want just a little exposure to kind folk. Have been thinking about doing a mini-recital in some office space that needs renting, and happens to have inspiring accoustics. My plan is to showcase the space (for my landlady), with the mini-recital, to some friends and acquaintances, who will be invited to bring guitars, banjos, drums and such like. Hopefully, someone will think of someone who might want to rent the space. Or, in my best-est fantacy, someone will say, “Wow. Those were wonderful songs, and you have an incredible voice. I want to pay big bucks to rent this space to record folkish music and we could start with you.” Anyway, I greatly appreciate your wise words:
    “It doesn’t have to be perfect:
    it just has to be.”

    *with apologies to John Newton

  3. Should have,
    ought to have,
    at least wish
    I had…
    that last bit, now

  4. Hockey and Horticulture! GASP! I’m into both … so, so, into both. And oh thank god it doesn’t have to be perfect. Just being is hard enough … truly. :)

  5. This planet needs a bigger footprint of your writing. I absolutely love this one–got me right in the heart. Thanks for the clear thought and the mandate to contribute, my friend.

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