“A Poet’s Poem” by Brenda Shaughnessy is so relatable! I love the way it invites us to an intimate and imperfect place in the creative process, where revision is already underway. Its humor allows for how adorable we poets can find language. I mean — we truly adore it, even in the middle of frustration. How tenaciously our favorite words cling to drafts during revision, even when we know they’re not the right ones, even when they are overtly cute and the poem itself is asking for something else, something more precise, more true to its own needs. It wryly acknowledges that we are imperfect creatures. No matter how beautiful our material, hours of work are not enough to guarantee we will get it right every time. There’s a tenderness towards the work itself, and to what it is to be a poet that I find comforting.
SARAH ANN WINN, Reader & Donor
A Poet’s Poem
If it takes me all day,
I will get the word freshened out of this poem.
I put it in the first line, then moved it to the second,
and now it won’t come out.
It’s stuck. I’m so frustrated,
so I went out to my little porch all covered in snow
and watched the icicles drip, as I smoked
Finally I reached up and broke a big, clear spike
off the roof with my bare hand.
And used it to write a word in the snow.
I wrote the word snow.
I can’t stand myself.
I love the way this poem touches on the lives of workers and immigrants then sets us free of capitalism’s tug so we can run outside to play—still children.
GINNY AGNEW, Reader & Donor
On Speaking Terms (2010)
We used to play, long before we bought real houses.
A roll of the dice could send a girl to jail.
The money was pink, blue, gold as well as green,
and we could own a whole railroad
or speculate in hotels where others dreaded staying:
the cost was extortionary.
At last one person would own everything,
every teaspoon in the dining car, every spike
driven into the planks by immigrants,
every crooked mayor.
But then, with only the clothes on our backs,
we ran outside, laughing.