Everyday Poems #3, “A Poem Is Not Meant To Be Good”


“If I feel physically as if the top of my head were taken off, I know that is poetry.” —Emily Dickinson

The following poem was written after a short poem I had shared was described as “good.” And I remember thinking, “Good? Only good? That may not have even been worth writing.” I did not want to write good poems.

However, if you are worried about what others think about your writing too much, you will never write. Or at least you will not write so others can read.

Which of course, Dickinson did not do. She was a “portfolio poet.” She wrote for herself only. The sheer love of creating the poem is why we have her poems. No ambition. Which is why a book of Dickinson’s poems is worth your time and money. Besides, each one is a true work of art. Not all are equally great. But they are all worth your time.

And in this cultural moment, you have the time.

Unless you are wasting away in front of The Bachelor.

Just remember –– overstatement is not only the province of teenagers, it is also the domain of poets.

A Poem Is Not Meant to Be Good.

No, a poem is meant
to reach into the night sky
and grab constellations
by the tail and swing
from one glory to the next.

It is meant
to lift a heart lost
in the dark night of the soul
and pull out tears
only to dry them.

Silence is preferred over
a poem only meant to be good.

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