Is This a Poem?

How is it that one becomes a poet?

Is there a college course you can take,

a degree you can get,

a leather bound journal to write in?

Or maybe an iMac,

or a Macbook pro

or whatever the fuck they’re called…

Is it something you have to want to be?

Did you have to read Dickinson

and Frost

when you were in high school?

Or Ginsberg

and Bukowski

as an undergrad?

Is it about being well-read,

clever with words,


You know,

the Harvard

or Oxford type?

Perhaps Amherst

or Dartmouth?

Are those the poets?

The ones with privilege

and prestige

and pedigree,

you know,


endless inkwells

and stacks of paper,



or is it something more?

Is it a broken home,

a shitty childhood,

an alcoholic father,

a drug addicted mother,

an abortion

or an unwanted child?

Is it a broken heart,

or a broken back?









Is it pain and suffering?

Mental illness?




I think it’s more memory

than imagination,

more heart

than mind,

more dark than light,

more sleepless nights,

more writing just to stay sane,

and not writing

for financial gain.

I will never call

myself a poet

because I never want

to be one,

but the pen

for me

as an easier way out

than the gun


the world might get better,


and I won’t ever edit this

and I have to take a break now

to take a piss…

and I’m back

feel much better now

and this is a terrible poem


this is what people do,


talk about their feelings?


I’m heartbroken and horny

and the last three women I fucked

I was thinking about my ex

the whole time

and it sucks

and I don’t know what to do,

jerkoff I suppose

and contemplate suicide

line by line

and think about Colombia

line by line

and piss away my paycheck

line by line…

Is this a poem?

Am I a poet?

Or do I need a thesaurus

and an old tweed jacket

and a pipe full of Captain Black?


what about the poets

out selling crack,

or the ones who wind up

in suicide vests,

or the ones whose villages we’ve destroyed?

Or that old dairy farmer in Maine

with the glass eye?

Or that ninety year old widow

in Vermont

who signed a copy of her book of poems

to my grandfather in 1995,

which I found after he died

and few people besides her family,


and neighbors

have probably ever read,

but is one of the most powerful things

I’ve ever seen…

and you can feel her pain

and you can see her soul

and she pours out

her broken heart

and she doesn’t give a shit

what you think…

SHE is a goddamn poet

and if you don’t think so

then fuck you

and your PhD in poetry.

Is this a poem?

Am I a poet?

I don’t know…

I don’t know, and I don’t care…

All I know is that

this will help me sleep tonight…

and no, I won’t edit this.

And if you’re reading it

it means

that I haven’t killed myself.

These words…

these letters…

this blue ink on scrap paper

from this pen I stole from the coffee shop

helped me make it

through the night…

and now,

I’m off to go apple picking

with her

in my dreams

until the rooster crows

at dawn’s early light

and coffee becomes

a better option than whiskey.

But now I lay me down to sleep…

blah blah blah…

Is this a poem?

Am I a poet?

I don’t know…

I mean,

I couldn’t afford Harvard

or the tweed coat

and I don’t like pipe tobacco,

so, I have to rely on


a shitty childhood,

crazy dreams,

and a broken heart…



About soitgoes1984

I was born and raised on land stolen from the Pocumtuc. I now live on a small island in the middle of the Pacific ocean, on land that was stolen more recently, from the Hawaiians. I am addict, struggling to kick the habit of fossil fuel. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
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