Why I’m Not a Poet


Waking Is Good

You know, you just can’t
teach plants to dance
or books to laugh
or windows to lament.

And sometimes there’s not
enough honey in the pot
to sweeten
that long, bitter moment.

And I can look down
and smile at the ground,
but no one will see
except, maybe my toes

For pain, it perpetuates
as I need and I contemplate
what I really want
for no one to know.

But I’m sure I can be
what is expected of me.
And I’m sure I could do
only that which I should.

‘Cause eventually I’ll mend
and grow strong in the end.
And I’ll learn that
waking is good.

Shelley Powers, 8-18-00


Tip for the Day: When decluttering house to make it ready to put on the market, it is suggested that personal photos on display be put away so that potential buyers won’t see the home as belonging to anyone but themselves. Since putting away framed pictures might leave gaps in decorative arrangements, it might be better to find a temporary picture to put in the frame. I discovered last night that a great solution is to use pictured notecards (mine have birds and flowers) without sentiments written on front. –Signed Shelley Stewart


40 Responses to “Why I’m Not a Poet”

  1. Quossum Says:

    Writing poetry is a lot like prayer: It’s the doing of it that fulfills its purpose.

    Poetry doesn’t have to do anything for anyone else except the poet. It can, and it can be really cool that way, but what’s important is that it comes out of you and gives you the sweet satiety that you put emotion into words and thus into focus, and it’s good. It’s good that way.


  2. Jan Says:

    I wish I were as eloquent as either you or Q… Very touching poem.

  3. sideways721 Says:

    “But I’m sure I can be
    what is expected of me.
    And I’m sure I could do
    only that which I should”

    But you knew even then that you were much MORE than that.

  4. Stace Says:

    Shelley, I love it! I think I like it more because I know the writer… but it’s beautiful … especially the toes.

  5. jenfera Says:

    I am so not a poet. I wouldn’t know good poetry if you hit me over the head with it. As I said on my very first comment here at Monkbot when I finally de-lurked, I’m definitely more of melody maven than a lyrics lover , so I guess the poetry thing ties in.

    Here’s an interesting link:

    It’s the weekly chat with humorist Gene Weingarten at washingtonpost.com. This transcript is from two weeks ago. Scroll down just a little and find the link that says “This Week’s Poll.” There are 5 different poems there to be rated. Then, you can go back to the chat transcript and scroll about halfway through to find Weingarten’s analysis of the poems, which is “best”, etc. I didn’t even take the poll because I was way too intimidated.

  6. rowan Says:

    Shelleee, that is just the most perfect representation of the essence of an introspective soul. It is a brave soul, for it studies itself, where others might shy away and hurt, but learn less. I’m sorry, but if you won’t recognise that you are a born poet, you are just going to have poet-hood thrust upon you. My means of doing this would be to hire a stunt plane, write it in the air, then drop thousands of tiny typed “Shelley is a poet” strips above your town. As many would land in your tidy garden and dishevel your gables, I shall rely on having convinced you.

    Ah, house dressing! Ten years ago, I bought my dream house, a ramshackle old fisherman’s cottage perched ludicrously six feet from the edge of the sea. Its once lovely rose garden had eroded away over the years, and no doubt the house would follow in time, but not my time, and I loved it. I loved that I would opem my curtains at night and just look out to sea – nothing but the play of the lighthouse beams on the dark waters of the North Sea.

    Goodness knows why the bank gave me a mortgage, but they did. If it had had a big hole right through the livingroom to the South Pole, I would have bought it. When I went on a propspective buyer’s visit, there were two wet dogs steaming on the carpet. There were at least eight pairs of large bloke’s Y-fronts, much darned, drying on the windowsills, overlayed with assorted socks, equally odiferously steaming. There was no heating, apart from the open fire in the livingroom, which fed a back-boiler. The coal was burning merrily. I asked if the coal was expensive, and the incumbent replied that the previous owner often came up by boat on the seaward side with a big pine tree, fed it through the window, and let it burn down slowly. The branches stuck in the window and helped keep out the draught…he had his own wee amateury paintings in home-made frames all over the walls.

    It was cold, had dodgy plumbing and looked scuury inside. The kitchen was painted the colour of oxidised spam. The fitted wardrobes upstairs were free-standing ones with the backs ripped out, just wedged crazily into the uneven corners of ther bedrooms. It was teetering over the sea and shook in high tide. It just had my name on it. Lots of people will see their names on your already gorgeous house, Shellz, just as it is. Now, time for poets to put their tired de-cluttering feet up and have a cup of coffee and a praline. 🙂

  7. Shelley Says:

    “Its once lovely rose garden had eroded away over the years, and no doubt the house would follow in time, but not my time, and I loved it.”

    Official Prize of the Day goes to Rowan for such a beautiful turn of phrase (plus, she managed to also use the phrase “the colour of oxidised spam,” which, in my mind, is truly the sign of brilliance.

  8. rowan Says:

    Aww Fab! Thankyooo Shelley! Am saving it. Wonder if the house is still there?

  9. leejolem Says:

    Rowan, did you buy the house? How long did you live there?

    I don’t get all the depersonalization of a house when you sell it. I like to see that people actually live in a house before I buy it. I guess I’m weird that way.

    Shelley, I envy you your poetry skillz. I am hopeless in that arena. I think I’m too literal. When we had to interpret poetry in school I always had to make up stuff–I just don’t get it. I do love Shel Silverstein–he’s so silly. Now art I get–I lerved the Monet painting of the cottage by the sea. Looks like an ideal spot to get away (especially when you live in land-locked Indiana).

  10. bamaborntxbred Says:

    It’s funny. I can talk and talk (or write and write) until I’m blue in the face…telling people how I’m feeling, what’s going on with me, etc., but those talky-talky, wordy-wordy moments are never as expressive as a few simple lines of sudden poetry….which is why I’ve always destroyed every “poem” I’ve ever written.

    If someone saw those few words…maybe they’d see beyond the thousands and thousands I normally say and/or write…to the one or two that I mean.

  11. suzi-q Says:

    I knew from the beginning of Shell’s life, she was a poet, cause her feet show it, they’re Longfellows:) Can you tell where Shell gets her ‘poeticity’? Just kidding!!! Actually her obsession with precise socks on her toes did give me a hint at her ability with prose (get it prose, toes:) One day Shell may explain what I mean in a candid moment entitled “How I drove my mom inSANE while trying on (as a little gradeschooler) new shoes to buy”! It has now come to my mind and hopefully Shell’s as to why I LOVED to buy her open toed sandals:) Ha Shell, enlightenment at last!!

  12. Shelley Says:


    Tellin’ all my secrets.

    Okay…I know y’all are confused by what my mom is talking about, so allow me to clarify.

    First of all…I wear size 10 shoes. There. I said it. I have big feet.

    Secondly, I HATE socks. No…what I mean is…SOCKS REPRESENT EVERYTHING THAT IS WRONG IN THE WORLD! I can’t stand it when they get between my toes. And I REALLY can’t stand it when I can feel the seams of socks on my toes…so, I often will turn socks inside out to wear them (unless they are really uber plushy inside). Or I’ll wear them so tight that my toes curl inward.

    I think me wearing my socks inside-out disturbed my mother to no end. I’m sure she thought she had given birth to a total loon.

    Suzi-q is a great mom…and tried to help me by buying me sandals to wear (I always preferred the flip-flop)…but I had to have them fit a certain way. Any shoes that remotely touched certain parts of my foot would be cast aside with disdain.

    The only sandals we both agreed on were these blue leather sandals (1970-something)…which fit fine and received the Mom stamp of approval.

    But I wore them in the rain and they stained blue stripes across my feet for a week.

    Why can’t we all go barefoot all the time? It would be so much easier.

  13. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Suzi-Q! Suzi-Q!

    Heehee…yer quite the comedienne. Now we know who Shelley inherited her funny bone from. (Along with her beautiful face!)

  14. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Shelley, your Mom is fabulous. There is no way….NO WAY that my Mom would’ve dealt with “sock” issues. I would wear the socks and shoes she bought me…or I would have to go barefoot. To school. In the dead of winter. In ten feet of snow. Backwards. Uphill.


    I heart Suzi-Q.

  15. Shelley Says:

    I heart her 2.

    (Especially because, to this day, she rolls her eyes and groans when she watches me put on shoes…which takes no less than 5 to 7 full minutes…and usually entails removing at least one shoe and sock to reinstall for comfort…then I bang my heels on the floor to make sure the shoe is on just right. Maybe there is something wrong with me.)

  16. rowan Says:

    Lee – yeah – bought it and lived there for six mouldy but picturesque years!

  17. nolagirl Says:

    Shelley, I can’t IMAGINE that you were a pill as a child!! 😉 (come on, Suzi Q, you can spill the dirt)

  18. jenfera Says:

    Shelley, it is probably for the best that you never take up figure skating if you haven’t already. I am fussy about socks like you are (maybe not quite so fussy), but never so much as when I started taking figure skating lessons. You need to wear figure skates tight, so any sock anomalies become apparent immediately. Compound that with all those laces and getting them just right and I was on and off the ice two or three times every lesson before I got them right. This could be why some skaters go sans hose in their skates, which must make for some super stinky skates and some serious blisters as you break in. I finally settled on super thin trouser socks or even plain old knee-highs as the best option.

  19. Shelley Says:

    the idea of having my feet trapped behind all those laces terrifies me…seriously. If I can’t kick a shoe off…I don’t want it on my foot.

    shuddering at thought of having a boot on

  20. jenfera Says:

    Hmmm, well, you wouldn’t quite be able to kick it off, but if you really wanted to skate you could always try a stylin’ rental skate with velcro for quick escapes.

  21. bamaborntxbred Says:

    I like being barefoot best of all…and I really don’t like socks with shoes either…but I like socks and no shoes.

    I mostly wear shoes that don’t require socks that can be kicked off very easily. I usually have bare feet under my desk.

    We are all kind of weird aren’t we.

  22. leejolem Says:

    Bama, “talky-talky” or “wordy-wordy” are both great ways to describe me. Succinct is not in my vocabulary. Maybe that’s my problem w/poetry. I hearty you non-succinct monkbot sistah.

    Shelley, my oldest daughter suffered from what I lovingly called “princess and the pea” feet as a child. We had a 20 minute session every morning before leaving the house to get the right sock with the right shoe. She is now 18 and would wear flip-flops everywhere if allowable. I think this defines people that are free spirits and big-hearted (as you both are). Suzi-q, I can relate to the insanity of the shoe buying. Abigail only liked saltwater sandals sold at an exclusive kids shoe store here in indy.

  23. leejolem Says:

    Oops, that should be “I heart you” not “I hearty you” –duh!

  24. Shelley Says:

    my brother, ben, calls me “princess and the pea” because i am also a VERY light sleeper and picky in other areas of my life.

    just now I went for a walk with some co-workers and had to explain that i can’ t have people walking on my right side…it drives me crazy.

  25. jenfera Says:

    As long as we are hating on socks today, I would also just like to point out how hard it is to find a good trouser sock or knee-high that doesn’t either

    a.) Slouch down your leg all day and puddle up in the heel of your shoe


    b.) Squeeze your calf so hard at the top that you end up with 1/4″ deep gouges in your leg and fears that you may be hospitalized for DVT.

    Really. They can put a man on the moon but they can’t put out reliably good hosiery. Sheesh.

    It’s a very sad thing that sandals are only appropriate in New England from about May through September, if we are lucky. Unless you ask the kids. Lee, my stepkids (girls, 17 & 19), would also wear flip-flops year round and pretty much do unless it is snowing.

  26. Little Deb Says:

    I have to join in on the “i hate socks” bandwagon. Socks suck. I’ll add to your complaint list jen.

    Sock sizes. I have very small feet. Every pair of adult socks I buy are too big. The heel comes up somewhere around the back of my ankle and hangs over the top of the back of my shoe. If I buy kids socks, the ribbing stuff is so damn small that I can’t get them over my ankle.

    Love being barefoot and wearing flip flops. Wish it was summer all year long.

  27. bamaborntxbred Says:

    Awww, thanks Lee! I hearty you too. 😉

    Flip-flops rule.

  28. leejolem Says:

    My fav shoe now is the slip on tennis shoe. They are always slipped off under my desk, and when a patient comes in I have to slip them back on to be somewhat professional. Oh why can’t pharmacicts practice barefooted? Those annoying health codes. The 1st thing I do when I get home is slip off my shoes. What does this have to do w/poetry –I don’t know, but somehow the feet subject sparked good discussion. 🙂

    Ode(or) to feet:
    Feet, feet, I lerve my feet.
    I think my feet are really neat.
    On each foot I have 5 toes.
    On those toes no fungus grows.
    Feet, feet, I lerve my feet.
    Could I live without them?
    Heaven knows.

    Shoes, shoes, I hate my shoes.
    I give my shoes a lot of boos.
    On each shoe I have some laces.
    Those laces I have to wear when I go places.
    Shoes, shoes, I hate my shoes.
    What do they give me?
    They give me the blues.

    **this is why I’m not a poet**

  29. Shelley Says:

    AWESOME poem, lee…you get the second Official Prize of the Day

  30. leejolem Says:

    Yay!!!!!!!!!! A giant orangey/pink foot with weird toenails. Just what I’ve always wanted. I bet Shel Silverstein never got this cool of a prize.

  31. Quossum Says:

    I like bare feet or sandals best, but comfy, well broken-in tennies are a close second. I have dozens of pairs of plain white ankle socks for those.

    My mom has a sock fetish, including a large collection of Christmas-themed socks for the holidays.

    Oh, I do have a pair of toe socks, though. Tee hee!


  32. jenfera Says:

    lee, that was hysterical! I love it. I love the slip on sneaker too! (does anyone else still call them sneakers?) I have a pair of Sketcher slip ons that I am particularly fond of. And my favorite pair of flip-flops of the moment are a pair of Clarks with a big, thick sneaker-like bottom and canvas straps with beige, white, yellow & blue stripes.

  33. KD Says:

    You are not alone in the world Shelley! My oldest daughter has “sock issues” and she discovered at age 3 if she wore them inside out she could stand them. She’s now 10 and manages to find a way to cope with all of her “tactile sensitivities.” She’s a wonderfully normal girl—interestingly enough, very creative, musically talented, and shows an affinity for the language arts. Hmmmm…..maybe we’re onto something here??? 😉

  34. jenfera Says:


    Paris is out of jail!

  35. Shelley Says:


    rolls eyes

  36. KD Says:

    Isn’t that amazing! I didn’t know money could even buy a medical condition! Now that’s progress.

    Call me Disgusted.

  37. jenfera Says:

    I heard on the radio that the jail she was in is loaded with staph infection. No clue if that has anything to do with her release.

  38. KD Says:

    Hmmm….well….I should probably withhold judgment. But then again, I wonder how many other prisoners get released when there’s a staph infection going around??? Thank goodness, not many.

  39. Dr. Bob Says:

    Alright — to wade in on the poetry and shoe front (late as usual).

    I do not heart poetry. Do not ask me why. I love prose and I love Emily Dickenson and Shel Silverstein. I would not even attempt to write it, I think. To me, poetry is like little bundles of emotion waiting to be tripped. I generally approach poetry with trepidation. There is a just-about-to-be-popped feeling in poetry to me. I have to scan it real quick to make sure that there is nothing that I cannot handle if it detonates. I was able to scan and then read your poem, Shelley. I liked it. I liked the sparse and simple format — yours is stuff I can actually read and ponder. So thanks for that on a Saturday morning, as I sit in my kitchen, listening to the house slowly wake up.

    On the shoe front … I can just imagine your mother patiently waiting for you to get your shoes on … you have a good mommy.

    I used to have what my brother affectionately called goat’s hooves as a kid, from running around barefoot. I do not like shoes. Socks are okay, I guess, but I go barefoot most of the time. I also have shoes that I can kick off and slip back on with a minimum of fuss.

    Oh, and I have really cute feet.

  40. Shelley Says:

    Dr. Bob…i wish I had cute feet. 😉

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