Poems Are In The People

July 26, 20174 min read

This is a poem about what it’s like to be a writer and all of the good, bad, gross, clean, and nonsensical parts that come with it.


Today I drew a picture.

A mash of red and yellow pigments haphazardly thrown across a piece of paper

Trying to capture as much of us on the white square as I could.

But in my experience, poets aren’t very good at being contained.

Our words spill like wet paint off the table, sinking into the floorboards.

We see that

And we make art from it.


Writers are delusional.

Always searching for one verse

One line

One word

To relieve the pounding voice that’s shouting, “create!” while we try to sleep.


We willingly flood ourselves

With lakes of jumbled letters and vowels

In hopes that the oxygen break will spark something fulfilling in us,

Something euphoric.

We want to feel the emotions we describe.


Poems are most and least powerful at the start.

They sit and gaze at us with expectant eyes, waiting for our inspiration to scratch at their skin.

But when it doesn’t they glare.

Eyes turn to eraser shavings that smear their cheeks as the blankness shows how uncreative our own words have left us.

Dry, used, out of new ideas.


We tap into the seemingly untouched well of our minds and bodies

And hope that we missed something.

A crack in the structure,

An old surface that’s been painted over,

The origin backstory.

But often, the well is dried out

So we must fill it with new experiences.


I like to consider what my life would be like without poetry.

Would I wear my secrets on my chest or would I keep them in a glass bottle, cast into the ocean, waiting to sink down and be crushed by the pressure?

Would I let my emotions rush over my head like waves until there’s salt in my eyes and water in my lungs, or just crash on my feet in the sand?

Would I make poetry or would poetry make me?


I paralyze myself with hypotheticals,

Become convinced that submerging my person in art was a mistake and I’d be destined to drown.

After all, I can only hold my breath for so long.


Writing is the worst drink in the world.

The taste of a sentence curls out of my brain

Out of my hand, my pen

As the different marks and letters flit on the surface of my tongue.

Ideas become identical bottles of water and poison and I have to drink both if I ever want to finish.

Blood and words spill across the milky white sheet as the final lines are written.


And written.


And written again and again and again because writing is the only compulsion we can’t control.


So we write.

We edit.

We chip away at our wells until they’re mere pebbles on the ground, waiting to be assembled again.


But once they are,

We are unstoppable.

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Celia Lipton

Poet, musician, LGBT+, dog enthusiast, among other things