This poem cannot bring you back.
This poem cannot make the clouds
move more quickly or slowly in the sky,
cannot change the weather. This poem
cannot return you to a happy childhood,
erase a painful one. This poem will
not clear your skin, condition your hair,
wash your dishes, mend your jeans.
It won’t find you a lover, not even
if you recite it three times backwards.
It won’t even find me a lover
and I wrote the thing. This poem won’t
stop time, email your advisor for that extension,
pay the plumber or the piper. This
poem does not pay its taxes. It is not
a good citizen. It fails to vote
or show up for jury duty.
This poem will overturn your scrabble game,
take a bite from every food and leave
the rest. This poem is not housebroken.
All night you hear it whining,
missing its mother, chewing your best shoes
and begging to be let out.
—Anne Haines (Monroe County)
This poem first appeared in Rattle.
Poetry Prompt: Ars Poetica
Write a poem that expresses your thoughts on the nature of poetry. What do you think a poem should or shouldn’t do or be? Your tone might be serious or humorous or both.
Indiana Humanities is celebrating National Poetry Month by sharing a poem and prompt every day in April. Indiana Poet Laureate Shari Wagner selected these poems and wrote the prompts.