What I think of When I Should Be Writing


I found this poem the other day, in an old file I was going through (when I supposed to be writing.) 


What I Think of When I Should Be Writing


All of the things I’ve ever meant to do or should be doing

but never the things I’ve already done.

Clearing off the desk, the counter, the car floor, the driveway, the to-do list.

Dangerous people who lurk in alleyways waiting to rob, murder, or criticize me.

Endurance and perseverance and other words thats make me tired.

Fickle muses who only show up when the moon is waning and there’s a slight breeze.

Generations of writers who have managed to make it happen.

Harassing rules I can’t always remember but am still afraid to break.

Individual words that knock around my head refusing to relate to each other.

Jungles of truth that I may never explore.

Killer phrases that knock the critics dead.

Labels I try so hard to keep stuck to my shirt like cheap name tags— writer, mother, wife, dedicated, loving, faithful.




Mortar and bricks I build around myself, to hide,

never under myself, as a solid foundation to lift me

over everyone else’s opinions and ideals.

Procrastination and how I’ll think about that more later.

Quick fixes to guilt and how penance never works.

Racks of books I’ve never read and a million voices

straining through their covers to be heard.

Trains of thought, transparent as ghosts, that will never pull into a station.

Unexperienced joys that hide behind fluorescent and unflagging fears.

Vacant slots of time in my planner going

wasted on temporary satisfactions.

Excitable ideas that pop up then hide like prairie dogs.

Youth and its waste and the excuses I was making even then.

Zipping each day up with a neat row of checkmarks.


This is an abecedarian poem, meaning each line begins with a subsequent letter of the alphabet. (Please excuse the fudge on the letter x.) An abecedarian is also a person who is a beginner in any field of learning. I think I will be an abecedarian for the rest of my life. But at least I am learning.

I included the photographs of the artwork, because as much as I fight all of the wanderings of my mind as I write, collectively they have the potential to turn into influential elements on my life’s work as a whole. So I must not push them too hard, or ignore them completely. I shall instead give them a place to wander until I know just where they will fit. This metal sculpture was in a hotel we stayed at last summer in Hoboken, NJ.


3 thoughts on “What I think of When I Should Be Writing”

  1. This is bloody fantastic! But I do have a comment on your statement after the poem: you will not always be an abecedarian in every thing. You are not an abecedarian mother, writer (no matter what you think), reader, editor, analyzer (ha). We will all be abecedarians in the field of something our whole lives. But don’t discount the things for which you are no longer a beginner. ❤

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