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About this Poem 

"I wrote 'Why Poetry Can Be Hard For Most People' after reading and teaching some of Jack Spicer's letters to Lorca. I became bewitched by the idea that we are always speaking to the dead when we write poems, especially Spicer's line, 'You are dead and the dead are very patient.' I think the communication between the dead and undead is so full of real emotion because of its patience. Poetry is patient, too." —Dorothea Lasky

Why Poetry Can Be Hard for Most People

Dorothea Lasky, 1978

Because speaking to the dead is not something you want to do
When you have other things to do in your day
Like take out the trash or use the vacuum
In the edge between the stove and cupboard
Because the rat is everywhere
Crawling around
Or more so walking
And it doesn’t even notice you
It has its own intentions
And is searching for that perfect bag of potato chips like you once were
Because life is no more important than eating
Or fucking
Or talking someone into fucking
Or talking someone into something
Or sleeping calmly and soundly
And all you can hope for are the people who put that calm in you
Or let you go into it with dignity
Because poetry reminds you
That there is no dignity
In living
You just muddle through and for what
Jack Jack you wrote to him
You wrote to all of us
I wasn’t even born
You wrote to me
A ball of red and green shifting sparks
In my parents’ eye
You wrote to me and I just listened
I listened I listened I tell you
And I came back
No
Poetry is hard for most people
Because of sound

Copyright © 2013 by Dorothea Lasky. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on September 12, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Copyright © 2013 by Dorothea Lasky. Used with permission of the author. This poem appeared in Poem-A-Day on September 12, 2013. Browse the Poem-A-Day archive.

Dorothea Lasky

Dorothea Lasky

Born on March 27, 1978, in St. Louis, Missouri, Dorothea Lasky received her BA from Washington University.

by this poet

poem
Love makes you feel alive 
Johnny my animal you have no idea
How beautiful you are to me in the morning
When it is 5 a.m. and I am lonely
Everyone is dying around me
I eat spinach bread to keep my sanity, I am
Like Lisa in the mental unit with my father
I am Muriel who throws tables
I play blackjack with the
poem
To be the name uttered, but not to have the burden to be
To be the name said, but not heard
To not breathe anymore, to be the thing
To be the thing being breathed
To not be about to die, to be already dead
To not have to disappoint
To not have the burden of being late
Or punctual
To not eat, to not have to eat
poem

I never noticed before
How the red flowers hang from the blue branches
I never noticed before the light in this room
I never noticed the way the air is cool again
I never noticed anything but you
But you but you
So that I couldn’t sleep
I never noticed what was anything but you