Published on Academy of American Poets (

Ars Poetica

To have
even a
lotto chance

of getting
within yourself

you don’t quite know
but feel

To cling
to the periphery
through the constant

re-drawing of its

To make
what Makers make

you must set aside

Leave it
a lumpy backpack
by the ticket window
at the station

Let the gentleman
in pleated khakis
pressed for time

claim it

The certainty
not the poem.


Copyright © 2016 by Leslie McGrath. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on August 24, 2016, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“I wrote ‘Ars Poetica’ with my students in mind, nudging them away from pursuing a poem as a goal, encouraging them to be more comfortable with uncertainty.”
—Leslie McGrath


Leslie McGrath

Leslie McGrath is the author of Out From the Pleiades: a picaresque novella in verse (Jaded Ibis Press, 2014).

Date Published: 2016-08-24

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