Poets Online Archive
Because (the writer's life)

The writing life. Not all of us spend it with another writer, as do husband and wife poets Hass and Hillman. Their poems ( "Happiness" by Robert Hass from Sun Under Wood and "Sister Shirt" by Brenda Hillman from Death Tractates) serve as our prompt. Someone told me that all poems are about writing poetry. Take it as exaggeration but I have come to believe that an awful lot of them might be. We do try on that page to create some "faint blue idea of order" in a world that seems lacking it.

Start a poem with because and follow it with one of those adverbial clauses they tried to teach in you in school (as in Robert & Brenda's poems) and have the poem speak of this poet's life we are trying to live or to the relationship of the writer to someone significant in your writing process.  

The Power of Suggestion

Because I was hypnotized
I said things that would
usually be hidden-
I’m not sure if it’s love.
I do think about others.
There might not be a God.
I can’t hear any music.
All the foods are tasteless.
The days blur together.
When you turn away in bed,
it’s like my solitary walking-
not at all lonely.
When this line snaps its finger,
I will feel relaxed,
remember nothing of this.

Charles Michaels

I Wear Black

Because I was suffering from writer's block,
I decided to try wearing black.
At readings and workshops, I'd noticed
that poets seem to favor this color.
I like it too-its slimming effect,
its suggestive air,
though suggestive of what?
Magic, perhaps?
So I decided to wear black too,
hopeful that the magic might rub into my skin
and out in the guise of a poem.
I invested in several pairs of black jeans,
short black boots, black turtlenecks,
a little black dress with black heels
for special occasions.
The fact that my hair was almost black
was a bonus, I thought.
And I started to wear all this black
to work, out to dinner with friends,
hoping I would be inspired.  I was.
The Fettucine Alfredo I ate one night
reminded me of a boy named Alfred
and how we traveled through Europe together,
slept in the same bed, but never touched.
I wrote a poem about it, marveling
that there were men I did not want.
At work, I stopped going out to lunch,
became a recluse in my office,
words flooding through my head.
The black clothes became a new skin,
thinner than the one I'd been born with,
a skin that filtered out nothing.
I began to flinch at the slightest touch,
I felt everything so intensely.
And I thought, this is poetry,
sensation conjured with words,
though I didn't expect it to hurt so much.

Susan Rothbard


Because you were gone, I felt like reading your journal.
I am “she” in most of  its pages.
I laugh and love, speak and work, write and cry
like some character in a young adult novel.
I am as predictable as a sequel.
Now I recognize the foreshadowing.
Appreciate the irony.
I finished and put it back exactly on the desk
so that the edges were aligned with the blotter.
You won’t know that I was reading.
Unless you can tell from my nervousness at dinner,
my distracted conversation on the couch,
the way I went to bed early and fell asleep
curled in a tighter form then ever before.

Pamela Milne

Light and Shadow Dance

Because a moment speaks to me
in intermittent flashes
of color... not color
I gyrate like a dancer
between a kaleidoscope
and shadow.

Movement in light, a pirouette,
when words balance, then spin in
delicate colors, pastels
or ignite to burning fire
red, red, red.

Because darkness clouds me,
sometimes I write
embracing the sharp edge of shade,
letting it cut deep,
and from the pain, from the blood
darkness fades.

Motionless shade, in arabesque,
when rhythm dictates sight
and visions compress
in strangely vain utterances
of brightness.

And because I feel the colors,
the darkness and space between,
I dare whisper to you
of love, of the music of touch
and the ballet of hearts
in rainbows.

Silent embrace, soft en pointe
I write the words
in gentle stanzas over you,
dreaming of your shadow upon me
and your light.

James M. Thompson

Because you left the light on
again I tried to remember why
we were still one.

Like your sockets and screw driver
in the apron you used to use to fix
things up.

But things are still "to be fixed"
and we are no longer sleeping as

Kitty Jarman

She's Not A Writer's Wife

Because I don't really live a writer's life
And I don't really have a writer's wife
And I don't wield language like a knife
To cut the bone
I can't really tell you what It's like
In a poem.

But I can mention the woods in the setting sun
How the wood pigeons scatter like shot from a gun
When I come home from work when work is done
The porch light on
She stands in the kitchen with her coke and rum
And me on the lawn -

The kitchen is steamed from the pasta she's boiling
My feet are aching and my lungs are toiling
I feels the muscles of my heart uncoiling
Like an untied lace
The smile on her face when she hears me calling
The smile on her face

Paul Milne

Because You're Gone

Because you left without saying good-bye,
I sat quietly, aching for you
Pen in hand, but no words would come - only tears
And I wiped them away in an attempt to be strong and
Callused by your usual heartless actions

And because I felt cold there, not having your arms around me
I snuggled deeply into a worn out flannel blanket
Trying to feel secure, but I couldn't - not with out you
Mind drifting, eyes seeping, and finally a word
Trickled from my frozen pen - "love"

Crystal G. Crigger

because mother didn't want any more
children  even before i was just a gleam in my fathers eye, i was the
last, the number thirteen; an omen perhaps?
to raise in that little tar paper shack
in the foothills of those great smokey
another son to send off to school and later to war; with
a brown sugar biscuit in a paper sack
for lunch. a small two room school that didn't teach me how to correctly
these little dots and dashes on my keyboard, who dreamed of keyboards?
or writing poetry but dreamers will write poetry,
because they, like i, must share the pain
and joy
the good times and the bad
because i miss mother so
i weep through my pen for you once

ray cutshaw

Fallen Hearts

Because the tiny shoes in the shop window marching along the yellow brick
road are the color of a wound...

Because all the houses have fallen on all the witches and the appropriate
hearts, brains and guts have been forked over to the needy...

Because Dorothy is nicely aware of the Aristotelian definition of reality
conveniently packaged in family-sized portions of Zoloft...

Because the monkeys are free but cannot fly because of windshear
and the trees are dangerous although they will tell you differently...

Because you are noisy and think nothing will touch you the bauble of desire
and disappointment will always be just above your head...

Because you had such promise and none that you could keep
I will click your bones and send you back where you belong.

Cheryl Soback


because I love her, he thought
as he took her hand for the third nite in a row
and I love the way she sleeps around me
as I climb deeper in the mind
unaware, she smiles
unaware of me
I start to believe this will last
but morning comes quickly
Too soon it would seem
for this unknowing dreamer to part with her dream