“Being Clever” © Edward Michael Supranowicz


I Used to be a Poet

Drafting chapbooks
between tantrums
and summer school,
combing through old words
in hopes to find inspiration.

Inspiration –
a word like “soul”
my favorite college professor
would chastise me for using –
clichéd, over-used, misunderstood.

“Discipline –
that’s what poets need,” he’d explain.
The difference is in the writing.
Hone your craft.
Own it.
Put words to paper.
Simple and demanding,
easy and exhausting.
No need for muses
or divine intervention.

Discipline –
like brushing teeth.
pen to paper, brush to mouth.
After meals and before bed.
After you first wake.
No excuses, only rhythm
to prevent decay.

But today I find so much time to write,
only to read through words written
18 years ago –
before you,
before I was a mother.
These words belong to someone else,
but they are mine – and not mine,
like my adopted children.
Loved like blood
because this is the only way I know
never from my womb, but hers
her – who haunts each conversation
her – whose eyes you have, and hair,
and smile.
So much hers, and mine,

But unlike poetry,
I cannot form you
the way I want –
erasing mistakes and
starting again.

So today, I am
supposed to be writing,
not rewriting
old words
– before you were my son.

But the words don’t
flow like they used to.
They’ve gotten lost in
emergency rooms
and psych wards.
In family therapy and night terrors.
The words of the young poet I once was,
have been transformed into
laundry, and dishes, and baseball practice.

I try – pen to paper
this simple discipline.
But every poem is wrapped up in you
because my brain cannot hold
all of the worry
and poetry at once.


Tiffany Washington is an 8th grade English teacher, mother of four, and sometimes poet. Her works have appeared in a number of print and on-line publications including Chantarelle’s Notebook, Artis magazine, Long River Run and most recently Thimble Magazine.

Edward Michael Supranowicz has had artwork and poems published in the US and other countries. Both sides of his family worked in the coalmines and steel mills of Appalachia.