An Almost-Poem, Left Under the Williamson Road Overpass (and also: What I Talk About When I Talk About Poetry): Day Fourteen

This post is part of the Secret Messages Project.  Every day for thirty days, I’ll leave my words in places where they might be found — or might never be found at all.  I hope you’ll join me. 


It’s been awhile since I shared anything here that approached what some people call by the name “poetry.”

A word about what we talk about when we talk about poetry:  What I do?  It isn’t that.  

Because I do most of my writing longhand in a journal with narrow pages, I occasionally break lines and force words into a vertical form.  Sometimes, the form is so vertical that what I share here looks like poetry.  But I’m fortunate enough to know a few *real* poets, ones with serious literary gifts, and what they do is a very different animal altogether.  This is why I often call my skinny little creations “almost-poetry.”

I’m a prose writer by nature — always will be.  That said, attempting something a little bit *like* poetry is good for me — it keeps me linguistically limber and challenges me to remember that the way words look on a page can bear just as much weight as which words I’m using.

That’s why, yesterday, I decided to tinker again at this thing I call “almost-poetry.”

I took some of my favorite parchment paper and cut it into narrow strips.  Then I taped all the strips together to make a paper ribbon:


Then I wrote a little almost-poem, one about what I’m trying to accomplish here.

I rolled the ribbon up like a tiny scroll.

I tied the scroll with braided twine.

I tucked it in my pocket, drove downtown, and walked past the art museum to the place where the sidewalk disappears into a tunnel beneath Williamson Road.

There’s a mural there — In It For the Long Run by Scott “Toobz” Noel — spray-painted on the concrete, in moody whorls of galloping horses and windblown color that make me feel I’m galloping, too:

mural2It seemed like a good place leave these words, so I found a little corner where two concrete pavers met, right up against the wall where the wind doesn’t blow.

I left my almost-poem there, for you and for me and for anyone and for no one.  This is what it said:


In so many ways,
I’m just
a baby,
the paint on
the canvas, and 

Maybe this–
or oh!
maybe this…


I rub the
colors in
with my
until — 
I swear —
my fingerprints


Let me bless
your eyelids
with the kiss
of my thumbs —

I’m gentle,
even if
I leave
a mark…

two splotches,
green perhaps,
or blue…

or two
yellow sparks…


Oh, my love —
I’m just trying
to teach you

to see in
the dark.


Whether we’re masters or beginners today, let’s all try to see and make as much beauty as we can, even — and especially — in the dark.  ❤




  1. I love this idea! I may have to start a similar project like this! I’m always enchanted by community and applied art. It seems like such a blessing, especially if it’s a surprise!


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