Poems about creativity


Forgive me, Productivity!
Distraction had its way with me
while Time escaped away from me;
I’ve never known success before;
I’m scared there’s gonna be a war;
I have a cold, I have a limp,
I have a pimple like a blimp,
I made a mess, I took a nap,
I drew a dragon-doodled map—
I’ve got excuses out the door
for why I don’t possess you more,
and so, I guess, to pass the time
until you’re mine, I’ll make this rhyme.



I asked a gifted craftsman
for advice as we conversed;
he said simply, “Of your critics,
you yourself must be the worst.”


Paul Graham

Eternity is passion

Have you seen a top achiever
in a sport, pursuit, or craft
at the height of that bright fever
that engulfs them in the act?
Eternity is passion!

Where the dead trees give no shelter
& the dusty rocks no shade,
where the sweatless reptiles swelter,
even there, where things decay,
eternity is passion.

Why get dragged down by minutia?
Why let beauty pass you by?
Why not build your chosen future?
Why not sing into the sky?

Yes, this road runs right through failure;
yes, your heart will sometimes break—
but you’ll be your own worst jailer
if you chase a prize that’s fake.
Eternity is passion!

Image via Blood of a Poet


My quest

In my quest to make every word count
I quite often reduce the amount
down to zero, at which point I shout,
“Damn it, Muse! What was all that about?!”

Image: Leonardo Da Vinci, ca. 1500


4 questions

How can something as dainty as a rhyme
stretch to accommodate a paradigm?

How could stone slabs, slowly inscribed by hand,
carry the weight of 10 divine commands?

How did the founding fathers—all mere men—
give birth to a nation with a pen?

How do hearts split apart by loneliness
let themselves be opened up again?


Keepers of the fire

With this brief time
you might as well aspire
to be among the keepers
of the Fire.
This Fire’s not like the rosy cheeks
Time steals—
instead, by peeling layers,
Time reveals
the timeless—ageless—Fire
decay conceals.

Image: ‘Astronomer by Candlelight’ by Gerrit Dou (ca. 1665)


Some beauty, some truth

some beauty’s just
a skipping stone’s skip deep
but still
it’s beautiful enough to keep

some truth is like the paddle on an oar
always returning
where it was before

some beauty is cosmetic
some is true
some truth’s a thing you say
& some you do


The ampersand

Some people do not understand
why I prefer the ampersand:
It’s simply more efficient, &
it’s spelled the same
in every land.


Liberty & Fate

There’s a co-dependence
between Liberty & Fate:
Liberty creates
while through constraint
Fate liberates.

Image: Salvador Dali (1942)
See also: Too much freedom? by Marin Mikulic


Atlantis & Jerusalem

Atlantis—myth of future
Jerusalem—myth of past

they rise
out of the dead land
again—it was never over,
not when we split the atom,
not after Troy, even—
myth of future & myth of past
tie our fragile being
to the mast

now in Atlantis
the Stargazer returns to his
accustomed toil
strengthens the soil
harvests the sun
makes machines run
all for no one

now in Jerusalem
two bodies face to face
fly from their kite-strings
on the background
of a violet

Atlantis—myth of future
Jerusalem—myth of past
tie my fragile being to the mast



i see the future, see,
not like a prophecy—
i just imagine
(that seems to be the key)
then, as an engineer,
i bring the future here



Want a useful thought? Here’s one:
play is good for more than fun.

Through play, even wild wolves explore
in peace their readiness for war,
& language (“give a thing a name”)
is mankind’s first recorded game.

The rest is easy to derive:
we work hard & play hard to thrive.

The most advanced tribes ever known
used playing as a shared backbone
as they passed down, against all odds,
their richly painted masks of gods.

Invention (i.e. “make cool tools”)
is simply play with self-made rules.

We use play to grow, learn, create,
communicate & propagate—
plus (Shakespeare said it) play’s the thing
to catch the conscience of the King.

See also: Homo Ludens by Johan Huizinga
Image: Van Gogh, “First Steps” (1890)


A scarce commodity

It’s a scarce commodity,
initiative—an oddity
when someone very audibly
says, “This looks like a job for me.”

Image via SpaceX


If you are creative

If you are creative
you’re never alone:
your drive to create has
a mind of its own.

You’re bound to its service
& soon you learn well:
you put it to work
or it makes your life hell.

Image: Salvador Dali


A poet’s prayer in a pandemic

Where are you, Muse,
that you forget, so far,
to sing of that
which makes you what you are?
What plagues you, Muse,
that when I’m nature’s prey
you push away
Love even one more day?
Return, neglectful Muse,
& resurrect
the passion that connects us—
humankind —
so no one in my time may yet forget
the power of a Love-infected mind.


Rhyme on rhyme

Rhyming though it may seem quaint
is good for when
some things are worth rhyme time
& some things ain’t.


The typewriter

one of each color
one of each stripe
all stories i write
i rewrite for all types!

some like em funny
some like em sad
some like em crummy
some like em bad.
whoever you are, your opinion’s embraced.
i guarantee something is typed to your taste!

one for each pipe-dream
one for each gripe
one for each inseam
& every blood type
if you like ice cream
or if you like tripe
there’s nothing on earth
this typewriter can’t type!

there’s only one limit:
there’s no going back.
so if you don’t like what you see
i have no “delete” key.
cut me some slack.



Though close friends often know it before you,
no one can tell you what you’re born to do.
There is no Oracle who sees your fate.
there is no guarantee it’s not too late.
There are no pre-made maps to travel with;
there is only a vast stone labyrinth
whose pathways wind & wander to its heart,
& somehow through the walls, the center calls
you, & you know—you’ve always known—
there is a center, & you’re not alone.


The Receiver

There once was a quiet dystopian town
where the people amazingly found
one among them was born with an uncanny gift:
taking bad memories. He’d just lift
pain from your brain like it was never there,
each trace recollection erased.
How it worked: This ‘Receiver’ himself made space
for your suffering in his own mind,
so you stepped out smiling while he stayed behind
and wept in your place.

…but soon, as things go,
the Receiver could feel his soul-force getting slow
as he watched his dark beard turning silver —
so he passed all those memories from long ago
to a young man who called him the Giver.

Photo by Donald Teel on Unsplash


Sonnet for a drummer

How is it that Time understands
your quivering twin wands
& their commands?
Now takes shape as it passes through your hands,
resembling strong youth, infancy & age with equal grace;

Some rhythms are warlike; some fight for peace;
right foot runs straight & the left syncopates,
teasing timelessness out between beats.

Where is your totem pole? What tribe taught you
the primal ecstasy that invokes gods?
Whose ancestral wisdom pumps life into
these hollow drums, mesh skins & tapered rods?

One thing I know: If hearts do measure time
for other hearts, yours keeps the beat for mine.



in the shade under the Knowledge tree
lives a phoenix by the name of Poetry.
times change the shape & pigment of her wings,
how long her beak is & what songs she sings,
but, sure as the moon follows herself in rings,
the phoenix flies, dies & again revives.

when in the cooling coals her scarlet egg
shivers awake, born on its own deathbed,
she’s unmistakable—swallow or swan,
dove, falcon, owl or vulture, her eyes glow
with a long-lived fever; that’s how you know
she lives on—new, though she was never gone.

there’s no illusion here, no mystery;
this phoenix lives for all who want to see.