What You Need To Know

for We Write Poems prompt #18 Need to know basis

Although the prompt suggested that we keep a certain individual in mind, or a group, this poem is not so much aimed at anyone in particular but rather, a mindset or attitude. When I realized where the poem was going, I almost scrapped it, but decided against that and to just let it be. The teacher in me has a hard time, sometimes, taking a back seat.

What You Need To Know

I am an observer, seeing beyond immediate
horizons, making note of what dances out there,
unseen by others. Have daily trained myself
to look at a slant, for what lies in open or canted
spaces, pauses in faces, eyes that look sideways,
above or beyond, but never into my own.

I am a maker, a marker of words, laying them down
so they might speak their truth to any who would lean
in to listen. Silence is not a foe, but friend, second ear
that hears, holds, then hands back what it grasps,
sometimes in the darkness, just before sleep.

And I am a child in search of a swing, a go-cart,
sunshine, lightning and thunder to be watched
through window, on knees pressed into back of couch,
sidewalk hopscotch, and music I alone imagine
that dances to colors that excite inner eye, and well
up from deep within my soul.

What I know about you is that you turn away from any
truth that doesn’t sound like your own voice. What is
different hits you as wrong, and choice is not something
offered, but strongly dictated. The songs you hear must be
played only in your key, usually B flat, and only that in beat
that allows feet to march along ruts already fashioned.

That you hide behind masks, under well worn hats hung
on a nail at back doorway. To be easily retrieved to hide
any weakness, fear of vulnerability, inadequacies, chance
pimples of any and all imperfections.

You will always close drapes at first sign of lightning
and thunder, wash away child’s play on sidewalk, miss
colors of rainbows, and slide your eyes from what lingers
on any horizon. And, what you need to know is that
you will never know the me, that stands right here
in front of, alongside, and behind you.

Elizabeth Crawford  9/8/10

About 1sojournal

Loves words and language. Dances on paper to her own inner music. Loves to share and keeps several blogs to facilitate that. They can be found here: https://1sojournal.wordpress.com/ https://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/ http://claudetteellinger.wordpress.com/
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18 Responses to What You Need To Know

  1. gospelwriter says:

    (Addressing in particular your last lines) We are blind to the other because we look in all the wrong places, or do I mean, through too many filters? We approach the mystery with a mind set of already knowing – a set mind, I could say. No wonder we think it’s so hard to really get to know another.


  2. 1sojournal says:

    Ruth, thanks for letting me know you understood exactly what I was trying to get at. Some people simply live behind always closed doors, while others never lock anything up. And the narrator in this poem is somewhat guilty of doing exactly what the other is being accused of, especially if he/she walks away without even trying to speak through that locked barrier. It is very hard to get to know ‘other.’

    I like the fact that you use the word filters. That alone gives me hope. A filter isn’t a solid door through which no sound might enter. It has gaps in it and those gaps allow passage for more than one view. There is always hope,



  3. pamela says:

    Elizabeth this is fantastic.
    I found this prompt to be a difficult one.
    I had a hard time controlling my emotions.
    I have been disappointed by people many times
    in the past, so this brought out some old feelings for me.


  4. 1sojournal says:

    Pamela, thank you for the fantastic. That goes in the kudo box, lol. However, poetry has ever been therapy for me. And I judge the ‘rightness’ of a piece by how much it teaches me, makes me think, explore, especially those wounded places that need that poetic impulse toward healing. What I found in this poem was two personas, circling one another, yet somehow closing the circle of their differences to stand side by side with similarities.

    I found the same thing in your poem, by the way, differences that suddenly turn into similarities. Poetry is a very powerful thing, isn’t it?



  5. vivinfrance says:

    As suggested in the prompt, this is a poem of two halves: first an exposition of self-knowledge which throws intense light on the poet. The second half is altogether different: humble, diffident, yet touching on profound truths. Gospel writer hit the nail on the head with the phrase ‘through too many filters’. Sometimes in our dealings with others the filters are more like a thick fog, and at other times, absent altogether. I’m so glad you didn’t abandon this poem – though I look forward to reading any others you might add to the collection!

    Others? Collection? What do you have in mind, Viv? This one felt like a delicate operation and this poet is not a surgeon by any stretch of the imagination. I kinda had an idea, but it just kept growing, you know how that goes. But, yes I agree about the filters, completely. Sometimes they are for more metal wall than anything resembling a screen. And other times, often with the poetry, even the screen disappears. But, poetry doesn’t do well in regular conversation, so that leaves us with the filters intact, and wondering what to say, or not say. Hesitating to expose, yet wanting that exposure so we can relax and just be comfortable. Oh, Oh, I think I’m getting your drift, lol,



  6. Mary says:

    I am glad that you did not scrap this poem. I like poems in which I can learn some real things about a person, and I liked hearing you state some of these things about you. Of course, I have known much of ‘you’ from your poetry and journals. But still I always LIKE to hear people say exactly who they are.

    I think many of us know people of the other mindset. Unfortunate, I think, that some people are not willing to listen to the voices that are different than their own, to really hear another perspective. You wrote these people well.

    I want to thank you as well for your words on my poem. They made me smile from ear to ear.


  7. 1sojournal says:

    Good, I’m glad they did. I loved your poem and the images it created for me. That wise old wizard, sometimes a crone, is a necessary part of the overall journey and it’s sort of neat to have role models for that.

    Writing about me as a poet isn’t difficult. Writing about me, the complex everyday individual is a wee bit scarier. And yet, as I wrote the poem, I became aware that the poet seems to have untethered some of her bounds and is beginning to mingle with all the rest of the complex. Not a bad thing to occur and maybe even overdue a bit.

    That other mindset did start out as a specific individual, but soon became much broader in fact and detail. This poem started out as a bare bones with little flesh on it. But, as always happens, while building the flesh, I found muscle and sinew beneath it. That’s always exciting, don’t you think? Thanks much for your comments Mary, they mean a lot to me as well,



  8. I loved how you described yourself! I am a swing lover too! Beautifully done, even the woman who likes to hear her own voice and wear a mask!


  9. 1sojournal says:

    Hi Diane and thanks for your comments. But, in all actuality, the one who loves the sound of own voice is a male individual. At least that is where I started, with a very real person, but as I said above, that sort of turned into an amalgamation of several individuals and then ultimately a particular mindset. Thanks for commenting and reading,



  10. Mr. Walker says:

    I like your take on the prompt, to respond to an attitude, a world view that too many take. Those first three stanzas just sung; they speak to me deeply. And then you turned and looked at the other. I like how you returned to the image of lightning, which you executed so well. Thank you!


  11. 1sojournal says:

    Thank you Mr. Walker. I’m glad you liked what I have written. Not sure exactly where the lightning came from, just suddenly saw myself as a child kneeling on the couch watching a wonderful wild storm outside. And of course, someone came along and told me to get out of the window. It was always so tempting.



  12. Susannah says:

    Oh, so much wisdom in your well written words. I really enjoy your writing.

    Thank you Susannah. Wisdom? I have long thought that wisdom is applied knowledge and heaven knows I’ve had a lot of years to apply whatever knowledge I have gained in those years. It’s just a bit startling to realize that. It may take a lot more years to possess and own it, but I’ll try. I promise, lol.



  13. Irene says:

    A well executed poem that gives deep enjoyment, Elizabeth. Almost like turning a glove inside out. I like “well worn hats hung
    on a nail at back doorway.”


  14. 1sojournal says:

    Thank you Irene. The well worn hats was a part of that muscle and sinew I spoke of in an earlier comment. I’m not really sure I have ever watched myself build a poem in quite this manner before. I do a lot of tweaking, here and there, but this was literally putting on the layers of muscle and then the skin to hold it altogether. I love these prompts and the places they take me. They are a beckoning doorway into the corridors and passageways of my own mind, always inviting me to take a few new steps just to see what happens. And I love it, because I’m not alone, all of you are right here with me, doing the exact same thing, in your own fashion and then beckoning me to do likewise. I’m not sure it gets better than this, but then every week I find that it does. And that’s fantastic.

    And I’m glad you stayed up and did some of the same. I loved what you did as well,



  15. derrick2 says:

    I enjoyed this very much Elizabeth, especially the first three stanzas. And the fourth sums up the “other” known to many of us and may even be us at times!


  16. 1sojournal says:

    Derrick, oh I agree. We can and do sometimes become what we find in those around us that irritates us most strongly. After all, we wouldn’t recognize it unless it was somehow familiar to us. There is something to be said about checking ones own vision before pointing out the narrowed view of our neighbor. I was reminded of that several time while writing the poem. They can be such quiet teachers, can’t they? Thanks for commenting,



  17. I always look at the slant. But you know that. And so do you..

    I loved it..

    commas in the pauses


  18. 1sojournal says:

    Gautami, I have often wondered if it was that slant view that actually led me to poetry, or if poetry simply allowed me the slant view honestly, lol. Thanks for the comment and I liked yours as well. But, you already know that,



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