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Getting Published: Show, Don’t Tell

Wren on December 20th, 2017

The Pet Goldfinch, Henriette Browne, 1829-1901.

At Califragile and JUMP, I get many poems with interesting topics and perspectives. Yet the other editors and I reject 90-95% of submitted work. Top three reasons I reject submitted poetry: telling instead of showing, cliche, and a conversational or narrative tone, versus a poetic one.

I comment in an upcoming interview with Selfish Poet’s Trish Hopkinson that poetry is not a plateau. If you want to see it as a hierarchy of snobbier and more condescending poets, you can. But the difference I see in what I publish and what I don’t is in the time spent crafting and trimming, and the depth brought to the subject.

Show, don’t tell is a technique often employed in various kinds of texts to enable the reader to experience the story through action, words, thoughts, senses, and feelings rather than through the author’s exposition, summarization, and description. The goal is not to drown the reader in heavy-handed adjectives, but rather to allow readers to interpret significant details in the text. The technique applies equally to nonfiction and all forms of fiction, literature including Haiku[1] and Imagism poetry in particular, speech, movie making, and playwriting.[2][3][4][5]–Wikipedia

When I was in film school, my screenwriting instructor would hand my work back with “How do we know?” and “Show, don’t tell,” written all over it. The same is true in poetry. To get published in prestigious journals you have to practice “show” until you nail it.

Examples of telling (with a few cliches):

My dog is a good sport, waiting until the velvet evening.

Daylight autumn colors remind me of my aunt.

I went downstairs and turned right, into my office.

Trump, impulsive and vain, will bring death and suffering to the masses before he’s through.

Earth is our mother and we only get one, yet we shop and plug into games.

Kai was devastated that his teacher gave him an F after he’d stayed up late to finish.

My dad would get up early each Saturday and buy a box of donuts.

Each is interesting. I find myself wanting to know more. And yet, each leads me to say, “show, don’t tell…”

So what does showing look like? It is rarely replacing single lines like these with better written ones. Usually, it’s in trusting all the lines of imagery together to communicate. As a poet you’re a painter. Send the narrator in your head out for donuts and let the painter play. Your brush strokes are metaphors, rhythms, enjambment.

Try taking the “I” out, or at least dramatically reducing it. Part of this shift is realizing you’re no longer reporting on the exact experience you had, which would require including all the details you find significant. Instead, you’ve gotten in touch with the emotional core of your poem, separate from its inspiration. Now, what from your first draft serves that core? Write a whole new poem about the core. Blend the two? Keep serving the core.

Free yourself from conversational language, and for that matter, complete sentences.

I see lots of poems go off the rails because the writer is trying to maintain a charming narrative voice. Lose it. It doesn’t serve the core. Consider sentence fragments and catalogs of images–sets of three, usually. My favorite I enjoyed crafting is this set of three pairs from a poem about unrequited love:

Fox and mouse,

mouse and beetle, squirrel and squirrel.

Food,urges, panic.

Even the words added to ensure understanding aren’t a sentence. Brushstrokes.

If a writer…knows enough of what he is writing about he may omit things that he knows and the reader, if the writer is writing truly enough, will have a feeling of those things as strongly as though the writer had stated them. The dignity of movement of an iceberg is due to only one-eighth of it being above water. –Ernest Hemmingway

(Sorry for the gender invisibility. I’m in a hurry.)

How do you know if your show works, that readers understand your meaning? Poetry gets a bad rap from the public because people assume they won’t understand it. We certainly don’t want your work to add to that stereotype. And if editors can’t glean your meaning, you’re still not in print.

Trust and verify. Trust your audience. But as you’re learning, verify understanding.

Here’s where critique come in. Find poetry critique groups, locally or online Look for a truthful working group. Claps and nods are your local open mic aren’t telling you the truth. Find poetry readers, professors if you must, and ask them what your poem means. What confused them? Did they understand your core? If not, their misinterpretation is still helpful. Online, don’t just post your poem. Tell people what critique you want. “What does my poem mean? Where do I lose you?” Repeat this often, until you get a sense of how to communicate through showing, not telling.

Maybe you’re already published, even widely. So why should you change a groove that works for you? If you’re reading this because you’ve been declined by Califragile or JUMP, then my post can help you succeed with us in the future. Each journal is that editor’s sandbox. Other editors will have their own standards and pet peeves. Outlaw poets and MFA’s all contribute to the poetic conversation. Woody Guthrie and Beethoven are both considered geniuses. Their relationships to depth and craft were very different, and yet both served their cores.

Amy Lowell

Examples to Study:

Soapstone Figure by Nicole Michaels. Core: The objectification of women, the experience of being that object as the only experience you know.

A Lady by Amy Lowell. Core: Seeing and adoring a woman’s inner beauty and personhood.

Wolf 1061 by David Rodriguez. Core: Our home on Earth is perilous, fragile and rare. Our existence depends on it.

Looking Away at Lambert Airport by Beth Gordon. Core: In modern culture, we’re so plugged in, we’re detached from each other.

These are phoenixes. Just go with it.

Poets who connect with me via Califragile or The Seldom Herd Poetry & Goat Bulletin Board recently got my invitation to join Poetry Circle, an online journal and private membership critique group for experienced poets.

Shortly after I sent said invites, that publication was sold to a developer who shut down the journal and converted the critique forum to an automated message board with ads, removing all controls that allowed writers to edit or delete their previous work (and possibly future posts), or control whether their work is seen by the public.

That developer also ended the editor status, which included me. After issuing him a legal Cease and Desist Order to get him to comply with my requests that he remove all my content from the site, I joined other former editors and long time members in planning replacement sites that could be even better than what we had before.

Why two replacements? Was there a schism?

No, nothing so dramatic. One editor, Eliot Jacobson, had set up a forum site before he ever joined PC. It allowed him to jump right in and create something quickly, as quickly as things go that take endless hours, and so we have Jump, the International Journal of Modern Poetry. I’m working with him and other former PCers on that project.

Other editors wanted to take the slow route. They formed a group and are developing a site I’ll post about soon. I’m also involved with that group. In fact, there’s broad overlap in both.

Both groups will be similar in offering a place to post your poetry, away from the public (thus not considered published, keeping writing available for future submission) so that you can give and receive feedback. Both will have a public Front Page online journal that features selections from the forums as well as poems submitted and solicited from outside the group. Both will have a broad mission along the lines of helping poets improve their writing for the purpose of publication. Both will have the sense of community we enjoyed at PC.

Although we were dismayed at the sudden sale of PC, we knew the owner wanted to step down and was considering his options. So, surprised/not surprised. The result is that the PC community is able to improve upon the model in ways we couldn’t with the former owner. We’ll be able to have better coordination between the editors and better accountability in the community, creating a safer, more focused, troll-free zone.

My purpose in writing this note is to say to my Califragile & Seldom Herd communities, stay tuned. Wonderful choices are coming!

–Wren Tuatha

Poets in search of contests might enjoy this news. I learned of The West Coast Eisteddfod Online Poetry Competition from the blog, Publishing…and Other Forms of Insanity. This contest is sponsored by a Welsh journal, The Seventh Quarry, edited by Peter Thabit Jones. This particular poetry contest is is very community minded. Not only does it not charge an entry or reading fee, but it encourages links to applying poets’ blogs, rather than viewing such blogs with the usual disdain.

This blog post is in fact my own entry.

1. Make Soup, You Said, first published in Baltimore Review

2. April in Myth, first published in Antiphon Poetry Magazine

3. Cornbread, first published in The Cafe Review

4. Addah Belle’s Pocket Watch, first published in Bangalore Review

5. Tupelo Coyote, first published in Canary, A Literary Journal of the Environmental Crisis

Make Soup, You Said

I’m making a soup
to fill my bowl.
I’m after that carrot of consolation
you dangle.
I would remember
a recipe
in that season of my childhood
without language.
The three sisters–
corn, beans and squash…
When they hold hands
they can give weight
while they dance and stir,
balanced in a circle chain,
resolved, complete.

If I know the right herbs,
if my flame is humble,
if I stir with the tide,
if I ladle with steadiness,
if I eat with grace,
if I digest with stillness,
I will understand
why you have gone.
I wrote you a letter.
I burnt it,
buried it,
scattered it,
sent it sailing,
nailed it to my bed.
Make soup, you said, nothing is simple.

April in Myth

April is old like water, prehistoric, recycled. Womb
and bladder. To my Third World parched skin,
she’s America, running the tap.And now, in a foreign
hot tub, she mothers me, as if she has it to spare.
Water and muscles, air and my salty grief.

April has bloomed before, on schedule, sometimes
an early surprise. She has chased and she’s been cupped
to the lips, been drunk in, and done someone’s share
of drinking. Me, too, always in August.

On April’s flesh, tears and kisses evaporate,
leaving shine. On mine, brine, crusty, leaving in cakes
like the ice shelf. I watch it go, with foreboding
that natural disasters will result.

But water and her children won’t be possessed.
In time, she does the possessing, pooling foolish souls
like shrimp, pulling us through hurricanes and extinction
and silence from space.

Mammoths, raccoons, wrens and Americans.

Like water, April is old, knows how to crest and trough,
be a beating organ of the beast, a good germ on the living
planet. Some herons are like pterodactyls pulled by hunger
too far from shore. There are fools and there are fish.
Drink, says April. Extinction breeds myth.
And oh, what a magnetic myth we make.


Cotton takes care of me.
I mend and wonder where
a word went as Cotton hops
out of bed, feeds the herd,
showers. I’m late with his
coffee. I have one job as he
capers around, clipboards
and clients’ keys, leash
and a dog to walk.

My hours pass in turns of
whiplash and molasses.
I’m glad he’s at work,
not watching. We both recall
when I was brilliant.
He soldiers and I try.
Who takes care of Cotton?

He’s aged out of his market.
Once six figures, now Cotton
cleans houses. Five today,
done at six. Home at seven
with rags to wash and stories.
Spreadsheets and payroll.
Menu ideas and shopping lists.
Leash and a dog to walk.
Cotton cares into the void.
Tonight he’ll make cornbread.

Addah Belle’s Pocket Watch

Addah Belle’s pocket watch stands open
on my desk like a sandwich board

I want to shrink down and crawl under it,
camping in my ticking tent. Constellations
and bug spray.

Addah Belle knew me. She could
look at me and tell my future. In her time,
women married.

Addah Belle chose door number two
and taught at a girls’ finishing school,
finishing them off for the altar.

Retirement came abruptly. Bourbon and
ceremonies. The stillness of her room
in the farmhouse. And no Marian.

Two twin beds, like a dormitory, and her
married sister downstairs with grandkids on
long weekends.

I, her grand niece, tracked in
with pocket frogs, too-close best
friends and notebooks. She noticed.

Mom cut my unattended hair short.
Strangers took me for a boy. A boy
with notebooks. Listening to Auntie.

And the pocket watch tent would ticka tick,
flashlights and ghost stories on her desk while
she advised I could be a writer, plan a career.

In her time pocket watches were for men.
That might be how it came to her. Tom,
the last at bat who walked home

lost, wondering why she wouldn’t
marry him, why remaining at school with
Marian was preferable. The watch

forgotten on a wash stand, a library shelf,
a parlor bridge table. Tempus abire tibi est.        [It’s time for you to go away.]
The watch she kept and wound, for the sound.

I was a writer when she died. I was a lesbian
when I found her love letters. Her watch,
a flashlight and a tape measure in my drawer.
Tempus vitam regit.                                                 [Time rules life.]

Tupelo Coyote

We were tracing Jack’s Creek
where the woods abducts it from the rolling
hills of dairy cows and tobacco.
I on the asphalt, you behind the tupelos.
You stalked me like a fan
afraid to ask for my autograph.
Those alien eyes,
measuring my marrow
bend after turn, always
thirty paces aside.

Now you trot out in the farmlands,
legs like tobacco sticks, mapping the median line.
I am roadside, reading.
You are storybook real.
I speak to you, familiar,
as if you are the family dog.
Your answer is a glare-beam
that rips me, rights me.

You put me in the landscape,
that’s all.

This Author’s Statement on Beauty

Wren on May 20th, 2017

Of course peacock shoelaces exist. Who says the fall of empire won't have (slave-made) flair?

Peacock Journal is dedicated to the theme of beauty. It was a challenge to find old poems of mine that study beauty. I’m more of a poet for picking a beautiful object and turning it as much as I have to to find its underside. Then I say, “See, told ya.”

I was so concerned that my submission would not match the theme well that I tried to write a poem about something beautiful without looking for the underside. The result is Emperor of Nimshew, or for my underside fans, At the Lonely Gravel End. Of course, I have extra underside stanzas all planned out. But…

Happily, I recently learned that Peacock Journal accepted Emperor and three of my old poems!

With each group of poems, they also publish an “Author’s Statement on Beauty.” Again, I wondered if I would offend fans of beauty with my curmudgeonly diatribe against rainbows and daisies. After hours of ramblings and takebacks on paper, pacing, and computer drafts, I’m actually pleased with my result. I think I manage to make my point without shaming the positivity set too much:

To me, truth is the deeper beauty. Sometimes I sit in the fire and sometimes I sit in the garden. I am often concerned that friends use soothing concepts like beauty and positivity as hiding places, deflecting shards of reality rather than coping or taking action. We might all seek a hiding place from today’s twenty-four hour news cycle, and the feeling that there’s no cure for the greed, vanity, and brutality displayed there.

Sitting in the fire, I try to be present with life’s ugliness in order to move through it, rather than around it. Then, when I sit in the garden, being present with sensory beauty all around me is an easy, organic process. I never wonder about the purpose of beauty. It just is, like death and traffic and buzzing silence.

For my poetry, I make lists of “shiny things,” the mundane and random details of my days. I populate my poems with these. I adore the beauty in my goat Rye dancing, the fringe of pine needles hanging in my manzanita tree, and a website dedicated to artful, competitive shoelace tying. It’s the micro and the macro, the tiny details drawing my eye to universal truths, that I find beautiful, destructive, and true. At the end of my day, I love beauty, and find reason to look truth in the eye.

Facebook meme I spotted after first posting this.

National Poetry Month: Two Autumn Skies

Wren on April 8th, 2017

Autumn Sky Poetry Daily is one of several sites that specialize in offering a new poem every day, or nearly so. I like that the editor, Christine Klocek-Lim, follows the poem with an “editor’s note,” a few thoughts on the strengths of the work, what drew her to select that poem out of the pile of submissions. Such comments from an editor are nice for readers and poets. Unlike most publications, Autumn Sky is open to previously published poems. For a poet, this can bring tested work to a larger audience.

My poem, Random John Fox, appeared on Autumn Sky in November. I wrote the first draft when my friend John was hospitalized with deadly meningitis. But in rewrites  years later I avoided the narrative story of John, who survived and recently welcomed his second child. Instead, my goal was to reflect on that time of not knowing–when a critically ill or injured person could turn either way. I portraited the randomness of fate as experienced by those in waiting. What do the specifics of a person’s life mean when a virus, car crash or drone strike can kill? Life means everything to the living and those left behind. And like Make Soup, You Said, my poems often try to make sense when life’s large random elements bring death.

I read that death is the most popular poem topic. I’m not sure if it’s true, but the article I read makes the point that if a writer takes on a universally covered topic like death, they need to bring something surprising and new to the discussion or treat the subject in a dramatically creative new way. I must contribute something in writing about loss and death, because editors do pick my grief poems.

Broom Zen was first published in Winamop, then appeared in Autumn Sky Poetry Daily in March. I believe it may be included in a special upcoming Green Revolution, a memorial edition to Charles Curtiss, my friend who sweeps his way through his own grief in this poem. He himself died last year. I wrote this early in my time at Heathcote Community. Most of my poetry was written in this wonderful natural, communal setting. Broom Zen was an early effort at rhythm and economy. I was also walking a line with narrative and repetition, trying to find my poetic voice while giving my reader enough information for my intended emotional impact.

People who know John and Charles pick up on details in the poems that make them joyful portraits of these friends. My hope is that readers can access deeper layers of broader meaning and connect with their own experiences of loss. Thank you, Christine and Autumn Sky Daily for accepting my work!


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Five:2:One Magazine asked for my batshit crazy submissions. Okay. Early on in my quest to rack up publishing points, I came upon Five2One. Their site has a section for micro poetry, which they apparently define loosely. I was looking for corners where my poems might find a niche. These editors were looking for the wild, reckless, unhinged stuff. My cover letter went like this:

In the spirit of the literary freakshow, I’m flinging the five poems listed below for your consideration. You asked for it; I don’t usually inflict Lobster-Eating Bogeyman on anyone. I didn’t realize micro poetry was a thing or that I was doing it, but here goes! This is a simultaneous submission. I will notify you immediately if any of these poems is accepted elsewhere.

They quickly got back to me, and with a letter that began, “Yo, Wren,” they scooped up all five poems I’d sent. No stuffy dignity here.

When people tell me they don’t understand poetry, I respond that they’re asking the wrong questions. They expect a poem to tell them a story, make them feel fluffy or know the presence of God. Poetry appreciation in schools is very uneven and fades away far too early. I read my poem, Lobster-Eating Bogeyman to such folks and instead of asking what the poem means, I ask them how it makes them feel. There’s no story in LEB, and definitely no fluffy. Universally, people say that it makes them feel disturbed. This is a poem that achieves its goal.  I wrote it during/about a mental health episode, a storm of panic and anxiety. My aim was to portrait, even transmit that feeling. The story of what made me feel that way doesn’t matter to my goal, and I don’t remember it anymore. Telling the story would not have had the same visceral effect.

I walk through the world as a queer woman. That’s automatically a fertility issue for me; I always wanted children. Being queer, I had to go to extra lengths to try for parenthood. Added to that impediment, I’ve had uterine fibroids all of my adult life. I walk through the world as a person who wanted children, never had them, and, for most of my life, I taught children. Place me at the barbecue, sitting in circles of parents talking about their children. Endlessly. The difference is Apparent.

I aim to state specifics in my poems. Okay, tree. But what kind of tree? My poems are heavy on concrete images. Yet I want readers to relate, to have a universal human experience. That was a challenge in my poem, Simile, because, honestly, I was writing about my grief at the loss of my pet duck, Lilith. I decided to go with human images in this study of grief. This poem also plays with the concepts of simile and metaphor as ways of describing experiences like grief. Of course, since I was in film school at the time, it wraps with a Hollywood reference.

While Jean Doesn’t Write started out as a playful, private nudge to a friend. First it has science fiction imagery that filled my brain then. But then I turn it to political and personal prods to goad my friend, who was distracted from her writing by a demanding job. Now, years later, who can say which path was best for her. I have my own serious doubts that this poetry thing has any relevance or power to effect change. Anyway, I had to try…

White Paper Poetree is the second poem I tried to write recently, getting back to writing while I struggle with brain fog and other ailments. My process is different, few sweeping inspirations, just hacking fits of stabbing at paper. I guess that’s what got me writing about the paper, and of course, even as I struggle with my own impairments, I get in touch with my privilege. I manage a lot of word play, starting with the title. I use rhythm and line breaks. Think of “flipping ocean waves and seeping petrol” as a parallel to the paper and ink. I comment on the structure of information in our society, how we are shielded from the view of, the knowledge of atrocities like slavery, as we blithely benefit every day. Oh, and, “smacked by atmosphere,” you’re welcome.

I had my break from writing due to illness at a time when I was starting to shift from a lot of navel gazing topics to looking out at the world. I am interested to see if that shift is noticeable as I attempt more new writing.

Thanks for playing along. More coming soon!


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Issue 82 of Burningword Literary Journal, which includes my poem, The Thud of Escapement, is live on their site and also available for sale in print and digital formats.

The Thud of Escapement is one of my watch poems. I visited the National Watch and Clock Museum in Columbia, Pennsylvania. I could fill several posts just exploring the interesting collections there. In terms of my poetry, I was inspired by the worlds of gears and precision within the watches and clocks. This became a great image for exploring a conflict I was having at the time. It gave me language, such as the delicious watch word, escapement, to neutralize my hurt of the moment. A common theme in my poetry is to get out of ego and take a larger view, in which one’s personal drama is insignificant to the forces around. I think of this as a repeating micro/macro device in my work. Usually, it compares human upset to the grand scale of nature. This time, it’s the mechanical detachment of watches!

Antiphon Poetry Magazine in the UK published another of my micro/macro poems, April in Myth. As I usually do, I gave my hot tub date a pseudonym for the poem. I like that I call her April but she’s been around too long to embody any flowery stereotype of spring. Contrast her youthful name to the scale of time in the poem, and the theme of extinction. Again, a momentary upset leads me to ponder insignificance in the grandness of time, and even a view of human extinction. There are hints at climate change mixed in with love found and lost.

Addah Belle’s Pocket Watch is proof that I’m not a good judge of my writing. I sat on this one for years because I felt it was too narrative. I don’t like much narration in poetry, just as my own preference. Some writers pull it off brilliantly, and it has its place in history. But I dislike it. Finally I posted it in an online critique group to get pointers on where I should start revisions. Readers loved it as is. (On the other side of the coin, I’m likely to be in love with a poem that readers tear to shreds. Not a good judge of my own writing.) The Bangalore Review was the first publication I sent it to and they got back to me the next day, accepting it for publication. Not a good judge…

Addah Belle, Auntie to me, was my maternal grandmother’s sister. Long after Auntie had died, Granny gave me Auntie’s old pocket watch. Long after Granny died, Mom and I found Auntie’s letters and the story unfolded. Auntie had been my first writing mentor. Yet I had never known her secrets or why she took such an interest in me. My answer to a topic that is narrative is to pick a different medium other than poetry. Along with the poem, I conceived a play about four generations of the women in my family and the secrets they kept. I wrote it to be staged in an old farmhouse that seems to be a giant pocket watch, gears winding in and out like vines.

More another day!


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Obviously, several of my poems that have been accepted by journals lately are coming live in time for National Poetry Month. I’ll have another herd thundering through in June.

I want to put in a plug for It features a “front page,” an online journal that features some wonderful and often funky poetry and prose. I will have a poem featured on the front page soon. is also a community of experienced poets and writers behind the front page, who post poems and other work on a number of different private boards for critique. I get useful feedback here that helps me prepare my poems to succeed in the world of literary journals. That said, no community is for everyone. If you only want positive feedback or if your poems are what we call inspirational verse, you won’t be happy here. There are other internet groups for these. But if you want to have your work published, come and take in what the editors and members have to say. Participate in the community!

Driftwood Press includes my poem, The Presence of a Witch, in Volume 4, Issue 2, which is just out! The complete collection of words and art is viewable online. You can also preorder a bound copy, which includes full color art on slick paper. Driftwood likes to go deeper into each contribution. Many of the writers and the artist have been interviewed for the journal, including yours truly! I talk about the genesis of the poem there.

The online journal Halfway Down the Stairs features my poem, Old Shelby, in its current Homeward-themed issue. Old Shelby is one of my short poems that has a lot going on–juxtaposition of the old couple with the young couple, snakes, apples and many Garden of Eden images contrasted with the ice storm, a climate change commentary. It implies the march of generations and our mobile society. All the while, it portraits an old craggy rural character I met in the Ozarks.

In the current issue of Midnight Circus, I have the perfect matching of a poem to a themed journal. This spring themed edition has an introduction that starts, “I don’t like springtime. There, I’ve said it…” These editors were definitely not seeking inspirational verse for their seasonal theme. So the volume leads off with my poem, Thistle and Brilliant, that ends in the line, “Muppets are such liars.” The online version is not live on their site yet, so keep watch. In the meantime, the print version is on Amazon (sorry, abused Amazon workers) and well worth the modest price.  Thistle and Brilliant is another example of my allegorical style, in which I write about a thistle and the temptation to touch something that seems soft but isn’t. More broadly, I’m commenting that we humans never learn, always fall in that same old hole. Then I blame muppets.

More to come! –WT

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Previously published in The Baltimore Review and the poetry anthology Blood and Tears. Upcoming in Avatar Review.

Make Soup, You Said
Soup, By William Adolphe Bourguereau, 1865I’m making a soup
to fill my bowl.
I’m after that carrot of consolation
you dangle.
I would remember
a recipe
in that season of my childhood
without language.

The three sisters–
corn, beans and squash…
When they hold hands
they can give weight
while they dance and stir,
balanced in a circle chain,
resolved, complete.

If I know the right herbs,
if my flame is humble,
if I stir with the tide,
if I ladle with steadiness,
if I eat with grace,
if I digest with stillness,
I will understand
why you have gone.

I wrote you a letter.
I burnt it,
buried it,
scattered it,
sent it sailing,
nailed it to my bed.

Make soup, you said, nothing is simple.

–Wren Tuatha

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About Make Soup, You Said: Some experiences just can’t be tied up with a bow. I wrote this poem in my process of trying to make sense of the death of my biological father. He had been gone since I was three. As an adult, I learned that he had died several years before after a life of homelessness. Realizing that I needed to nurture myself and that the situation had many ingredients, soup was the perfect metaphor. I intentionally avoided telling his or my story narratively. Instead I preferred to keep the poem general, like a love song on the radio, so the reader can apply it to their loss, their absent person. Nothing is simple. –WT

Editor’s Note: This post will be closed beginning in June, when Make Soup, You Said will appear in Avatar Review.