You Can Find Goodness Inside of Sadness, and Poems When None are Coming

A number of years ago a friend of mine in difficult straits sent me a 5-page writing on all the unhappiness and sadness that was going on in his life.

I took his writing and did this exercise I had done in a workshop with the brilliant and amazing Nick Flynn, pulling out words that would be beautiful.  In the order they were written, I made the poem below.

His response to me?  “I love you”.   (Not really, but you know)

So when you are aching to write and the words aren’t coming, try this exercise.  Pick up a book and make it happen.


Parry’s Poem

Alone, post dusk, you ponder the dark place
of insight, feelings and thoughts
in the quiet of solitude.

You feel calmer, and wonder why
the solemn feeling
designs the whole day.

The conscious caring of your soul,
something pure,
a desire to give of yourself
redesigned as a positive.

You look into a set of soft brown eyes,
the partner you had wished for
finally arrived.  An ache in your
stomach grows.  Illuminated words
hit the air, an art form,
surreal and real. 

do not know where you end and she begins,
it defines you,
you ask your soul for guidance.
It says you do not know
what is yours. 

You love simply,
you believe.
Listen as the next day opens,
envelops you as the morning
starts its crawl.  You are waiting… 

Words are pushed into the air.
It’s alright.  Your lover
undulates, gaining enough speed to
draw you in.  Parts of you
seem real. 

Into the dusk you share with her
a rambling, run-on sentence starts.
The words, they trickle off your lip.
You ask yourself about the
things you know.  Snippets of
sentences and dangling words
gladly shared. 

You grapple for lessons,
ready and willing.
Truths come to you because of faith,
an ongoing life-lesson,
a wisdom.
By history’s transparencies
that wisdom will be waiting.


Tobi Cogswell is a two-time Pushcart nominee.  She has been published nationally and internationally, both online and in print.  She gives terrible advice but may make a poem out of what you tell her. She is the co-publisher and co-editor of San Pedro River Review (