Yes: Poems that Speak to Other Poems


A few weeks ago I read a poem by Jill Cooper that she posted on Facebook. This is an excerpt from “Yes.”

Yes to this day.
Yes to your body.
Yes to what your body
Yes, to the insides
of flowers.
Yes to opera. Yes to trees.
Yes, to being late.
Yes to driving
the kids back and
forth back and
forth and back.
Yes to home.
Yes to your lover.
Yes to being
Yes to your dreams.
Yes to your best stories.
Yes to feeling
everything you feel.
Yes to feeling,
anything you feel.
Yes, yes. yes.
Yes to avocado skins
in the sun on
the counter of your
ideas. Yes
to vacations with
people you like.
Yes to the talking person
on the plane.
Yes to the crying babies.
Yes to your best work.
Yes to your effortless
work. Yes to your watch.
Yes to tea and chocolate.
Yes to waiting. Yes
to finding out the
truth. Yes, to trying and
not trying. Yes to saying
no. Yes, to beets. Yes
to soft towels and knowing
how to say yes to your life.

The day after I read “Yes” was our Teachers as Writers Saturday class. As part of our ritual after we settle in, I always offer a short warm-up to get our creative juices flowing. On this particular Saturday I read “Yes” to everyone and then said, “Write your own Yes poem if you are inspired. Or maybe yours is a No poem. Or even a Maybe poem. Perhaps it’s not a poem at all, but a small moment triggered by what you heard. Whatever it is write for ten uninterrupted minutes. Happy writing.”

I was struck by Jill’s line, “Yes to avocado skins in the sun on the counter of your ideas” and began drafting this poem that I call, “Yes to Avocados.”

If you’d like to hear my spoken word version of “Yes to Avocados” click here

Yes to Avocados (with credit to Jill Cooper’s poem that spoke to my poem)

Yes to green meat
scooped out with a spoon.

Yes to pits
held by toothpicks
balanced on a glass
waiting to sprout.

Yes to “I’m gonna grow an avocado plant, Mama, and plant it in the garden by the string beans.”

Yes to skins of a black that’s green and a green that’s black.

Yes to bumps.

Yes to thumbprints that say, “I’m ready for guacamole.”

Yes to firmness that says,

Yes. Yes. Yes.

Yes to slices
and chunks
and mash.

Yes to highchair trays covered in green smears
and bibs with pocket surprises.

Yes to black beans
and ceviche
and Avocado Lime Pie.

Yes to bright orange stickers
that say: RIPE.

I love poems that speak to other poems. I’m adding “Yes” to go with three other poems that I’ve used that really seem to inspire the poetry within us.

To Be of Use by Marge Piercy Marge Piercy’s poem
The lines that speak to me most are:

The work of the world is common as mud.
Botched, it smears the hands, crumbles to dust.
But the thing worth doing well done
has a shape that satisfies, clean and evident.

Where I’m From by George Ella Lyon George Ella Lyon’s poem
I get chills every time I read the opening lines:

I am from clothespins,
from Clorox and carbon-tetrachloride.
I am from the dirt under the back porch.
(Black, glistening,
it tasted like beets.)

The Red Wheelbarrow by William Carlos Williams William Carlos Williams’ poem

Writers love describing what “so much depends upon.”

What poems speak to you? You are invited to share a line or two or twenty.

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