Beth Camp Historical Fiction

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Oct 3: I wrote a poem one day . . .

I wrote a poem one day, jangled verse, angry verse, as if I could not survive without putting words down to separate who I was, who I might become from what seemed inevitable.

That first poem changed my life. My sister was pregnant at sixteen. My mother worked at a bar. My stepfather had turned violent.

My aunt came to visit that summer I was seventeen, she who painted pictures, great sweeping abstracts. I knew nothing of these, but she read my poem. A week later, she invited me to California, to go to a community college. I left and never looked back.

This poem began all my writing. Now I remember only the last stanza. Here it is.

There's no such thing as a future,
whether good or bad.
There's only the past taunting you
with things you've never had.

Hundreds of poems later, I see now that first poem was pretty terrible. As was my life then. Today I write fiction, an occasional poem, and quilt. My husband and my daughter (now son-in-law and granddaughter) enrich every day.

Poetry has always been my private side, difficult to read aloud, even more difficult to share. But there's still something in a graceful line of words, observation, reflection, a stillness or awareness that connects me back to joy.

I wrote a poem one day
so many years ago:
a great door opening
to a community of voices,
a mermaid singing on the edge of the sea,
a lover's voice reciting,
a baby's cry, fretful, then quiet;
a painter's brush rich with blue paint,
a kaleidoscope of words,
each one irrevocably bringing change.

Read what others have written for OctPoWriMo here.


  1. You are blessed that you had an aunt that cared so much to help you out and into your destiny. So glad she was there for you. Sweet poem.

  2. strange how first poem remains our favorite on certain ways...

  3. Anonymous2:41 PM


  4. Thank you for these careful insights!

  5. The poem is lovely; that last line about irrevocable change is wonderful. But I really loved the opening line of your blog...the jangled verse, angry verse. In fact, that first paragraph is poetry. Loved it!

  6. You have a gift of expressing yourself through writing and the poem was wonderful and a vehicle for change to happen in your life. Nice blog post, Beth

  7. Thank you all for reading and responding. These poems are not so easy to write each day, but I appreciate very much this community of voices. Write on!

  8. Anonymous1:33 PM

    So glad you are sharing this very private part of yourself with your fellow poets. May you enjoy many wonderful joyful tomorrows.

  9. This reminds me of my journey at the age of sixteen, when i started writing a day after my dad passed away.Since then words have been my sole companions when the heart aches.Thank you Beth.