One Lesson on Writing

When I was in high school, I carried poetry notebooks that I made all of my  friends read. When I read most of them now, I can tell how I felt in those poems, but I  have no idea what I was talking about in some of them. I was very dramatic about everything. Actually, I still find myself being dramatic every now and then.

When I first read Marie Howe’s poem “What the Living Do”  which I found in a literature textbook, I was moved to tears. I was experiencing grief from my parent’s separation. The poem spoke to me because Howe addresses the poem to her brother Johnny who is dead. She talks to him as if he can listen to her. She tells him how living means experiencing the unpleasant moments like spilling coffee on oneself, hurrying,  and having a bag of groceries break. She ends the poem by telling him that she remembers him, and even though she doesn’t say she misses him, one can tell that she does.

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The Nature of These Lines

I share poetry lines that move me and why they move me in this poetry series called “These Lines.” I am still reading The Carrying by Ada Limon, so lines from her poems made it to this series again.


I hate the world, the pain of it that circles in us,

that makes us want to be the moon,

the treasure, and not the thing on the sea


from “The Dead Boy” by Ada Limon

  • I have found myself hating the world and its pain. I love how Ada includes everyone in this “want[ing] to be the moon” with her use of “us.” I have also wondered what it would be like to be something nonhuman: a flower, a river, a bird.

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There are Ghosts and Madness in These Lines

This is a poetry series in which I share poetry lines that move me and why they move me. The following lines are from The Carrying by Ada Limon.

What if I want to go devil instead? Bow

down to the madness that makes me.

spirit-2304469_1920from “Last Summer After a Panic Attack”

  • I think that all artists including writers carry a madness. (Correct me if I’m wrong.) Here, I’m using the either the “state of frenzied or chaotic activity” definition or “extremely foolish behavior.” My madness sometimes occurs after midnight when I can’t sleep and there’s chaos in my mind. A whirlwind of writing ideas and dreams.

Unanswered messages like ghosts in the throat.

from “Last Summer After a Panic Attack”

  • I have never thought of ghosts living in the throat, and I admire this line so much for its creativity. I would have expected ghosts in the attic or ghosts in the cemetery, so the end of this line caught me off guard. It reminds me of the things I don’t say when I need to say them. Have you ever felt discomfort on your throat because you didn’t say what you wanted to say, and you kept it to yourself?

Some days there is a violent sister inside of me, and a red ladder that wants to go elsewhere.

from “The Vulture & the Body”

  • This line reminds me of rage and sins. This violent sister is the aspect of myself that comes alive when I forget to not lose my chill. This violent sister forgets to think before she speaks or acts after a long day or a long week.

What is your take on these lines? If you liked this post, subscribe to The Hummingbird’s Journal! 


Hi, my name is Andrea, and I am an English Language Arts teacher who loves reflecting over the truth, beauty, and wisdom I find through reading, journaling, and teaching. The Hummingbird’s Journal is where I collect these reflections. Join me on Twitter where I retweet (more than I tweet) all things funny, enlightening, artsy, and poetical.