it’s difficult sometimes
to know if what I do
is aligned with my priorities

life is erratic
like it’s charting a course for me
that doesn’t seem guided
by fate or design

I look for omens
signs to show me
that I’m doing the right things

even the occasional bad omen would be okay
something to fight against
an obstacle giving me
a short-term goal to focus on
something to measure myself by

but the fact is I don’t believe in omens
signs from above or below
what’s here and now
in the middle matters

teaching young people
writing poems
making my small portion
of this erratic life
brighter and more beautiful

at least I think so
that’s the question I started with
isn’t it?

but then I look
at my boys
and see what is reflected
in their luminous eyes

and everything seems
true and good
what I know
and what I do
the things that are me
appear congruent

and I wonder
why I question myself at all

I should take that
as a good omen

/ / /

This poem was written for the cocktail of words prompt at We Write Poems. I used the priorities prompt from Poetic Asides and erratic, luminous, and omen from Three Word Wednesday.

A special “Thank you” to the great people at We Write Poems for using my prompt idea this past week. I enjoy writing to their prompts and being a part of their community. I am looking forward to seeing what others have written.


43 thoughts on “Priorities

    • Viv, thank you. I was a little intimidated following my own prompt; I felt a little pressure, but that was just my inner critic talking. I hope it’s good rambling; I was worried that it was bad rambling, not focused. Glad you liked the conclusion.


  1. You have such a distinctive voice when you write about yourself [even if the poet is never the speaker :-)]. I went back to read last week’s wordle poem and then this week’s. And this week’s, which is reflective like this poem has a similar voice, where last week’s speaker is completely different.
    I am realising as I write this how much I miss discussing the ins and outs of writing poetry since I am now 10,000 miles away from my poetry friend and mentor. I am so glad to have lucked into this wonderful group of people. But I still miss the discussion aspect.
    Thank you for all the poems this week. An extra treat.


    • Margo, I, too, just left a community behind to move to Madison, WI (not as drastic a move, but still…).

      The beauty of the internet, of these prompts, and of networking with each other in general is that we create a choir of many different pitches, timbres, and expressions. Just as Richard has his way with Wordles and speaking in different voices, we are all gifted in some way that makes us so unalike… that creates the bond. It’s the yeast, you know?

      Just wanted to let you know I’ve moved around a lot, and this community means the world to me. Amy

      • Amy, how cool of you to reply to Margo on my blog; that epitomizes how this community works. I’m so happy to be a part of it.

        And I agree with you wholeheartedly. It is the diversity of our voices that is our strength. I don’t want to read poems like my own; I want to read poems that stretch me, that help me connect with others, to see different perspectives.

        And thank you for your kind words about my ability with wordles and different voices.


      • Thank you, Amy. My community was a fellow teacher who first introduced me to writing poetry and became my mentor and best friend for 19 years…and then we moved. I miss him sorely, but this wonderful group of people I have found in the cyber world is creating a whole new experience which I love and appreciate. Thank you for writing this to me.

    • Margo, thank you. Yes, the last couple of poems I posted are more personal. Glad to hear I have a distinctive voice. I like telling stories. Sometimes it’s my story, but often I am just the narrator telling someone else’s story, or I’ve adopted a persona that is not me. It’s funny how much I’ve learned about myself in the two latter types of poems.

      My only poetry experience, besides my classroom, is out here with you wonderful people. I’ve never been in a discussion or critique group, but I value this immensely. And I appreciate thoughtful comments like yours. Thank you.


      • Richard–if you ever get the chance at a group take it. As I said to Amy [see above], my group was one person, but one year he gave a creative writing class for any teachers who were interested. What an incredible experience it was. Seven of us sharing everything, writing, discussions, wrangling [food and wine–an important part of the class]…

        I was lucky to have a mentor as well as my classroom experience teaching English lit and comp; you are lucky because the classroom does teach a lot. And, as you are finding, this group does stretch us. I am writing more and differently than I ever have because of it.
        If you ever want a booklist of must have books on writing poetry let me know.

  2. Why, you sound just like me. I look for omens as part of the figuring out process and where it got you is really where it would have gotten me. What a wonderful poem, Richard.

    • Irene, thank you. I love it when we make those kind of connections, how different we are, and yet we end up at the same place. Different routes, but same or similar destinations. Thanks again.


  3. It’s not like we get to walk through walls, not like that, but if we are who perhaps we are – our word matters in the world. It’s not like it matters how the dice land (but it does) however that our hand is upon the dice and we see and say and care – yes that matters a lot. It matters what we say. When we say what is really so, then our word aligns with the source of words. Like rubbing two sticks can make a fire. (But don’t ask me to explain!)

    This poem is rubbing two sticks. This poem makes a fire. It also makes me laugh. That’s good I think.

    Don’t you just love it when a poem lands just right? This one certainly does! A big broad circle, meaning also self-contained, self-fulfilled. Satisfying. Neither does the poem step on its own feet, as Miss Goldilocks might say, “just right” it is. Good observations delivered with good craft and care. Well done Richard!
    (neither have I had much sleep)

    • Wow, Neil, you truly humble me. Your way with words is astounding. That first paragraph up there is a prose poem all in itself. Don’t ask me to explain either; that’s why I write poems and not essays.

      Anything that makes you laugh (that is not at the expense of another) is good.

      I’m glad you think this one landed just right. I was nervous about this one. I wasn’t happy with it when I first drafted it, and I was self-conscious about responding to my own prompt, but after some revision I decided it was the one I wanted to share. Thank you so much, as always, for your kind and thoughtful comments.


  4. Richard, I love your poem and for all the same reasons that have already been stated. However, I too would really like some discussion of some sort as the comments here indicate that others would enjoy. I have an idea, have to think about it a bit and will get back to all of you, after I explore a bit more.


  5. Richard ~

    Though I had some things to say after reading your poem, I seem to have lost them in deference to what I want to say in response to all these responses! 🙂 I, too, have been so blessed by this community of poets that I’ve stumbled upon. I hadn’t written a thing until just a mere 6 months ago. And as a result of a few people stumbling upon my work and encouraging me to continue, I have! And I haven’t just been writing. I have been growing. I have been learning. I have become a better person because of folks like you and some of the others whose names are found in the comments above. I absolutely love the feedback I get from people–even if, at times, I feel like I am so grossly inadequate to provide that kind of critique for others.

    To sum up my new community here….I also say you are friends. I realized this, anew, when I had something exciting happen and I wondered how I would work it into a poem so I could inform all my poetry friends! 🙂 Additionally…I’ve also become friends on Facebook and through email with several I’ve met here.

    I am blessed because of people like you, Richard, and the words shared in poems as well as in comments.


    • I feel much as you do. And your wonderful comments above I accept as high praise, because it reflects exactly as I feel – and as I tried to say in my poem. To have that kind of reaction, one of thought and emotion – it’s wonderful, that connection that we make. Thank you so much. To friendship!

      I, too, feel blessed. And I felt the need to express my gratitude, something that as I have matured, I have come to realize is such an important thing. Thank you for doing the same.


  6. I’m so glad that I’ve stumbled upon your blog through the poetry community. I also read poetry with a broad eye. I believe we all need that injection of differing view and voice to help us balance and clarify our own lines of thinking.

  7. Your poem comes full circle. And this is quite beautiful…..”And I wonder why I question myself at all, I should take that as a good omen.” This whole content is a great write! Thanks for sharing! Cindy

    • Cindy, thank you. Glad you liked the ending. Those last two stanzas came out of the writing; they weren’t originally how I thought this poem would end.


    • mindlovemisery, thank you. I agree, questions and uncertainties do make life more interesting. They can remind us of what we know and of what we are certain.


  8. Richard, you have an interesting dialog going here, both in your introspective poem and the comments. Poetry voice allows us to leap in and out of various personas, and you do it well. Your friends, that community, surrounds you and keeps you encouraged and growing. It treats each individual poet the same way. To paraphrase Hillary Clinton: it takes a community to raise a poet. I’m happy to part of that community and to have you as a friend. As long as you keep writing, my database of what makes Richard Richard, grows, no matter which persona you use. Hmm, hey, teach, how does one punctuate that Richard Richard sentence? See, that’s what friends are for.

    • Mike, thank you. Your comments made me laugh. I’m surprised, but pleasantly so, in the comments that this poem brought forth. Poetry is that beautiful insanity where I can be someone else and be more of myself at the same time. So your database of what makes me me keeps growing – as does mine. And I think I answered your question about how to punctuate that (I really don’t know, but I’m going with it). This is an awesome community and I am happy to count you as a friend. Thank you.


      • If you ask me (which you didn’t, but I’m jumping into this conversation anyway), dialogue like this is what makes friends friends, and friendships are inspirational to me (especially friends like you…and you! heehee). And inspiration is what makes poetry poetry. And, as I have learned these past few months, poetry is definitely a part of what makes me me.

        Thanks for bringing a smile to this ol’ face of mine! 🙂

  9. I’m glad I stumbled upon your poetry. I’ve enjoyed this poem a lot.
    It provoked a bit of thought. I used to believe in omens until I decided to let life just be what to needs to be. We often see what we want or desire and omens have a habit of not telling the full story. Yet we all need some kind of frame to lean on at times. Life provides no solid guide about where we should be or exaclty how our lives are meant to be lived. We make it up as we go along as best we can and I suppose an omen here or there…it helps us reach the next stepping stone…whatever we need to get us through those uncertain times.
    Again I enjoyed this, a satisfying read and I like poetry that gets me thinking. Thankyou.

    • tikarmavodicka, thank you so much for your kind and thoughtful words. You summed it up well, the subtext of this poem – “we all need some kind of frame to lean on at times.” I, too, am glad you stumbled upon my poetry. I’m glad that you connected with this one. Thanks for stopping by.


  10. Our never ending uncertainties… What to do and are we doing it right… I loved the closure of your poem, a bright look after all…

    • Fountains, thanks for stopping by and commenting. I’m glad you connected with it. I find that my poems give voice to thoughts I wasn’t sure I had.


  11. Pingback: Final Prompt From Writers Island | Intuitive Paths

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