Farewell to National Poetry Month with “The Poems I Have Not Written” and “Tell all the Truth but tell it slant”

We made have reached the end, dear readers, of what I consider a wonderful month here on the blog. I was so happy to share my love of After the Kiss with you as well as an interview with the author herself, Terra Elan McVoy. (Not to mention that I also got to give away signed copies of this wonderful verse novel!)

I really enjoyed sharing some of my favorite poems with you all and I hope you enjoyed reading them too.

On my last day of poems (until next April anyway) I’m leaving you with one of my favorite poems by one of my favorite poets (“Tell all the Truth but tell it slant” by Emily Dickinson). Dickinson was a formative influence for me when I started writing poems myself, not to sound horribly pretentious. She is really something special. There are, of course, other more well known poems but this one always spoke to me.  I just adore it.

I also leave you with “The Poems I Have Not Written” by John Brehm which is another mysterious poem from my computer’s poem folder. It’s a bit poignant and a bit funny. It also felt like the perfect poem with which to end this month-long celebration we call National Poetry Month.


“Tell all the Truth but tell it slant” by Emily Dickinson

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant—
Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth’s superb surprise
As Lightening to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind—


“The Poems I Have Not Written” by John Brehm

I’m so wildly unprolific, the poems
I have not written would reach
from here to the California coast
if you laid them end to end.

And if you stacked them up,
the poems I have not written
would sway like a silent
Tower of Babel, saying nothing

and everything in a thousand
different tongues. So moving, so
filled with and emptied of suffering,
so steeped in the music of a voice

speechless before the truth,
the poems I have not written
would break the hearts of every
woman who’s ever left me,

make them eye their husbands
with a sharp contempt and hate
themselves for turning their backs
on the very source of beauty.

The poems I have not written
would compel all other poets
to ask of God: “Why do you
let me live? I am worthless.

please strike me dead at once,
destroy my works and cleanse
the earth of all my ghastly
imperfections.” Trees would

bow their heads before the poems
I have not written. “Take me,”
they would say, “and turn me
into your pages so that I

might live forever as the ground
from which your words arise.”
The wind itself, about which
I might have written so eloquently,

praising its slick and intersecting
rivers of air, its stately calms
and furious interrogations,
its flutelike lingerings and passionate

reproofs, would divert its course
to sweep down and then pass over
the poems I have not written,
and the life I have not lived, the life

I’ve failed even to imagine,
which they so perfectly describe.