“What This Poem Will Do” by Anne Haines

Anne Haines


This poem cannot bring you back.
This poem cannot make the clouds
move more quickly or slowly in the sky,
cannot change the weather. This poem
cannot return you to a happy childhood,
erase a painful one. This poem will
not clear your skin, condition your hair,
wash your dishes, mend your jeans.
It won’t find you a lover, not even
if you recite it three times backwards.
It won’t even find me a lover
and I wrote the thing. This poem won’t
stop time, email your advisor for that extension,
pay the plumber or the piper. This
poem does not pay its taxes. It is not
a good citizen. It fails to vote
or show up for jury duty.
This poem will overturn your scrabble game,
take a bite from every food and leave
the rest. This poem is not housebroken.
All night you hear it whining,
missing its mother, chewing your best shoes
and begging to be let out.

from Rattle #34, Winter 2010


Anne Haines: “I’m about half aging-hippie rocker-chick and half middle-aged librarian, writing from the heart of flyover country. Poetry lets me be the screaming guitar solo in the spotlight while I’m actually sitting quietly on the couch with my cats; it also reminds me to pay attention. I believe that attending to the details of the world, which is also what poetry is, can be an experience of the sacred.”

Rattle Logo