Non-renewable Resource

Advice and insight from a professional poet.




How many poems are left?  There have been thousands of years of poetry writing; when will we have it all?
— Dr. Sunshine, Boston, Massachusetts

I just got REALLY depressed because I actually calculated — seriously, I brought out my calculator and scrap paper and even contacted my friend who works as a computer programmer for IBM — and came up with the paltry figure of roughly 40,500 poems left in the English language.  But all of the sudden I screamed, NO!  Why sell out to equations and statistics and everything thing else that tries to make our world predictable, measurable and mundane?  NO!

The truth is, at any point in time, there’s always going to be one more poem left.  We will never have “it” all: As long as the Earth keeps pulsing, we will be compelled to capture the way it pulses through us.  And it’s a good thing, too, because we need it.  We always need one more poem to make our heart leap, to make the earth pause in such a way that we walk around the workplace glee-eyed in awe, completing our day-time duties with alacrity, compassion, purpose, and thought.  Here’s Ada Limón’s “Roadkill”:

White car. Woman who looks like
the librarian from elementary school.
Dead squirrel. Rogue redwood. Glare
of every big bad sunrise’s pressure
to keep alive. Stick-shift. Radio.
This is called what? Living. A little
unkind invitation to meet an end-point,
to push through this small town’s
generated hum and see someone else’s
gas station, someone else’s dead squirrel
and name it, found.

So get writing, Dr. S. • 13 July 2009


Kristen Hoggatt lives, works, and writes in Boston, where she received her MFA from Emerson College. She volunteers at 826 Boston.


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