Poetry 1-2-3, Easy as Writing About a Tree!

Weeping Willow, shot in Auckland, New Zealand ...

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There is really no “rhyme or reason” on how to write a good poem. Most people think of poetry as short creative pieces with rhythm, stanzas or some musical flow. However, many strong poems are written that do not rhyme at all. The Haiku poem is a great example of this.

My love of poetry started at an early age. My father would recite poems to us often and would use them as a way to bring about humor in serious situations, much to the chagrin, of my conservative mother. For example a favorite dinner blessing of his for his family of 10 on a limited budget was:

“Lord have mercy on us, keep our neighbors from us, and if they should happen to stumble upon us, please ensure they don’t eat all the food from us.” This was his standard grace and it drove my mother nuts.  At the same time, it intensified my love for poetry.

Through elementary and high school, we competed in church speaking events.   We’d memorize poems, compete locally in our church and the winner would compete for top prize at a convention in front of a big crowd of  people. This was quite an exercise, researching for that perfect poem to take the top honor.  Soon, poetry soon became a significant and fun part of me. To write a really good poem, it’s always a safe bet to write about something that you observe about life, something that inspires you or perplexes you in some meaningful way. The more honest and transparent you are, the higher the probability that we will be able to connect with the poem.

Today,  I’ve chosen an example of a poem to highlight that poetry can really be about anything. Any topic that brings about an emotion or make you stop to think differently.  This poem was inspired by seeing the sagging limbs of a weeping willow out of my neighbor’s kitchen in South Carolina. Yes, a poem about a tree. Enjoy it.

Weeping Willow
Weeping Willow, why are you down?
Hold your head up.
You have no reason to frown.
Look at Your Arms.
So long and lean,
Provides an abundance of shade,
And you’re always green.
You keep us cool.
On a hot summer day,
We hide under your bosom.
And I’m glad you’re that way.
Weeping Willow, Weeping Willow
Stand up tall.
We all have a purpose.
Despite our shortfalls.

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About Barbara McAllister

Barbara McAllister has a passion for writing that was dormant for a while but receiving her "pink papers" from a major corporation kicked her writing into gear. She currently works her day job as a Foundation Program Officer. When she isn't working, she spends time in Rocky Point Mexico taking in the smooth sounds of the Sea of Cortez.


  1. Poetry is undervalued today, but in reality all the commercial songs, whether pop or rap, are in essence a form of poetry. I was reading the Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner last night (don’t ask why) and was in awe of the power of the story. A criticism of modern poetry or rather poetry considered “literary” is that it seems too often to be intentially obtuse. But, a good poem by its nature tends to last longer because if it’s done well (like your father’s blessing) it seeps way down deep and becomes a part of our culture.

  2. Rose, that is so very true. Poetry is undervalued unless it is packaged as a song. Your feedback prompted me to think about some of the most powerful poems I’ve heard. That’s a good question. One for sure would be one minute.

    I have only just a minute,
    Only sixty seconds in it,
    Didn’t seek it, didn’t choose it,
    But it’s up to me to use it,
    Give account if I abuse it,
    Answer for it if I lose it,
    Just a tiny little minute,
    But eternity is in it!

    • The poem that always comes to mind when I think of something that is well known, very old and contains information about our past is this one

      Ring around the rosey
      A pocket full of poseies
      Ashes, Ashes
      We all fall down

      It’s about the Black Plague
      The ring of rosey was the lesion, the telltale sign of infection
      The posies were flowers held close to the nose to counter the stench of the decaying bodies
      Ashes – the remnants of having to burn all those bodies
      We all fall down – being dead

      I remember learning it from kindergarten, but not finding out the meaning until well into adulthood. If I was teaching poetry, that would be the first poem I’d teach.

  3. Rose,

    I never knew that this is what “ring around the rosey” meant. Thanks for that. No one has ever shared that with me. Wow..I’ll never think of our childhood game the same.