A Poem for a Thursday #21

Photo by Aaron Burden on Unsplash

Miller Williams was an American poet who produced over 25 books and won many awards. He read a poem at the second inauguration of Bill Clinton. Clinton presented Williams with the National Arts Award. Today's poem is about the art of writing. 

Let Me Tell You

how to do it from the beginning.
First notice everything:
The stain on the wallpaper
of the vacant house,
the mothball smell
of a Greyhound toilet.
Miss nothing. Memorize it.
You cannot twist the fact you do not know.

the blond girl you saw in the bar.
Put a scar on her breast.
Say she left home to get away from her father.
Invent whatever will support your line.
Leave out the rest.

Use metaphors:  The mayor is a pig
is a metaphor
which is not to suggest
it is not a fact.
Which is irrelevant.
Nothing is less important 
than a fact.

Be suspicious of any word you learned
and were proud of learning.
It will go bad.
It will fall off the page. 

When your father lies
in the last light
and your mother cries for him,
listen to the sound of her crying.
When your father dies
take notes
somewhere inside.

If there is a heaven 
he will forgive you
if the line you found was a good one.

It does not have to be worth the dying. 

Let Me Tell You
Miller Williams


  1. That's a delightful one. And he's the father of Lucinda Williams!

    1. Yes, I saw that when I looked him up for this post. Talent obviously runs in the family!

  2. Nothing is less important
    than a fact.

    A very modern sensibility it would seem!