The Poetry Project
Do What a Dandelion Would do
Have you ever felt that you were standing so tall,
as tall as a redwood whose trunk refused to be cut down?
beneath your bright eyes
your knees were quivering and frail,
only one moment away from a fall.
Thin cucumber slices hide and replenish
your tear stained eyes. Your eye drops
sit in your backpack like your brown spotted, stuffed dog
that lays with you every night
soaking up the muddy rivers that painfully streak your cheeks.
Now life keeps looking at you
asking why can’t you figure it out?
Wondering when you are gonna get it right.
But tense muscles and screeching headaches
burn and break the electrical signals,
halting this sense of right
that life longs from you.
doesn’t understand that you aren’t ready to get it right.
It doesn’t understand that there is no one way road
that you are suppose to follow.
Only the dandelions know the truth.
The fresh dandelions try to laugh with you
with bright golden faces that
just don’t care
that they are merely a weed
among all the beautiful flowers
that get picked for bouquets.
And they know that it is okay.
For when time comes around they will be the flower
that will use the sweet breath of a child
to blow the seedlings
of their wishes free.
A dandelion’s life may seem simple,
but listen to what they have to say.
For they can sustain their whole life
without ever moving an inch.
They bask in the sun to feed their souls
and droop to one side when the rains come.
Yesterday was a day of the rain
where the skies let it’s tears flow
outside of your misty bathroom window.
The drowning dandelions could not be heard
behind the roar of your shower.
The tremble of your hand forced you to grab
the white shower curtain as you step into your sanctuary.
Though the ground was slick from old used soap,
it let you take a momentary clear breath
before it took you to your knees.
Your tightened throat gasped for air
through the waterfall of your tears.
Pain and hardships will always come at unknown times
for you and I and the dandelions,
those days where nothing goes right
that soak and chill us to the bone.
Do what a dandelion would do,
and blow hope into the wind,
and remember the warmth of the sun,
for no rumbling rainstorm will
cloud you from happiness.
Growth as a Poet
After going through six different drafts for my poem, Do What a Dandelion Would Do, I am finally looking back at how much my poem improved and how much I have grown as a poet through this project. Though there are many parts from my first draft that made it through all six revisions such as, “A dandelion’s life may seem simple, / But listen to what they have to say. / For they can sustain their whole life /without ever moving an inch. / They bask in the sun to feed their souls / And droop to one side when the rains come.” There were many areas that were updated and beautified, others that were completely cut, and new sections that were added to create a better flow throughout the poem. In my most updated poem drafts I added short stanzas to connect my ideas clearly. My fourth stanza in my final draft, “But tense muscles and screeching headaches / burn and break the electrical signals, / halting this sense of right / that life longs from you.” is one place where I added more emotion to try my poem together. When I finally began to memorize my poem it was almost too easy because writing so many drafts had engrained my poem so deep into my brain. I never thought I would feel so connected to a piece of my writing and am now inspired to write more poetry and hopefully do the poetry slam again next year. This project and my poem has given me a new passion for words and the beauty they can create.
I made many changes throughout my draft process for my poem to become the poem I had first imagined. I had been writing my poem about the pains and hardships of life when my poem ended up changing to being an extended metaphor comparing dandelions to these life pains. I had really wanted to make my poem emotional hit people when they read or heard it, but I struggled to do so in my first couple drafts. When I had written my first draft I had only written about what dandelions do and not how my personal pains or any pains were connected. By getting peer critiques and my own personal critiques I knew I needed more emotionally parts through out my poem. I added the section about the shower to connect to the rains that soak the dandelions. I don’t think I know anyone who has never cried in the shower before so felt that this would be a powerful part to make my poem more emotional. My poem went from having an awkward transition to, “Yesterday was a day of the rain/ where the skies let it’s tears flow / outside of your misty bathroom window. / The drowning dandelions could not be heard / behind the roar of your shower. / The tremble of your hand forced you to grab / the white shower curtain as you step into your sanctuary. / Though the ground was slick from old used soap, / it let you take a momentary clear breath / before it took you to your knees. / Your tightened throat gasped for air / through the waterfall of your tears.” Now thinking about my poem not having some of these emotional connections makes me realize how important they really are. Without them my poem would not have the emotional message that I wanted.
With every edit I made I fell more in love with my poem and so much more connected to it. I doubt that I will ever forget this poem and am so glad that I decided on doing some alterations so it could be a spoken word poem. Most of my edits to accomplish my goal of making my poem into a spoken word poem happened from my fourth to sixth draft. Spaces and bolding were became close friends who helped me make specific parts of my poem more impactful. “...With bright golden faces/That just don’t care…” was a section from my first five drafts was changed by italics in my final draft, “...with bright golden faces that / just don’t care…” to point out how much they really didn’t care. This italicized section was then visible in my head and through my words. The critiques of my rhythm and word choice in my poem allowed me to give a strong, emotional voice not only because of my words but because of the facial and hand motions I was able to make. My last stanza of my poem when I first wrote it was alright and I liked the message it told, but as a growing poet I felt no real connection or love for it. This was my first draft, “But do what a dandelion would do, / And take that weight that made you sag / From your normal life, that seems to be holding you down / And let it make you grow stronger and brighter than before.” I worked on figuring out how I could tie this better to the rest of my poem while making it emotional and powerful enough to be a spoken word. I tried many different things, but went back to how a dandelion would actually feel about happiness and came up with this ending that I love, “Do what a dandelion would do, / and blow hope into the wind, / and remember the warmth of the sun, / for no rumbling rainstorm will / cloud you from happiness.”
Even though through many edits and critiques my poem was coming together and making sense, my poem was still lacking something. Our process journals always had a challenge revision that helped improve my poem and sparked new motivation in me. I realized I needed more poetic devices to enhance my poem to its true potential. By using figurative language and imagery I was able to enrich this phrase, “For when time comes around they will be the flower / that makes every little kids / dreams come true.” to this more powerful phrase, “For when time comes around they will be the flower / that will use the sweet breath of a child / to blow the seedlings / of their wishes free.” This turned out to be one of my favorite sections of my poem after I edited it. Using different poetic devices throughout my poem then felt like a mission I had to complete. I was then looking for any phrase, stanza, or word that lacked some kind of poetic device that wasn’t on purpose. Even changing a simple line like this one, “Tall enough to make it look like nothing could ever knock you down” and changing it using a simile to, “as tall as a redwood whose trunk refused to be cut down?” Poetic devices not only helped my poem grow and develope, but it also help me grow as a poet.
When I first began my poem, Do What a Dandelion Would do, I had been writing about some of my past experiences with pain. I had a tough first semester and was able to learn some very valuable lessons that allowed me to take the pains life gave me and grow from them. Even though over this past semester I often felt isolated and suffocated by my pains, I had become more aware of how everyone is struggling with some kind of pain and that no matter what I am never alone in my pains. Before this past year I had always tried to stay positive and look forwards to the good things in life, but I never realized that that wasn’t always what my body and heart needed. We all need to release our pains, feel the reality of them, and share them with the world or even just with the loved and trustworthy people in our lives. Even if it feels like they are strangling you, you need to let them be free so you can grow to find out who you truly and not be identified or singled out by your hardships. I wanted to share this growth with everyone and anyone through my poem so they can make it through their own pains.
I had not yet come up with my comparison between the dandelions and pain until I was halfway through my poem. I had written a simile that compared how pain can make you feel inferior like a dandelion, but the more I thought about dandelions I realized how well a dandelion resembled life’s up and downs. Dandelions get a lot of hate for growing like crazy in your yard, taking up grass space, and for being a weed. As a child I remember them being one of my most favorite flowers because we could pop of their heads and sing the childish song that went along with it, rub them all over your face so you would be yellow, sniff them so you could have hysterical sneezing fits with your friends, they would always be the first flower to pop up to welcome spring, and when they changed from yellow to white you could blow on them and make a wish. Not everyone may have had the the same experiences with dandelions that I have, but everyone can relate to being a child and know what a dandelion is.
I hope to leave people with hope and with something to think about when they are hurting and in pain. I believe in everything I wrote and keep it in the back of my mind even when a rainstorm is thundering and lightning above my head. I know now that I am not the only one in pain and that what I have learned through my pains can help other who also feels so isolated and suffocated by their struggles. Life isn’t always going to be perfect or smooth, but the bumps on our road make us stronger and help us grow.