How to Be a Wall


How to Be a Wall

Stand tall.
Stand still.
Keep people out.
Keep people in.
Let the ivy
grab hold.
Watch the birds
soar over.
Sear in the sun.
Give the ants
an Everest.
Watch the shadows
switch sides.
Stand tall.
Stand still.
Don’t last forever.
Make someone ask
do we need
this wall?


Like many of you, I have been dismayed by the current political climate. I hate seeing families and lives torn apart, the prioritization of profit over all else, including fresh air, clean water, and the future of our planet, the callous disregard for our shared human needs for education, health, choice, and respect. I could go on and on. It’s been hard for me to find the wonder in the world when what’s been staring me down has been the cruelty. I’ve struggled to turn pain into art–art worth sharing in any case. I’ve even wondered if writing is the best use of my time. This is one attempt to turn what I’m seeing and feeling into poetry.

I wish you all a Happy National Poetry Month.

For more poetry this Friday, visit Irene Latham at Live Your Poem!


36 replies
  1. hmmmmm says:

    Happy poetry month to you too — and thanks for sharing this.
    FWIW: I just finished binge-listening to S-Town. It somehow — somewhat inexplicably — left me feeling a little bit more hopeful…

  2. Rosi Hollinbeck says:

    I just love this poem — the simplicity of it, the wonderful perspective, the subject. I never would have thought of writing about a war, but you have done it so deftly. Thanks for the post.

    • Liz Steinglass says:

      Thanks, Rosi! I always love reading your blog. Sometimes the quotes you start with directly address something I’ve been mulling over, almost like you’ve been reading my mind!

  3. ldk says:

    Your poem hit the mark! Walls are on our minds lately, aren’t they? No wonder we’re all feeling so much stress.

  4. Tabatha says:

    I may be biased, but I think writing is always a good use of your time 🙂 I really enjoyed your poem, and was struck by “Watch the shadows/ switch sides.” Nothing in nature obeys a wall, does it? The birds, the ivy, and the sun certainly don’t.

  5. Irene Latham says:

    Give the ants and Everest. LOVE! This is such a YOU poem, Liz… gentle and memorable and multi-layered. A gift. Thank you!

    • Liz Steinglass says:

      Thanks, Irene. Give the ants an Everest was the most spontaneous line in the poem. Sometimes it just works like that.

  6. lindabaie says:

    Your poems always make me think, Liz. I remember a couple of years ago when your goal in April was your backyard, around the neighborhood. I loved those insightful poems, and now this, touching on our worries with a new look at a wall. I love “Give the ants/an Everest.” I’m glad you’re writing!

    • Liz Steinglass says:

      Thanks, Linda. I’m touched that you remember those poems. It felt like too much this year to do a daily write. But maybe next year I’ll do it again.

  7. JoAnn Early Macken says:

    I think writing still is a good use of our time, especially as a means to register disagreement, show support, or speak out against cruelty. Our words can be the best antidote to irrationality. Thank you for this perspective.

  8. Bridget Magee says:

    I’m so glad you took the time to take your pain and make it art, Liz. This poem is wonderful (love the line: “Give the ants
    an Everest.”) and necessary. I’m with you on the same side of the torn down wall. Hugs. =)

    • Liz Steinglass says:

      Bridget–I’m trying very hard to follow your inspiring model and redirect my negative feelings in positive directions.

  9. Michelle Heidenrich Barnes says:

    This gives me chills, Liz. Your poem speaks of strength, weakness, resilience, and resignation, and is such an apt and poignant reflection of life these days. “Watch the shadows/switch sides” is brilliant.

    • Liz Steinglass says:

      Thanks so much, Michelle. I’m glad you liked the lines about the shadows switching sides. I like those lines too.

  10. katswhiskers says:

    Until I read your comment, I was enjoying this wonderful poem purely for its poetry. But I see now it is so much more than that… I’m building a wall on my blog – but it’s very different to the one that you’re referring to in your comment!

  11. Linda Mitchell says:

    Liz, this is a wonderful poem….it’s the kind of poem that makes me want to go try it. It’s thoughtful and a beautiful artistic response to a world that isn’t the way we would all like it to be.

  12. readingtothecore says:

    Liz, your poem is wonderful in every way. I especially love the “crack/ crumble/ don’t last forever.” You explain your feelings about our current political climate so eloquently. I feel the same way, and have also found it hard to write. As others have pointed out, though, it can be cathartic. Maybe turning our frustrations into poetry will give us the strength to keep pushing back against the nonsense in Washington.

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