Three Poems

by Julia Smith

In the comments section of Joanna's post earlier this week, I mentioned that I write poetry. Joanna's suggestion that I share some poetry here at Popculturedivas pointed me in the direction of my Poetry Archives, where I rummaged around and came up with three poems I'd like to post here.

The first is a backstory poem about one of the main characters of a work in progress. I really enjoy writing these - I tune into the characters on a much deeper level when I do them.

Gold That Burns

At my birth, my father bid his love goodbye
She slipped away, my sister clutching to her breast
Five boys - poor Jean a wee thing and all
No girls to wash and peel and mend
Five boys too young to work. Too young
To stop the men with fists who took him off

I pulled upon her hand yet on we trudged
She knew our father's cough would never heal
The damp, the rot, the gaol's stone walls
Took on the spectre of his hollowed gaze
My sister raised us all with his firm hand
With mother's gentle kiss, and so we thrived

While Jean seemed yet a girl, so slight, so worn
No suitor, only brothers grown and safe, in service all
Though it would hurt her to the quick to know
Her dearest Guthrie poached from the estate
Putting guineas by to sail from these cruel shores
Determined that I be the man my father dare not dream

Risking stone gaol and iron door with every snare
Am I seeking life and fortune with my plan?
Or do I run from father's dying grasp, gaining no ground
Seeing only Jean's trusting gaze each time I
Lift the false shelf to hide the gold that burns

© Julia Smith, 2008

This next one was written while I was at film school, sixteen years ago.

Skewed Landscapes

As Darwin's hairy men
Turned and strode from
Adam's gentle brow
Begloved matrons
Swooned in their seats
Overcome by Stravinsky's dissonance

A democracy of junk
Ripened into collaged provinces
Turner's spectral train
Retreated to Romantic gloom

Europe turned to mud
Its watery trenches
Inheriting the fallen

Big Bertha spewed hard death
At the Somme
Gallant bayonets faltered
As noxious clouds robbed the
Divisions of their glory

Braque's Portuguese man
While Picasso's Harlequin
Shouldered his sliced violin
Digressing into the angular fragments
Of a modern age

© Julia Smith, 1994

This third one is a personal poem, exploring aspects of myself.


I've built my own keep
Brick by smiling brick
No room at the inn
How they suffer
Bottomless and vast
I kick fresh straw
Free another corner in the stable

I'm greedy with compassion
My outstretched hand
Beacon of sanctuary
They see a wave of cheer
Though it flails to break a fall
I limp and soldier on
Grimace or grin, hard to say

I'm pilloried by pride
So many heads
Invited to my shoulder
My neck stiff with them
Progress is glacial
Boulders uproot to be
Dragged, scouring the bedrock

I've built my own fortress
The bricks all made of smiles
The bedrock is compassion
The moat was dredged by pride
My arms stretch wide like ramparts
Chains release the drawbridge
I am their refuge. They are mine.

© Julia Smith, 2007

Are there any other poets out there amongst the divas and readers?


  1. Hi Julia: Wonderful poems! I especially love the first one - and want to know more about the book that inspired it!!! and I LOVE the third one - I can definitely relate to the meaning behind it. I hope you'll share your prose with us as well. Let us know what you're working on. ;) Cheers!

  2. Hi, Julia,
    I concur with Joanna! Love the first one too, and definitely relate to the last one. Thank you for sharing. I love poetry.

  3. One more thing, the first poem does make me intrigued about the book!

  4. What a wonderful way to dig deeper into your characters, Julia. I echo Joanna and Kayla's praise, though I think my favorite's the second one, actually.
    I cut my writing teeth on poetry, but haven't written a poem in decades. A few appear in my contemporary, Fever Dreams, and another was recently accepted into a fundraising anthology, so a few are "outed" lol.

  5. Joanna - Thanks for the nudge to post these. I've been part of a meme called the Poetry Train for four years now, and have been posting new poetry every Sunday night for all of that time. I love it, because Mondays are filled with poetry as I visit the other bloggers' posts.

    But it's nice to get a new audience for them here at Popculturedivas.

    Kayla - I did a backstory poem for the Poetry Train when I was tired and couldn't think of a new subject. It took little effort to get inside my character's head because I knew him so well. And every time I do one of these, it gives me new insights into the people I'm writing about, so it's become a habit for me, now.

    Glad the first one piqued your interest! Unfortunately, it's way down the line on projects I'm working on. But I promise I'll get back to it as soon as I can.

    Cate - LOL on 'outing' your poems in Fever Dreams!


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