Write a Persona Poem – 31p31d

Day 5 of 31 poems in 31 days.

A New Perspective

The Toad chases Thumbelina through the Valley of the Moon.
Toad chases Thumbelina through the Valley of the Moon.

As we continue to explore different approaches to poetry, today we are going to look at the persona poem. Persona poems are poems written from a perspective other than your own. You use your imagination to enter the world of another character. You can write a persona poem from the perspective of a friend, an enemy, a relative, a pet, a celebrity, a historical figure, a character from literature or you can make up a character of your own.

The basis or a persona poem is a change in point-of-view. You aren’t just writing about another character, you are writing as if you were that other character. You try to think like that character. You imagine that character’s thoughts, actions, skills and limitations. You try to capture the world in which that character lives and you portray it as if you were that character.

This is a style of poetry that is heavily influenced by fiction. You leave behind your point of view and take on another. You try to bring a character to life and make that character interesting to your readers. It can be challenging, but also freeing. You are given the chance to change your style, tone and perspective, at least for the length of one poem.

Adding a fictional layer to your poetry allows you to address issues you can’t comfortably express as yourself. Persona poems can be an excellent method for dealing with personal issues that are too close for you to write about from your own perspective. Persona poems also can be a great way to explore your feelings about an social or personal issue by looking at it from the other side. What would the person on the other side of the issue say to you?

Poetry Assignment

Write a persona poem that incorporates one of the past two concepts. It should either address a social issue or it should provide a strong sense of place. One great way to do the latter is to write a poem in a public place, and to observe the people around you until you find someone interesting that you can imagine a back-story for.

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  1. Day 5 – Coffee Café Guy

    He looks over his mug –coffee
    steaming as she hitches herself
    up on the chair and sits Indian
    style – long hair swinging onto
    her cheek as she stares at her
    lap-top screen and he watches
    a flash of lace panties – peek
    unconsciously lascivious
    as he sips and throbs

  2. Your Best Chance

    Waiting in the car
    15 minutes
    before the shelter opens

    If I’m going to do this
    it has to be now

    Almost an impulse
    I took Sofia right off her little bed

    Maybe I should have brought the bed, too?

    But no
    things will be new here

    Brand new bed
    while she waits
    for a brand new family

    I smile down at her

    I don’t think she can see it
    through her cloudy eyes
    but she must sense I’m looking at her
    because I hear the tail thumping
    against the leather seat

    What will I say?

    I could never pass her off as a stray
    she obviously knows me
    she always loved me best of all

    Damn it!

    I should have had Andy bring her

    If the shelter staff is female,
    she’d jump from Andy to them in a heartbeat

    Then they’d know
    she was better off
    somewhere else

    She deserves to live out her life
    with a family who understands

    Doesn’t yell at her
    for yet another accident
    make her sleep outside
    because there’s no other choice
    for saving the carpet and hardwood

    People in shelters adore animals
    they’re a special compassionate breed with
    more patience
    more love

    It’s what she deserves, really

    I reach over to pat her head
    and she wags again in agreement

    “This is your best chance, old girl!”

    I still don’t know what I’ll say

    Health History
    Shot records
    What more could they want?

    You can just look at her face
    and know she’s a sweet dog

    I bet she won’t last the day
    before someone new falls in love with her

    I hope they have tile, for their sake

    Someone in scrubs is unlocking the doors

    Finally!

    I clip on the pink diamond leash
    but she won’t budge

    Bad hip day, maybe?

    So I scoop her up and carry her
    she’s shaking, but she licks my face

    Inside, she starts to bark and whine
    I think it’s just the strong smell of disinfectant

    She’s so loud about it,
    I hardly know what I said to the attendant

    But they took her
    so I could sign the paperwork

    I made my goodbyes
    wished her luck with her new family
    as she disappeared
    behind the green door to the left

    Such a huge weight was lifted
    with the hard part officially done

    But then I thought
    we haven’t been without a dog in the house
    for almost 15 years

    That’s going to be weird
    and probably lonely
    especially the nights
    when Andy’s working late

    Maybe it’s time
    to start over

    I’m here anyway
    couldn’t hurt to look

    “Excuse me. Can I take a look at your adoptable dogs?”

    “Adoptions are through the blue door to the right.”

    Don’t want a shedder

    Housebroken, definitely

    Maybe some kind of terrier?

    I’ve been meaning to start walking in the mornings

    I should probably take some pictures with my phone
    so Andy can weigh in
    on our options

  3. Scone and a Venti

    The wash sidles through the city
    The sheer dirt walls are goat climbable
    But most people don’t chance it
    Especially with the fences
    But I’ve got good knees
    And a taste for treasure
    Today I found a watch
    And a ring
    Under a tilting palo verde

    Every day brings something
    I can clean up
    And use or pawn
    To keep the lights on in my camper
    And keep the hydroponic garden growing
    My sweet relief

    The wash provides for me
    It rewards me
    So I am that bum with an iPhone
    Stinking up your Starbucks
    While I drink my chai tea

    Don’t think I didn’t notice you
    Noticing me
    On your way to a cubical
    And a mortgage
    And a hundred things
    Humans never needed
    Until someone decided they did

    I’m a paying customer
    Just like you
    And you stink too
    Of manufactured scents
    You think make you smell better than me
    But I am what a human
    Is supposed to smell like
    Sweat and dirt and smoke

    I could give a shit about your stare
    My money spends too
    I just don’t waste it
    Trying to fit into your prescribed dream

    You think you’re a capitalist
    And I’m a sponge
    But you are the cow
    Getting milked in a cage
    Fat and weak
    With eyes dull from
    Staring at the same damned thing
    Every day
    Until you get up with a groan
    And limp to your car
    To drive home and sit some more

    I’m the entrepreneur
    And this wash is better than that little gray pen
    You spend ten hours a day
    Trapped inside
    This wash goes on and on
    Until the day ends

    I am free
    I am wired
    And I am happier than you

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