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The Stories

The young woman in the middle was perhaps my favorite poemee ever. She shrieked with amazement as her group was walking past and veered sharply over to us, bringing the whole posse with her. "A love poem!" she exclaimed. "Definitely Seuss, definitely rhyming! I'm so excited!" Her friends convinced her this should be a poem about them, and she agreed. They were her best friends. They'd all known each other since kindergarten. She loved them so much. She didn't need a boyfriend because she had them. She could talk with them about things she couldn't talk about with anyone else. They were always there for her, which was especially important because sometimes her hair blew in her face and she needed something to hold it back. She could count on them to take care of her.


When I'm going to a party
And I haven't got a guy
When there's some big news to process
Or a choice I need to try
When my head's a little misty
And there's something in my eye
I am filled with gladness knowing
You'll be there, with a hair tie.

There is no "typical" customer for Free Custom Poetry. There is no way to glance at a person and know if they're going to stop. This guy was going to meet his wife at a wine shop to pick up supplies for mimosas for his upcoming housewarming party. He'd walked quite a ways from his home in Capitol Hill and was enjoying a cigar gift on his stroll. He wanted a cummings-style poem about his love for his wife.


the most amazing
's mom
gave me a cigartothink
and get champagne
to drink
with her about

This visitor from London said she was a sucker for anguish (I offer three sentiment options on the FCP menu: love, wonder or anguish) but maybe with a tinge of hope. She wanted something about endings, how everything's about to die for the winter now that the summer is over. Could I do a Ginsberg-style poem that talked about the leaves dying and nice things of the fall disappearing?



I've seen the best views of my habitation, destroyed by darkness

Lunatic browns and orange diving kamikaze flights

Great firey billows puffed away

and grey

Who ever gleamed, brought joy to sweatered picnics, loaf in hand, reclined delighted,

Who mourned, morose, from window wishing out as slush reigned down

Knowing the farmer's wisdom:

I should hunker down now, endless lamplight, and repair

He wanted a poem about not getting the things you want, when you want them. Things like money. Money would solve a lot of his problems. Sure, he was aware that money caused other problems, but he was comfortable with that. He chose rhyming, Seuss, sentiment of anguish.


If I had a bunch of money
I would stick it in my shoe
To provide some comfy padding
Like a Dr Scholls might do

Yes, I've heard that sometimes riches
Might show up as diamond gems
And in shoes, they lead to blisters, but c'mon
I'd warm to them.

She was a huge fan of zebras. They were stripey and jumpy, black and white because it helped camouflage them from colorblind lions. She had a stuffed animal version that she carried with her everywhere. In fact, she had a book club with three friends who were also devoted to stuffed animals of their own, and they'd recently decided that their animals had a book club, too.


A pig and a cow and a zebra
Were bored with their crumpets and tebra
They got up the gumption to sit at
The table with my friends and mebra

"We want to be part of the reading!
It's boring just being here feeding."
Turns out it's been great for discussion
And sometimes now THEY do the leading!

He was going to meet a friend and wanted a love poem for her. It was kind of a joke, because they were really just friends, but one time they'd hooked up. He was always asking if they could do that again, because he felt like he wasn't proud of his performance the first time and wanted a second chance. But mostly he just liked her company and how she was always talking about something and being social.


I like to listen to
You talk a lot
Of course, some kissin', too
And one more shot?
Could add a glisten to
This love we got...

These relatively small young ladies had just come from playing a very unnerving game of rugby. They loved the game, loved hitting people, but on this day the opposing team had been huge. The players were 200+ lbs each, and one of the beasts literally sat on the biggest of their teammates. It wasn't as fun as normal. Haiku, please, Emily Dickinson style (or Joyce Kilmer, as it ended up).


we came to tackle
not expecting a thing as
lovely as a tree

She'd been visiting from the Netherlands for a week and really liked it here. There was so much nature, she said. Lots of history, too: she was especially fascinated by U.S. black history. In World War II and Vietnam, America was presented as a hero for the rights of the little guy. However, many of our own people (especially blacks and Native Americans) were being denied their rights by the same government. Ginsberg style, please, rhyming.


D.C. is a town with color in fair supply
Broad swaths of green in the trees, and the people's eyes
Also, the river is brown (and some people, too)
Freedom's not real if it's just for who looks like you

Our location for poem production was on a corner right by a hot dog stand operated by the fabulous Arianna. She came over after a little while and I offered her a poem. Sure! she said. Definitely Seuss, definitely rhyming. What should it be about? Hot dogs! What's great about hot dogs? I asked. Well, you can put all kinds of toppings on them. Also, I make my living off them!




"This mansion, my horses, those cranberry bogs

And all of my livestock, my six hundred hogs

My five thousand acres, from which I cut logs

I owe, part and parcel, to what dear? Hot dogs.


Delicious! Nutritious! They fit in one hand!

It's dropped on the beach? You just blow off the sand!

The simple truth is (you might not understand)

That my fortune, my joy, came from my hot dog stand."

This kid was awesome. He couldn't have been older than eight or nine, but he knew e.e. cummings and wanted that style. What should the poem be about? I asked. "Umm, World War II, I guess. No-- World War I. I've actually read a lot on this subject and I'm pretty sure we could've skipped that war." His mother stood behind him in astonishment, just out of his eyesight, quietly listening. Tell me about World War I, I asked. "Well, it was the first time they used gas. Millions of people were killed. I think sometimes we just shouldn't get involved. I'm thinking of Russia and Crimea, and Israel with those other people. What are they called?" Palestinians? "Yeah. They need to talk it out, not kill each other." Would you ever go into the military, I asked? "No. I'm thinking I'm going to be a cartoonist. But maybe I could be like Tony Stark and work with the military that way." Tony Stark the inventor? I asked. The guy who invented Iron Man? "Yep." Do you think Tony Stark is contributing to war when he makes those inventions for the army? "No, actually, I don't think he supports war." I wish you could've been watching his mom's face with me during this conversation. [Note: see after the poem for a nice little followup*]


dogfought brawls?
i've actually read a lot on this subject
and i'm pretty sure we could've

[*After he read the poem, the boy came back over to me while I was chatting with his mom. "You quoted me?" he asked. Yeah, I said. You kind of said a poem TO me. He took my pen and wrote a big C at the top and circled it. "Huh?" said his mom as he walked away. "Not sure what THAT was about." He came back a moment later. "I was just copywriting it. This is really good."]

"New love" was her topic. She'd been dating a new person for six months and it was all fun and adventure and a promising new world. They kept on discovering things they connected on, like a mutual adoration for the movie The Princess Bride. Seuss-style, please.


Big and bright and opportunous
Want to kiss and hug and spoon us!
Fezzick, are there rocks ahead?
If there are (I'll smooch your head!)

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