How Do You Know If It’s Done? #NaPoWriMo18 #NPM2018

national poetry writing month 2018

You can’t pop a poem in the oven

set the timer
go about your business
until–DING–it’s done.

You can’t press your finger to your poem

its pillow top
springs back
when it’s ready

You can’t take your poem’s temperature

measure the thermometer’s rise
190° and it’s not quite ready
212° and it’s too dry

You can’t listen to your poem

sizzle and crackle as it bakes
wait for the softer, slower sound
wait for the softest, slowest sizzle

You can’t skewer the center of your poem

with toothpick or knife blade
wet batter means undercooked
set the timer for five more minutes



April is National Poetry Month. I’m participating in NaPoWriMo, a daily poetry writing challenge. This poem was inspired by some of my wonderings about poetry. Like, how do you know if it’s done? I was about to write a prose piece to explore this question, when I realized it could become a poem. I did a bit of research about ways to test cakes for doneness just in case I’d overlooked something and was delighted to learn that you can, in fact, listen to a cake baking. The language in the fourth stanza is taken from Emma Christensen’s 5 Ways to Tell If Your Cake Is Done.




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11 responses to “How Do You Know If It’s Done? #NaPoWriMo18 #NPM2018”

  1. margaretsmn Avatar

    I love this playful poem about a poem. Especially the s-stanza that sizzles with soft sounds.

  2. Glenda M. Funk Avatar

    I love this poem! It’s so fun and clever and speaks to my own “is it done yet” mentality. Sooooooooooo good!!!!!

  3. elsie Avatar

    Is a poem ever “done” or is it just read for reading eyes and minds to enjoy the phrasing? I am a fan of the repeating phrase. Well done!

  4. Alexis Avatar

    What a clever poem. I love your voice in it. May I share with my students for this month of poetry?

  5. persistenceandpedagogy Avatar

    The repetition really works here – and the last stanza is speaking to me after a day of cooking and baking.

  6. readingteachsu Avatar

    Baking analogy really works.

  7. jarhartz Avatar

    Love your wonderings (I have those same thoughts) and those descriptors—“the softest, slowest sizzle” and “skewer”.

  8. carwilc Avatar

    I love this! So very clever! And the structure works really, really well! You are revealing yourself to be quite the poet! I, on the other hand, am wishing I could pop a few words in the oven and set the timer…

  9. olivantepoetry Avatar

    Love this poem. It’s such fun and very clever too 🙂

  10. Trina Haase Avatar
    Trina Haase

    This is such a fun poem to read. The structure is marvelous… And you are so right… how do you know when (and if) a poem is done?

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