Poetic Influence

true stories


His baby girl with Mom at home,
The work bus carted him away.
His mother emailed him a poem
(Which he would read on break that day)
About another doting dad,
Who saw his baby daughter’s ear
Of seashell shape and knew God had
To have made that “miracle so dear.”

That very night, he called his mother:
“I finally know what freedom means:
Time with my daughter, nothing other—
I’m more than paychecks and some genes!
My bond with her is not for sale!
We can’t be strangers when she’s grown!
I must escape this corporate jail—
Escape the boss and be my own!”

His mother has no question whether
That poem brought the two together.



I met a mom of two online;
She said, “God’s opening my heart
To give a third child’s life a start.”
Right then, I felt a nudge divine
To message her a poem of mine,
Some pro-life thinking to impart.
She printed it to set apart
And in her journal to enshrine.

I never learned what she would choose;
Too soon, that online switchboard broke.
The wires burned, no more we spoke.
But though the end is still unheard,
I have no doubt that God will use
Those words to bless her with a third.



Joshua C. Frank works in the field of statistics and lives near Austin, Texas. His poetry has also been published in the Asahi Haikuist Network.

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19 Responses

  1. Paul Freeman

    There’s nothing better than positive feedback from one’s work.

    This line (of sudden realisation) really got me, Joshua: ‘I’m more than paychecks and some genes!’

    Thanks for the poetic influence.

    • Joshua C. Frank

      Thank you, Paul. It’s nice to hear that my poems about how my poems have affected others are, in turn, affecting others still.

  2. Roy Eugene Peterson

    Those are two meaningful poems on the priceless value of a poem, especially as true stories that inspire.

  3. Brian A Yapko

    We can never truly know what mustard seeds are lost and which ones take root. Josh, congratulations on discovering that your work has affected the lives of others in a profound way. These are both very good poems. I’ve seen poems written about writing poetry, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen poems written about poems that the poet has written — it’s a fascinating conceit. Well done! May your work reach many, many more!

    • Joshua C. Frank

      Thank you, Brian. I hope and pray my work reaches many, many more too… and that others may be inspired to write poetry that improves the lives of others.

      The idea for writing about this topic came from two sources. First, I wanted to write a poetic rebuttal to W. H. Auden’s lines: “For poetry makes nothing happen: it survives/In the valley of its making…” (“In Memory of W. B. Yeats”). Second, Georges Brassens (one of my influences, as I’ve mentioned on here before) wrote a song in which he mentions an incident in which he sang two of his most well-known songs; he even mentions them by name in the song. I don’t know of anyone in the English-speaking world who’s done that, so I knew I had to try it myself. Writing about those two events, I knew the ideas would combine well. Given your compliments, it appears that I was right.

  4. Norma Pain

    What a wonderful idea Joshua. I loved reading your two original poems over again and these two new ones, based on true stories, are so good. Thank you.

    • Joshua C. Frank

      Thank you, Norma. See my comment to Brian for the sources of the idea. I’m glad you like these and the originals.

  5. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Josh, to ponder the wonder our poetic words weave is rather beautiful, especially if outcomes are known and are positive. I adore these poems, especially the first because “God’s Finger on Whittaker Chambers” is a personal favorite of mine. There are so many admirable lines in this. The one that sings to me is: “My bond with her is not for sale!”. So many times, in this material world, money is of greater significance than those God given, priceless gifts that offer us far more than we could ever imagine. I remember seeing a film on happiness… the happiest man in the world was a man living in India in a shanty house near rubbish heaps. He came home early every night to spend time playing with his young son and to watch the sunset in the twilight sky. His eyes shone with joy and gratitude and his smile told me the true value of priceless gifts… your poems remind me of that moment. Thank you!

    • Joshua C. Frank

      Thank you, Susan! It’s always nice to hear that one of my poems is one of someone’s favorites, especially when that someone is a poet of your caliber! I’m glad you adore these, too.

      What a lovely story, about the man in India. I don’t know how they measured happiness, but a life like that sounds really good to me. I bet that would make a great poem… do you remember who he is or what the documentary is called?

      It always saddens me to see people devalue family bonds to the point of valuing material things over their own children (such as when working mothers say they work because they couldn’t stand to be with their children all day). Someone like that has sold his family relationships for a bowl of soup, like Esau. But if two people reading my poems turned away from such thinking (in different ways), hopefully my work will have this effect on more people…

      I love the picture Evan chose, too. He’s really good at choosing pictures to go with our poems. I expected him to choose “The Troubadour” by Marcel Brunery, but this one is better!

  6. Jeff Eardley

    Highly readable and enjoyable. You paint some lovely pictures with your words Joshua. Great stuff.

  7. Margaret Coats

    Once again, Josh, thanks for telling us about successes that others may be able to see as well. About the picture illustrating the post, Evan has used some of this painter’s work before. A relatively young artist like yourself, Anna Rose Bain has her own website that includes a video about her life and career. She too hopes her experiences in art will encourage other artists.

    • Joshua C. Frank

      You’re welcome, Margaret. I wrote this so that poets who seek to make a difference can be encouraged. Once they see it’s possible, they’ll know they can do the same.

      Anna Rose Bain is a talented artist, but I don’t exactly care for the lack of modesty in some of the paintings.

  8. Patricia Allred

    Simply excellent! You know that I have trouble with commenting. My spelling is always crazy.

    We can affect people through poetry affected me.
    And no, they were not a classical poets. So I know poetry can change the lives.. we never know how. I think it’s God’s doing.

    • Joshua C. Frank

      Thank you, Patricia. I’m glad you like it. I agree that it’s God’s doing; I certainly couldn’t tell you how I managed to write those.


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