A Poet’s Plight

I’ll think of a theme for my next little verse,
intriguing and witty, though still must be terse.
Not road kill, dead flowers, nor weeding the lawn,
it can’t wax poetic nor bring a big yawn.

A subject noteworthy I need to create,
which won’t give the reader a brutal headache.
A title dramatic, an intended hook
to reel in the reader just like a big snook.

Did Homer or Virgil endure writer’s block,
ill tempered and grousing over some cheesy schlock?
Was Shakespeare perplexed in his humble abode,
not finding the words for some now famous ode?

The subject’s elusive and cannot be seen,
so I have to question, Perhaps more caffeine?
I’m yawning and tired, my head seems to spin,
guess I should have quit after six shots of gin.



Phil S. Rogers is a sixth generation Vermonter, age 72, now retired, and living in Texas. He served in the United States Air Force and had a career in real estate and banking.  He previously published Everlasting Glory, a historical work that tells the story of each of the men from Vermont that was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor during the Civil War.

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23 Responses

  1. Paddy Raghunathan


    It’s hard to imagine Shakespeare suffering from writer’s block, but your poem is delightful.

    A great read to start the morning.


    • Phil S. Rogers

      Paddy; thank you for your nice comments. Shakespeare? I had the same thought, which made him a good writer to refer to.

  2. jd

    Cleverly self-deprecating with a surprise ending, both writerly pluses in my book.

    • Phil S. Rogers

      jd; Thank you for your nice comments. I am glad you liked the last stanza, it was meant to bring a smile to the reader’s face.

  3. Roy Eugene Peterson

    Phil, you so accurately and humorously put the plight of the poet in proper perspective, except in my case no gin, just caffeine. Besides personal proclivities so deftly presented, the thought of the great poets struggling somehow seems self-assuring.

    • Phil S. Rogers

      Roy; I think we all have ‘writer’s block’ at times even if it sometimes may just be for the proper word. Have not had a drink of gin in decades, but could not think of a word to rhyme with scotch.

      • C.B. Anderson

        I imbibe Scotch all the time to get my pen moving. Rhymes? How about “watch,” “botch,” “notch,” “blotch,” “crotch” & “splotch” etc.

  4. Cheryl Corey

    Phil, I like your rhymes of hook & snook, block & schlock, seen & caffeine. An enjoyable morning read.

    • Julian D. Woodruff

      Good, Mr. Rogers. The end describes pretty well the way I felt before reading your poem (without the aid of gin). The poem helped, slightly.
      (The best I can do with “scotch” is: “That [caffeine] wouldn’t improve stubborn rhymes one small notch.” Glad gin was your drink of choice here.)

      • Phil S. Rogers

        Thank you Julian, the notch-scotch made me laugh!

  5. Joseph S. Salemi

    Nice dactylics on a perennial problem for poets. What can one write about that won’t bore the hell out of readers?

    One suggestion: the meter is slightly off in line 10. Perhaps this change would help —

    Ill tempered and stumped over some cheesy schlock?

    • Phil S Rogers

      It is difficult sometimes to find a ‘different’ subject, there can be too much of some topics, and I do believe that can bore readers. I also believe that more humor is needed in a world with many problems. Thank you.

    • C.B. Anderson

      Your suggestion does fix the problem, Joseph, but the lines are still (slightly) headless anapestic tetrameter.

  6. Margaret Coats

    Phil, “botch” and “blotch” also rhyme with “scotch,” but you might measure scotch in drams–and I wouldn’t want you to alter the glorious six-shooter finale you achieve with gin.

    I differ with Joe Salemi and call these verses mostly anapests each starting with an iamb. If he wants to read them as dactyls, he needs an extra little pyrrhus for aperitif as well as a spondee for digestif in each line, which is happy two-fisted drinking sixteen times over.

    • Joseph S. Salemi

      Dactylic meter is overpowering. I read each line as having an understood catalexis of the first syllable, which is compensated for by having a strong final stressed syllable at the line’s conclusion. Reading it as you suggest weakens the poem’s force.

    • Joshua C. Frank

      I read it as amphibrachic with masculine rhymes: “I’ll THINK of/a THEME for/my NEXT lit/tle VERSE,” etc.

  7. Joshua C. Frank

    This made me laugh; it’s exactly what I go through every time I try to write a poem! My favorite lines are “Not road kill, dead flowers, nor weeding the lawn,/it can’t wax poetic nor bring a big yawn.” It’s hard to find that balance!

    Sometimes my poems go through two or three drafts that I have to scrap completely and rewrite with a different form.

  8. Shaun C. Duncan

    Nice work, Phil, and I imagine it might have been an inspired way to write your way out of a bit of writer’s block. Six shots of gin was probably just a starter for Dylan Thomas, but then again, your poem makes more sense than most of his work.

  9. Nathan McKee

    Phil, your Poem touches on a common phenomenon from which surely even the great poets you mentioned suffered and is why, after each poem I write, I sincerely wonder whether it will be my last, not because of a lack of desire to write, but because of a lack of ideas. But, in the end, the ideas always seem to come.

    • C.B. Anderson

      Sometimes, Nathan, a phrase or a line is enough to suggest an idea that can be fleshed out. Oh, how it pisses me off when something runs through my head while I am working in the field and have no writing materials at hand.

  10. Paul Freeman

    The seventh gin shot, might well be the unblocker,
    Though your verse might then sound like a vulgar-mouthed docker,
    Or slurred with some tongue-twisting alliteration
    Writ by a high-handed happy Haitian.

    Thanks for the fun read, Phil. And below, since you crave humour:

    The Greatest Questions of Life (Number 64)

    It seems that nobody can bridge
    A question that nips like a midge.
    It twists like a knife,
    This great puzzle of life –
    Should the ketchup be kept in the fridge?

  11. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    This engaging poem taps into the scribe’s dilemma with wisdom, wit, and skill… and a closing line that made me laugh! Thank you! It also made me think… how many poems are enhanced by alcohol? I have to be stone cold sober when I write… my poet husband… not so much!


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