Prose writers shouldn't have all the fun of storytelling. Sure, essays, short stories, and novels are where we expect to find stories, but poems also can tell stories effectively. From the earliest epics, right up to the present day, people have built poems from stories--sometimes fictional, sometimes true. Gary Snyder's "Hay for the Horses" is a poem that tells a story, as are William Stafford's, "Traveling Through the Dark," Robert Frost's "Out, Out--," and William Wordsworth's "Strange Fits of Passion I Have Known."

Poets develop a sharp eye to observe, a sharp ear to hear--the sights and sounds of everyday reality, the texture of the quotidian, to find "infinity in a grain of sand, eternity in an hour" (William Blake). That is, they recognize that the ordinary dramas of everyday reality are not ordinary at all, but unique, unrepeatable moments charged with implication and significance, which can be captured and revealed in language.

You could write a poem telling how to eat spaghetti, how to ask for a date, how to sharpen a knife, how to let go of grief, or even how to write a poem. Or you could take it to extremes: how to prevent global warming, how to kiss a snake, how to become dust.

This poem could grow out of a unique moment, like Walt Whitman's "When I Heard the Learned Astronomer." Or it could grow from a stage of your life, Like A. E. Houseman's "When I was One and Twenty." Or maybe you'd like to explore a repeated ritual, like "When I lift the trash can lid . . .."