Advice to Beginners
Begin. Keep on beginning. Nibble on everything.
Take a hike. Teach yourself to whistle. Lie.
The older you get the more they’ll want your stories.
Make them up. Talk to stones. Short-out electric
fences. Swim with the sea turtle into the moon. Learn
how to die. Eat moonshine pie. Drink wild geranium
tea. Run naked in the rain. Everything that happens
will happen and none of us will be safe from it.
Pull up anchors. Sit close to the god of night.
Lie still in a stream and breathe water. Climb to the
top of the highest tree until you come to the branch
where the blue heron sleeps. Eat poems for breakfast.
Wear them on your forehead. Lick the mountain’s
bare shoulder. Measure the color of days
around your mother’s death. Put your hands over
your face and listen to what they tell you.
– Ellen Kort, US poet
Wisconsin’s first Poet Laureate 2000-2004