002: Cocklebur

Lingering in the eye,
It draws along nose
To Cupid’s bow,
shapes the mouth,
evoking language,
Tangling teeth with spools
Of old thread –
A thread through lips,
In breeze,
Waving and waiting,
Waiting to catch
The bur on a sleeve.

. . .

I feel like we need to address the word cocklebur for a moment, yeah? A cocklebur is one of the lil brown, spiky ball things that get stuck on your socks and my cat’s fur. I had never heard the word cocklebur when I wrote this poem. I was working through the lines, doing my poetry thing, and when I got to my ending, I had no idea what I was talking about. I mean, obvi I knew what I was talking about, but I didn’t know what the word for it was.

To Google!

It’s quite hard to Google something when you don’t know the name of it. My go to search term was spiky balls that catch on your socks. Like a winner.


The first search result yielded the word cocklebur, and upon a quick image search, they were, indeed, what I was looking for. I never would have imagined that search would work, but I’m not going to complain, ya know?

Anyway, fun little tangents aside, let’s talk about this poem. I wrote this piece around September or so. I often get ideas for lines and note them down in my phone until I have a poem for them, and this piece is a sort of mod podge of those lines. The opening four lines and the bit about “thread through lips” were sitting in my notes app for weeks until I wrote this.

I was in a bit of a poetry dry spell, honestly. Nothing was inspiring me, and I was feeling like a failure. My friends were producing straight fire with their poetry, and I had nothing. This poem isn’t “fire” by any means, but I enjoy it because it got me out of my dry spell.

What's interesting about it for me is I didn't know what concept I was writing about until after it was written. I let one of my poet friend read it, and she said she had no idea what it was about; but she liked it. I felt the same. Like, I vibed with what I wrote, but I couldn't say what it was about. It was only after meditating on the poem that I found my own meaning in what I wrote. I think people who aren't poets think poetry always has to be super profound and poets try hard, but even we look at poetry and kinda squint our eyes at times.

This isn’t a poem I look at and think about publishing at all; it’s strictly a nice poem for myself. I like it, I know what meaning I take from it, but it isn’t a poem I imagine anyone reading and having some profound insight or deep connection too. It’s a piece for myself, and I’m okay with that. I don’t imagine myself revisiting it for revisions either. Poetry is an art you do for the love of it, so you’ll have many poems that are just for you.

It's kind of a bummer though. I mean, cocklebur... what a great name for a poem.

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