Old Notebooks & Past Poems


It’s funny what you find when you dig through old notebooks. Beneath a scrawled list of Netbank receipt numbers from 2010, I discovered a few shaky poems. At first I didn’t recognise them. It was definitely my handwriting, and they were in my notebook. The telltale sign was, sadly, their weakness. They had to be mine.

I dare not take myself seriously as a poet. I have too much respect for the art and enough poetic sensibility to know I don’t have whatever it is that poets possess. Still, when the conditions are right, the unction comes and I have no choice but to yield.

And being the generous blogger that I am, I plan to share my old poems with you. I’ll even place them right below the pretty Robert Frost poem that four-fifths of my year 9 English class memorised and recited.

Me? Jabberwocky. Naturally.

The Poetic Urge

A few years ago, I stuffed my Christmas stocking with a Magnetic Poetry Kit. It was one of those partly-for-me/partly-for-school gifts that anyone who works in education is familiar with. I enjoyed it over the holidays and was happy to leave it at work when the fun petered out. The limited selection of words quickly cramped my style.

Rereading the snippets of poetry now, I’m not sure if I created them with bits of magnets or with a pen and paper. As scrappy as they were, they did manage to revive in my mind the sultry summer days.

Then I remembered: It was a time in my life that demanded poetry.

It was right after Christmas, which in Australia means two things: sticky and stormy. My family and I were lucky enough to be at the beach where the afternoon coastal showers brought relief. This particular beach holiday came in the aftermath of  a season of storms in my life.

I’d arrived at a forked road, Frost’s famed yellow wood.


The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;


Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,


And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.


I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference

Choosing My Path

I chose to lay down one passion of mine, something I had poured my heart and soul into for a decade. Those close to me insisted it was “my calling,” but I was never sure, and the doubt gnawed a hollow spot inside of me. I made a decision, chose my path, and have had a fulfilling journey for the past four years, focusing on my writing and my school counselling.

Sometimes though, like Frost, I sigh.

My Holiday Poems

In that bewildering, stormy season, writing (or attempting to write) poetry was as refreshing as the afternoon showers. “Few words artfully arranged” is the perfect remedy for confusion, the elixir of clarity.


Night_squallNight Squall

Summer storm heaves

its rain-smeared mist;

Languid shadows

dream of moonlight.


Summer SunriseSummertime

Delirious summer days

Hot beneath bare feet

A lazy lie in bed

Milk & honey time


I think this last poem must be a Magnetic Poetry Kit creation, because it’s the only one that doesn’t evoke a memory of a place. I like it anyway.


Was he fuzzyFuzzy, Was He?

Sadly fingering

His peach smooth head

He recalled luscious hair


Over to You

Have you ever found something in an old notebook you don’t remember writing? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

Creative Commons Photo Credits

My Grandfather’s Notebook by Riccardo Meneghini CC

Yellow Autumn by Klaquax CC

Lightning Hit by MJI Photos (Mary J.I.) CC

Sunrise Surf by Curt Fleenor CC

Washington DC – Federal Triangle: National Archives Building – The Past by Wally Gobetz CC

10 responses to “Old Notebooks & Past Poems”

  1. karenwrites19 Avatar

    How exciting for you! To find an unexpected treasure of words written at a previous stage in your life. PS Love your little poems… Karen Tyrrell 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’re such an encourager, Karen! Thank you for liking my little poems.


  2. ‘Milk and honey time’ – I love that line. The whole of ‘Fuzzy, was he?’ made me smile. I might not write much poetry but I love reading poems. Old notebooks are filled with raw words and memories – I still keep a notebook but my handwriting has gone awry over the years.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks for commenting, Glaiza! You made my day. And I hear you about the handwriting thing! Mine is shocking.


  3. Your blog brought back memories. I’ve been de-cluttering my home and have found lost memoirs too precious to discard. Must try to find one of my poems to share.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ooh, I’d like that Jocelyn! I hope you can find something to share.


  4. Thanks for sharing. Really love this blog.
    Do you mind if I share in my ripple poetry space.

    I found such a piece in a notebook recently
    The power of dust to obliterate a species bring acid rain and fires
    The power of dust to be blown in the wind and settle on everything in fine layers.
    The death of dinosaurs?
    Fine layers settle like a gentle feather, but death touch.
    Fine fingers of dust scrape on the black board of the earth’s soul.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, June. That’s lovely. See–that’s the “whatever it is that poets have” that I was referring to. I love the way you see things. Thank you so much for commenting. (And feel free to share!)


  5. Reblogged this on Ripple Poetry and commented:
    Ali sharing the benefits of notebooks for recording poetic thoughts.


  6. […] by Ali’s post I am exploring some of my journal poems going back to 25 years ago. I found a black journal with a […]

    Liked by 1 person

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