Poetry Friday – A Street Poem in Yucca Valley

This week’s Poetry Friday roundup can be found at Rose Cappelli’s blog Imagine the Possibilities. She has shared some lovely springtime poetry. Thank you for hosting, Rose.

Last week, Susan Thomsen, at Chicken Spaghetti, wrote a post called, “Street Guide,” a  guide for writing her famous street poetry. She explains, “Street poems are what I call the found-language poems I’ve put together from lines I’ve overheard. They come from not only the street but also restaurants, museums, theaters, subways, etc.” I have seen Susan’s poems  and wondered about the process. This week I finally took time to explore and took myself on a date to listen. With my notebook (the one Jone MacCulloch gave me for a Poetry Friday poem exchange) and a favorite pen in hand, I went to town. (I wrote more about where I went and the process here in a Slice of Life this week.)

Here is my poem composed entirely of things I heard in Yucca Valley, California, on March 20, 2023:

I – At the café
It’ll be out in a bit.
Do you want water?
Yeah, you got it.
♫ You can call me Queen Bee
It was interesting
♫ I shake it off, And the fakers gonna fake, fake, fake
The next day
♫ Lightning strikes every time she moved
No, I’m not
Sugar is over there.
We’ll see.
As C. used to say
I’m trying to keep up
♫ I just can’t refuse it, like the way you do this
Can I have another…oh, never mind.
♫ I heard that you’ve settled down
Hey, how are you?
Awesome, man.
And someone sat on it? Oh, my god.
Yeah, I had some.

II – At the thrift shop
Yeah, they’re kind of hard to find.
They go fast
Ok, I do have my glasses.
Yo, dog
I have something for you
Thank you.
You’re welcome, you’re so welcome.
It came from my heart.
Can you get me some more?
It has to be the right stuff
I don’t know if you like it,
but I like it.
I think we should get it.
It’s beautiful.
I think you two are in cahoots.
Is that in your way?
I put it over there.

III – At the library
Oh, we don’t take checks.
You can pay for it at the kiosk.
Is it #6? I said, is it #6?
Everyone else’s computer is still working.
It says #6 is offline, but #7 is on.
You have the keys
No, you do
You can take those out to the van
Look at this
Is that a spaceship?
Are you kidding?
Yes, I am. Yes, I am kidding.
Can you tell me how long you will be?
I can’t log on to #14.
Does it think I am still logged into #6?
I need to do some work.
N, did you put paper in the book drop?

IV – At Aldi
Do you have a quarter?
I do, but thanks for asking.
So, I’ll get salami,
and what’s the other one?
Pep? pep? Pepperoni!
Gelato. Gelato, fun.
Oh, I thought those apples were on sale.
I’m sorry.
Don’t worry about me.
I’m in no hurry,
the curse of being retired.

Lyrics footnotes (the music was the main thing I could hear at the café, thus so many lyrics made it into my street poem)

1 “Royals” by Lorde
2 “Shake it Off” by Taylor Swift
3 “This is What You Came For” by Calvin Harris
4 “Don’t Stop the Music” by Rhianna
5 “Someone Like You” by Adele


21 thoughts on “Poetry Friday – A Street Poem in Yucca Valley

  1. Denise, your street poetry is very interesting. These lines make me laugh:
    IV – At Aldi
    Don’t worry about me.
    I’m in no hurry,
    the curse of being retired.
    I usually do not listen well to other conversations but now I want to so I can write a street poem.
    I’m still working on my slice/PF post.

  2. What a wealth of lines! Each line could become it’s own poem. You have writing material for years just from a day. Bravo!

  3. I love how you incorporated song lyrics into your first poem. I can hear the overlap of conversation and music. So many things jump out at me — especially “in cahoots”!

  4. These are fun Denise, and I applaud your perseverance in recording so many places. I like the lingo in your library found lines, especially the spaceship and the repeating of #6 and # 7, thanks! And hey, I have a ufo in your anti-spam word, must be something out there today…

  5. How wonderful that you did this, Denise, captured words from your own places! I love
    “I don’t know if you like it,
    but I like it.
    I think we should get it.
    It’s beautiful.
    Thrift shops make poems out of others’ discards!

  6. Such fun, Denise! I had to laugh at the converstion about the quarter at Aldi. I don’t go there a lot, but the need for a quarter always infuriates me a bit – I never seem to have one. Mabe that’s why I don’t go there a lot. Also loved the interspersed lyrics – I found myself singing along.

  7. What a fun way to write a poem! I feel like I was alongside you. I love the interspersed words from music with the music emoji so it doesn’t distract from the flow of the poem. We got an Aldi in town and I rarely go because of the quarter and no bags, etc. It’s also not on my route, so it’s a special trip. Thanks for this idea.

  8. Oh, I love these. Especially the library and Aldi ones! And what fun to go exploring for poetry with two things (inspiration/directions and a notebook) from your Poetry Friday community. Congratulations!

  9. Love these — all are such fun. I esp. like the Aldi one, though. Do you have a quarter? I do, but thanks for asking. 😀 This is the perfect “excuse” for eavesdropping too.

  10. These were so fun to read! I’m a fan of the line “did you put paper in the book drop?” — it made me chuckle, imagining the exasperation it was spoken with. Thank you for sharing!

  11. Pep, pep, pepperoni! That’s me cheering for these poems. Can you see me smiling from ear to ear? This is AWESOME, Denise. A real picture of the day.

  12. Oh, these are so lively and fun! And took some doing. Thank you for sharing, Denise – I feel like I was eavesdropping, too. Echoing the smiles at your inspirations and the notebook from this lovely community, too. Funny – the anti-spam word below is “be-method” – which I think kinda describes your process!

  13. When we venture into the world, it is often rich with possibility. You have appplied Susan’s process to harvest a rich array of wordy treasure, Denise. Your notebook has served you well in your various collection zones, no doubt about it.

  14. What an immense treasure trove you collected, Denise! I agree, so many lines could become their own spin-off poems, and each section too. I bet it takes a lot of practice to stitch and edit the overheard into effective poems, and you are well on your way!

  15. You had a fun day of listening! I had my notebook along when we went to the fencing tournament, but I haven’t worked with my snippets yet. You inspire me to get to that today!

  16. Love these! I have got to try this. I’m so bad about being in such a rush whenever I go places that I need to actually do this intentionally.

  17. The quarter comments cracked me up, Denise! This is a great exercise in being in the moment…and minding other people’s business! ha! I have to say, I love the playlist at the cafe – every one of those songs are on my Spotify playlist. 🙂

  18. I loved this!

    The kindness of, “You’re welcome, you’re so welcome,” jumped out at me and sent me looking back through all the lines for other kindnesses. (And there were many.)

    I’m going to share this with my librarian daughter, too. 🙂

  19. What a clever idea, Denise! And the poems are amazing! (This would be a fun project for students to try at lunchtime — or out in the yard.)

  20. Street poetry is like a gift that keeps on giving… You eavesdropped and gathered. I eavesdropped and lathered in the life unfolding. Wonderful!

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