What's In My Journal?

I think many of us that enjoy writing have tried journaling at some point. I have gone to bookstores and bought very fancy journals. I have had a black and white composition book and written along with my students. Calendars have ended working oftentimes as a timeline journal of events. I love the following poem by William Stafford. As he opens his journal up to us-it's a metaphoric journal:its contents are objects, jokes, images, and things that make him unique. Put together they say quite a bit about who he is as a person. When I read this poem I want to create that metaphoric journal myself. What would be in yours?

What's In My Journal

Odd things, like a button drawer, Mean
things, fishhooks, barbs in you hand.
But marbles too. A genius for being agreeable.
Junkyard crucifixes, voluptuous
discards. Space for knickknacks and for
Alaska. Evidence to hang me, or to beautify.
Clues that lead nowhere, that never connected
anyway. Deliberate obfuscation, the kind
that takes genius. Chasms in character.
Loud omissions. Mornings that yawn above
a new grave. Pages you know exist
but you can't find them. Someone's terribly
inevitable life story, maybe mine.

-William Stafford


  1. What a wonderful poem! Thank you for sharing it.
    I myself am always buying pretty journals, but then find myself unable to actually write in them. I think it's the notion that writing it down makes it permanent, and therefore whatever I write must be perfect. So I end up paralysed by indecision and my pretty journals end up on the shelf, pristine and unused. The website 'wreck this journal' (http://www.wreckthisjournal.com/?page_id=2) has been quite inspirational in this respect!

  2. I love that poem. I kept a journal when I was expecting my first daughter, it is precious to me and I will give it to her when she is grown. Now though I do not have the discipline to write long hand and so blog instead.

  3. That's a great poem! I, too, have dozens of beautiful journals, many of them full, but quite a few empty. I've not written as much by hand since I started blogging a year or so ago. I miss the intimacy of writing, but haven't made the time for it this past year. Perhaps I'll get back to it this summer...

  4. The poem is too methaphorical for me. I don't get it. Maybe it's one of those that I need to read a few times, before my brain connects it to something I understand. I understand the concepts I guess, just not the objects. . .fishhooksd, marbles, crucifixes. . .???

    Maybe I am too literal to understand the art of these objects.

  5. Thanks for the comments. It inspired me to revisit using journals more. PIMD- I heard W. Stafford speak ( he has now died), read much about him and his work which is why the poem makes more sense about his life. It is also okay to be too literal. You often see things others don't see.


I always enjoy reading comments!