I am one of those poets Life built:  I have no “creds” as a poet, but I do know that making a certain type of poem helped me keep my head straight through a number of karmic dust storms that blew away the world as I knew and liked it.

I guess you could call it home-grown, dirt-cheap psychotherapy.  All you really need to do it is paper, a pencil or a pen, and an awareness of the need to mend the broken circle of your life.

The act of sitting down and writing out what is in your head and your heart does take practice.

There are all kinds of books that can tell you HOW to write.  Ignore them.  Just sit down and line up the words as they rise up.  Take dictation from yourself.  Go until the flow of words stops or until you are starting to repeat yourself.

Put the words away for a while, then go back to them.  Find the ones that ring truest for you about the situation you’re thinking on.  Put them together until they sound right to you, until they dance, and they show you how you are feeling.

When you’ve done all that, you will have a poem and, for you, it will have power.

Read it out loud and think on it.  Maybe you’ll find something in it that starts another round of writing and another poem.  Maybe you will be able to see what action you can take to resolve some impasse, connect with someone, or just clear up the confusion you are feeling about something.

It occurred to me that at some point every one of us needs a way to get our heads back together. Poetry is a powerful way to do that.

The Sufi mystic and poet, Melvani Rumi wrote, seven centuries ago, “Don’t be satisfied with the stories that come before you; unfold your own myth.”  That’s what writing life-built poems is:  a concrete way to think on your own story and make your own myth.

The practice and the process of making life-built poems help you untangle the thoughts in your head when life hits you with yet another curve-ball.

If you do it right, you begin to understand how you’re actually feeling about any confusing situation when the thoughts just keep skittering all over the place and morphing into more and more of a tangled mess.

Often if you can just get a handle on all the chaotic feelings and thoughts you are experiencing, you’ll be able to see where you stand in all the turmoil and maybe see the actions you need to take to move gracefully in the direction you want to go.  At least, that’s the way it seemed to work for me.  Maybe it can do the same for you as well….

This poem came to me nine months after the death of my husband Fred.  We had been married for almost 27 years and were having a grand time being symbiotic when he sustained fatal head injuries in a car wreck.

I had always played with poetry for years.  After Fred died, though, I just slogged on through the days for a while.

When I started doing the poetry again, the poems were…different.  They were not just about playing with form any more.


When you died, Ei Nei, I dropped ten pounds.
Our friends said it was the grief.
I joked that you loved my sweet ‘okole so much
You took it with you,
And scandalized their true hearts yet again.
You would’ve laughed and probably agreed.

I don’t tell them — no I don’t —
About the other things you took.

You took your arms,
Corded hard with your strong passions,
That cradled me quiet as I drowsed
That picked me up each time I stumbled,
The peacefulness enfolded in them,
You took that with you.

You took your voice:
The way it resonated through me,
Sending echoes through each cell,
Winding around my heart
And pulling me to you, time and again.
You took that with you.

You bound me to you, then you went away.
You took a lot of things when you left.

You took your mouth:
Your teasing and your laughter,
Your “betcha-can’ts” and “you-better-nots,”
That made me so wild, I’d want to hit you
Until your goofy smile melted me silly.
You took that with you.

You took your eyes:
The fierce tenderness that held me,
Flashing hot at my proud challenge,
Softly glowing and content,
Intoxicating to the core.
You took that with you.

You took a lot when you went.

You took your hands,
Their gentle, solid strength,
Their familiar, clever touch
That reached into the soul of me,
And always drew me in.
You took that with you.

You took your body:
That hunting-cat tightness,
The warm, sweet hardness of you,
Lithe as a serpent, flowing against me,
The heat I craved, my best obsession.
You took that with you.

Ei Nei, I can forgive you taking all of that…
Most of the time, I can.
But, oh, how my tears well up,
Mourning the loss of all the dreams
The two of us flew when we were friends.

You took that with you too.    

[In case you don’t know, ei nei is Hawaiian for “my dear.”  The word ‘okole means “butt.”  Hawaiian musicians Keola and Kapono Beamer had a popular song, “Sweet ‘Okole” about a certain hula dancer of their acquaintance….]

by Netta Kanoho

photo credit:  James Diedrick via Flickr [CC BY 2.0]


(Click on each of the post titles below and see where it takes you….)


Thanks for your visit.  I’d appreciate it if you’d drop a comment or note below.

28 thoughts on “UNFOLD YOUR OWN MYTH….

  1. Wow, what a beautiful poem. Sorry to hear about your loss. I have always been interested in writing poetry, but I never knew where to start and how to make a beautiful poem . I think I will take you advice and just things flow on their own, just let my thoughts out.

  2. Hi Netta,
    I’m very sorry to hear about the loss of your husband after 27 years. I can only imagine how hard that must be. Especially when it happened so suddenly like the car accident. It’s just not fair to lose someone you love so dearly and have to try to go on with your life after. That is a very heart-rendering poem “What You Took…”. It really shows your deep inner feelings.

    I too like to write poetry for greeting cards mostly that I hand make and give to people. Sometimes I try so hard to make the words rhyme that it’s not a straight from the heart poem like yours it’s more like a greeting card verse. I think the next time I write one, I’m going to not try so hard with the rhyming and just let the words flow naturally and see what happens.

    Best of luck to you,

    1. Hey Gina:

      Thanks for visiting my site. I mostly do free-form these days…for that very reason, I think. I used to get so caught up in making the FORM of the poem come out right that I lost the heart of it trying to “cook” it too much. Let me know how it goes….

      I’m trying to figure out how to make this thing more interactive. Do you think inviting other poets to send in their work to this site would be an interesting thing to do with it?

      All the best,


  3. Hey Ben:

    Thanks for visiting my site. Poetry-writing can be kind of like improv or jazz. If you just let your mind run with it, you may be amazed and the wonderful things that can result. Please let me know how you do….

    All the best,


  4. Lauren Kinghorn says:

    Oooh Netta, you touched me deeply with your poem. My heart aches for you and each loss you feel. You write with such tenderness about your husband, even when you recall what drove you nuts about him. I also really love your coaching on how to unfold your particular brand of “home grown dirt cheap psychotherapy”. Absolutely adore the phrasing you used and will heed your wonderful advice. Its been a while since I wrote poetry, for myself… its time. Thank you. Inspirational!

    1. Hey Lauren: Thanks for visiting. I’m glad you’re getting your poems on….



  5. That was a beautiful poem! I am very sorry to hear about the loss of your husband. The poem you wrote about him left goosebumps. The entire article well written about how to express yourself in such a great way. I think the same would hold true for writing a journal. Some way to get your thoughts and feelings out and made aware of how you really feel. Thank you for such a great read!

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Randi.  I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

      Please do come again….

  6. I love your down to earth advice of ignoring what the books say and just sitting down with a pencil and writing what comes to mind. In fact, I am going to try that right now and then put the ramblings away to read another day. This should be an interesting exercise.

    When I was younger I used to try to always write poems that rhymed but reading this it is interesting to see that with life poems this doesn’t have to be so. This to me seems a better way to state your feelings than actually speaking them, as they often come out all wrong when spoken.

    Your poem about your husband was lovely and it made me want to cry. I am glad that you lead such a ful fulling life together, and this poem says it all.

    1. Michel, thank you for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I do appreciate them.  

      I do encourage you to try doing life-built poems.  They do work!

      Please do come again….

  7. Netta

    A wonderful way to get through ones own problems or serious situations or even everyday life. My heart goes out to you and my condolences for your loss. A very touching poem. I enjoyed reading it. I thank you for your insight and a new way to release my inner self. Thank yo so very much. Kari

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I’m glad the post helps.

      Please do come again.

  8. Ayebogbon says:

    Okay, now I want to start writing poem. Wow, so poem is kinda a wonderful way to express your feeling – it’s true. 

    I’m ashamed to say I’ve never written a poem before. I wish I had known how to write it back in my High School. All I focused on back in high school was science.

    I think am going to learn about it and write it. It can be a good way of expressing my feeling about any day or anyone.

    Thanks for sharing this. It’s helpful.

    1. Thanks for the visit, Ayebogbon, and for sharing your thoughts.  I am sure that you’ll be pleased with your efforts at poetry.

      Please do come again….

  9. YU-SIANG LIN says:

    That’s a very beautiful article, I feel peace when I was reading, I think your article is very good to cooperate with peaceful music, It will more beauty! and change the font to make this more poetic! Great article, I enjoy it! It also very deep, I learn many things in your article!

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Yu-Siang.  I do appreciate them.  I’m glad you enjoyed the post.

      Please do come again….

  10. Mark Baker says:

    Hi Netta 

    Thank you for sharing your poem – truly beautiful. 

    I love that… “unfold your own myth” – I kind of just got lost in those words when I read them. 

    “Unfolding” feels a lot easier than trying to make something happen. Kind of  like allowing whatever is in our depths to come to the surface without any judgment and then creating form out of it later. 

    I don’t regard myself as a poet although I’ve dabbled. 

    Something I do regularly however is stream of consciousness writing. I never re-read what I’ve written though. I’m thinking maybe I should. There could be some poetry in there somewhere. What do you think? 


    1. Welcome back, Mark.  Try reading the stuff you’ve written before.  It might spark thoughts that could surprise you.  

      It’s amazes me how the process of doing a life-built poem consistently helps me get back to clarity.  A very good thing.

      Please do come again….

  11. Hi Netta, 

    Wonderful poem. You have completely nailed it and expressed yourselves in a wonderful artistic manner in your post. I feel deeply sorry for your loss and the void your husband’s demise has left which is reflected throughout your poem.

    Also I truly loved it when you talked about ignoring the books that teach you to write and rather line up the words by taking dictation for one’s own self. A truly enduring reading experience.  

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Nick.  I am glad you enjoyed the post.

      Please do come again….

  12. Thanks for your bold poetry.  I like the way you’re writing poetry and I’m sorry about your husband’s loss, and I even wrote poetry, but not like that with your heart.  I am grateful for your beautiful poetry. 

    I wish you great success in your work, I will go back to your blog to read your new poems

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Bajram.  I do appreciate it.

      Please do come again….

  13. Wow! So powerful! I couldn’t help but feel your loss when I read the poem. 

    I feel this website is wonderful and touches so many emotions. You could connect with groups who are mourning the loss of a loved one through your words. I suggest you incorporate those particular words in the context to attract those type of people. 

    Also, being a retired special education teacher, I feel your website would benefit teachers helping their students express themselves through poetry. Again, try to incorporate in the post through tag lines or key terms specific terms that will attract teachers working with troubled children. 

    I like the format of the post and how you explained it. You may just want to add some subtitles if at all possible. Otherwise, it looks good to me.

    1. Nina, welcome back.  Thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I do appreciate your suggestions.

      Please do come again.

  14. The phrase “home grown dirt cheap psychotherapy” stuck with me. You’re very spontaneous.

    But your poem is the complete opposite. It’s full of depth. I could even hear you breathing as I read it. it’s impossible not to feel what you’re describing when one has also experienced long and painful goodbyes.

    1. Paolo, thanks for your visit and for sharing your thoughts.  I do appreciate it.  I am glad the post resonated with you.

      Please do come again.

  15. This was a beautiful Poem. I have never been one to write Poems but I have always liked reading them. 

    Also I like the advice you give just to write what comes to mind and not to worry about everything else. I do understand how this would help someone by getting out what is bothering them or just expressing their feelings.

    1. Thanks for the visit and for sharing your thoughts, Marty.  I’m glad you liked the post.

      Please do come again.

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