Poetic Correspondence: A Collection of Tumblr Asks and Answers (Vol. I)

One of my favourite things about poetry is that it has never seemed like a thing that requires form to me. Only a language that knows how to dance, a language fluid as water that flows simultaneously from everything and to everything. Recently, trawling through my Tumblr archives, I began to notice a vast collection of responses to questions I had been asked and how they seemed to exist on two planes; how so often it seemed that yes, I was answering a question, but also, I was writing a poem. On the off chance that these poetic exchanges might be of interest to anyone else, I have begun to document them. Here are a few to start.


Q: What do you do the moment you realize the love will not work? That maybe it’s turned sour, maybe you love them more; maybe it wasn’t never meant to last much longer. What do you do with yourself then?

A: be truthful and fair to yourself. learn to navigate loss. get enough sleep. eat your greens. keep well hydrated. above all, be tender in your handling of yourself. be forgiving of the past. and be open to right now, however difficult. be open to each moment.


Q: Do you ever worry that true happiness will never come? And if it does, could it linger for a while? I’m so scared it will never happen for me, not even fleetingly.

A: what is “true happiness”? stop aspiring to happiness. it is unrealistic. aspire to contentment at best. to being comfortable in your life. to having accepted your many flaws and having stopped beating yourself up for them. what are you after? you want to spend every day laughing on a front porch drinking iced tea from a mason jar? you want to always have someone to kiss below the navel? you want to always be lucky? to sidestep all of life’s potholes? to always make it home before the rain? you can’t have it all. the worst thing we do to ourselves as humans is to set happiness apart from all the other emotions and expect it to have some permanence. why? we have angry flashes. sad bouts. silly hours. these all are temporary, and happiness too. so no, i don’t worry about happiness. in fact, i worry about the opposite. i worry that the expectancy for happiness, the constant waiting around for it, the trust that it will one day show up with the intent to stay, will keep me from enjoying the brief spells of it. i am thankful for each rush of joy, though few and far between. i am thankful they ever come at all.


Q: I am falling in love with someone who is falling in love with me and we only get to see each other two days, once a month. Life feels heavy and impossible. How can I make it stop?

A: The only way to make the heaviness stop is to give up the love in this case. But oh, love is such a delicious burden to carry on your back through the desert.


Q: Can you be in love with two people at the same time?

A: I’m never in love with less than half a dozen people a day.


Q: I think I love being the other woman. I’m not always sorry.

A: I’m not either. Oh, to be dark, mysterious, and above all, desired.


Q: I hope one day you’ll find the courage inside yourself to discover you’re so much more than sadness.

A: I already know that. I am not only sadness. I am hope and curiosity and belly-laugh and silence. I am wishful thinking and easily pleased and “sarcasm is the lowest form of wit.” I am pink in the cheeks and soft at the hips and sometimes blue at my extremities because my circulation is so bad. I am kind, to others, and more recently, myself. I am bad with money and full of passion. Full of fury, too. Sometimes angry. Sometimes lonely. Sometimes funny. Sometimes false. Authentic. Self-deprecating. Self-preserving. Gracious, proud, needy, silly, interesting, childish, small. Brave even. On the rare occasion. I know I am more. Thank you for knowing it too.

Contributing Editor /

Donna-Marie Riley currently resides in the South West of England. She is author of the poetry collection Love and Other Small Wars, published by Words Dance, and also featured in Between Sentiment and Sensation: Vol I, published by Red Paint Hill. She romanticizes cold coffee and bitten nails and she likes her poetry shaken, not stirred.