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Poets Must Read-Learning from Legends


Inspiration comes in many forms and from many places. Often it comes from merely going about our daily lives and making close observations. What did I see today that I want to respond to with words? 

Inspiration can also come from what we read. It is said, you cannot be a writer/poet unless you are a reader. I strongly believe this is true. My reading life is rich and varied, quite consciously

When I read 'Forever Words -The Unknown Poems' by Johnny Cash, I discovered his poetry and the poetry in his lyrics. The poems within reveal the depth of his understanding of the physical world and the emotional world. 

He shares both the frailty and strength of the  human condition. As I read, I heard his unique voice and intonation. Cash's verse demonstrates for the reader his ability to reflect upon universal themes such as love, pain, freedom, and mortality. Most  people know him for his music. With these poems I got to know him for his broader talent as a poet. 

And so I allowed the influence of another writer to swirl around me and offer up some possibility. I have dedicated the resultant poem to Johnny Cash. 

As I wrote, I imagined Johnny standing behind my shoulder as I strived to capture a sense of love, loss and emotion so often surrounding human relationships. I also adopted the structure of 4 line stanzas with a rhyming pattern, a style I noted in many of the big man's poems.

Two Tracks Taken

For Johnny Cash

No one tried to hurt me

The way you chose to do

No one tried to wound me

And run my heart right through.


I’ve got no wish to go back there

It would only make me sad

It’s how my heart remembers it

No joy in feeling bad.


The troubles in your head

Are not the troubles in my heart

I have my own regrets

They weren’t there at the start.


I now choose to walk in sunlight

With no stone inside my shoe

You can chart your own course

I won’t be blamed for you.

©Alan j Wright

It's Poetry Friday again and this week our host is Jan Godown Annino at . Jan's post features Amanda Gorman, the young poet who made such an impact at the recent 2021 U S Presidential Inauguration Ceremony with her powerful poetic presentation.  Visit Jan and join a gathering of poets from all over...



  1. It is interesting to think of Johnny Cash in "his broader talent as a poet". Your poem for him is lovely. :)

    1. We frequently find Bridget that such talents are multi layered in their abilities. For example, Ronny Wood of the Rolling stones is an accomplished painter. I read a quote this morning encouraging new writers to cultivate interests beyond writing and craft. For me, it's cooking, and photography. Glad you enjoyed my little tribute.

  2. I know he always told a story & this poem, like Johnny's, is defiant & taking charge of self, something others need a boost to do. I wonder who would like to sing your poem, Alan, and receive a kind boost?

    1. Thank you Linda. Yes, he was very much a storyteller. The relationship between poetry and music comes into even sharper focus when we learn of Johnny's penchant for verse. Interestingly, my first published work was a musical called 'Cosmo's Cure' way back in 1993 . It was written for schools to perform and contained eight songs. I wrote the script and the song lyrics and a talented friend (a music teacher) transformed those lyrics into music. For me, it was quite magical to hear those words lifted to another level. I think it needs a chorus...

  3. Alan, I wish I could hear your poem sung in the style of Johnny Cash. He was a great storyteller and you certainly shared what might have been his thoughts.

    1. Thank you Carol. You do me a great honour in suggesting you would like to hear my words sung. He was indeed a great storyteller, having lived a most adventure filled life.

  4. Alan, I can tell how much Cash's poetry touched you by your response poem. You've capture the tone of Cash perfectly. He was very much a person that lived in his soul--at least that's my read from his music. I enjoy your post because of how much I also enjoy being in conversation with poets no matter what time or space they are from. I enjoy it because of how it allows me into the community of poets. I like that. Your last two stanzas are perfect conversation. Love it!

    1. Thank you Linda, for your supportive and considered words in response to this post. It pleases me a fellow poet enjoyed my words. It's affirmation of my endeavours.

  5. I did not know Johnny Cash wrote poetry -- outside of his music. Now I want to go find some to read. I enjoyed your poem inspired by Cash--it does seem he breathed inspiration on you as you wrote.

    1. It is pleasing to know my post has created a desire within you Kay to discover more...Thank you for your response to my words.

  6. I love songwriter poets, too. From an email from Over the Rhine I just got: "Like any decent songwriter, we hope to turn the blahs into the blues. The blahs are a big waste of time. The blues are useful, a deep lament beyond time raised in praise of the mutilated world." Great stuff! (And I really like your poem.)

    1. Songwriter poets are also a thing of joy for me too Ruth. I also love the email quote you have shared with me. I shall enter it into my notebook. Glad you liked the resultant poem.

  7. Thanks for sharing about Johnny Cash's poetry book, I've been a fan of his music but didn't know of his poetry–although I think the two go hand in hand and are often interchangeable. Your poem pays a nice tribute to Cash and it also reminds me of Patsy Cline and her love ballads.

    1. You are so right regarding the interconnectedness between poetry and music Michelle. Thank you for your positive remarks regarding my poem. Patsy Cline- now there's a voice!


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