How to Write an “I Can’t Write a Poem” Poem

I Can't Write a Poem

Here’s a type of poem that absolutely anybody can write, even if you’re sure that you have no idea how to write a poem. That’s because it’s a poem about not being able to write a poem! You won’t even have to think up a title for this poem, since you can use the very first line as the title.

The key to success in writing this type of poem is to let your imagination go wild. Your poem might start off with an ordinary excuse, but as the poem goes on, the excuse can get crazier and crazier.

Here are a few different first lines you could use to begin your poem:

  • I can’t write a poem.
  • I have to write a poem.
  • I don’t know how to write a poem.
  • I don’t like writing poetry.
  • I want to write a poem.
  • My teacher said to write a poem.

So, let’s begin! Try using this as your first line: “I can’t write a poem today.”

Now, choose a very ordinary excuse for why you can’t possibly write a poem right now. For example, you might decide to say that you can’t write a poem because you don’t have any paper to write on. Next, think of a really outrageous reason why there’s no paper available. What if it was because your bookbag had been set on fire? Here’s how your poem might start:

I can’t write a poem today.
You’ll think that I’m a liar,
but all my paper is in flames.
My bookbag is on fire!

That’s a good start. Now the reader of your poem will be wondering how in the world your bookbag was set on fire. In the rest of the poem, you can tell the story of how it happened. Perhaps a fire-breathing dragon wandered into your classroom. Maybe aliens blasted it with a laser. Maybe you accidentally dropped it in a volcano. Your poem could end up being as long or short as you want, depending on how long it takes to tell your outrageous story.

Be sure to end your poem with a line or two that reminds the reader how impossible it is for you to write a poem today. Of course, since you did just write an entire poem, the last line will be very funny because it is no longer true!

It can be fun to use rhymes to make this type of poem. Often, thinking of rhyming words can help to suggest crazy things that might happen next in the poem. But it’s also okay to use free verse (a type of poetry without end rhymes) if you want. A free verse poem could start with the words “I can’t write a poem because…” and then list all the reasons why it’s impossible. End the poem with a line stating that it is obviously impossible to write a poem right now.

Here is an example of a rhyming poem that I wrote about not knowing how to write a poem. Notice that I started my poem with the words “I have to write a poem.” The middle part of the poem describes all of the crazy adventures that would happen in a poem if I were able to write one. Then, my poem ends by saying that I haven’t figured out yet how to write the poem.

I Have to Write a Poem

I have to write a poem
but I really don’t know how.
So maybe I’ll just make a rhyme
with something dumb, like “cow.”

Okay, I’ll write about a cow,
but that’s so commonplace.
I think I’ll have to make her be…
a cow from outer space!

My cow will need a helmet
and a space suit and a ship.
Of course, she’ll keep a blaster
in the holster on her hip.

She’ll hurtle through the galaxy
on meteoric flights
to battle monkey aliens
in huge karate fights.

She’ll duel with laser sabers
while avoiding lava spray
to vanquish evil emperors
and always save the day.

I hope the teacher likes my tale,
“Amazing Astro Cow.”
Yes, that’s the poem I will write
as soon as I learn how.

Kenn Nesbitt
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