Art-Making Poem


Your gifts are shy,
and stand behind you,
like a child peeking out
from mommy’s leg.

But you already know that.

You’ve seen it a thousand times
as you tucked and buried them
wondering what was wrong with you.

It wasn’t you. Gifts are bashful.
Most live hidden, and die
in alleys or crumble into broken stones.

What to do?

How to entice them to open the sliding door
and step out?

A mad love for the thing itself
is the best remedy that’s been discovered

a love so wild you are willing to step
into the middle of a circle and dance.
You won’t know if the witnesses around you
are the neighbors
or the world
or just the critics from within

but you’ll go there
for the feeling of your foot sanding the floor,
for the flight in your chest when you jump.

That’s the best prescription:
a kind of foolery, a mad love.

But what if the fear has won out, you ask?

First, sink down to the floor and kiss
your feet.

Fall like someone has just
popped the balloon of you.

Then hug yourself into stillness.
Know that, sweetie, it will be alright.

Next build a fort in your bedroom,
a soft and covered spaced.
Pitch blankets, prop pillows,
bring a firefly inside for light.

Then take it out, whatever it is
your flute or your pen or your clay,
and say your prayer of thank you
for this everything: vessel for your thoughts,
ceaseless companion, adventure-bringer, peace song.

Then take the question, Is it good or not?
and send it to the river to fish.
Let it catch you dinner while you work.

You are not making to be good.
You are making because
it is the great romance of your life.

Then make something. A little thing.
Look at how it loves you
how it woke up the earth to you
and gave you the life-heart back

how the days are growing long again, as in childhood,
as if time is being given back to you
as you learn how your soul wants to fill it.

– Tara Mohr


photo credit: Etienne Boulanger

Join the discussion 17 Comments

  • Renee says:

    That is so beautiful. Thank you.

  • Wyokemia says:

    Wow, Tara. This is absolutely beautiful. I feel the essence of this poem in the pit of my stomach. I can’t find the words to describe it, but I just feel this poem. So, so lovely. Thank you.

  • Lisa King says:

    This morning in my dreaming, the book I am flirting with came to me, breathed over me making everything tingle and bloom and yearn. “What do I do?” I asked, “tell me, please, what?” willing to do anything, anything to be of service to this great, breathing mystery.

    “Desire me.” was the answer. “Long for me, dream of me, call my name out in your sleep, desire me into being.”

  • Tara, this is so beautiful that I made a blog post about it. I gave my readers the last lines and encouraged them come over to your site to read the whole thing. You can see my own painting that I think complements your poem as well as what I wrote about your work at Thank you for sharing your gifts with us. 🙂

  • nancy says:

    This totally made me cry — stop that Tara!! I love your poetry! Do a book, everyone will buy it!

    Especially loved the part about ..”Then take the question .. Is it good or not? … and send it to the river to fish …..

  • Wow! Art Making Poem… life making poem. Thank you for this beauty.

  • Gatha on “Art Making Poem”

    The materials of earth
    Creativity in the soul
    From it some will love
    A frog still sits on a lily

  • Hiro Boga says:

    Gorgeous, Tara. Thank you!

  • mj says:

    thank you, thank you, thank you. this poem has inspired me!

  • Tamisha says:

    Tara ~ This is beautiful. Thanks for letting your brilliance and beauty come out in your poems. Always.

  • Joanna says:

    I remember hearing you read this in the log cabin at Mabel’s, less than a week ago. As beautiful now as then. Thank you.

  • Tara's art-making poem | Meeting at the Well says:

    […] = 'wpp-261'; var addthis_config = {"data_track_clickback":false};I just wanted to share this wonderful poem by Tara Sophia Mohr. It caused me to cry big, fat tears of recognition and release. And then big, […]

  • Suzanna says:

    I’ve enjoyed reading each of your poems aloud to myself, but this one was particularly inspiring, and I plan to share it with my art group AWaKE (Artists Way Kreative Enterprises) and perhaps even read it at my church! I need poetry like this sometimes to hit the “refresh” button in an otherwise stressful day or week. Thank you, Tara.

  • Mahima Gabriel says:

    Dearest Tara,

    I have visited your website ‘many many times’ … I have read blog posts, poetry, articles and I am IN LOVE. I keep pouring through it, seems as though I am searching or something. I am in ‘transition’ … and have felt to be in a ‘fallow place’ for some time now … At times I have pushed it away, at other times I make sweet love to it… Tonight when I read the Art Making Poem for the first time … I read it aloud two times. My soul felt it all the way through, but when I got to the last two stanza’s …my voice cracks and tears roll down my cheeks and I feel ‘something’ deep inside. I don’t know what it is, but it touched me deeply. Where to go from here. I have had many careers … and yet I feel that my ‘true expression’ has not come of age. I am now beyond my prime in chronological years, but a youthful spirit … I really don’t know what is ‘next’ …. if anything. This dormant space has been a companion since last March ~~~ I want a project, inspiration …and yet not just ‘anything’ – this time it needs to be that deeper calling. I await this and wonder what I may to to bring this ‘bashful’ gift forth … to know what it is, to fall in love, and feel the passion of this love affair ~~~ Thank you so very much for ALL that you share. I am looking forward to receiving your New Book. Seems everything you express, touch, share …. I feel a deep connection, a kindred spirit and yet I am not there ‘yet’ …. I await this return and hope it arrives SOON …. I feel a sadness at times for this ‘longing’ of something I know not. I have done sooo many things, I wonder if there is really ‘anything’ new …. ??? Is is all just repeating someone else …. I wonder? In Gratitude and appreciation …. Mahima

  • […] Sophia Mohr wrote that “your gifts are shy“. Why is that? I suppose because sometimes we ignore them, and they wonder whether they are […]

  • Donna Nolan says:

    Hi, I wanted you to know that I read your poem Art-Making during an art meditation class this evening. It was delightful to hear people laughing and sighing and also silently enjoying your poem. Several came up after to get more information about you, and I gave them this site, of course. The poem speaks so eloquently to the joys of creating art, and to letting that inner critic so hang. I searched very long and hard to find just the right poem to inspire the women. Yours was perfect. Thank you so much. Donna

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