top of page

Poetry / Tom Barlow

‘Folk Wisdom'

Issue 2. June 21, 2021

Folk wisdom says when the forsythia blooms
it's time to plant peas and when apple blossoms
drop, plant corn. Put out your snapdragons
when the chokeberry trees leaf and when your
shoes outnumber your friends, it's time to go
barefoot for a while. When days pass like the
strobe of a lightning bug, it's time to gild
every moment, and when your nightmares
don't scare you as much as the world you wake to,
the old folks will warn you your bed is a trap
that can swallow you whole. When you don't
remember how you ended up in a stranger's bed,
it's time to search for the mirror that spat at
you and punch it square in the mouth, and when
your diary won't stop bleeding, they'd tell you to
tape it to a brick and throw it in the goddamn river.
Folk wisdom will tell you that everybody reaches
a point when the world has put on too much weight
for their weary arms, and it's OK to set it down
and walk away.
Another greenhorn will pick it up soon enough.

Tom Barlow is a Columbus, Ohio, USA writer of poetry, short stories and novels. His most recent poems have appeared in Voicemail Poetry,  PlainSongs, The New York Quarterly, Proem, Your Daily Poem, The Aurora Review, and other anthologies and periodicals.  See more at

bottom of page