Walking Poems

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Walking Poems

Write a walking poem.

Walker, there is no road / The road is made by walking,” said Spanish poet Antonio Machado, and surely he was the walker of modern Spanish literature, walking miles and miles after finishing his day’s writing.

So notice, we didn’t say, “Write a poem about walking.” (Poems “are not about about,” as Heather McHugh says.)  Instead, walk, run or wheel outside awhile and then write. Write from the rhythm of the walk or an image or give an account of your perambulation.

Here is an abecedarian poem to inspire your own walking poem.


Ambulatory again, I ascend the mountain trail, attuned to
bird-calls. A hermit thrush serenades from a thick-branched beech.
Cascading notes correspond, I like to think, to desire or
desire’s fulfillment or deft
eagerness to express, to expand the universe

from note to note, with flurries of song.
Gravel under my feet, the ground rutted
hard by sudden mountain storms, hailstones, spring thaw,
ice-melt. I’ve come for black-eyed Susans, insouciant,
just to the side of the trail where it juts open to a meadow. 

Knee-deep among their yellow heads, I
luxuriate in the light bathing them, pray they linger
most of July, best of show among marguerites and yarrow,
nettles and red clover. Butterflies rove from blossom to
odoriferous blossom, frantic over the choice of flower, 

plentiful and savory. Some butterflies are plain white, some
queerly marked in a mosaic of colors, their quest
resembling mine, kinetic energy for its own
sake, as I rejoice in the strength of my knees,
thighs, give thanks for this simple treat of walking.

Unless I’d slipped that day, wrenched my knee, how could I
vouch for the power to heal? Walking, one foot, another,
what a pleasure and wonder, my mountain
Xanadu coming at the ridge where I could dance and sing,
yet no one would hear but the surrounding hills, soft
zephyrs rustling the branches of red pine, poplar, birch.

“Abecedarium in Praise of Being" by Claire Keyes. Used with permission of the author.