Starting the Year with Smiley
Poem: March 2020

A Found Poem for Poetry Friday


A Day Like Any Other: A Found Poem


How do I get downtown?

The first two years of

the lease there was one point two million dollars

of rent


How do I get downtown?

You don’t want to be with me no more



How do I get downtown?

Get your ass over there


How do I get downtown?

I call my dad’s father Gramps


How do I get downtown?

That was freshman year


Draft ©Susan Thomsen, 2021


I made the poem above with lines of conversation I overheard in New York earlier this week. That's one of my favorite things to do: collect random sentences and rearrange them. (Another favorite thing is taking pics of street art.) When I heard several different people on the crosstown bus asking the central question here, I knew I had to do something with it, and then borrowed the title from the last line of James Schuyler's "Februrary."

You'll find the entire Poetry Friday roundup at author and poet Laura Shovan's blog.

Photos by me. The impressive pigeon art by Michael Paulino (@infamous_moke on Instagram) in the lower photo is part of Uptown Grand Central's Grandscale Mural Project, on and around East 125th Street in New York.


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Susan, fun photos and conversation you captured. It was interesting to read your found poem first and then read where/how you found it. Fascinating. It makes me want to pay closer attention when I am out and about like this.

Thanks so much for reading, Denise. It's fun writing with a constraint sometimes: I told myself I could use only the words of the various people I heard and not add anything to make it flow better. Cell phones do make eavesdropping easier than it used to be!

Susan, I went to school in New York City. I used to write down snippets of subway conversation all the time. "Get your ass over there" made me laugh!

Yes, subway conversation is excellent! I thought of ending the poem with the "Get your ass over there" line because it's just so dang direct. Thanks for reading.

Wonderful! I love the idea of being a conversation thief.

Hey! Good to see you again!

I love that your found poem came to you through your ears, and I'm TOTALLY crushing on the yin-yang pigeons locked together with love flowing all around!

Hi, Susan--nice to meet you. What I like best here is how steeeeeped in NYC this is. I lived in Manhattan during 5 formative years, and now my just-grown daughter is headed to Brooklyn for some of hers, so the city's on my mind. The refrain holds all the various voices together--just a day like any other indeed. And thanks for the pigeons.

Linda, yes, I like that description. Conversation thief, indeed.

Mary Lee, the pigeons are so great, right? I am really happy to be back at Poetry Friday after a loooong time.

Heidi, thanks so much for reading! I lived in New York many years, too, and now live fairly close by. I am SO glad to be able to go in & out of the city again. Your lucky daughter to be moving to Brooklyn! My grandfather lived 2 years in Brooklyn, and everyone always said those two years gave him enough stories for the next sixty-five.

I've never read a found poem based on overheard snippets of conversation - what an original take on this idea! I felt like I was walking down a street, or riding a bus.

I love how both of your photos are of pigeons, yet so different.

Elisabeth, thanks so much for reading. Collecting conversational snippets is really fun. Even just one line could be a writing prompt.

I've so missed going to New York and it's time for a trip there. I have mostly taken the subway, but your eavesdropping would be the same. I love the artwork!

Thanks, Janice. Yes, I agree: the subway is good for this kind of "research," too! I have really missed the city and am happy to be back occasionally.

A most interesting way of acquiring poetic ingredients for your found poem Susan. Having once lived in NYC for six years I continually collected snippets of conversation, but your actions have me made wish I had explored the ground you have ventured into. Eavesdropping is an essential element in a poet's kit. Well done you...

You really capture lots of aspects of a day! Finances, relationship, nostalgia.
Those yin-yang pigeons! Very cool.

Alan and Tabatha, thanks for reading! I didn't really tune in that day until I heard a guy talking on his cellphone about the huge amount of rent. I figure he was a realtor. Then I knew I wanted other material to go along with that, but had to listen for more lines. I walked a lot that day! As I told another friend, I was also surprised that people had gotten on the bus without knowing where it was going.

What a fun idea to take the conversation you tuned in—I like the syncopated rhythm of your lines and the yin-yang pigeon is wonderful. I'm from Chicago and missing art-trips I make into NYC, thanks Susan for these lovely snippets!

Hi, Michelle. Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words, too. Chicago would also be a great place to collect snippets! I love listening to the various ways people use language (well, English) and wish I could speak more languages to catch nuances in those, too. I'm working on Spanish.

Susan, thank you for this example of a conversation overheard found poem. I am happy to have a mentor text to use when penning a poem for the Poetry Sisters challenge.

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