Published originally in Nov 7 2012  Line Break, Salem Weekly

Streets of Salem

It’s a peculiar kinda’ arrangement
carried over perhaps by the Trail,
the streets are circles upon circles
and spread us like a wagon wheel.

The thing that is most peculiar
and every day I find this true;
all roads in Salem go in circles
and they lead me back to you.

It’s bad enough my thoughts go that way
lighting on you when there’s a pause.
That any car I drive follows –
well, must I be blamed for the cause?

I apologize. To work, to friends’ house
or even driving to the store –
no matter how I vary my routes,
I still end up past your door.

As much as I try to escape it
I’m angry how the planners drew;
all roads in Salem go in circles
and they lead me back to you.

I’ve tried to set me wandering
following any likely direction or fork,
I’ve tried to break this cycle,
but even by foot, – it just won’t work!

It’s not that I follow my heart,
everyday I fight it through & through.
It’s just that every road in Salem goes in circles
and every time it leads me back to you.


My first introduction to writing poetry was in my fourth grade class with Mrs. Fisher, in San Jose, California. I still have that first poem from that day, written in pencil and framed with crayon.

Now over a thousand poems later, I can safely say that poetry has since grown through my entire life into more then just a hobby. It is an extension of myself.  It has helped me think things through, to express emotions and observations that were in some way impossible to verbalize, impossible to comprehend, and impossible to understand on just one level.

I believe that poetry helps us to relate to each other, to connect and learn from each other’s experiences, to fully immerse in the human experience. That poetry is another way of telling a story, of creating ideas, of writing fables, or morals, or even jokes.

When I wrote this particular poem, “Salem,” I was participating in a November writing challenge; the challenge was to write a circular poem.

What came into my mind was a conversation I just had recently about the way the streets of Salem was laid out, like the spokes of a wagon wheel, and that conversation popped back into mind when I read the prompt.

I had worked for the Code Enforcement for the City of Salem in the past, and remembered how some frustrated citizens would talk about the layout; you can’t drive “straight” to your destination in Salem, they said, “you need to circle around.”

Following that thought, I related it to how people end up circling around the people in their lives, especially the ones love, most especially the ones they can’t communicate with.

And with that connection, the refrain “all roads in Salem go in circles and they lead me back to you” popped into my head and would not let go. What lays before you is my vision of the idea.

Poetry for me is a driving force. Some people are sculpters, writers, nurses teachers, a path that life kept setting them on and that they had a undeniable pull to. I have discovered I am a poet. I want to relate to people and have them relate to me and I do this through poetry.

2 thoughts on “Streets of Salem: poetry analysis

    1. Wow, that’s great to hear, Beka! It is a freeing form to communicate. You’ll find as you poem that you will develop a unique “voice” with them. Goid luck. And check out my poetry website, Ariel (link on page). This month there are lots of poetry prompts each day to give people a tool to write and explore poeming with.

      Liked by 1 person

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