This is a found poem based on an oral history by Sam McWilliams at The Recollectors, found online here.


i think my dad just wants to die
holding a Diet Pepsi
in his left hand,
tending the garden
in front of the house.
it’s hilarious,
this super gay picture.

he’s sitting with his legs closed
wrist cocked very far back
cuz he found a lady
he thought he could marry
had a couple of kids
and slammed a door
on it so hard
I just thought,
I can’t be that.   

past the Caldecott Tunnel
shirtless bartenders and
congressmen whisper,
don’t ask, don’t tell
but maybe I’m a lesbian
an ugly nobody
at the movie theatre
with my friend
delicately posed on
top of one knee.

i think my dad just wants
a princess daughter
so i let him do my hair
go to prom in outfits
he bought me
wear these shoes
and those pants
with the knowledge
that I am truly loved.

and I knew he was
just waiting for that,
died two weeks later.


A found poem is created using only words, phrases, or quotations that have been selected and rearranged from another text. The literary equivalent of a collage.

“By entering a found text as a poem, the poet doubles its context. The original meaning remains intact, but now it swings between two poles. The poet adds, or at any rate increases, the element of delight.”
- As described by writer Annie Dillard on the Found Poetry Review


“I was actually assigned to write a found poem for a Contemporary Queer Poetry class. We were discussing HIV/AIDS as metaphor and the way queering words can kill. Our professor instructed us to choose an essay on The Recollectors in order to create a found poem.
“I chose this essay because of how it framed the relationship between a father dying of AIDS and his daughter's struggle to reconcile her own sexuality (alongside her father's desire to erase his). The process of writing this poem originally made me feel uncomfortable, as it felt as if I was appropriating someone else's lived experience for artistic value. However, I suppose this poem was never for me anyway, and that I will always be a part of its audience even though I wrote it.”
- Tori Shaw, on why she chose to write a found poem



Tori Shaw is a student at Franklin & Marshall College (F&M) where she is double majoring in Cognitive Science and Creative Writing.  She has studied abroad in Budapest and Copenhagen, and in her spare time can be found reading Bukowski and drinking coffee. She hopes to pursue a career in both clinical psychology and writing. Her poetry and nonfiction has appeared in or is forthcoming from The Hellebore, Peculiars Magazine, The Foundationalist, and OCEANS & TIME.