“Simple Tools” excerpted in Book Riot

"How Poetry Is Grounding Me When I Feel Hopeless" by Nikki DeMarco

by rosemerryt@gmail.com

What a sweet surprise when a friend sent me a link to this article in Book Riot that quotes from “Simple Tools,” a poem about learning from a spatula. The author says,

Remembering this poem breaks me out of the stress cycle whirring in my mind. It reminds me that taking a moment to pause whatever I feel is an urgent stressor in that moment and look up this poem, so I can get the turn of phrase exactly right.

Rosemerry Wahtola Trommer, wherever she is, has connected me to her and to whomever I’m baking those brownies for. Poetry provides interconnectedness in a stanza. It lets me know that there are other humans out there who feel like I do. She reminds me that it’s not silly to seek answers from a spatula, but instead, she’s done it, too. And she did it before it occurred to me in a way I couldn’t have imagined on my own. That is a comforting thought for me that brings me back to myself.

It utterly thrilled me to hear that the poem itself was as useful as a spatula. THAT is my new goal. To write poems as useful as spatulas. Thank you to Nikki DeMarco!

“Simple Tools,” by the way, will come out in my new book, All the Honey, in April, 2023!

Simple Tools


I am so grateful for the rubber spatula,
the way it sits quietly in the drawer
yet is always ready for action—
is game to scrape the walls of the blender
or to fold chocolate chips into cookie dough.
It evens and swirls the frosting on cake
and welcomes the tongue
of a child. In a sharp world,
it knows the value of being blunt;
it knows that to smooth is a gift to the world.
Some people are knives, and
I thank them. Me, I want to belong
to the order of spatulas—those
who blend, who mix, who co-mingle
dissimilars to create a cohesive whole.
I want to spread sweetness, to be a workhorse
for beauty, to stir things up,
to clean things out. I want to be useful,
an instrument of unity, a means, a lever for life.

first published in Braided Way, 2019