Nature Poem

By Tommy Pico


Nature Poem by Tommy Pico is a compelling exploration of identity, culture, and the natural world through the unique lens of contemporary poetry. Tommy Pico, a queer Native American poet from the Kumeyaay Nation, challenges the stereotypical notions of what Indigenous poetry should be about. Instead of traditional nature-focused poems that one might expect from Native writers, Pico turns this expectation on its head, using his work to explore personal and societal issues.

📚 The poem itself straddles different genres, including autobiography, satire, and cultural critique, and it does so with a blend of humor, poignant insights, and sometimes stark realism. Pico’s voice is vibrant and distinctive, often weaving together internet slang with the complexities of Indigenous identity, making his work not only thought-provoking but also accessible to a wide range of readers.

Meaning of Nature Poem

1) Opening section The poem begins by addressing the poet’s reluctance to write about nature, which is a common expectation for Native American writers. Pico uses humor and irony to express his frustration with this stereotype:

  • “I can’t write a nature poem bc it’s fodder for the noble savage narrative.”

2) Mid section As the poem progresses, Pico delves into personal reflections and broader societal commentary, using vivid imagery and sharp language to critique modern life and cultural assimilation:

  • “I wd slap a tree across the face, I say to my audience.”

3) Concluding section The conclusion of “Nature Poem” ties back to the opening themes but with a deeper understanding of the self and a reconciliation of sorts with the concept of nature, both as a cultural construct and a personal encounter:

  • “It’s important to be seen in the company of beauty lest you be mistaken for its absence.”

Through these sections, Pico explores themes of identity, resistance, and self-expression, challenging the reader to reconsider their own perceptions of nature and culture.

In-depth Analysis

Each stanza of “Nature Poem” is meticulously crafted, utilizing a range of literary techniques to convey complex ideas and emotions. Here’s a breakdown:

— Stanza Dissection and Analysis —

Tommy Pico’s “Nature Poem” is not just about the words he chooses, but also about how he structures those words to reflect his thematic concerns and stylistic uniqueness. Let’s analyze a few stanzas to see how Pico uses poetic devices to enhance the meaning and emotional impact of his work.

  1. First Stanza:
    • Syntax and Diction: The stanza starts with “I can’t write a nature poem,” which sets a conversational tone. The use of contraction (“can’t”) and straightforward language mirrors spoken English, making the poem more accessible.
    • Literary Techniques:
      • Irony: The irony in declaring he can’t write a nature poem in a poem about nature challenges traditional expectations and engages the reader with the poet’s internal conflict.
      • Enjambment: The line breaks, particularly around “nature poem,” emphasize the poet’s reluctance but also push the reader forward through the poem, creating a sense of movement and immediacy.
  2. Middle Stanza:
    • Figurative Language: Pico frequently employs vivid imagery and metaphors to connect emotionally with the reader. For instance, describing urban elements within the context of nature illustrates the blend of his personal experiences with his cultural identity.
    • Symbols: Urban settings often symbolize modernity and cultural assimilation, contrasting with traditional views of Indigenous connection to nature.
  3. Last Stanza:
    • Themes: The final stanza often returns to the themes introduced at the beginning but with a deeper exploration. Pico might reflect on the idea of beauty in nature and its relation to identity, suggesting a reconciliation or a new understanding.
    • Tone Shifts: The tone might shift towards a more reflective or resolved mood as Pico synthesizes his thoughts and presents his concluding reflections.

— Themes and Symbols —

  • Personal vs. Cultural Identity: Pico explores his personal identity in juxtaposition with, and sometimes in opposition to, cultural expectations and stereotypes.
  • Resistance: Throughout the poem, Pico resists not only literary conventions but also societal expectations of his identity and his poetry.

Poetic Devices used in Nature Poem

Alliteration“slap a tree across” – emphasizes the sound and action
Assonance“I can’t” – creates a moody, reflective tone
Consonance“back to the city” – highlights the harsh sounds
EnjambmentUsage across stanzas to maintain flow and surprise
IronyContrasting what is said with what is meant
Metaphor“company of beauty” – comparing presence to beauty
Personification“tree across the face” – gives human traits to nature
Simile“like a city” – compares the natural to the urban
SymbolismNature as a symbol of imposed identity
HyperboleExaggerating feelings towards nature to make a point
AllusionReference to cultural or historical figures or events to deepen context.
AnaphoraRepetition of words at the beginning of successive clauses to build emphasis.
OxymoronCombining contradictory terms (e.g., “silent scream”) to highlight conflict or complexity.
ParadoxStatements that contradict but contain inherent truth, deepening the theme of identity.
PunPlayful use of language to underline humor or irony within the text.

Nature Poem – FAQs

Q: What is the main theme of Nature Poem by Tommy Pico? A: The main theme is the exploration of identity and the rejection of stereotypical narratives imposed on Indigenous people.

Q: How does Tommy Pico use form in Nature Poem? A: Pico employs a free verse structure, using conversational language and breaking traditional poetic form to reflect his themes of resistance and innovation.

Q: What role does irony play in Nature Poem? A: Irony is used to challenge stereotypes and expectations, particularly around the subject of nature in Indigenous poetry.

Q: Can Nature Poem be considered an autobiographical piece? A: Yes, Tommy Pico infuses his personal experiences and emotions into the poem, blending autobiography with broader cultural commentary.

Q: What is the significance of the poem’s title, ‘Nature Poem’? A: The title is itself ironic and critical, as it points to the stereotypical expectation that Indigenous poetry must focus on nature, which the poem then proceeds to question and subvert.

Q: How does Pico’s use of internet slang and modern references affect the poem? A: It makes the poem more relatable to contemporary readers and underscores the blending of traditional and modern influences in Indigenous identities.

Nature Poem Study Guide


  • “I can’t write a nature poem bc that’s putting lipstick on a pig.”


  • List all the devices used in this verse.


  • Metaphor: “putting lipstick on a pig” is a metaphor for superficially improving something unappealing.
  • Irony: The statement itself is ironic since the poem is about nature.