Inspiration can strike custodian Isaac Moore, the poet of Cole Field House, at any time: His fellow University of Maryland employes know that when they see him scribble on a sheet of paper and jam it into his pocket, there may be a poem on the way.

A small, thoughtful man known to his friends as "Skully," Moore finds poetry in everything around him. With a simple sincerity, he writes about love, beauty, joy, despair, nature.

"I am of the world," the Capitol Heights resident said. "I know about ghetto life, I know about street life and I've been from the north to the south, to the east and to the west."

Moore, 60, didn't show his work to anyone outside his family until two years ago, when he met John Splaine, an associate professor of education at the university.

Splaine, who also writes poetry, said he was impressed by Moore's compositions, and invited him to two of his classes to recite his work and talk about his life. He has been invited back every semester.

"I don't even know what would be called great poetry," Splaine said, "but if poetry is supposed to be words presenting images in a sensing and emotional way, [Moore's writing] is poetry.

"Here's a guy that you and I walk by for years and don't see, so that when my students hear his story they never look at a custodian the same way ever again," he added. "They don't look at anybody the same way again."

Working as a custodian feeds his family, Moore says, but being a poet-at-large feeds his soul.

Moore was educated in in his hometown, San Antonio, but dropped out of high school after the 10th grade to find a job and raise money to help support his family.

He later drifted across the country, picking cotton, waiting tables, selling shoes, and working as a welder and a cook before winding up at the university in 1977.

Then, early one summer morning six years ago, while listening to music on the radio, Moore said he was struck with an inspiration to write a poem.

Within 10 minutes he had witten his first poem, "Yesterday."

Since then he has composed 62 poems, and is currently working on three more. He keeps them carefully bound in a cardboard binder.

"I work on three or four poems at a time when I am in the mood," Moore said. "Sometimes I write for days, then stop and pick it up later."

Rarely does he rewrite, he said, because "if I change just one word, then the thought is changed. My poems are all about the present, how I feel at the time.

"I write in such a way that my poems could be appreciated by anybody. I do not want them to be for the higher academic people. I want my poetry to be for everybody."

With the encouragement of Splaine and other friends, he is considering having his poems published. He would welcome success, he said, but he is ready for failure too.

"Even if the publishers turn me down, the poems are still things I will treasure," Moore said. "They are things that I really feel."