How to Write a Poem
Learn to curse in three languages. When midday
yawns stack high and your eyelids flutter, fire up
the chain saw; there’s always something to dismember.
Make it new. Fear no bridges. Accelerate through
curves, and look twice before leaping over fires,
much less into them. Read bones, read leaves, read
the dust on shelves and commit to memory a thousand
discarded lines. Next, torch them. Take more than you
need, buy books, scratch notes in the dirt and watch
them scatter down nameless alleys at the evening’s first
gusts. Gather words and courtesies. Guard them carefully.
Play with others, observe birds, insects and neighbors,
but covet your minutes alone and handle with bare hands
only those snakes you know. Mourn the kindling you create
and toast each new moon as if it might be the last one
to tug your personal tides. When driving, sing with the radio.
Always. Turn around instead of right. Deny ambition.
Remember the freckles on your first love’s left breast.
There are no one-way streets. Appreciate the fragrance
of fresh dog shit while scraping it from the boot’s sole.
Steal, don’t borrow. Murder your darlings and don’t get
caught. Know nothing, but know it well. Speak softly
and thank the grocery store clerk for wishing you
a nice day even if she didn’t mean it. Then mow the grass,
grill vegetables, eat, laugh, wash dishes, talk, bathe,
kiss loved ones, sleep, dream, wake. Do it all again.
* * *
“How to Write a Poem,” is included in Indra’s Net: An International Anthology of Poetry in Aid of The Book Bus, and has appeared on the blog as well.
All profits from this anthology published by Bennison Books will go to The Book Bus, a charity which aims to improve child literacy rates in Africa, Asia and South America by providing children with books and the inspiration to read them.