How to Write a Poem

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.

Available at Amazon (UK) and Amazon (US)

Poem Nominated for Best of the Net

My poem “When to Say Goodbye” has been submitted to the Best of the Net 2017 anthology by the editors of Oxidant Engine. I’m honored to be nominated alongside one of my favorite poets, Khaty Xiong.

Journal Publications (March – May 2017)

Links to my publications, March – May 2017.

West Texas Literary Review
“Gulf”

Quiet Letter
“Memory and Closets”
“Strollermelon”
“Cutting Down the Anniversary Pine”

LCk Publishing
Sault St. Marie

Rat’s Ass Review
“Sensing My Dismay at the Election Results, My Wife’s Dog Presses against Me”

La Presa
“Even the Light”

Oxidant|Engine
When to Say Goodbye

GFT Presents: One in Four
“Scarecrow Believes”
“The Boy Who Wouldn’t Hoe Corn”

Journal Publications (January – February 2017)

Links to my publications for January – February 2017:

The Slag Review
“Scarecrow Pretends”

Sourland Mountain Review
“I Praise the Moon Even When She Laughs”

Silver Birch Press “Me at 17” Prose and Poetry Series
“Letter from Kansas”

Postcard Poems and Prose Magazine
“Runaway Bus”

Glass: A Journal of Poetry
“What We Say When We Say Nothing”

Calamus
“Palinode (sol, ischemia, night)”

Steel Toe Review
“How to Do Nothing”
“And All Around, the Withered”

B. McClellan’s Weblog (International Poetry Month)
“From Left to Right I Ponder Politics and Kanji”
A Brief History of Babel”

Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art
“Henry Lee Remembers Grandmother’s Garden”
“What are You Going to Do (Cento)”
“Magic”
“The Draft”
“Diverting Silence”

 

Journal Publications (January – February 2017)

Links to my publications for January – February 2017:

The Slag Review
“Scarecrow Pretends”

Sourland Mountain Review
“I Praise the Moon Even When She Laughs”

Silver Birch Press “Me at 17” Prose and Poetry Series
“Letter from Kansas”

Postcard Poems and Prose Magazine
“Runaway Bus”

Glass: A Journal of Poetry
“What We Say When We Say Nothing”

Calamus
“Palinode (sol, ischemia, night)”

Steel Toe Review
“How to Do Nothing”
“And All Around, the Withered”

B. McClellan’s Weblog (International Poetry Month)
“From Left to Right I Ponder Politics and Kanji”
A Brief History of Babel”

Taos Journal of International Poetry & Art
“Henry Lee Remembers Grandmother’s Garden”
“What are You Going to Do (Cento)”
“Magic”
“The Draft”
“Diverting Silence”