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 Published in Wildness

I am grateful that my poem “Yellow, Lost” has been published in wildness, Issue no. 10. wildness is an imprint of Platypus Press, which published my work Interval’s Night, a mini-digital chapbook, last December in their 2412 series. If you’re not familiar with wildness, check it out. Last fall Poets & Writers named it in their article Nine New Lit Mags You Need to Read.



Poem Published in Reservoir

My poem “N Is Its Child” has  been published in Issue 4 of ReservoirI am grateful to editor Caitlin Neely for accepting this piece, which has knocked around a bit over the past four years.


3 Poems in Posit: A Journal of Literature and Art

I’m delighted to have three poems appearing in Posit: A Journal of Literature and Art. Many thanks to editor Susan Lewis for taking these oddities.

To get a taste of what Posit is about, read the Editor’s Notes.

Journal Publications (March – May 2017)

Links to my publications, March – May 2017.

West Texas Literary Review

Quiet Letter
“Memory and Closets”
“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”

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”

“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)”
“The Draft”
“Diverting Silence”


Journal Publications (June – August 2017)


I thought it might be worthwhile to assemble these in one place, to make it easier for anyone interested in reading my recent publications.

MockingHeart Review
“This Island is a Stone”

Vox Populi
“Scarecrow Calls Out the Man”

The Icarus Anthology
“Shadow Charm”
“Forgetting Charm”

Blue Fifth Review

The Mantle

The Lake
“Letter to Wright from Between Gusts”

“A Word Bathing in Moonlight”
“Scarecrow Dreams”
“Missing Loved Ones”

Birch Gang Review
“Landscape with Jar”

Blue Bonnet Review
“Buddha’s Not Talking”

Picaroon Poetry
“Memorial Day, 2015”

Bright Sleep
“The Sky Withholds”

“Scarecrow Sings the High Lonesome”

Outcast Poetry
“The Theory and Practice of Rebellion”