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Bird's Blog

Poetry, musings, observations, commentary, rants, confessions...and who knows what else!

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Location: San Francisco Bay Area

Teacher, writer, poet, grandmother, lover, wine-drinker, chocolate eater, beach comber, hiker, traveler, Giants fan, San Franciscan. All work on this blog is copyrighted material.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

How To Write A Poem

First, it helps if you have grown up with
melancholy
mania
depression
bi polar
or OCD.
ADD or ADHD won’t work.

It needn’t be you who has the ailment
as long as you grew up
in it
around it
with it.

If you didn’t grow up
in it
around it
with it

then there’s nothing for it
you must get it.

Somehow.

If you
lose your job
hit the bottle
smoke crystal meth
shoot heroin
that might be good start.

If you are a man
live on the streets.
If you are a woman
walk them.
Or, cut your hair short
and say you are a lesbian
(especially if you’re not).
If you are a lesbian already
you are doomed
for you are passé.
(Don’t blame me – I don’t make up the rules.)

Second, you must read
e.e. cummings
T.S. Eliot
Sylvia Plath
Keats
Yeats
Elizabeth Barret Browning
and that guy she banged.

Then you must read
Walt Whitman
Allen Ginsberg
Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Diane di Prima

and
Galway Kinnel
Anne Sexton
Maya Angelou
Ted Kooser
Billy Collins
Charles Bukowski
William Carlos Williams
and of course
Wislawa Szymborska

and all the rest.
The order in which you read them
doesn’t matter. Just read them.

Imitate every poet you read until you want to puke
and you are no longer
sure you have any
thing to say
of
your
own
in your own
way.

Stop writing. Yes
just stop.
Tell everyone you know you have
WRITER’S BLOCK
because of course you are
off the booze
the meth
the heroin
and no longer live or walk the streets.
And you’ve grown your hair back
and are sure you are not a lesbian after all.

Stop reading the poems of others.

Stay home for three weeks straight.
Don’t answer the phone
or the doorbell
or any knock on the door.
Throw your cell phone and television out the window.
Disable your wireless connection or the DSL on your laptop.

Write.
Write some more.
Don’t stop.
Don’t stop for food or drink, nor sleep.
Don’t stop for anything.
Don’t stop for days until it is done.

Now. Shower.
Eat a steak and drink a martini.
Wine will not do.

Drink at least two (perhaps three)
martinis
straight up
on the rocks
with only a hint of vermouth
and at least three fat
olives skewered on the toothpick
(eat those last, ensuring they
are soaked thoroughly with the gin).

Now comes the Inquisition.
Stretch your work out on a rack
interrogate it closely
and write down
everything it says
and everything it doesn’t say.

Hold that up to a mirror and
read it.
Read it again.
Read it again.

Take it out to the garage
where all the tools are
and attack it
with a hack saw until it bleeds.

Whatever you do,
do not relent.
Let it bleed it self out.

Use the jig saw on your line breaks.
Make cross cuts
bevels
and scrolling curve cuts where appropriate.

Pick up a small, sharp knife.
Whittle the work carefully down.
Be precise – measure twice, but cut more than once.

If there is anything left when you are done
you have a poem.

Of course,
now you have to submit it for publication.
But that my friends,
is another poem
entirely.

10 Comments:

Blogger Jack K. said...

You do have a way with words.

Thanks for sharing.

Thanks for the map.

Thanks for .....

May 04, 2008 1:13 PM  
Blogger /t. said...

>8---:} )

May 04, 2008 7:50 PM  
Blogger boneman said...

I gotta go back and look, but, did you forget Franz Kafka...you know. For darkness. And Camus for being alone.
oh gray....

PAH!

For poets, Shel Silverstain will give you what you need.

May 05, 2008 4:35 AM  
Blogger Riki D said...

I love this, bird. Especially the part about the tools in the garage. Wonderful.

May 06, 2008 6:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

many thanks for the comments all.

i have been writing a poem a day now for a bit ... not posting them all, of course... but writing like mad.

makes me very, very happy.


kafak boneman? ive read his short stories, but not his poetry. hahahaha! poor gregory samsa.

but i am, thankfully, a bird and not a bug.

flap/flap/flap
SWOOP SWOOSH AND SOAR!

May 06, 2008 8:14 AM  
Blogger boneman said...

I keep coming back and being amazed at it
(no foolin' around, here, gal....you good. I mean, Andy Griffith, "GOOO-oo-OO-oood!")
....but I just now realized someone needs to come over here and read this....

May 07, 2008 5:34 PM  
Blogger Jean said...

Boneman sent me, although I've been lurking for a while.

Your poetry is wonderful, unique, inspiring... a color picture for the brain.

May 07, 2008 6:25 PM  
Anonymous paul maurice martin said...

Or maybe submitting it for publication is a kind of anti poem...

Is it possible to write antipoems?

AntiPoem

Today an anti-poem would rhyme
Because you're not supposed to;
A semicolon sure would help -
You're not supposed to use those.

Of nature or of love, the theme,
Because they're antiquated;
Rejection slips would follow fast:
It soon would be cremated.

May 08, 2008 3:42 PM  
Blogger Polly said...

I shall exort you
please
keep writing
and best of all
share with us.
We are waiting.

May 09, 2008 5:28 PM  
Blogger boneman said...

LOOK!
I've brought "performance art" to view!
Sort'a

May 09, 2008 6:00 PM  

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