How to write a poem in 12 simple steps

Picture of journal with empty pages

The Definitive Guide

Step 1.  Put on “Kind of blue” by Miles Davis
Step 2.  Enter a euphoric state induced by an irresponsibly excessive amount of grandiose hyperbole, bongos and Irish coffee.
Step 3.  Rant frantically a confused discharge of sensations, emotions, and disallusions until you reach the pinnacle of rhetorical zen.
Step 4.  Write the first draft while staring out a window catatonicly for at least 4 hours.
Step 5.  Let it rest knowing this is the greatest poem ever written since “Riot.”
Step 6.  The next day, re-read your masterpiece and realize it’s terrible. You will never be Gwendolyn Brooks, and everyone will think you are insane.
Step 7.  Alcohol!  Let the wave of unfulfilled vision wash over you as you contemplate a life as a Munk in Tibet, or lighthouse keeper.
Step 8.  Lighten up! The world does not need another Gwendolyn Brooks, she already did it perfectly. The world needs your voice.  And if it doesn’t ….. repeat step 7.  Oh and by the way everyone already knows you’re insane and your friends and family are OK with it…
Step 9.  Write second draft just in time for the open mic at the electric brew.
Step 10.  Still picking your poem apart… fall asleep attempting to read Ulysses.
Step 11.  Wakeup in the middle of the night and write two new lines before slipping back to that dream where Cloris Leachman is teaching you how to grow vegetarian bacon in an aquarium.
Step 12.  Write each line down on a note card so you can read/rewrite, read/rewrite, read/rewrite at least 150x until you are finally able to write the final draft.

And breath.

It is done.

Wasn’t that simple

The Poets Agenda

To hang stars one by one
Sieving rust into glitter
To build dreams from ashes
To look for patterns in brocade and well worn paths of memory
cutting through forests and fields and
swimming through streams of tomorrows
and navigating minefields of detached yesterdays
Through snow and storms
Until one day

I remember everything,
Whispers the sea
And the poet asks,
Tell me
Tell me
When time began
Tell me
Why that smile is impossible to forget

Tell me how to start over
Tell me

The sea
And the moon
And the stars
And the lark
And the still small voice

To rage
To love
To hope
To dream
To feel
To defend

To remember
When forgetting would make all the pieces fit
Because they should know
the pieces never really fit

The offering

To my inner critic
I offer you this Rolling Rock
As an offering
To leave my poem alone until it’s finished
Of course
You may say
A proper poet,
Would give you scotch
To that I must say
Perhaps I will be a proper poet someday
If you stop interrupting me

The storm

Part 1

The angry clouds stir for the storm
Vents release
I watch the thunder with awe
What will be torn away?
What will remain?
In the wind twisting rotting limbs
Empty buildings boarded up for the storm
Ripped open and
Left behind to be studied by anthropologist and poets
I know what the poet would say
This is happens when the world spins and spins and spins
And someone yells


Everywhere knows
Someone like you
Someone like me
or a few


Everywhere has been
Someone like you
Someone like me
Wondering through


Under the stars
Indifferent to me
And watchful of you


All of us
Everyone knew
As rare as we are
The near and the far


It’s funny
Waiting for connections
Like riding the night bus
Windows open
The air the quality of just beyond understanding
And yet
Waiting for it to wind around
This is where I get off
This is where I come from
Where I’m going
I’m here