How does one begin to write a poem?
by Patti Masterman
First one condenses an entire life down into just one line-
Clouds, dandelions, adoration, revenge; don't hold anything back.
The peaceful smile of death and the rancorous
Death of joy. The bubbles of happiness floating upward
The downward stinging tears of defeat.
The best, the worst, the last, the first:
Embellish that line from your life's story with
All the rarest moments of worship and awe you've ever known,
And keep writing it over and over again, saying it
Millions of different ways till it is firmly ensconced in your soul.
Don't take any magic for granted; it's too rare in this world.
Dreams and visions and nothing sugar coated:
The truth alone rules this kingdom.
Nobody reading this deserves the lie.
Don't forget the startling epiphanies
Seeping out of the souls troubles and careless wounds.
Sometimes you squeeze out every dropp and still
The pickings are scarce; other times things bound and leap out-
Wild, prolific hares, carelessly raking each other in their haste.
Always capitalize on the moments you thought might be your last-
Allow the teardrops and sweat to mix freely; swirl your pen in it
And apply to all the reopened ulcers and healed over scars.
Just before you think it is enough, just when the tale
Begins to half conclude, stop there and allow your audience
Imaginations machinery to supply the last vivid details:
Leave some openings; don't sew it up too tight.
Most important of all; read all the poets now alive
Still with the breath of life in them.
They can show you the way.
And never sell yourself too cheaply.
Write only from the particular universe hidden inside;
Staying true to that one.