The Next Poem

How much better it seems now
than when it is finally done–
the unforgettable first line,
the cunning way the stanzas run.

The rhymes soft-spoken and suggestive
are barely audible at first,
an appetite not yet acknowledged
like the inkling of a thirst.

While gradually the form appears
as each line is coaxed aloud–
the architecture of a room
seen from the middle of a crowd.

The music that of common speech
but slanted so that each detail
sounds unexpected as a sharp
inserted in a simple scale.

No jumble box of imagery
dumped glumly in the reader's lap
or elegantly packaged junk
the unsuspecting must unwrap.

But words that could direct a friend
precisely to an unknown place,
those few unshakeable details
that no confusion can erase.

And the real subject left unspoken
but unmistakable to those
who don't expect a jungle parrot
in the black and white of prose.

How much better it seems now
than when it is finally written.
How hungrily one waits to feel
the bright lure seized, the old hook bitten.

by Dana Gioia

Comments (5)

Clear and conversational. For me a new poem is much better when done.
Hi Dana, Liked your poem about poem writing. For another take on this subject see my poem Driving Alone Through the Sand Hills of Nebraska. or if you have questions, I tackle some tough ones in So Many Questions.
Rubbish. Thats Gioia making a convenient excuse for his banalities. -LP
Hi Dana, I loved the following: No jumble box of imagery dumped glumly in the reader's lap or elegantly packaged junk the unsuspecting must unwrap. Just so true and so eloquently penned... you speak my thoughts. Thanks Deva
You are interesting, especially with the way youn look at things so close. Nice works.