How to Write a Poem

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How To Write A Poem

 

You start, predictably, with your past;

gather it in a large pile

and throw it all away.

Despite what everyone thinks,

you will have no use for it.

Take a warm bath with no soap; just

watch your skin undulate

beneath the clear water.

This is part of the cleansing process,

emotional and physical,

but you could have guessed that.

Be still. Call an old friend and tell

them what you’re doing now. Focus

entirely on the present.

Then, turn off all electronic devices.

Grab a sheet of paper

and a Number Two pencil.

Write down the first thing that comes

to your mind for the next 20 minutes.

This will resemble a list.

Drink plenty of fluids – preferably spring water

from a mountainous source. Travel

there and bottle it yourself for added

impact. Stay away from bugs

but try not to kill any of them;

it will destroy the karma

that you are now creating.

Rearrange your furniture.

Feng shui is old but new again.

See the world from a new perspective –

feel free to pick anything reasonable.

Be safe. Mention my name.

Don’t stop writing until your fingers

literally quit because of the pain.

It shouldn’t be for a very long time.

 

Something I Should Say About Why I Stopped Listening to Country Music

 

You may remember holding hands

at the fair that autumn of our senior year,

a local band playing a country song

about finding a lost love filling the air

around us. I didn’t realize it at the time

but everything about our lives was

becoming a country song, from my pickup

truck I used to drive to the boots you used

to wear. We thought of staying put in our

small town forever, having kids young,

taking a job at a factory, walking around

this fair every year and feeling complete.

We dreamed our small dreams. But the band’s

next song revealed an inconvenient truth,

mentioning something about regrets,

and, briefly, I felt a regret that day,

that I could not stay in town for good,

and then certain features of your personality

started to bother me, including your boots.

I felt this sudden need to drive my pickup

truck off a cliff and everything at the fair

lacked appeal, even the food. All I could

think of was my future self dressed in a suit

and tie, accompanied by this remarkable

woman, listening to a symphony in some

foreign city play Brahms or Handel, two

composers I hadn’t ever heard of, but

beautiful sounds that I knew existed,

in a world without regret, or pickup trucks,

a world without a trace of our plans

of misdirected youth.

 

Dogs Riding In Cars, A Brief Analysis

 

The dog on the passenger side

is a curious thing, appearing

so human there, its head

against the headrest, body like

a statue on the cloth seat.

The driver looks over, and they

could be discussing which Spanish

wine they will have with dinner –

much different than, say, the

nervous breed, slobbering

across the backseat, hopping

around from window to window

in a futile effort to escape, or

the dog that likes to stick its

nose out the window to taste

the rush of air each time he goes

for a ride. But these are nothing

compared to the toy breeds

that tend to inhabit rear window

space, sunning themselves beneath

the angled glass, alternately

napping and watching the world

unfold behind them, content

not knowing of what’s to come.

 

Moving In With Martha Stewart

 

It was a big step,

cohabitating, she called it,

something her friends warned

her against, encouraging

her to wait a little longer, if

she were to do it at all, don’t

be rash. But we were in love

and her guard was down as it

should be when you’re in love

so we bought the antique Cape

(her idea)

after seeing the house only once;

we started imagining life there,

a warm kitchen, a good movie

on a Sunday afternoon, a glass of wine

on the counter, morning lovemaking.

But on the day we were supposed

to move in and decorate,

everything I knew about Martha

changed because I didn’t grasp things

like color palettes,

and my framed 1977 Rolling Stones

poster suddenly wasn’t a good fit,

nor was my plasma television.

There was no place to fit

my clothes in these small closets,

and so what if I liked potato chips.

We had our first fight, but it was

apparent that our whole world

was collapsing on us that very day

among everything

that she understood

and I didn’t understand,

vegetarian lasagnas,

scented candles,

and wool scarves,

organic free trade coffee

and design elements,

terminology that was beyond me.

I am a simple man, indeed, Martha.

I’m sorry for wasting your time.

 

One Fantastic Ride                                                                 

 

I never had one

as a little kid, a

blue sports car bed,

though every time

I went to the toy store

I fantasized that

this time, we’d take

one home

to set up in my

room and I

would ride

somewhere

every night

in my dreams

with the pretty

girls in my class,

all of us fitting

snugly into its

plastic frame,

and as we took

corners

too fast

our arms

and legs

touched

and I got

goosebumps.

Now it’s on

someone’s

front lawn

for free

and I’m much older

but I want to know

if I slept in it

for just one night

with my feet dangling

off the front

and my body taking

up all this space

if I could go

back in time

for a ride

with those two girls

whom I was

always too shy

to talk to

and maybe

get some

ice cream

or kiss

one of them

and feel her

warm, brown

skin.

David Polochanin is a teacher, poet, freelance writer, and former journalist in Connecticut. His poems have been published by Native West Press, Toasted Cheese, Negative Suck, and will appear in Sentence. His essays and articles have been published in The Boston Globe, Providence Journal, Hartford Courant, and Christian Science Monitor. He recently completed a writing fellowship at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center at the University of Connecticut.

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