How to Write a Poem

How to Write a Poem

by Robert Okaji

Learn to curse in three languages. When midday
yawns stack high and your eyelids flutter, fire up

✧ ✦ ✧

the chain saw; there’s always something to dismember.
Make it new. Fear no bridges. Accelerate through

✧ ✦ ✧

curves, and look twice before leaping over fires,
much less into them. Read bones, read leaves, read

✧ ✦ ✧

the dust on shelves and commit to memory a thousand
discarded lines. Next, torch them. Take more than you

✧ ✦ ✧

need, buy books, scratch notes in the dirt and watch
them scatter down nameless alleys at the evening’s first

✧ ✦ ✧

gusts. Gather words and courtesies. Guard them carefully.
Play with others, observe birds, insects and neighbors,

✧ ✦ ✧

but covet your minutes alone and handle with bare hands
only those snakes you know. Mourn the kindling you create

✧ ✦ ✧

and toast each new moon as if it might be the last one
to tug your personal tides. When driving, sing with the radio.

✧ ✦ ✧

Always. Turn around instead of right. Deny ambition.
Remember the freckles on your first love’s left breast.

✧ ✦ ✧

There are no one-way streets. Appreciate the fragrance
of fresh dog shit while scraping it from the boot’s sole.

✧ ✦ ✧

Steal, don’t borrow. Murder your darlings and don’t get
caught. Know nothing, but know it well. Speak softly

✧ ✦ ✧

and thank the grocery store clerk for wishing you
a nice day even if she didn’t mean it. Then mow the grass,

✧ ✦ ✧

grill vegetables, eat, laugh, wash dishes, talk, bathe,
kiss loved ones, sleep, dream, wake. Do it all again.

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“what the dead know by heart”

“what the dead know by heart”

by Donte Collins

lately, when asked how are you, i 
respond with a name no longer living

➢ ➣ ➢

Rekia, Jamar, Sandra

➢ ➣ ➢

i am alive by luck at this point, i wonder
often: if the gun that will unmake me
is yet made, what white birth

➢ ➣ ➢

will bury me, how many bullets, like a 
flock of blue jays, will come carry my black
to its final bed, which photo will be used

➢ ➣ ➢

to water down my blood, today i did 
not die and there is no god or law to
thank. the bullet missed my head

➢ ➣ ➢

and landed in another. today, i passed
a mirror and did not see a body, instead
a suggestion, a debate, a blank

➢ ➣ ➢

post-it note there looking back. i
haven’t enough room to both rage and 
weep. i go to cry and each tear turns
to steam. I say

➢ ➣ ➢

I matter and a ghost
white hand appears
over my mouth

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The Lake Isle of Innisfree

The Lake Isle of Innisfree

by William Butler Yeats

I will arise and go now, and go to Innisfree,

And a small cabin build there, of clay and wattles made;

Nine bean-rows will I have there, a hive for the honey-bee,

And live alone in the bee-loud glade.

~ ~

And I shall have some peace there, for peace comes dropping slow,

Dropping from the veils of the morning to where the cricket sings;

There midnight’s all a glimmer, and noon a purple glow,

And evening full of the linnet’s wings.

~ ~

I will arise and go now, for always night and day

I hear lake water lapping with low sounds by the shore;

While I stand on the roadway, or on the pavements grey,

I hear it in the deep heart’s core.

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Carousel

Carousel

by Jaya Savige

Dense night is a needs thing.

~ ~

You were lured

     in a luminous canoe

said to have once ruled

     a lunar ocean.

~ ~

     The 2 am soda pour

of stars is all but silent;

only listen

~ ~

   sedater than a sauropod

     in the bone epics

it spills all the moon spice,

~ ~

     releasing a sap odour

          that laces

     us to a vaster scale

          of road opus.

~ ~

A carousel of oral cues,

these spinning sonic coins.

~ ~

A slide show of old wishes.

~ ~

( HINT: I was just admiring his brilliant use of anagrams, Do you see them? )

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To Catch a Fish

To Catch a Fish

by Eloise Greenfield

It takes more than a wish

to catch a fish

you take the hook

you add the bait

you concentrate

and then you wait

you wait     you wait

but not a bite

the fish don’t have

an appetite

so tell them what

good bait you’ve got

and how your bait

can hit the spot

this works a whole

lot better than

a wish

if you really

want to catch

a fish

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A Little Closer to the Edge

A Little Closer to the Edge

by Ocean Vuong

Young enough to believe nothing

will change them, they step, hand-in-hand,

~ ~

into the bomb crater. The night full

of black teeth. His faux Rolex, weeks

~ ~

from shattering against her cheek, now dims

like a miniature moon behind her hair.

~ ~

In this version the snake is headlessstilled

like a cord unraveled from the lovers’ ankles.

~ ~

He lifts her white cotton skirt, revealing

another hour. His hand. His hands. The syllables

~ ~

inside them. O father, O foreshadow, press

into heras the field shreds itself

~ ~

with cricket cries. Show me how ruin makes a home

out of hip bones. O mother,

~ ~

O minutehand, teach me

how to hold a man the way thirst

~ ~

holds water. Let every river envy

our mouths. Let every kiss hit the body

~ ~

like a season. Where apples thunder

the earth with red hooves. & I am your son.

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