How to write a poem

“Pencil shavings around a pencil and a pencil sharpener on an open notebook” by Angelina Litvin on Unsplash

Read something they didn’t make you read in school.
Fall in love with words.
Decide to be a writer.
Scribble a few lines on paper.
Wad up paper in disgust. Throw it far, far away.
Drive a delivery truck for a while.

Scribble a few more lines on paper.
Decide they don’t completely suck.
Lose paper.
Find paper again. Decide lines suck after all.
Convert notebook to grocery lists.
Satisfy creative urges working in radio
And newspaper
And magazines.

A few times.
Leave writing behind because “it’s not dependable income.”
Fill up 40 years putting food on the table
And a roof overhead.

Have your son die.

Uncork your heart.
Scribble a few lines. Do not care if they suck.
Repeat, but only last three lines.

Commentary: I never stopped writing, but for years and years I only wrote for money. There’s nothing wrong with that, but on the other hand it’s not enough. For the last 10 years I could hardly write anything at all because my well had gone dry—or so I thought. It had just gotten clogged. I still write for money, but no longer only. The writing comes first.

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About the writer

Donn King helps you communicate confidently. He writes a lot, too, a habit he hasn’t been able to break for nearly 50 years. Join and support the Learning Community of Raconteurs with him on Patreon. Connect with him on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.