The Method to My Madness, or How to Write a Poem

 

For Billy Collins

 

When a poem starts, I start with I.

I follow I with a certain verb–

steady sureness like I know and I am,

abandon my perhapses,

leave breadcrumb maybes in my margins.

 

When a poem starts, the speaker finds me,

tries on my every word, losing lipstick to heavily starched syntax

cast off to the dressing room floor of my page.

She leans into the light until it flatters for me,

the best friend standing by, opinions clenched in fists.

 

I want to see what happens.

 

I quiet as the show begins and silence my phone.

Language takes the stage–adolescent, unruly

with packed pocketfuls of bribes for candy rhymes.

The I arrives and says this music has to die, then Tybalt

stabs the adverbs like Mark Twain told him to.

 

I keep my Descartes close because he tells me what I like:

People cannot tell the difference between the dream and the world,

so we can stop pretending in the distance between them–

and the distance between us.

 

A miniature Anne Sexton descends like Tinkerbell might.

I can see her wires but do not care.

I clap and amen because I believe.

 

A chorus boos my jokes as critics censor from too many front rows.

I hear them backed by half a dozen echoes of dying fathers.

These voices linger, ruthless, proud, like Lost Boys’.

 

Suddenly, I become everybody’s mother.

 

I threaten to turn the poem around so fast their heads spin.

The back seats quiet.

I remember I know all the lines.

 

Sylvia commiserates

then bakes us pies.

 

methodtomadness

April 2

An idiom is a phrase or a fixed expression that has a figurative, or sometimes literal, meaning. An idiom’s figurative meaning is different from the literal meaning. 

The meaning gets lost over time and what was once a new and interesting expression becomes “old hat.” 

You’ve heard them, “A penny for your thoughts, back to the drawing board, devil’s advocate, just to name a few.”

For today’s prompt, take a popular idiom ( or more than one if you can manage it), and recreate its meaning. Make it fresh again.

Share your idiom poem in the comments, and join us tomorrow for another! 

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