Check List for a Budding Poet
If you want to be prolific,
better that you be specific,
and when you choose to state each fact,
try to make each word exact.
Don’t use time-worn words or wilted.
Avoid pretentious words or stilted.
Never try to force a rhyme.
Do not fail to take the time
to make your lines scan smoothly for,
uneven meter is a bore.
Words written for effect are hollow,
but where heart is, the head will follow.
So write your poetry from the heart.
Put your horse before the cart
and let it pull you up the hill.
Let your words express their will—
you following blindly, just to see
what the next line wants to be.
Let words of different shapes and sizes
furnish pleasure and surprises.
Make your poems resemble zoos
of striped okapis and kangaroos.
Delight yourself and then your reader.
Follow words, then be their leader
by whipping them in line and order,
shaping them within your border.
It never is too late to change
an errant line that’s out of range,
but editing is not what you
initially should seek to do.
Words give hearts tongues to share their pleasure
and their pain in equal measure.
Essayists and authors strive
to make their writings come alive.
They show us where their minds have been,
but poets put the music in.