Response to Robert Okaji’s “How to Write a Poem”

Response to Robert Okaji’s “How to Write a Poem”


How to Revise a Poem


Having learned to make a toast in nine languages

And setting aside the chainsaw with which I carved


This poem out of a block of fresh ice, I take up the scalpel,

Heated over the blue flame of the gas stove. I stand


For a moment like a conductor in white tie and tails,

Waiting for the crowd to fall silent, and make the first cut


Into the heart of the poem. Does it bleed? Do the words

Fall to the dirt among the pigeons? Do the courtesies


Sound hollow or sincere? The moon pulls at my arm

Like a cat in search of dinner or a playmate. I accept all:


Love, envy, ambition, and drive the wrong way down

One-way streets. They won’t catch me. They will


Park their Black Marias on the sidestreet, dig in

To the bowls of chili I provide for them while I steal


The bullets from their guns. Finally! At last! Just exactly

What I needed for the new ending to the poem.


8 comments on “Response to Robert Okaji’s “How to Write a Poem”

  1. robert okaji says:

    Reblogged this on O at the Edges and commented:
    You must read Susan Spilecki’s response. Much fun!


  2. I loved Robert’s original… I may even love this more. Great work!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Nurse Kelly says:

    Perfect – loved this as well! 🙂


  4. This has such an original feel and so profound. Not the usual how to write a poem! More expressive.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. garyhorvitz says:

    Another grand kudo here, or ai-kudo…I am twisted and thrown into awe.

    Liked by 2 people

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