Pinterest Poem


I am not sure whether this is a cento or a found poem. I saw something crazy about lasagna on Pinterest and decided that my writer’s block merited strong measures and immediately stole it. Astute readers will also recognize lines from Ernest Hemingway, Emily Dickinson, and Patrick McDonnell’s cartoon Mutts.


Writers are desperate people, just the way we want

Them to grace the cover of Life Magazine: somewhere

Between torture and fun and blasting it out

With charges that will rock your readers’ world.

Ten rules fit women use to stay fit. One: Exercise

Hypergraphia, an overwhelming urge to write,

To truly rest up, to stop in at my favorite place

For drinks and comfort food that leaves me

Impressed without fail, in gender reversals

We need in our stories, a great example of why

This is absolutely true, in a slightly more mystical light.


I think it’s fairly common for writers to be afflicted

With two simultaneous yet contradictory delusions:

I can always live by my pen, until not writing

Makes you anxious. It’s the one and only thing

You have to offer. Well, that and nineteen lasagna recipes

That will change your life: so flavorful, everyone’s bound

To have seconds. Now, I’ll be unstoppable. Yahoo!

Yippee! Woo! Woo! To keep a love story from being

Boring, you need, when asked about romantic chemistry

On the show, to write about the things you wish

You had the courage to say. Only death can stop it.

Truth and Truths

In his book, The Things They Carried, Tim O’Brien writes about the Vietnam War (because he almost never writes about anything else). He discusses the difference between factual truth (the things that really happened in Vietnam) and emotional truth (the story of what happened that readers can actually take in). I think of this because I have been thinking about Emily Dickinson’s poem:


Tell all the truth but tell it slant —

Success in Circuit lies

Too bright for our infirm Delight

The Truth’s superb surprise

As Lightning to the Children eased

With explanation kind

The Truth must dazzle gradually

Or every man be blind —


I also think of this because of all the writers I love who have used fantasy or science fiction or even comedy/horror to tell truths that are difficult to communicate directly in a straight documentarian kind of way. Fantasy frequently helps us talk about religion and moral values: good vs. evil. Science fiction interrogates our fears about the uses and abuses of technology. Horror can illustrate a more manageable or more laughable version of social fears: vampires demonstrate class warfare, werewolves our discomfort with the wild vs. the domestic, zombies our feelings of incipient chaos. Perhaps all of literature is in part telling the truth at a slant so that it catches the light in a more meaningful way.


Emily Dickinson, “Tell all the truth but tell it slant.” The Poems of Emily Dickinson: Reading Edition. Ed Ralph W.  Franklin. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press, 1998,