Sometimes we enter
ringing, outrage hitting
essential notes. Our readers
scolded, elbow to their face.
Can you tweak the attitude a bit, maybe
pull your shit together. Please, we need
to find new doors, please help us
Find a poem you wrote that you hate. Cut
the beginning. Or, trim the end. Linger
on a different image: does
the creek feel bigger in a smaller setting?
No? Do it again. Until something bursts.
For Sure the Title
Your shyest poem: What line lands the hardest?
Make that a new title. (A bold new start!)
So where will you go. What will you change.
Only, It Might Make you Look Desperate
Rip out the filtering. That was only a scaffold.
The poem is not
only about you.
Your personalized pain?
That was only the price tag.
Save: one stinker into two new files.
Rewrite: each of these as a different version.
(Put aside old notes—absorb the present mood.)
Did the poems land together?
Could be bad. But maybe it’s good.
Either way: The meadow grows.
Find your whiniest box of old bathos.
Pull yourself a swig. You’ll need to get loose
to turn wretched history into blessed erasures.
For the love of all that’s holy, haven’t you earned this one thing?
Can you ever take what you wrote—back
when you saw through earth’s cracks, caught the dirt on villains’ knuckles—
and soothe that slab of one-fingered truths
into a mess of wormy uncertainty?
You tell me. Is it right to assume
a seasoned poet should learn
how to wonder?
Your flash won’t
yet it remains
So snip it
beasts. With teeth.
a few more years.
Because Sometimes More Is (More-or-Less) Less
Fish out a poem that ruins your life. Knead it (temporarily) into eel-length couplets of equal-ish
size. How many stanzas have you been devoting to (what is essentially) one emotional beat?
Sometimes you’ll find you’ve been wearing a perfect sweater over eleventy-twelve stunning
more sweaters. Yeah, we can see they’re all well-made. Eels don’t get cold. Cut that shit out.
Bear witness to the era.
Bear witness to your feelings.
Write down the thoughts that keep you
The path of creation is a doughy
circle. Reminder: this is all going
Some say it hurts only if it’s done well. Some say
pain and hunger are your fundamental job. Some say sharing
words isn’t enough, won’t be good enough, you’re never enough.
(These are abecedarian bears. They will destroy all the rainbow sprinkles.)
Ignore the bears.
You must focus, you must learn the shape of your own
out for bears.
And No More Clown Feet
Strike the poem’s moves
that hold no musicality.
Make the final line
your new Line One.
How is your piece going to end?
It Might Not Work
Ah. But what if it does.
C.B. Auder’s artworks, stories, and poems have appeared in numerous journals, both online and in print. They edit the online journal Claw & Blossom.
Image: Film still from “Sleep” by Alan Coon