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how do you bump off a poem

 

you suffocate it

with superfluous words

and stuffy grammar

for it cannot

inhale the pretentious fumes

of a smouldering thesaurus

in indelicate hands

 

or chop off stanzas

with a fountain machete

watch the words dissolve

into immutable discord

a jigsaw puzzle

that’s no longer a picture

 

you stab it

with the drab discipline

of a force-fit

two-bit

rhyming scheme

and leave it gasping

for a breath of free verse

 

or strangle it

with a taut wire

of ineffable material

imbue it

with  playful profundity

and everything else poets do

except the crucial dash

of yourself

 

yes these are

the standard

operating procedures

in the do-it-yourself manual

on poemslaughter

but the sure-fire way

to kill a promising poem

is to never write it

 

because once born

a poem never truly dies

even upon mutilation

it is only relegated

to literary life-support

until

a chance rearrangement

of potent words

in the fevered imagination

of a sentient being

infuses it with

a lust for life

 

i’m alive

it’ll proclaim

jump out of

its feather bed

and quietly

mutter to itself

i’m still alive

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