Instructions for Writing a Poem by Jennifer Finstrom (HOW TO Series)

Silver Birch Press

Paul_Kleea_-_The_Barbed_Noose_with_the_Mice_1152x800 copyInstructions for Writing a Poem
—First line after Amy Crane Johnson
by Jennifer Finstrom

You start beyond the field in back of my house.
Never mind that this is the city.

Never mind that I don’t live in a house.
Stand still for a moment and listen. The mice

run through the weeds at your feet,
crying in their small, shrill voices.

Their shabby coats don’t keep out
winter. The seeds they hoard do not

protect them. Wind comes, and makes
its own hoard of husks and bones.

Never mind that this field doesn’t end.
Cross it anyway. Carry nothing in your hands.

Previously published in Threshold LIterary Magazine.

PAINTING:The Barbed Noose with the Mice by Paul Klee (1923).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I wrote this poem approximately 10 years ago, and reading it again during the pandemic, its absence of people feels even more relevant.

FinstromABOUT THE…

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