2016 Day 19 – How to write safe poetry

Mention nothing of nature.
Nature is raw and dangerous,
Lacks straight edges
Unadulterated lines.
For God’s sake, don’t talk about emotions
Or God, for that matter –
That’s asking for trouble.
Abandon ambiguity:
That leads to chaos –
Worse, to laughter
Or tears.
As a guideline
Read each line aloud.
If you shiver, smile or weep
Strike it out.
Keep well away from the fantastic,
The imaginative,
From dreams and magic and other childishness.
Humour is inappropriate,
Whether clean or otherwise,
And especially if satirical.
Avoid politics.
Talking of injustice may provoke anger
Or shame. Both are undesirable.
It is permissible to touch on love
In a lukewarm manner
But never passion
Or sex. Sex is messy,
All juices and elbows and tumbled sheets.
You don’t want that sort of thing in poetry.
You don’t really, if truth be told,
Want poetry. Far too risky.
Better stick to prose.


Notes: The prompt was to write a didactic poem which focuses on a practical skill. Poetry is practical, yes? I’d written the first few lines of this a couple of months ago, and the prompt inspired me to develop them.


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