To Build a Poem
To build a poem, you need stones—
some call them words—
and you need the right ones.
Some, like seditious and tremor, are not suitable;
they will crumble in your hands like old mortar—
it’s no use trying to build with them.
Set them aside and choose something else,
something simple, yet sturdy and enduring,
something you will still be proud to hold
twenty or fifty years from now.
Choose words of granite.
In building a poem, you undertake a sacred task,
let no one hinder you;
no stigma can be attached to those who choose
each word with care.
Remember: The nether regions are filled with those
whose work is shoddy and sporadic—
cast in plaster, not carved in stone—
be not one of them.
Pledge to me—or to yourself, at least—
that you will not enmesh your work in words
that waste away to dust at the merest touch,
but that you will choose words that dance and chant and sing of all that is holy.
Then you will be able to show us the single tuft of grass gracing the desert wash,
and the fire of mercy blazing down from ten thousand-thousand stars.
More Sunday Scribblings: “Poem”