Lesson One


Chuck your own emotions. They’re trash. Study instead the sentiments of your half-consumed pencil. Now channel them through language that is drenched with emotion: Make the graphite cry rivers of it, rolling down the page’s desert cheek. Don’t use dead metaphors. Don’t use writer-y jargon.

The girl with the bindi pimple and the small striped dress and white bow-tie legs

wasn’t particularly feeling this poetry thing – was thinking

of changing her major to Physics –

at least there, things move, crash, explode

and you move on to the next thing

kind of like how Dad moved on when Mom kissed a be-sunglassed oil man at the airport and screamed it down the aural scabs of her electric guitar in front of a crowd of cheering bandana-heads

In a similar fashion as to how the bow-legged girl’s dalmation had died and her boyfriend, seeing her fist drip as it breathed back from the smashed pasta picture frame, had told her “I’m sure you didn’t love him that much.”

The girl with the bindi pimple and the plate of pasta salad sitting all alone amidst a chattering rainforest of neon-hormoned girls while they fluffed up for their reverse mating calls

simply preened her dull brown feathers, dully waiting

for nothing in particular.

Writers have a strange method of teaching other writers

how not to be writers.

In fact, blood-painted teeth mosaics entombed in the sidewalk and muddy unripe tomatoes flung at picnickers both play important roles in this sophisticated process.

Cut unnecessary words. Learn vocabulary like hydroponics and dorsoventrally in case you ever need to use it. Don’t tell your story if other people have already told it. Whatever you’re thinking, someone else has already said it better than you, published it and gotten famous off of it. The best writers steal. You don’t want to get sued, so cut names and facts. Art is a lie

that pries our fingers one by one off truth’s sharp ledge

until we finger-paint stardust, multi-headed worms flailing, losing altitude

The only direction is down, guys.

You can set aside that pencil.

Now tell me: How do you think the pencil feels?


Image Credits in order of appearance:

By Unknown – This reproduction is reproduced from Popular Science Monthly Volume 78, April, 1911, page 316, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=19423714

By © 2010 by Tomasz Sienicki [user: tsca, mail: tomasz.sienicki at gmail.com] – Photograph by Tomasz Sienicki (Own work), CC BY 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=8892975


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