Choosing a word

A Guide

From the other side of the typewriter comes this piece–not a poem–an essay with enjambment. For those who want to try the process of getting a poem, wanting to discover something new, but stuck on choosing a word, this is for you.
You are not choosing curtains or a partner or a job–just a word. Words are easily obtained and transformed.
I suggest beginning with a noun.
Ruffle. Shoelace. Pearl. Elbow.
Or a verb. Verbs are a bit tricky alone,
but they do bring me in on a curious slant.
Waver. Step. Rustle. Disappear.
A noun with a verb attached creates a hinge of movement.
Jawbone snap. Toe juggle. Balloon drift. Word stumble.
Adverbs can be clunky.
Curiously. Unknowingly. Intentionally. Hastily.
Even when converted into an adjective…it’s tricky,
but not impossible, to conjure up tangible imagery for a poem.

Proper nouns live in their own realities and I cannot mimic that reality unless I’m a part of it. Unless the backstory is easily accessible and relatable, I can’t write a poem about your grandson Joe’s birthday based on “grandson Joe’s 2nd birthday” alone. Does Joe have any
favorite things to share—stomping in mud,
chasing butterflies,
warm oatmeal, first words?
Go fish?
If you don’t know, perhaps a poem isn’t the right gift for him.
If you have a message in mind for someone special, no one can say it like you can; I promise and I believe in you.

Abstract nouns are okay
as long as you don’t have expectations
for where they may lead.
Mystery. Effervescence. Escape.
Creative works do not make good topics for poems–
(prove me wrong with your work but I can’t prove it with mine)
to write a poem about your favorite TV show
or your inside joke
is like writing a poem about another poem,
or a movie about a movie, or your memoir hijacked by someone else’s life story (maybe that’s an extreme example).
Let the creation live in its original form,
or through your own craft.
Adjectives can be tricky, but fun. (Can you guess what word I would choose?)
Delicate. Moss green. Sweet. Glossy.
Numbers allow lots of artistic freedom…the lower they go.
My typewriter, like most old typewriters, has no “1”
and no mind.

Oct. 10, 2014

Coming Soon: A flowchart, more straightforward…

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