Rules for Poetry

      by Rick Lupert

Never use adjectives
unless you’re trying to describe something
and you don’t want to do it the hard way.

Never use the word “forever.”
It reminds people they’re going to die
and the last thing you need is people distracted
by their mortality during your poem.

Write what you know
unless you’re a fool, in which case
look to the internet, and write about something there.

Avoid vowels
and their angry sister
the letter Y.

Avoid cliché.
On the other hand . . .

Learn the difference between
epigrams and

Use as few words as possible.
In fact, hand out blank sheets of paper
and tell people it’s your finest work.

If you ever use the phrase “darkness in my soul”
be prepared for me to come to your house
and kill you.

If you’re going to write in form, do it right.
For example, as I understand it, a haiku
is eight hundred words written while
sitting on a cheesecake.

Line breaks are important,
but use them carefully. Once you’ve broken a line
its parents will never forgive you.

Finally, go to poetry workshops.
Sometimes they serve food and
you can’t write poetry if you’re dead
because you forgot to eat.

From Rattle #33, Summer 2010 (you can listen to the poet reading this poem at the link provided).