Writing the Wrong Poem All Wrong


I have a poem I’ve been working on for 13 years. I pull it out every other year or so, tinker it some and get it wrong some more.

For 13 years I’ve been getting it wrong. It’s a terrible poem, but I think of it more than I think of the poems I consider successful. Why?

Because it drives me nuts I can’t get it finished? Maybe.


The Birth of the Sun


It begins like this: a boy

opens a Ziploc bag to set free a bright fish

the quick in the water’s dark profundity


I think it’s more likely that I enjoy the puzzle. I keep worrying the central metaphor, thinking this time I’ll understand.


he stars the pond with flakes of food

the blazing fish whirling in tight wheels

burns beneath the calm, turning and turning fish

small yellow sprocket winding

bright gear driving, golden hub

a singular genius loopdeloop of lucky quark



Nope. Not this time. I always get lost in the spinning. Maybe the damn fish just needs to hold still.

I still don’t know what I’m trying to say and tonight I really don’t care. What I am grateful for is the freedom to get it wrong again and again and nobody died and no world economies fell and I don’t have to give up  my lucky pencil because I wrote a bad poem. 13 years becomes 14 years. I am faithful in my failure.



2 Comments on “Writing the Wrong Poem All Wrong

  1. I like your perspective on this. I have a few book ideas that I’ve been struggling with and can never get right. People have told me to give up, but I keep trying because I know the answers will come to me eventually. As authors/artists, we really do have the freedom to continue messing with a project for years and years.


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