How to Write and Rodeo a Poem

Stephen R. Roberts


It’s a simple procedure. Start at the top of the page

to the far left with whatever spurs your interest.

There’s so much left to chance then. Go right

and down, working the pen meticulously across

blue lines until you have enough for a skipped

line, a break. Now you’ve completed a first stanza

and are well on your way to an undislodged destination.


But you have to throw in something concrete, specific,

and in addition, even better, something quite beautiful

in its own strange way – a pileated woodpecker

with a beak shaped like a popsicle sucked dry

by a strain of sugar-thirsty Papalonian tick-mites.


This gives you credibility and a corpuscular node

of creative license which you may need to show

as identification to those on guard at the next

wine and cheese gathering of local word-rangers

(as opposed to word-arrangers who are cheap

facsimiles best left in the slimy culverts found under

the road to poetic fame and imaginary fortune).


By this time you, in your wild-west-show creativity,

should have four or five stanzas and be approaching

the bottom of  the page. So start to wrap it up

with a lasso of linguistic color-coded rope

twined from your own phantasmagorical words.


Leave the reader goggle-eyed as a new-roped calf

struggling in the shadow of a grotesque oak

while delusional lumberjacks with blue chain-saws

and rusted timber-pikes attempt to fine-prune

techniques for your first outdoor  poetry reading,

with megaphone, placards, cheerleaders and everything.



Recently retired from the insurance claims business Steve Roberts resides on eight acres of Hoosier soil, pretending it to be wilderness. He spends more time now pondering trees, envying birds,  playing with grandchildren, not necessarily in that order.   He has recently had poems published or accepted in Steam Ticket, Slant, Passager, Timber Creek Review, and Ellipsis.  He continues to write as if the world doesn't depend on it.