How to Write a Poem

Janice D. Soderling


                        (for Kim)


A poem can be about anything.

No subject is too great or small.

You can write about the brotherhood of man

or a mashed mosquito on the wall.


Or the deep, dark perilous river crashing mightily under the bridge

where some young men who are already looking old

and a few sleazy women who are feeling the cold,

are padding  their thin clothes with newspapers

that tell about the day's car bombs in Baghdad.

It doesn't even have to rhyme.


And they will soon be dead too,

these bridge people,

from an overdose

or worse.

Can one death be worse than another?

It makes a poem better if you have deep questions like that

in it somewhere.

and a little repetition

helps too.


And all the while the river,

the deep, dark river

goes on crashing forcefully under the bridge,

full of underwater eyes

and mouths

and a stolen bicycle

and a bent harmonica,

just crashing  and crashing,

sweeping away everything in its path,

like a poem.




 Janice D. Soderling is a previous contributor to Tipton Poetry Journal.  Her poetry, fiction and translations are widely published in print and online, most recently at Boston Literary Magazine, Soundzine,  Unsplendid, Mezzo Cammin, Anon, Literary Bohemian, Shakespeare's Monkey Revue, Right Hand Pointing, 14 by 14 and Umbrella Journal. She won a first prize at Glimmer Train Stories for short fiction and her runner-up story in the 2007 Emerging Writer contest at Other Stories is forthcoming in an anthology. She is a dislocated  Hoosier now living in Sweden.