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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Poetry  |  House: Booksie Classic
How does one construct a poem?

Submitted: December 22, 2007

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Submitted: December 22, 2007




How does one

construct a poem?

Some I think are like the purest steel -

product of master sword makers,

patiently formed and traditional.

Forged in the furnace of much affliction,

smelted and re-smelted,

purified, hammered, folded, tempered,

forged, hammered and re-forged for days

till the blade maker is satisfied.

Whether decorative

or deadly utilitarian,

treated with respect and care

they last through generations.

Another kind, like Copperware.

Poets take tins snips and tongs,

a sheet of metal,

ball-peen hammer,

anvil and horn to

form and shape with

moderate force

the ringing sound.

The finished thing -

Tortoise-shell surface burnished golden -

sits both reflective and beautifulin its self.

Others I think are pottery.

Some, moulded as green-ware,

mud of the earth,

untempered, unglazed,

never holding water -

meant for dry and

basic service till worn out.

While others, from better clays,

crafted, decorated, glazed

fired to last a lifetime,

formed for aesthetics,

and joy of words.

Still, of both kinds

most wind up as shards,

tossed out when accident or

or changing style ends their wholeness.

And some are made of wood -

three kinds I’ve seen.

Poems of rough carpentry –

Sufficient, sturdy and enduring,

if constructed by calloused hands.

Poems carved from fine woods,

following the grain,

exploiting every natural feature,

sanded, stained, polished to a sheen,

meant to last,

to gather a deep and aged patina.

Poems of driftwood,

formed by natural actions -

wind, wave, sand, fire, flood -

suggestive, impassioned,

begging to be used,

to see the rebirth of personality.

Poems of stone,

mostly granite,

cut from living rock,

the form in the sculptor’s mind.

Chisel, hammer, sand, water, dust;

incremental chipping till

a raw shape emerges -

Easter Island coarse,

Romanesque grace,

Modern abstract,

each a statement of its own.

Poems of glass -

cut glass the finest,

blown glass the most subtle.

Beautiful and liquid in the furnace,

cold and clear when cooled.

Colours, hues,

transparent, opaque, translucent -

brittle things

meant for displaying the glassmaker’s craft.

Of all these constructs I

much prefer -


Washed up on the tide.

driftwood has travelled,

been exposed to life and death,

rubbed shoulders with

flotsam and jetsam in the rising wave.

Wise of currents, both

becalmed and

having ridden the tempest.

Been jettisoned upon the beach,



half buried and forgotten

till a sandaled walker -

beach-comber of singing words -

takes the thing

and gives it


Other metaphors suggest themselves –

Lesser and useless things:

Poems of plastic and costume jewels,

hay and stubble,

treacle and cotton-candy.

Things of the ego,

melancholy and forced,

adding nothing,

building nothing,

giving nothing.

Only asking –



How some-ever you construct

your poems,

bear us in mind –

who would your willing audience


By James Gagiikwe 2007

© Copyright 2018 James Gagiikwe. All rights reserved.

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