“The Method to My Madness, or How to Write a Poem” by Deidre Price // 2016 Poem-a-Day Challenge

Literology, Poetry / Saturday, April 2nd, 2016

The Method to My Madness, or How to Write a Poem


For Billy Collins


When a poem starts, I start with I.

I follow I with a certain verb–

steady sureness like I know and I am,

abandon my perhapses,

leave breadcrumb maybes in my margins.


When a poem starts, the speaker finds me,

tries on my every word, losing lipstick to heavily starched syntax

cast off to the dressing room floor of my page.

She leans into the light until it flatters for me,

the best friend standing by, opinions clenched in fists.


I want to see what happens.


I quiet as the show begins and silence my phone.

Language takes the stage–adolescent, unruly

with packed pocketfuls of bribes for candy rhymes.

The I arrives and says this music has to die, then Tybalt

stabs the adverbs like Mark Twain told him to.


I keep my Descartes close because he tells me what I like:

People cannot tell the difference between the dream and the world,

so we can stop pretending in the distance between them–

and the distance between us.


A miniature Anne Sexton descends like Tinkerbell might.

I can see her wires but do not care.

I clap and amen because I believe.


A chorus boos my jokes as critics censor from too many front rows.

I hear them backed by half a dozen echoes of dying fathers.

These voices linger, ruthless, proud, like Lost Boys’.


Suddenly, I become everybody’s mother.


I threaten to turn the poem around so fast their heads spin.

The back seats quiet.

I remember I know all the lines.


Sylvia commiserates

then bakes us pies.



April 2

An idiom is a phrase or a fixed expression that has a figurative, or sometimes literal, meaning. An idiom’s figurative meaning is different from the literal meaning. 

The meaning gets lost over time and what was once a new and interesting expression becomes “old hat.” 

You’ve heard them, “A penny for your thoughts, back to the drawing board, devil’s advocate, just to name a few.”

For today’s prompt, take a popular idiom ( or more than one if you can manage it), and recreate its meaning. Make it fresh again.

Share your idiom poem in the comments, and join us tomorrow for another! 

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One Reply to ““The Method to My Madness, or How to Write a Poem” by Deidre Price // 2016 Poem-a-Day Challenge”

  1. I’m caught between two stools
    I hope I don’t blow a fuse
    The kids are loud
    my stomach growls
    I have to find a place that I can use

    I decided to ignore
    The feeling at the store
    That I should not eat that sample

    But the temptation was stronger
    And my focus was on hunger
    And not the consequences, yet they are ample

    The twisting and turning
    The churning and burning
    My gut yells at me so

    I walk with haste around the corner
    Ignoring all the pointers
    To find a place I can go

    The relief, oh the relief!
    I made it without any leaks
    It makes me happy, yo!

    I checked out
    Loaded up
    Drove off in the clear

    My new mantra
    “If it’s free, let it be”
    Is the only song that I hear

    But that familiar feeling
    Started stirring inside me
    It overtakes where I steer

    There is a station for gas
    And well, my a**
    And now I no longer fear

    That I won’t make it home
    Before the next groan
    But tonight I’m going to need a beer…

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