Let’s see about writing a poem. What first? An idea, something to write about. I’ll check my list of possible titles/themes/ideas. OK, here’s one that looks likely, ‘specially since this posting is about making a poem.

Huge ball of poetry.

There’s my title; by implication it’s also my subject. So far, so good. What next? Something about a huge ball of poetry. Well, yes, but what? What is a huge ball of poetry? The answer probably lies inside. Inside the writing, I mean. Usually a piece of writing gradually says what it’s about as the words appear on the page, stretching out in a long string. I’m intrigued to see where the words are going and what will lie at the end of the string. That looks like a good image for a huge ball of poetry; a coiled up string, rolled around this way and that, over and over, strands crisscrossing, words touching each other which weren’t together in the sequence of the writing but are now tangled and twined so that coming on one, we’re falling over another which wasn’t originally tied to it at all. A bit like that last sentence which managed to go on for almost four lines, one thought leading to the next, then snaking back, a serpent trying to swallow its tail (or should that be tale?)

Have I got enough to make a poem? Well, I’ll start and see where we go.


… and this word

will be followed by that one and

then the next after it will be the one that’s meant

to follow it in some sort of agreement to keep sense and not

muck up the meaning of what the words together are supposed to be saying

so long as they’re in an order that is familiar but of course it doesn’t matter too much

since poetry can break the rules of grammar and even syntax in order to create a sense of

a feeling or the flight of the air through the winding paths of the forest or over the jumping

 waves of the sea or maybe around the flittering tails of a herd of wild horses galloping across

the steppe which stretches all the way from the coldness of the Arctic shore to the warm

lapping edge of  the great Caspian Sea where lived the ancestors of people

who some day would travel to that sunny sanctuary lying in the vast

southern ocean which somehow balances the continental

 land masses sitting on the top of the world instead of

being spread more evenly across

 the hemispheres…

Is this a poem? Let’s review what we’ve got. A huge ball of words all caught up together. Yet not too hard to follow those words along the line one after another. You may not be able to see at the beginning where those words are going be at the end, but that’s what good writing does, keeps you in suspense, at the same time gradually revealing more and more of what the writer wants to say — or at least what the writer finds himself saying (not quite the same thing when you think about it).

What else is there? Check for the usual criteria. It’s one continuous run-on line; it doesn’t have end rhyme; it’s without regular metre — though there are internal rhymes and a feeling of rhythm is present. Some may dismiss any claim that it’s verse. Others will insist this piece of writing — this huge ball of words — is emphatically a poem.

Enough! Let it be a poem or let it be just a jumble of words. For me, however, the words go somewhere, say something, and from the beginning of writing,  the beginning of poetry, its entire history, that’s been enough.

Ruari Jack Hughes