The Art of Poetry I've heard you can really stink up a poem by making it too long, or dirty, or you throw in jesus, angst too many metaphors or descriptions of your yard party where millionaires shoot songbirds in the garden. You can stink up a poem good if you talk about how you wrote it, where you were, how many drugs you had in your system, or how dirty your fingernails or your sheets were. A poem has to jell. It has to steep before you let it out into the world. If it's too cold to go out by itself, you have to let it stew and simmer before you take up the mic or send it off to some rag run by a bunch of MFA students back east or a trio of retired teachers putting it together in the den or the room over the garage. The last time I read this poem I watched it sneak off the podium hightail it around the counter and slip out the door to the parking lot head down and eyes on the ground. I saw it perched on a low bush as I walked home. Its eyes burning with shame, looking away as I strolled by.