A poet — I won’t name him — remarked to his adoring audience that if it takes you longer than five minutes to get it down, it’s something else, something other than a poem. Decades later I remain fascinated by this claim, absurd needless to say yet durably compelling not least because, in my case, it seems to be true. Originally a devotee of the idea that five years must pass — five years of delusion, self-neglect, and possibly shivering — in order to produce a few etiolated lines, I’ve come grudgingly to the realization that what I can do in five minutes — though still plenty crappy — will be much, much better than the alternative.


I wrote a sentence.
A bad sentence.
I wrote another.
Another bad sentence.
And another.
Another bad one.
This continued,
one after another.
All bad sentences.
Soon I was finished,
having said nothing
that can’t be said.