- Avoid linear, sentence syntax. Shift frame of reference whenever possible. Try to create the illusion of seeing things from many angles at once, in a compressed time and space.
- Alliterate as a response to the absence of run-ons, then use run-ons.
- Work images into the poem as though they were part of an apparently flat statement. Make the image work as a surprise:
the way time sits in your mouth
like cold sunshine and doors
wink open around you.
- Use concealed rhymes, rhyming end words in the middle of the next line, asynchronous rhymes. Use the anticipated and unexpected rhyme. Make it accountable to the ear, not the rhyme.
- Maintain an honest narrative thread that is resolved somewhere in the poem. There should always be something at stake in the poem that is resolved by the end. There should occur a feeling of something completed by the end of the poem, of closure.
- Never worry about what’s being said until after it’s been said. As Richard Hugo once said, “Those who worry about morality probably ought to.”
Everyone is an artist, he said,
inside. Inside there is someone
very, very old, someone only
an ancestor would recognize,
someone sheltered in a doorway
singing songs in a dew dropping cold,
singing songs we always seem to know
as if we’d heard the words long, long ago.