If I wrote one hundred poems,
would one of them be good enough,
speak to someone,
scratch an itch,
or grace the pages of a book that
someone might read again
in one hundred years?

Would a poem win a prize or
gain a retweet and a like from that boy
I used to know, who leaned his bicycle
against my mom’s new car and scratched it,
if I wrote one hundred poems?

If I wrote one hundred poems,
would one of them be folded into a flower
and dropped down the barrel of a gun
in an act of defiant mercy
captured by a Reuters livestream
turned into a meme
and then one day, in a history class,
shown to bored tweens
who don’t know the difference
between a poem and a bullet?

Would this fear creeping up from my belly —
this fear that the whole world is on the brink
and all we can do is stare off the edge —
would that go away, do you think,
if I wrote one hundred poems?

If I wrote one hundred poems
would the kids at school still laugh
when I call myself a writer,
or do you think they have better things to talk about
now that they’ve all got jobs
and wives and kids and taxes
and they’re too busy to read a poem?

At the rate of one poem per day —
taking into account the sad days
when the distance between the bed
and the kitchen is insurmountable,
so you don’t even eat, let alone write a poem —
at the rate of one poem per day, it would take
less time than it takes to make a human being
to write one hundred poems.

If I wrote one hundred poems
and it took me just four months
I could try all kinds of implements:
a poem written in the sand at low tide,
or spraypainted on the old barn down the road;
another written in chalk on the front steps,
words inked onto my wrists with ballpoint pen,
stories cut from pieces of tissue paper,
insanity carved into the Cliffs of Moher,
lies burned into loose shingles with a Zippo,
hope pressed like flowers between the pages of a dictionary,
questions mouthed against a lover’s skin,
or feelings spilled at the dinner table.

What is a poem?
The right words in the right order
somehow put together
perhaps even by the right person,
the right writer, on the right day,
who took a wrong turn at the intersection
and drove past the harbour for once,
saw the bobbing boats moored
in the golden water lit by sunset,
and thought to himself (or herself),
“What if I wrote one hundred poems?”

If I wrote one hundred poems,
some of the lines would have to be perfect.
It’s just statistically likely, right?
To have perfect words in the perfect order
at least once in a blue moon
(which happens every two to three years),
in one of my one hundred poems,
each worse than the next,
lacking confidence, style, or something
even less concrete
than a bad poem about a boat
and the way the water looked molten
like it would burn me if I stared too long.

And if I stared too long at your mouth,
forgive me: I wanted to kiss you.
There’s no shorter poem than a kiss
nor a longer one, nor one so sweet
as kissing the right person at the right time,
when the world is on the brink of something
and the boats are moored at sunset,
and I want to trace one hundred poems
on your skin with my teeth.

I won’t write one hundred poems
for the sake of writing one hundred poems;
for a poem to breathe, it needs to be wanted,
cared for, nourished, nurtured, untangled,
brought forth into the world with steady hands.
A poem must be dug from the earth
on hands and knees, for it has been buried
and will be pulled out wailing,
needing not a spanking but a tender word,
the softest kiss,
to become the poem it was meant to be,
with one hundred perfect lines.



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