How to Write a First Poem about Cancer

by Dan Collins

Say something ordinary about a strange
event. Then say something strange
about an ordinary one. Once
you have finished that, tie them
together with something mundane
from your daily life: a bird (but don’t use a bird)
caught in a chimney. Take the metaphor
out of context, then wrap it, gently
(but don’t say gently), around another one
for support: Your wife, working the garden
after chemo: dig deep, be brave,
no one cares if a poem withers
on the vine—avoid clichés, like that one.
Just brick and mortar, brick then mortar,
as if you knew what a sparrow does
in the dark.