How to Improve Just About Any Poem

. . . how every sunny Saturday afternoon, Hey, diddle-diddle, the dish ran away with the spoon.

                              November, Late in the Day, John Ridland

half seas over under up again and the barnacles white in the moon the pole stars chasing its tail like a pup again and the dish ran away with the spoon

                              archy experiences a seizure, don marquis

You can improve just about any poem
that you write high brow, middle or tres low
By adding a particular singular phrase
From a nursery rhyme learned long a-go.

I speak of course, of Hey Diddle Diddle,
The all-purpose doggerel solvent.
It will loosen any poetically rusted nut
Like a large can of Liq-u-id Wrench.

If you’re stuck for a rhyme for “moon” or “June”
(although I can’t imagine how you could be)
Just throw in the line ‘bout the dish and the spoon
And you’ll be a pro poet, not a would-be.


Whose woods these are I think I know
I hope to see him soon,
He will not see me stopping here
’cause The dish ran away with the spoon.

Don’t think it’s a crutch, classy poets and such
Resort to it daily and weekly.
And when they are done, they don’t cite their source,
They just keep on writing unmeekly.

It’s public domain, you can use it again,
And again and again ever after.
The surprise effect gets ‘em right in the neck
And after the shock comes the laughter.

But if I were you—I know, I’m not—
And you wanted to borrow it nicely,
Like a cyanide pill to cure all your ills
You should do it just once, not twicely.


2 thoughts on “How to Improve Just About Any Poem

  1. I did read it, and thanks for your kind words on my poem.

    I specialize in light verse and so can’t hold myself as someone who’s a good judge of darker poems. I have written on the connection between poetry and depression: Google “Put Down That Poem Before You Kill Yourself” and you should find it.

  2. This is really good. Would you mind please reading my poem? It’s called depression and means alot to me. Darkest thing I have written. And I would like your oppinion on it. I have never shared my poems before and any advice or tips you could give me about my writing, I would really appreciate.

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