Poem Format

Get more formatting tips in FLOG, Bill's blog on manuscript preparation.

This is a sample of a submission package of three poems. Your name and contact information appear in the top-left corner of each poem. If a poem runs more than a single page, each subsequent page requires a header with page number in the upper-right corner. Read more about formatting and submitting poetry manuscripts here.

William Shunn                                            27 lines
12 Courier Lane
Pica's Font, NY 10010
(212) 555-1212

                           MEMORY LANE

          She strains at the leash,
          Trying to turn the corner.
          "Not that way," I say.

          But Ella insists,
          So I give in and follow.
          Not that big a deal.

          This short, narrow lane,
          It's a valid path back home,
          Not such a detour.

          Along the sidewalk
          We rush, my arm stretched out straight, 
          Not pausing to sniff.

          She stops at the porch,
          Looks at the door, looks at me,
          Not old now but young.

          We were gone six years,
          Back now in the neighborhood
          Not even six weeks.

          I wish we could knock,
          But our friends are not at home,
          Not now, not for years.

          They fled this city
          Even sooner than we did,
          Not fond of Gotham

          But fond of our dog,
          Who wags on their former stoop,
          Not fenced in by time.


William Shunn                                            18 lines
12 Courier Lane
Pica's Font, NY 10010
(212) 555-1212


     Between me, safe in my seat on this bus,
     And the decadent majesty of the salmon-red cliffs of
          eastern Utah,
     A ghost landscape stands sentinel,
     As if etched into the glass by a cadre of capering

     The residue of a hasty window washing--
     Loops and whorls of dirt left untouched, uncleansed,
     Unrepentent, at the bottom of the glass on each fluid
     It sparkles, gritty and salt-sharp in the oblique
     Like a series of pearly solar flares,
     Or a graph of the desert's pulsebeat,
     Or spectral negatives of a washed-out sandstone arch,
     Photographed in stages over eons of time--
     Snapshots from a child-god's flip-book--
     Frothing, leaping, peaking, then falling back into the
     Like fountains of earth,
     A time-lapse planetary signature
     That will melt and return to dust
     With the next unlikely rain.



William Shunn                                            67 lines
12 Courier Lane
Pica's Font, NY 10010
(212) 555-1212


     It's getting harder these days 
     to tell the crazy people from the sane, 
     what with technology the way it is.

     It used to be that talking to yourself 
     in public was a sure sign of instability, 
     like wearing a sign that said, 
     "Steer clear of me, I'm not quite right, 
     I might be dangerous, if only to myself."

     But now we all do it, carry with us 
     an invisible chorus of voices 
     in a magic Bluetooth cloud, insistent, demanding 
     voices clamoring for attention, screening out 
     the real world around us, making us each 
     more dangerous than twenty actual crazy people, 
     a more present threat to public safety than 
     any potential suicide bomber.
     Or at least more annoying.

     Thorazine does nothing at all to fix it.

     The implications of eye contact have changed too.
     It used to be that when someone looked at you 
     when they spoke, it meant they were talking to you.
     Not anymore.  This morning as I was walking the dog, 
     I heard the rasp of a window being shoved open, 
     and a shrill voice saying, "I told you 
     last time what was going to happen."
     I looked up to see a head and shoulders push out 
     a fourth-floor window, and the person 
     was looking right at me.  "What?" I called up, 
     thinking that Ella and I had been mistaken 
     for someone else, maybe someone who hadn't 
     cleaned up after a mess on the sidewalk.
     "Oh, I'm on the phone," said the smiling head, 
     pointing to its ear, and carried on talking 
     in the same tone of voice, as if both 
     conversations were one.  And maybe they were.
     I still don't know.

William Shunn                                                    
Passing, page 2, begin new stanza

     Crazy, right?  I'll say!

     But I was talking about people's voices.
     Not the ones they speak with, but the ones 
     they hear in their heads, the ones no one else 
     can hear.  I don't have a Bluetooth earpiece, 
     but I still hear voices in my head.  Often 
     when I have something important I need to say 
     to someone, I rehearse the conversation 
     in my head, and sometimes, during my lines, 
     I'll slip and speak them out loud.  Or more often, 
     when I'm remembering an awkward interaction 
     from earlier that day and thinking how 
     I could have said something better, 
     I'll just say it that better way, it just pops out,
     and I might be driving, or walking 
     down the street, or lying in bed with my wife, 
     and I know I've just said something out loud, 
     out of the blue, out of nowhere, out of left field.
     I'm busted.  And my wife will 
     put down her magazine and give me that look, 
     you know the one, the one that's half amused, 
     half worried, the one that says, 
     "Are you crazy, husband?" 
     And maybe I am, I don't know.

     No, of course not.  I do it all the time too.

     But I was trying to talk about how hard it is 
     to tell the sane people from the crazies 
     these days.  Personally I think cell phones 
     are just an excuse.  All this time 
     most of us have just been passing, 
     and now we don't have to pretend anymore.


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Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License

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