Sometimes a poem just comes to me, almost completely formed -- not line by line or phrase by phrase, but all at once.
I won't know until much later whether it's any good or not. One such poem I kept reciting at poetry readings for a couple of years, to no reaction. Then one day I realized it was hollow bombast. But some other poems that have arrived this way have turned out to be keepers.
The Ship of Souls and Bodies
When the ship of souls and bodies arrived
there was no celebration,
only the usual bustle.
They were taken off the boat separately.
The bodies went to chefs
who carved them, seasoned them,
roasted them with potatoes and onions
and garnished them with herbs
still wet with garden dew.
The souls went to craftsmen
whose nimble fingers combined them
with silver and native woods, fashioned
them into violins, flutes and drums.
They came together again at a charity banquet.
Musicians spread a soft carpet
of melody under the chatter. Half the meat
remained lying on the plates.