Novel Poems / by Linda Eve Diamond

In honor of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo), here are three poems on the theme of novel writing: THE NOVEL; NOVEL IDEAS: A Sequel to "The Novel"; and A NOVEL IN VERSE. The "verse" poem rounds out with some poetic video fun from 1901.


By Linda Eve Diamond
(from The Beauty of Listening)

I want to write...
but the pen is so far away...

Across miles of minutiae,
snacks, a telephone,
the world outside,
a winding superhighway.

As I binge my time away,
I contemplate my novel—
my navel—

Why the neighbor
mows the lawn at dawn
       ... and then again at noon.

I imagine the finished novel
discovered one day in its entirety
inside my head and heart
by a coroner.

He’ll find blood rich with story,
characters in my capillaries,
irony woven through my veins,
plot twists on the matter
of my brain.

He will fall in love
with the writer I never was.

And he’ll say it was true of me
like so many others he’s seen—
She had a novel inside her.

To me, that was the end of the story. But someone at a reading wanted to know more about this coroner who could see our unwritten stories... Could he write them? Would he? She thought I should try writing a TV series about his novel inspirations. If I have a TV series in me, I think it will have to be discovered by a coroner. (I think it would be a perfect ending if the very coroner in the story finds the TV series inside me and writes it!)

For now, I wrote a sequel poem, putting the coroner in the spotlight as he grapples with how to discuss the source of his inspiration...


By Linda Eve Diamond
(from The Beauty of Listening)

The coroner and bestselling author has agreed
to his first formal interview on TV...

Your novels are each so unique!
The coroner nods.

Where do you find the stories?
I don’t, he says softly. They come to me.

You say your work inspires you.
Yes. That’s true

But you write more about life than death.
The coroner says, simply, Yes.

Yes. This much is clear...
This interview was a bad idea.

Well, so many novel ideas! So many points of view!
The author smiles, shifts and scratches an itch.

Could the coroner ever tell the truth about his fiction,
the stories buried deep, so discreetly they nearly die unseen?

How is it he hears these ethereal strands of story...
and how does he know how to weave them?

Why does he feel compelled to give birth
to words that would have been buried unheard?

How can he discuss, he wonders, the ineffable nature
of his inspiration? He wonders how anyone can.

I can’t take credit for the stories, says the coroner.
They come to me, and I write them down.

Ah, yes. Divine inspiration? The guiding hand of a muse?
He wants to tell his story, credit his muses, muse about the process...

No. Too confusing, even for him. He imagines the responses:
Fraud, kook, liar, thief, intuitive, idiot, genius... (He’d agree with fraud.)

Maybe his story is best saved for a novel... and for another day.
This is no place for something too real or sacred, anyway.

If the thought of a muse amuses you, he answers, that’s fine.
And I don’t know, but maybe the guiding force is divine.

Ah, says the interviewer. That’s what many writers say.
And, folks, he’s still a coroner! How ‘bout that?

With that, the interviewer slaps his knee and laughs
and the coroner quietly decides this interview will be his last.

In the end, how much do any of us really know about the mysteries of inspiration?

For this last poem, though, the inspiration is clear. As much as I'd love to write a novel one day, I'd especially I'd enjoy working on a novel in verse. When first I thought about attempting this, I found myself at play with the sound of that phrase: "a novel in verse" verses "a novel inverse"... and what might come of a novel inverse? So, here's "A Novel In Verse"—as a poem, for what it's worth...


By Linda Eve Diamond
(from The Beauty of Listening)

I’d like to write a novel in verse.
The ideal novel in verse
would be inverse in every way—

read from back to front
or central pages outward
printed upside-down on the page
as an argument of logic
reasoned through rhyme
and, of course,
as a mathematical function.

The reverse would also be true,
a novel inverse to itself
in inverse proportions—

no mathematical inversions
no rhyme or reason throughout
an argument of no logic
printed downward on the page
read from outer pages inward
or front to back...

...undoing every statement,
countering every point,
creating its own undoing
until everything is right
and nothing is left.

Ah, well. the novel inverse seems to have swallowed itself. I think the film version of this "novel" would end something like James Williamson's silent short, "The Big Swallow"... 

(Spoiler Alert!) :)   This short film ending with a man swallowing the camera... and the cameraman, too. 
License: Public Domain

Now, with the novel still inside, the coroner's lack of further comment, and the "inverse" novel that swallows itself as the film swallows its camera, it's time to say those two final words that make way for new beginnings...

The End

For more about "The Beauty of Listening,"—including Table of Contents, reader responses and selected poems—click here. To find The Beauty of Listening on Amazon, click here. (All three poems in this post are from "The Beauty of Listening " poetry collection. An earlier version of The Novel was first published by GoRiverwalk Magazine in 2007.)

To learn about National Novel Writing Month and to register to be part of the fun next November, visit the NaNoWriMo Website!