There are a lot of great examples out there of “how to” poems but How to Eat a Poem by Eve Merriam has always been one of my favorites.

Here’s my first draft.


How to Be Beautiful

Stand up straight.
Smile at everyone you see.
Smile at the tired clerk at the store
and the guy who cuts you off in traffic
and the homeless man begging for change
outside the library.
Smile big and wide
and don’t worry if your receding gums show.
Let your smile dance up to your eyes
until the sides of your face pull up into
little lines of happiness
then watch your smile somersault
away to dance for a stranger.
You do not need perfect skin
a perfect body
expensive clothes
in order to be beautiful.
Just smile.

Susan Taylor Brown