Since you might have noticed that cherry lips and the like that are not quite 'the thing' nowadays (they are actually the last subject you should write about: they show a compromising love for old poetry, clearly indicate that you are a heterosexual bore, and hint at the fact that you are sober enough to tell a pretty woman from a fat slag), you might justly wonder what you are supposed to write about. One rule you should always refer to is:
You Should Not Make (Too Much) Sense
Poetry today, like every other artistic expression is supposed to be incomprehensible. You should still insert some references to facts that are real and reasonable (at least to a mind benumbed by alcohol, psychiatric and/or street drugs and infantine fuck-ups). However, it is more a matter of what to avoid, really. Remember that, in order to know what you are writing about, the Submission Editor would have to read your piece, and read it carefully, and he never does that. Therefore, just avoid some classics, which we list here for you:
- Frustrated love, that is, the subject of 95% of poems of the past 2000 years; times change and poets are supposed to get laid when they need to (you can console yourself with the fact that, after publication, it is likely to happen, even if you look like Joe Pesci). You can replace this with frustrated afterlove, e.g. 'I've shagged you a thousand times, but I still keep thinking about Maggy (or about the time you farted in bed, or how they used to beat me as a child)'
- Religion, that is the subject of the remaining 5% of classics; it is true that much religious bullcrap still appears, but it is confined to specialised bible-thumpers' magazines, and those work by direct acquaintance (i.e., by going to church with the editor). You can pick on certain religions, especially yours, especially if you are a Jew or Roman Catholic, but that's growing stale.
- The country: nobody knows what a bullfinch looks like (with the exception of a few ornithologists, but they offer a limited market) and nobody really cares. You can still write about nature if it's a fashionable place, for example the Australian Outback or Tibet, but in order to do so, you must be finely tuned on current trends, which change very quickly.
- History and mythology, unless of some 'ethnic' place. You can actually bank on that and invent African gods and demigods galore: nobody will care to check. Examples of this shall be given later.
- Depression: that's reserved to grunge songs, and grunge's pretty much dead, sorry.
- Living people in general: if you want to write an ode to someone, wait for him or her to be dead.
- Ground zero and similar events: there's way too much competition in the field.
In some cases you might want to take up themes that are 'trendy'; this works especially in England. Here is a non-comprehensive list, which, however, embraces the most popular cases.
- West Indies (or more generally colonial) stuff. Make it clear that you are an intellectual in the devastated cultural landscape of your country; be sure to show mild contempt for the workers and so forth, but never to voice it explicitly. Read Naipaul and Walcott for examples.
- Urban Blight. Some British magazines only publish that; insert pushers galore and give some clue as to the fact that you can use their services. Remember that 'urban' in England means 'related to London'. Never blight cities that are not in the same country as the publisher's: it would be a complete waste of time.
- Racial prejudice (directed, of course, against the writer), though it's a rather overexploited vein.
- Disease: in love with cigarettes ('Marlboros make you look like John Depp!'), fluorinated water (which they believe, against all evidence, to be good for their teeth), sloppy environmental laws ('It's good for the ecanomy!') and fried food, Americans rather obviously court disease. And, as good wooers, they celebrate it in many a novel, short story, film and, above all, poem. Lately, mental conditions, whether real or mere excuses for getting high on Prozac, are quite in favour, but growing rapidly stale; the Present Author suggests you go for such classics as cancer or AIDS.
- Plain bad taste is more a style than a viable subject, but it is so popular it's worth mentioning here. Its native abode are, of course, the United States, where a description of an old man peeing in the hearth and picking his nose occupies a good number of pages of a known best-seller by Stephen King. However, Australia seems keen on it as well: Patrick White, in his colossal 'The Twyborn Affair' painstakingly describes every major character at least once while farting, and lingers quite often on what he calls 'the round smell of shit', feeling euphemisms to be inappropriate. The fact he was awarded the Nobel Prize might indicate that the vein is rapidly gaining ground in Scandinavia as well.