Today's poetry tip is one of the simplest, yet most painfully difficult, tricks in the book.
It's like this... Take out one of your favorite "finished" poems -- don't choose a published one or one you've posted. Now pretend someone has a gun to your head and you have to cut a line. An entire line.
Choose one line, lop it off, and read the poem back to yourself. Is it better? If so, lose the line for good.
If not, choose another line to cut. And so on, until you've tried every line. If every line must remain, congratulations, one of two things happened. Either you're incapable of revising your work or you've written a perfect poem.
Now honestly, which do you think is the case most of the time?
In prose we're often told to "murder your darlings" but it's just as true in poetry. One thing to keep in mind is this: if the line you scrub has some tasty figurative language or a cool turn of phrase or just sings like a blackbird, you can use it elsewhere, perhaps in another poem, or even a blog post like I just did, in case you cared to notice.
Try this maneuver in any poem you're serious about and see if it doesn't make your work much stronger. It might be tougher to cut lines from your poems than to let a stranger give you a hair cut, but in this case, you're the one holding the scissors, so don't be afraid to trim. Your poems and readers will thank you.