Poem 2 Revised

What Happened in the Tree

High above the reaching hands of a hopeful evening
With limbs and joints tensed about the branches of weathered wisdom
Is the makings of a fairytale, wrapped up with a bit of string.
Untie the bow, but be ready to catch the pieces as they fall, for
Gravity—the enemy of slow progress—pulls grace ground ward.
But fear not the bitter cold or coarse bark, biting at fingers
We are pillow propped, suspended in smoke-puffs of silence,
In a moment, in a heart-beat: I would tell you anything in that tree
Or anywhere you would have me. If only you would have me.
This muddle, where a hand might pull away tough skin, well-worn facades,

and peer through the scattered branches,

Is all falling now.
Falling as you

prepare to leap.

 Forgive me.

In an attempt to

save the moment,

catch the pieces

of a splintered

fairytale, our skin

collides. Mistaken…

Shamed. Your voice

is punishment enough.
Just go. Leave me here.
Let the pieces fall.
Let them all fall.
No heart of mine wanted a fairytale.
No great love affair ever took place in a tree.
It was a foolish girl who thought she could climb to the top and find happiness.
With gravity—the enemy of slow progress—pulling at her heels with a bit of string. –ECW

Poem 2 Edited Poem 2 Original

Poem 2 Editing

Dear Readers,
Poem 3! I’m on a roll…


Honestly this whole thing turned out to be way more fun than I expected. Especially since there’s no grading involved and I get to use brightly colored pens! If you are an academic writer like I am, the impulse is to write the best paper or poem possible for a potential reader. In this undertaking, I have no professor to pander to nor any notion of a final number value associated with my work… it’s a pretty freeing concept. At the same time I need to be satisfied with what I turn out from these editing sessions, which in some ways makes things even more difficult… depends on how harsh a critic you are of your own work.
I want to take a moment to discuss a theory of poetry I developed during my thesis. I delved into the idea of two dimensional vs. three dimensional poetry. 2D poetry is your average poem: it has words and a shape. 3D poetry involves a poem’s words, its shape and a third element of some sort—maybe visual, sound, smell, interaction or anything else that brings the poem off the ‘page’. This blog qualifies as a third dimension, so does this commentary or the editing image below. That’s as much as I’ll bore you… someday when my thesis is published you can all marvel at its genius… for now the 2D poetry concept serves as an important structure for today’s editing.
This poem tried to do something rather complex with its echo effect. Sadly, it does not do so in a profound or memorable way… so I’m taking this opportunity to remove that fluff and try something new with the poem as a whole. Sometimes things don’t work out… it’s our job as the poet to realize the shortcomings of a piece and make it better by trying something new…
I have another three-pronged strategy for editing this poem: it’s the RE tactic. RE-move, RE-word, RE-position. Again, the first steps are always the most broad-sweeping. Removing will involve taking out everything that pulls attention away from the main message… in this case, there’s a lot to remove…
Rewording and repositioning is the fine-combing work. Consider carefully the ways in which you revise your work. After the fluff is gone, there are still ways to help and hinder the message. And don’t over edit. The great Walt Whitman really did a number on “Song of Myself” in an attempt to revise. His first edition is often lauded as his best because he took the idea of editing to an extreme. While none of us are in danger of being as awesome as Walt Whitman, there is still that opportunity to mess up a poem by carving too much away. Food for thought…
The Takeaway:
A poem, whether it was intended or not, has a lot more going on than just the words on the ‘page.’ Seize the opportunity to make your poem memorable in all ways, whether that is shape, content, or something entirely new. I decided to make this tree poem speak to its subject more literally and find that it makes a world of a difference in the final product. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box… after all, this is poetry.

Poem 1 Revised


I’m not promising
I’ll ever write anything to touch you
But I’m willing to try.
I’m willing to drag my fingers
across these sticky keys and
Come up with something stark…
Something true

I want you to know the truth,
That death is a cruel lover…

That she would have cannibalized you:
That her insides are soot-sour and soiled.
That you put too much stock in everyone
and not enough in yourself.
We: a room full of strangers
Clawing at your memory,
Strangers who didn’t know you well enough
To see when you broke.
When you were broken.
When you took a bullet
Set in motion the truth.

I’m done fighting truth.
As I move through the calendar,
since you fell from this earth,
I’ve found there are only versions, and no

The frame of your face falls
From its perch on occasion
As if from behind the tracing-paper walls
You leap to catch me, to save me
From life’s triviality.

A shadow man with the upmost intentions.
Watchdog wanderer from the other side.
But you gave up your voice, brother.
You handed it to me when you picked up the gun.
Perhaps, it was a fair trade.

All our decisions are bullets.
The real tragedy:
We will survive them.

Poem 1 Editing

Hello readers,
Today’s poem editing is about rounds of revisions. This poem is a perfect example of a work in the moment. I went through a bit of a tragedy my junior year of college, and from that struggle came a plethora of good and bad poems. Some of them made perfect sense at the time; others were just my feelings in poem form.
This piece is one I was particularly fond of, but outside of that moment and those feelings, I can see that the message is a little mushy. This may be the case with a few of your poems, but don’t despair. There will be a time and place to revise and make them more reader-friendly.
I began this editing with three pens, because I knew it would take a few rounds of careful consideration to make it right. The red pen is my harshest criticism, because if you truly want to make a poem better, you have to get a little messy with the red pen.
I have a lot going on here… there’s a metaphor about a woman, death maybe… there’s me in a coliseum of criticism (a bit heavy handed for this kind of narrative) and then there is a man behind paper walls, I imagine those kind in Chinese houses…  Before I can do anything, I need to pick one, because they don’t make sense together… If I want to have this quiet confessional intimacy I set up in the beginning I can’t be spouting off contradictory metaphors.
I want to keep the ‘love letter’ feel of the beginning. It’s not grounded in anything tangible and it’s not particularly inviting for the reader, but I feel that is the crux of the poem, and my emotions at the time, though it does need to be refined. Think of the pens (red, purple and blue as sand papers. Red is coarse, purple is fine, and blue is a buffer to make it shiny… If I can hack out more than is needed with the red, I can really start to refine with the purple… you can see that a little in the mark-up.
The ending needs some work. If I want to go with that idea of the paper wall man, which I feel is the strongest of the three metaphors; I need to develop it a little more. This editing session, and the paper itself didn’t really have room for that… I will be able to work that all out in subsequent drafts.
The Takeaway:
This poem was a mess because I was a mess when I wrote it. This will be the case for many of my poems and maybe yours too… emotions are like garlic, they reek through your skin and everything you do while you experience them. The trick is to leave a poem for long enough to be objective, and take out a little of that garlic as you go. Still a little cryptic, but much more relatable.

Poem A Revised

On Modern Art
No matter width or stickiness
oil on cloth— motivates brushstrokes
to static-electric telepathy
between minds. Where one eye sees
a woman and the other sees a waltz;
where the two are one. Not a woman
waltzing but the dichotomy of
impossibilities. A body. A dance. A hand.
A brushstroke. Artists painting paradoxes:
Neither dancing nor standing still.

Poem A Edited

Dear readers,
I wrote a mother-blanking call to action manifesto yesterday that would have made Literature and Creative Writing professors around the globe shed a tear. It was pinpointed, inspiring and thorough… then, instead of moving forward with my promises and editing the first poem, I planted myself on the couch and watched Family Guy… so there you have it… I’m my own worst enemy when it comes to productivity…
So instead of making the same broad-sweeping claims, I will simply begin by saying that this project will be extensive, comprehensive and harsh. I will be editing and refining every poem written here, in the hope that something more powerful will come in a second and third draft… hopefully… who knows…
With no further delays, in honor of National Poetry Month, let’s begin.
The poem is titled On Modern Art, in conjunction with Wallace Stevens’ Of Modern Poetry. The poem actually came about from a project to emulate Stevens’ work. But after the grades are in and the semester is over, it’s time to consider the poem on its own… and not beside the original inspiration.
The title is highlighted here because it is a maybe… I might need to change things around, remove it… cut it short… Always remember, whether you’re a title person or not, the title of your poem is its business card… so what does it say about your work before your work can speak for itself…
Note the green parenthesis midway through the poem… this is the natural breaking point, where I find a little momentum… I will treat the poem in two sections according to this break. From the start, the poem is pretty mushy, not a lot of structure, consistency or imagery, all about the meta-whatever I was trying to portray… you’ll see a lot of red here… red is bad.
I start with big words like Existence, endow, depend, depend, depend… these are pretty heavy handed. There really isn’t any greatness established to warrant these words… nor is there really a need to come out swinging like that… if this is my way of echoing modern art, I’m doing a shit job.
I get an image at line seven, but it’s not a great one… the idea of images on top of each other opens too many questions. Are they translucent, is the seer omniscient, is there some kind of connection between the images, is the image the painting with sticky brushstrokes or generic images. The painting is still a blur, too much so to build a scene…
More big words like divinity… bla bla bla…
And then we hit it. The point. The idea of modern art I was trying to capture is the duality of imagery. And here it is, buried in the bottom of the poem, one eye seeing something the other does not… I love this line even more now that I am scrutinizing the poem. Is it two eyes of the same viewer, two sets of eyes… the mind’s eye and the seeing eye… it’s a great moment, where the poem actually starts to mean something…
And what does the eye see? Two things that now the reader sees, because I bothered to write them down in the poem, instead of leaving it open. Momentum, gravity, trajectory, all of these real tangible forces of the poem become a reality when I get to the fucking point…
It takes me until line twelve and the other shit is just weighing it down…
And as a side note I end with this notion of capital G God… like hitting a gong at the end of a lullaby… why God, is there a point for that, and if so is there a reason that it takes me all that time to get religious, and why bother getting so heavy handed in a secular poem. There’s a moment of divinity, but why can’t it be the artist that delivers it, why does it need to be God. In this instance, and many others in my work and the work of my contemporaries, we throw in God as a space filler for the real subject. Everything is grander with God. But the truth is, God tends to steal the thunder in poetry, where keeping it intimate and tangible might be a better way to go.
Not bad for a first editing… keeping in mind this poem has been edited before with a lighter touch…
The Takeaway:
There is the poem you write and the poem you’re trying to write. The poem you come up with might not even resemble the poem you are attempting… and that’s ok too… the point is to take a look with fresh eyes (be as objective as possible) and try to find where you were going with this…
For this poem, the real crux was at about line 12. With some tweaking and a whole lot of hacking, I was able to create something powerful… maybe… it might need to be hacked at again…