Poem 7 Revised

First and Seventh

To the pantry with irreverence I said:
Give us this day our daily bread
Then thinking of my mother, with daily
Sons and daughters; wines and waters
Regretted…

But… after a while, when
My body ate the body was
A body forsaking the body
I contemplated a diet of grape juice
And toast…

Nearly sufficient until reminded
That the symbolism is cannibalism
And sacrilege only matters on Sunday
So all week I can borrow holiness unless
–shit– it’s Sunday.

Some Sundays taste like bread and wine,
Others like bacon and eggs. I’m not
Apprehensive over divine stovetop intervention
When it comes to breakfast at three…

But maybe I should be.

 

Poem 7 EditedPoem 7 Original

Poem 7 Edited

Fun With Forms

Form poems have been around as long as poetry, in fact poetry would have hardly been considered an art without adhering to strict rules and guidelines for meter and rhyme… as poems took on the structure of conversation, and each following generation pulled farther and farther from the preceding norm, forms became an identity a poem could showcase rather than a requirement.

With that said, there are hundreds of variations of forms that you could try with your work. I will get into these more thoroughly as I revise sonnets and villanelles from my own collection. For now I will address the issue with all forms as they pertain to the editing process.

Writing a form poem is easy: just follow the directions.
Writing a good form poem is hard: make the directions more meaningful with your content.
Editing a form poem is grueling: with the limitations of a form imposed on a poem, it can be hard to see where changes could occur and even more difficult to enact those changes without compromising the structure.

When you come across a poem that you feel needs revising but are worried about breaking the pattern you can follow my quick guide to revisions:

1. Do all of the words work?
Fixing iffy words is like repainting a house, it freshens everything up and makes the message more meaningful. This can happen at any stage of the poem and should always be a part of your editing…

2. What are you saying?
Form poems can be tricky because the poem might end before the profound truth is revealed. Remember that poems are more than witty compilations of words, and that even in a poem with structure the message must bring something new to light… or else why are you writing?

3. Should this be a form poem?
After a few read through’s with fresh eyes, it will be clear whether this poem is enhanced by the form or if the poem depends on the form to be considered a complete piece… if you find yourself leaning on the poem’s structure, your poem needs some serious remodeling…

For this particular piece, which has seen its fair share of editing in poetry classes during my undergrad, question three is my main concern. I can spruce up the words, I can add more umph, but there are still some areas that need work. For example, the mother-daughter lines in the first stanza are a little bland… I wonder if they are just filling in the form or of there is something more there.

TAKEAWAY

Forms are a fun way to challenge your poetry and expand your ability to control language. They can also be a sore spot in your collection if you don’t give them proper editing. With the three steps I have for editing poems, and maybe some of your own, you will be able to successfully tackle your more structured work without turning a blind eye to the form’s shortcomings. Who knows that Keats or Shakespeare might have written had they been allowed to open their structure. Who’s to say what Whitman or Pound or H.D. might have penned had they been forced to work with structure instead of poetic philosophies. As a Millennial writer you have the best of both words, so write and edit to the peak of your abilities, knowing that there are no walls around your work but the ones you create for yourself.

 

Poem 7 RevisedPoem 7 Original

Poem 6 Revised

A day trip to Boston; Admission letter in the Mail

I don’t want to be on the train
But don’t fancy the station either
So I’m waiting–
–Waiting on the train
To take me to key-swipe comforts
Travel sized shampoos in
A room that isn’t mine, where I won’t linger
I’m waiting, waiting on the train.

What does it matter: travel
When we move time feels stationary
In the station, boundaries blur,
Faces of mismatched destinations,
Shifting in and out of peripheral
One by one a cattle call,
Time accommodates the footdrag masses.
But I’m waiting waiting, waiting, on the train.

I’m not moving forward, not without
The train, steaming–exhausted
From rhythm-wheel journeys. Static
Waiting on: railcars, acceptance letters,
inspiration, divine intervention.
Feet are for pacing; Be Patient
She hisses, like water on coal
So I’m waiting waiting waiting, waiting on the train.
–ECW

 

Poem 6 EditedPoem 6 Original

Poem 6 Editing

I love this poem. I was trying to work on another assignment during my junior year of undergrad and instead chose to procrastinate with a little poetry. I was able, as is often not the case, to capture a sense of rhythm with this piece that I always admire in others’ work. The use of repetition and structure carries throughout the poem in a positive way, while there are some minor elements that need attention.

The mark-ups are surface level here. This poem has seen multiple rounds of revisions which included a whole restructuring in its earlier stages. My goal here is to fine tune the imagery and establish a sense of I as well as they in order to solidify the solidarity of the narrator. Like a story, some poems have characters that need to be distinguished. Often this notion goes unrevised because a poem is beyond that kind of artifice. Don’t be afraid to try new things like characters, plot elements or even scene shifts in your work. If it feels narrative in nature, don’t resist that, use it to your advantage.

The abstract areas are those where the voice is lost to vague notions. These lines act as fillers for something more poignant. Bodies blurring, too quick to memorize implies little about the moment and at the same time generalizes the perspective of the narrator. Instead of those important poetic details that I mentioned last time, we get a blur that is too hard to memorize, which is also an abstract notion.

Here would be a good place for some color, some sensation, a smell or a sound. The other stanzas bring that to the table, the second stanza seems to hit a lull. However, you will notice I am not trashing it all together because there is that rhythm and the structure to remember.

In this case, I am going to only pinpoint the things that don’t work rather than cut and hack around the things that really work. This tactic should be saved for later revisions and is sometimes where writers hit a roadblock…

TAKEAWAY

A poem can always be edited. at any stage. Remember, in later drafts to distinguish the high and lows of a poem and methods of editing that doesn’t undercut the best part of a piece. In this case the missing sense of boundaries between speaker and environment helped me see where I needed to focus my attention. Step back and ask yourself if a later draft has hit a lull, and if so, where that lull might exist. Fine tune work is just as important as the big sweeping cuts you’ve seen me make before… every step of the way a poem can be tweaked… that’s my favorite part of poetry!

 

Poem 6 Revised Poem 6 Original

Poem 5 Revised

My Similar Soul–

Falls in love with other heard beats;
my long-lost bed-warming fish-hook
sends others to the cotton sheet corners.
My kitchen wants for burnt yellow cupcakes,
           and you.
All of my being wants for you,
but you, my Similar Soul,
find pace with other heartbeats,
lend advice to fresh ears,
lace impatient fingers with new secrets
           reminiscing often–you promise–of me.
           While I?
I fall in love with another soul,
less similar than yours.
–ECW

Poem 5 Editing

This is a question I hear all the time: You write poetry, huh, like song lyrics?

No, nothing like song lyrics. My best friend writes and performs her music and in the most basic fundamental elementary down-to-the-atoms way poetry is the opposite of song lyrics…
Poetry must stand on its own, it must bring a melody that carries through words rather than sound, it must be memorable without a rhythm to solidify its uniqueness, and finally (and most importantly) it survives on details rather than generalities.
My friend must make her experiences as general as possible to allow others to try them on and acclimate them to their own life. A song you hear is your song, about that time in college or when you took that trip. This is a skill separate from poetry, though it is just as difficult.
My poems must be specific, a reader should feel, smell, taste, touch and ache just as I did in the moment. A poem must be a tangible overwhelming truth, it also must be beautiful, memorable and realatible.
This poem has been edited before… the issues are in those details that no one will understand… The question becomes whether they add to the overall piece or if they alienate the reader too much. There is no perfect formula for this, you will just have to try over and over until you get it right…
That said this is also a personal poem, about a dear friend who shares many inside jokes and secret words with me… taking that out of the poem would deflate the meaning, but leaving it in ma alienate the reader… So the key is to make the message of friendship universal through our personal details.
Whenever I edit this poem I always worry about words like fish-hook and if burnt cupcakes are the items I really want to highlight… they are limiting in their relatability and yet contain exactly what I want to say about the friendship… There is also an underlying level of tension that reflects negatively on the comroderie that I always try to add to or clip out… I could edit this 1,000 more times and it will never be right… which sometimes means its done.
THE TAKEAWAY
Your poem must be about your life… When you struggle to write about something deeply personal, remember to balance those needed details with generalities that are universal. In this case, friendship is a universal commodity. While there is only one friendship like this one, the notion of secrets, a language all our own and details that are singular in their nature, there are millions of friendships that grow apart and millions of nostalgic readers who could relate to the ending of this poem… In this case it goes from small to big. As long as the universal and the singular exist in harmony, the poem is a success.

Poem 4 Revised

Fish

If the air was thick for fingers to run through,
The sun a yellow ripple in the tide
Then could a fish wander above,
Darting in and out of alleys,
Making coral homes of traffic cones?

Was there a fist that could not swim
But flay out fins for feet
And gasp of the lesser blue bodies,
Assail her gill-less swelling lungs?
Was there a fish who would not swim?
–ECW

 

Poem 4 Edited – Poem 4 Original