Poem 57 Editing

There are a few things about a poem that often I mess up in the first round. My mind is in 1,000 places at once and that often comes across as my old nemesis, the mixed metaphore.

Metaphor is a powerful tool. There are so many ways to relay a situation and the encasing of one moment in another has been part of common tongue for centures. That means they also tire out easily. They are a clear and easy way to tell whether a poem is fresh or stale. In many cases, I am so concerned about the poem as fresh and new as possible that the overall theme is lost in a mash-up frankenstein of metaphor.

And that is exactly what happened with this poem. I make note of how obviously this poem belonged in my fish phase and how that may have limited its points of interest. That damn fish phase, even as I work to remove certain poems from its barnacles, I can see other phases taking shape. Think of these as a larger version of those poetic tics we talk about here. We want to be free of as much involuntary-ness in poetry as possible. Control.

When I forst went back and worked with this poem it was so that I could see which mish-mash couplets worked. Even six months ago I could tell the wine one was the only couplet to make much sense. So that was my starting point. This poem has since been revised to fit that theme. When we review the idea is not to change, or to fix or to even critique with any sanity. It is sometimes just look at something with fresh eyes and make note of what does and does not fit. That way there is somewhere to start editing.

Fear not the mixed metaphor. It is an opportunity to choose the best of the ideas you juggled when writing. There’s nothing wrong with being a mess th first draft. That’s why we write drafts.


The mixed metaphor, a common slip of mine, will sometime give us a better opportunity to write something unexpected and compelling. In this case the most out of place image became the concept of the poem. Don’t limit your madness in the first draft, just recognize that a poem with as many directions as the example here needs a secon look.

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