Poem 83 Editing

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This is a technique that grew from the idea of heart lines, the concept that there is a line in the poem that creates the work around it. This mini-version is like looking for the pulses on a sonar. In each of these 3 line stanzas a high, medium and low point establishes itself, like a pattern with no reason. There are lines I would keep and lines I would throw away. Of course there are other ways to look at a poem like this, I just saw the simplest to explain.

When looking for strong lines, we are also looking for the intention of the poem. That might sound silly after all of my other preaching about letting the poem come to life and allowing it to be itself. But the truth is poetry is a second language and we are sometimes lousy translators. When a poem gets muddy it is important to see where you were trying to go, where you feel is the best representation of the feeling, like a tiny heart line, a pulse.

These pulses are not necessarily the be-all-end-all for your work, just a sign that there are other forces under the poem working past the muck. So, like a sonar, if we highlight these lines we get a better picture of what’s really under the water. Cheesy but you get my point.

This poem was done as a representation of a painting. There are 1,000 ways I could have gone with it, but in this case I saw it fit to emphasize the personality of yellow in an internal rhyme syncopation. That, I hope, was the poem that was trying to get out all along. You’ll have to see for yourself.


Here’s another way to look at a poem that might not yet have its sea legs. Looking for the peaks, or pulses, in each stanza will allow you to better landscape your poem and see what you were trying to write. We don’t always get it right the first time, but there are plenty of ways to rediscover the poem lurking below.

Poem 83 RevisedPoem 83 Original

Poem 83

An assignment from 18 months ago. describe a painting.

White all white, but white when it pretends to be yellow
With mustard catastrophes
Falling down down until they meet the storm
It begins with spheres. Maybe. If only they could agree
On their trajectory. Burrowing out the blackness
Desperate crimson navy epiphany. Flashing lights.
Scribbling. Over and over until the golden blending
Comes again to new circles, its own length from the base
Where yellow cyan smudging compromises into green
The pathetic furrowing of greys blues and wax
Blacken near the middle where lifeless pearlescent curls
Calm the outer reaches of the canvas.
White all white, but white when it pretends to be yellow
And settles for deep blue or ruby when it cannot be that.
White, the quiet in the corners, compromising colors.