Every time I go to post a poem
About my partner or family, or another poet
That little guy inside my head says,
Hey You Can’t Say That! And when I ask,
Why not? He says. Are You Serious?
You Re3ally Don’t Know? But, of course, I do
But you can’t fictionalize everything.
You take away the bite of authenticity.
So I slam the door shut on that censorious little freak
but he shouts out anyway: DELETE! DELETE!
Don’t throw away your old stuff.
You will never have enough
new material to work with;
writing can be tough.
Put away your frail and flaccid.
put it in a book.
And in an idle moment, open it,
lighten up, have a look.
Give it iron, backbone,
a new voice, beat
find it a new form.
Let the old be reborn.
Everything will have its place.
Everything its time
the giddy, garrulous, the gruff.
Don’t throw away your old stuff..
I wasn’t thinking straight.
I wanted an image.
A wonky shopping cart.
But the poem grew too dark, too heavy
way too personal.
I wanted to fictionalize it,
lighten it up.
Then I thought of the pathway
through linear park
with its crazed markings,
the one I had taken a picture of
a year before
the one with the man with the trapezoid head
at its centre.
I needed was a poem.
He could write it.
It had to be light but still true
to the original concept
of muzzy thoughts.
It went through ten drafts over eight hours
but I got there
& I was amazed how the mind can transmute
into material that almost leaps
off the page.
picture courtesy of Wikimedia Commons
I have just written a poem.
I read it to my granddaughter.
“Hey! Great last line,” she says.
“But what about the rest of the poem?” I say.
“Great last line”
I go back to the poem.
Read it a few times.
It is a great last line.
So what I do is this: I jettison the rest of the poem and keep
the last line,
I read it a few times.
I read it to her.
I read it again.
It seems to lack something,” she says.
So I put the poem back together like it was and read it to her.
“Great last line,” she says.
I don’t know whether you noticed but when I write a poem I slam it down on the page still white –hot from the cauldron of creation. Only when it cools do I see its cracks and imperfections. This may take minutes, more often hours, sometimes days. One poem took me nine years to write. There’s still a few I’m working on from twenty years back.
Those of you who see the still molten post will be surprised when you see the reworked version solidifying into its present state. Yes, you should edit. The trick is not to edit out the primal energy which birthed the poem.