Poem Doctor

A friend of mine sent me a poem a while ago. He told me that a friend had asked him to write a love poem, and didn’t think the result was very good, but wanted me to look at it. I did. Here’s what he sent:

There is a science of cold
that struggles to some unattainable limit
where the world breaks down
and things blend together
moving in and out of existence
flirting with solidity and substance.
Like the speed of light
Beyond reach of mortals hands
Like any sense of your love for me
Always just beyond reach
Always a fraction of a degree away.
Nothing should be able to be so frigid,
Its a law and the world would shatter
If it were broken.
Yet my heart is unruly
and even now has grown so cold
that it defies science
and rests in that dead space
of absolute zero where no thing
can ever be.

What did I think? Well first I thought it was a little talky. I felt there were some conscious poeticisms and some archaisms that weren’t doing it any good, such as “flirting with solidity and substance” and “Yet my heart is unruly.” I thought the line breaks were unpredictable, and while that’s fine, I didn’t really feel like there was a lot of attention paid to them. I think there has not yet been a poem that can use these three lines

Like the speed of light
Beyond reach of mortals hands
Like any sense of your love for me

So why am I posting this except, perhaps, to demonstrate that I’m a real jerk of a friend, and you shouldn’t send me your poems?

The fact that I thought there were really some standout lines that were worthy of saving. Keep in mind that said friend didn’t ASK me to do this (I’ll let you guess whether he even gave me permission to post the thing). So what did I think should be saved?

There is a science of cold
struggling to unattainable limits
Nothing should be so frigid but
it is a law and would shatter
if it were broken

Is this a finished poem? Is it still a love poem (I’m actually brewing up a ‘what is a love poem and should we bother with them’ post for the future, but it’s in very early stages)? Is it still a poem? I think, no, no, maybe. What do you think? Has my editing saved, destroyed, mutilated, or been utterly worthless?

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3 Responses to “Poem Doctor”

  1. Yeags Says:

    I’m all for compression and density. A poet at this festival (I can’t remember who and that probably makes me a bad person) said that if you write a poem and come away with one good line, you have done a good job. Throw the rest away and keep that line.

    I agree with what you have saved and I like the general idea of the poem. I am biased however since I wrote a similar poem like it once in the Physics/Love genre. 🙂

  2. dmford70 Says:

    The problem, as I see it, with what I saved from the poem is that it doesn’t seem like it’s actually the same poem anymore. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it feels to me like it’s only the start of a new poem that is probably not a love poem

  3. joescirehall Says:

    Hey Dan, I think this could be a poem about love (or relations). But maybe it needs to threaten to explode a little bit more, threaten to spill out some viscera behind all the meditative science stuff? Maybe that’s why you pulled the poem you did? Because any poem about love feels like it has to be about the introduction of chaos and/or relinquishing certain degrees of control.

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