Archive for the ‘Poem in Process’ Category

Another 30 minute writing challenge

March 12, 2011

Once again, with help from a friend I engaged in a 30 minute writing challenge. There was no real goal or application in mind, just 30 minutes of uninterrupted writing on an otherwise busy Saturday filled with baking bread, grading papers, working out….all the usual detritus that I DON’T want to do on Saturday because I’d rather be distracting myself from writing by drinking or reading or playing videogames or some other useless thing.


At any rate, I decided for no particularly good reason, after I was about 5 minutes into it, that I ought to write in syllabics. So I did. Then I decided I should get to 10 stanzas, so I did. Note that I cheated by repeating the first line and first word of second line in every single stanza. Here it is.


A Room, Surrounded.

He is sitting in a room surrounded
by switches and flips them
in patterns only his eye

He is sitting in a room surrounded
by spools of finest thread,
and weaves a net to scrape the floor

He is sitting in a room surrounded
by empty bottles and,
bowls of water with floating

He is sitting in a room surrounded
by the angry voices
of the betrayed and confused

He is sitting in a room surrounded
by picture-hung white walls
with thicknesses of paint too

He is sitting in a room surrounded
by cherry blossom scent;
a hint of decay in the

He is sitting in a room surrounded
by the ugly, leering
gaping faces of his friends,

He is sitting in a room surrounded
by books, pencils, pens
jars of dry ink and dry paint,

He is sitting in a room surrounded
by cracked and creased papers,
scrawl covered sheets, recipes,

He is sitting in a room surrounded
by eggs and stones, sticks and
butter, broken bowls, rotting


30 Minute Writing Challenge

June 28, 2010

My friend and generally intimidating genius over here threw me a challenge tonight; we both write for thirty minutes then critique.

Then the weak punk got too drunk to stay awake long enough to read what I’d written, and to be perfectly honest, I was three minutes late, tops.

Anyway, here’s what I wrote.

Fear and Danger and Loathing and Other Unpleasantness

The danger is in the approach
of the day that evades revision

The light is bad – no
the light is going
and that is not the same.
If the light is bad
it is the wine
that suffers, and
the hand that pours.
Without the light
to show its color
what is the wine
but water
or rotten juice
or the hand but
invisible actor
lost, forgotten
in the cloistering dark

On Love Poetry

I never wrote a poem worth a damn
for a girl. Stuck behind old joys
I would wearily crank
the engine of cliche and phrase.
Oh, I got what I was after,
a fumbling in the doorway
of a bar on a warm May night
But I have never written to or for
or any other preposition
without feeling a little sick,
like winning a rigged game.

In my memory your skin is unfreckled
and veined in its translucence.
But every day was war, an excuse
to force me to prove devotion
or servitude. But no matter
how beautiful your breasts
or how sweet your mouth,
a war of the smallest things,
a dish, a stray word, a phone call,
is not worth fighting. In a dream,
the last I dreamed of you,
I snapped and broke your jaw
with a jab, jab, hook,
that I felt to my toes,
better than any punches
I’ve thrown awake.
Despite all my conditioning
I glowed in triumph and woke
to clenched fists
and my frightened wife.

Note: Please understand I in no way advocate violence against women. I think most people reading this would know that but it seems worth a gloss.
Anyway, is there anything salvageable here?

Poem Doctor

March 24, 2010

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?