Wednesday, August 25, 2004

when in doubt... revise

at 10pm i’m still in canada

i should be converting
kilometers to miles, but
the trucks keep riding close
behind me, flashing their brights,
and all i can think of
is you, yesterday, converting
the physics of lightning into
poetry over long islands,
billy collins, citronella.

candle’s smoky glow rose from mountainside
patio, matched orange heat
lightning, you appropriately read
moon (it was full) came alive
with every image, alliteration,
consonance. i tried to stir
ice in my glass, catch
your reflection in crystal cubes, not
let on that i noticed
the way you only looked at me
when you spoke, told stories,
suggested i read next.

and when i breathed that last line
of lost love, i knew i wanted to stay,
let the storm roll in, the rest
of the bar disappear, leave just
me and all i can’t leave
behind (you) to melt under summer rain.

but now, in the wrong country, i
look for that familiar michigan left
u-turn lane to lead me back east, past
the falls and through mountains
to stone patios, pine breezes, full
moon and poetry lightning where
neither kilometers nor miles could
separate, we
could be poetry.

2 Comments:

Blogger Daniel said...

KTB and I have been dissecting this poem on IM for a bit now, but I wanted to share some thoughts to spur others.

I wonder if stanzas 3 & 4 are needed. Maybe you can tie up 2 and imply the rest, especially the driving part, or strengthen the imagery.

BTW, here's a quick link to the original draft.

12:37 AM | Permalink  
Blogger Matt said...

KTB,
Fantabulous! Some great revisions here.

1. Love the connection of "i tried to stir
ice in my glass, catch
your reflection in crystal cubes"

TO

"i can’t leave
behind (you) to melt under summer rain"

Because of the strength in this connection, it points to you two connecting in the second stanza and parting in the third, I am going to agree with Dan. I think this poem might end after the third. The "but" is post-climatic. I think you are better off ending the poem with the punch. Like Seinfeld ending the show at the height of popularity. Try the two versions and live inside the ending for a few days and you'll know where your end is.

2. in the first stanza, are "long islands" long island ice teas? I ask because that and the "bar" seem just slipped in as scenery, but without much exposure. For a dramatic poem with atmosphere as a focus, you might create a more specific scene for the bar at the beginning of the poem (beginning of 2nd stnaza, maybe a new second stanza?).

3.I love the conclusion of the "we could be poetry" is awesome and goes right to the heart of the poem. Perhaps move that to the end of the third, and use the rest of the last stanza as part of the description of the bar/patio.

4. I love the sound of "billy collins, citronella." It sounds like a relaxing conversation on a patio with drinks. Not just the associations of those, but just the raw sounds.

5. This is a poem I feel I could live in for a while. It is not enough to read it, but really experience the poem before it is understood. The ideas linger, the thoughts about the relationship, leaving, arriving, it all stays a while. I can't just leave the poem, like the narrator. I have second thoughts about setting it down. I think it asks to be re-read.

Thank you for taking me to Canada today. I love reading this, experienceing new changes, and seeing through eyes you give the reader.

Keep rocking the free world!

Matt

12:18 PM | Permalink  

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