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Sunday, March 16, 2014

Death by poetry -- one way, or another

Not pale.
Let's start with our usual apology for writing pale poetry -- strings of lines that won't add up to the worst poem you've ever read, but don't quite qualify as real poems, either. It's what we specialize in around here. But you're used to it. (Although the 'Death by Poetry' isn't supposed to be yours.)

Again we must credit Ray with, if not inspiration, then support for this one. Ever since he gave me permission to write poems as fiction, that's made writing more fun. And a little dirty (as in realism).

Anyway, this started with an idea that sprang from a secondary source, and the idea became a phrase and then things got all meta on me. You'll see in a minute.

This morning on CBS's Sunday Morning Enrique Iglesias talked about writing songs -- how some start with melody and others with lyrics, and the best start with both. I think the same thing about writing poems. Some start with an idea, and those are the hardest to write. (It might be like getting the melody first. And since I recently penned my first country music lyrics, I know.) Anyway, just because you have an idea doesn't mean you have words to go with it, so you have to mull it over in your brain awhile, mixing and matching, searching for something -- an image, a phrase, even God forbid a metaphor -- to hang that idea on. Keeps your brain busy awhile.

Most times, I start with a phrase or line. Often these kind of coalesce out of nowhere or somewhere and it's kind of like magic and I don't want to think about it too much. Sometimes you kind of steal from ... just about anywhere. But having a really fine set of words handed to you, now that's a gift that deserves a little work. And the poem might or might not go where you first intend. And that's okay.

There are reports of entire poems coming to poets, I suppose like Enrique's words and music coming together. That must be the best. Don't know yet.

One more word about pale poems. Isn't it ironic that pale poems are actually all TOO something?  Too short, too dumb, too obvious, too derivative, too stupid, too awkward, too amateurish, too lame, too embarrassing. Too first-draft, haha! I'm not sure if all these things can be fixed by more drafts -- the level of fix-ation might be commensurate with the level of talent of the writer involved. A glass ceiling of fix-ability.

This one started with the words-as-bullets thing, then some fiction snuck in, and then it got all meta. This isn't quite a first draft but maybe a third and needs probably ten or ten million more. I played with some words just to mess with ya. I know that last stanza needs some work.* Shoot, all the stanzas needs work. But you've come this far, you deserve a little something.

Death by Poetry

These aren't the words you wanted
when you asked that day,
write something for me --
your warm words and low voice
cool eyes, duple heart, and
veiled, arrogant want.

Who was the enigma, then?
Because there’s a word you
threw around, a thin, contumelious
compliment of manipulative design,
exposed by erosion, love’s labor lost --
Who were we kidding? Love. Lost.

These aren't the words you wanted,
my long-gone target, just bullets
aimed straight at your duple heart --
Let blood run through the leading,
and drip from every enjambment...

(Oh, damn, I missed.)

No matter. Lie still, you gut-shot memory.




*Work in progress ... better?
These aren't the words you wanted,
my long-gone target, but bullets
aimed straight at your duple heart --
Let blood run through the leading,
and drip from every enjambment.
Bleed out, you gut-shot memory

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