I really admire the poets who can sit down and type exactly what they feel into Word, do some editing there, and then hit publish. My process is not that. Usually, my poems hit me in the early morning or when I am grappling with an issue. I write them all in my journals in ink or pencil first (hell, color pencil or crayon if it’s all I’ve got). Something about actually writing words on a physical page inspires me to look for the exact word that fits how I feel. Of course, the space is also limited, and it’s a pain to change words in ink. So, it’s better to be close to right the first time.
Here’s an example from one I wrote this morning because I decided to spend less time delving into my personal social media. It’s amazing how quickly we can be drawn into tapping “unfriend” and “block” when people get unnecessarily unkind over issues, how quickly our connections to other people dissolve. I decided to spend less time connecting to people who would sever connections at the slightest affront and more time with people who would never let me go.
The one on the left is the first draft, just writing what’s in my head. The one on the right is the second round, being more selective with words and how they are arranged on the lines. I also came up with a working title. You can see that in the second draft, I combined the first lines, spaced things differently, and dealt with one of my persistent errors–tense shifts. Eventually, I’ll come back to this in a few months and see if I still like my word choices and still think it’s good.
Here’s the print version below, just in case you find my handwriting a bit impossible. 😉
I’m shrinking my world down to these four walls.
I had tendrils trailing to the UK,
to Japan, to nearly every united state.
Misty connections that evaporate
if you show a light too brightly on them.
But in these walls…
I can’t chop the tethers.
I can’t burn them.
I can’t dissolve them in my bitterness.
So, I’ll pour myself into what I can’t lose.
This small slice of the world.
These walls. This bed.