Thursday, March 19, 2015

And now for a more refined version (of another poem)

Since my last post showed a "first draft" very brand-new infant poem, this next one will be something a bit further along. The following is a 2nd/3rd draft of an exercise we did last fall in Pauletta Hansel's "Poetry Matters" class at Women Writing for a Change. The exercise itself is called "writing between the lines" (as described in JD McClatchey's The Practice of Poetry). You use the format of an existing poem to follow very closely, mirroring or responding to each line to create a new poem of your own. My model was Maxine Kumin's  "After Love."

Here's mine:

After Birth

Afterwards, the cold.
My body, shivering without you.

The cord all that remains
of what once tethered us.

Warmth expelled, you are
no longer mine.

The blankets furrow, a cap
thrust clumsily atop

your head; and nearby the beep
and click of monitors.

Everything is changed, except
this abrupt end

is a beginning, too full
of life and its mess

refusing to count the cost.

First draft:


The tongue is a ghost disturbing my wake
It is a lie
to call it Mother. 

Would you have me pull it out by the roots
beneath muscle and sinew
before memory of pain?
Or spool it up, silent, in contortions of 
bitter, trembling, burnt. 

It is secret and secretive
tasting only itself
till that too disappears. 
An invisible coating that curdles every flavor. 

Everything it tastes is second-hand
half thrown out in disgust, 
and retrieved always a moment 
too late, the bitterness 
of un-remembrance.