Sunday, December 14, 2008

Revision ~ "The Instruction Aubade" ~ Charles

Begin to Live Alone

Wake slowly—bedroom window light shines slant with vertigo,
your arm half-bared touches its
                square pool of sun.

Pull a shirt and trousers like the closet’s
loose teeth, its savage, dark maw—
                Put them on.

Bathe—prepare breakfast—breathe air
stale with your own sterile scent—
                descend the stairway like a cloud—

Attend your job. Stroll from door to door,
form words. White noise like a fan’s
                rushing whirr says

everything you might imply. The day looms with its pendulum sun
swung slow back toward night. The hours
                mete out as ground glass—

At sunset, draw blinds. Your body
streaked with night takes on more weight—
                Sensible meal: choose salad;

skip dessert. Be strong. Be strong.
There’s no harm in looking good even when
                no one’s looking

Click here to read Charles's first draft.

From the fingertips of Charles Jensen:
My strategy for revision was to cull a form from the original piece, was was irregular. I also wanted to work toward more word economy and take out needless conjunctions and prepositions as I could. This poem needs more silence--more caesura--and it needed to be "harder." That said, I worked toward iambic meter but allowed some abrupt disruptions of it. I wanted the images to be more stark.

I don't know. I think it's still not done.

Normally I would not revise a poem this quickly. In my process work generally sits around a few months before I take a knife to it. I need to grow apart from it. But perhaps the austerity of this poem, its narrative distance ("you") makes it easier to work with.

Monday, December 8, 2008

"Everything Loosens in the Kitchen" by Guest Poet #2: Dana Guthrie Martin

Guest Poet #2 is Dana Guthrie Martin, and she has selected the words provided by Anne Haines.

Everything Loosens in the Kitchen

Broccoli florettes are jaundiced by their separation from the earth. The refrigerator kicks out a new batch of ice, a percussive interjection. We stopped talking long ago. "How long we are going to be here," I ask. You don't reply.


Winged ants emerge from gaps, move in unison along the grain of the floorboards before spreading, circling and backtracking. They smear like ink. They are the shadow of something we'll never see. No way to manage our infested lives. What finds its way in never makes it back out.


We set up a pool in the middle of the room. We wade, you in flippers, me in goulashes. We barter: no for yes, yes for maybe. I tell you I threw out my wedding dress three years ago. You tell me you didn't really lose your ring. We trade footwear. We hug. The water grows colder and colder.


The dining room table flaunts its legs suggestively, lustrous as the skin of an eggplant. The backs of my hands were once smooth. Your face never relaxes anymore. We ladle hopeful words into the air: respectable, insoluble, inexchangeable. "I thought we had a deal," you say.


The walls are pigmented with old arguments. Fixtures wash our faces in light, diminish our imperfections. Tomorrow, we agree to rise like bread. To nourish. We high five, though the game was lost long ago. We move off to the far corners of the house.

Anne's Words:
broccoli, respectable, diminish, infested, wade

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Revision! ~ "Drinking Song"

Drinking Song

bits of gin label salamander in
a Chinese screen minding their British sides.
I shouldn’t exist, or be alive. I fight

humor in my shot glass, my bitter pail.
I’m half corpse, complaint-filled, divorcing
emptiness shaped by a chilled rasp.

I make a living in alcoholic
forgetting. Body poured in pale swigs,
inescapable, but not whimpering.

from Guest Poet #1: Andrew Demcak
Click here to read Andrew's first draft.

Friday, December 5, 2008

"Drinking Song" by Guest Poet #1: Andrew Demcak

Guest Poet #1 is Andrew Demcak, and he has selected words provided by Justin Evans.

Drinking Song

the bits of wet paper
salamander within a Chinese screen
minding their labeled sides in a blown sky
I shouldn’t exist, stopped,
I fight humor my shot glass
my strength divorcing emptiness
my bitter pail
the surprise of my half-corpse
I scratched and didn’t sleep
I was careful, I bragged ahead
my waiting mouth covered with hope
the way I was complaint-filled
supported by alcoholic forgetting
entirely resentful
shaped by a chilled rasp
the superior body
poured in two pale versions
absolutely white
not to upset time regretfully
I might make a living
inescapable but not whimpering

Justin's Words:
salamander, fight, rasp, pale, pail