Salvaging Some Sad-Ass Verses

I’ve decided to look back at some of the poems I’ve posted here and give one or two a good rewrite. For the first I chose “Incomplete.” This poem was hastily written. Have a look:

Incomplete

Night hovering above
I shutter my eyes
The hum of stars

Night hovering above
Cold grass between fingers
All the windows are silent

I shutter my eyes
And watch the distance
Memory unfurls

The hum of stars
Echoes of distant violence
Long dead to dream

Either every other line is a cliche or trite image. Even the title stinks! This was an experiment in a form I came across called Troiku, but experimentation is not an excuse for doggerel. I should probably scrap it, but let me see if there’s anything worth salvaging:

The hum of skies:
echoes of distant violence
long dead to dream

So, I went from 4 stanzas to just 1. So already it’s better, right? Well, maybe. It’s still not very good. Notice some of the slight word changes that (hopefully) make the imagery a bit more interesting. However, I think the change to “skies” is a little odd, and lines 2 and 3 are still trite. I’m not sure if “dead to dream” is cliche, but “long dead” certainly is. Let’s see if we can make a few adjustments:

Night hovers above
you, hues your eyes
to the soft motionless
of violence. 

OK, more than a “few” adjustments. I’ve returned “Night hovers above” because it’s an okayish image and I needed something to help establish the scene, but I shifted the line to present-tense and followed it with “you.” This is to make the poem more “immediate” and tense as the reader suddenly dropped into the center of the action. Still not the amazing though. I thought using “the soft motionless” as a noun was clever, but I can see now it might be confusing and pretentious. I thought “soft motionlessness” but that’s clunky and “the soft motions” is weird. Maybe “soft motion” or “soft notion”? I don’t know. Below is an alternate version: 

Night hovers above
you, hews your eyes
to echo.

I think this version is OK, but still a bit odd and cryptic. Maybe if I give it a title like “Memory,” it can give the reader some direction on how to possibly interpret lines 2 and 3. Maybe night is forcing one to confront the past? The only issue with that is “Memory” sucks as a title unless it’s offset by something really interesting.

So, yeah. Both versions: not great, but they’re certainly better than the original. Probably should give these “spawn” names though. Let’s see…

The Completion of Stars

Night hovers above
you, hues your eyes
to the soft motionless
of violence. 

And…

Discovery

Night hovers above
you, hews your eyes
to echo.

OK. I’m not the best at coming-up with titles, but beats “Incomplete,” right?

Again, both of these poems aren’t very good, but I think looking at my past work and trying to break things down objectively could be beneficial. And, hopefully, I’ve inched just a little bit closer to writing something decent.

 

12-Minute Tales – The Sweater

“That is the ugliest sweater I have ever seen.”

“Why would you say that?”

“Look at it!”

“I know! We know it’s ugly and we know that you know it’s ugly! But it’s the sweater our dad wanted to be buried in so shut-up!” The brothers fell silent as their eyes fell back onto the old man in the coffin.

“Well, if he’s going to wear it it should at least be close-casket.”

“Richard. Shut-up. Okay?”

“Why?”

“Why? Because our father is dead. Show some goddamn respect!”

“I am showing respect. Just not for that damn sweater.”

Damien sighed. “Look, after the funeral tomorrow you can go and we won’t have to see each other ever again. But until then let’s just pretend we’re a normal, friendly fucking family?”

“Why?”

“There’s that why bullshit again.”

“Why bother pretending? Who cares? Everyone knows how messed-up we all are. I just don’t see the point in facades.”

Damien’s face reddened and his hand curled into a fist. Richard saw this and inched backward, but nothing happened. Damien’s hand softened and he breathed out. “I…I don’t…” But Damien just shook his head and walked out, leaving Richard alone with the old man.

Richard peered back into the coffin, his mind immediately scanning the threads of the ugly beige sweater. Their father never told them about the sweater. What it meant. All they knew was from their mother who had told them that it was passed-down to their father from his father. Now it was going to be buried deep into the earth. Never seen again. Richard wondered why their father didn’t leave them the sweater, or anything else of value. But then he quickly remembered and felt silly. Richard wasn’t the sentimental type anyway.

A few moments later Richard stepped outside of the funeral home and saw Damien sitting on the curb nearby, smoking a cigarette. He was tempted to say something to his baby brother, but what? And even if he knew, it was too late. Richard shrugged and drove back to the hotel where he watched football and slipped off to sleep.


Written for First Line Friday.

 

Wholeness

No greater cohesion
Than the coiling of a cape sundew,
Spreading its life across the eyes
Of a mosquito until all becomes
Hidden. A tiny being reshaped,
Disassembled, just as this moment
Becomes something else
In the camera’s chamber. I watch
The video a couple times. The mosquito
Whose silence is rolled deeper
Into the plant’s, doesn’t seem to mean
Anything. The camera simply lingers
As if watching the inevitable waves
Lapping against the rocks. Maybe
There is no conflict here. Just reaction.
The mosquito and the secretions
Of the sundew, extensions of something
Else, reconfiguring beyond the dross
Of tiny wars, a larger thing without
Pain or plan.


Source.

The Nuisance of Dream

I know of others who dream of the stars.
They become quiet monuments
Hovering above the vastness, or the exposed seeds
Of broken fruit, waiting to be.
Soft, blinking memories held together
By infinity–It doesn’t do anything for me.
But I wished it did, sometimes. Those poets
Who can gather stars and connect them
To higher wonders. Or pull the immensity
Down to lesser, more pertinent things.
But I never had that. I look up and just see
A collection of light slapped against
A darkened mass. I don’t feel the wonder,
Nor do I feel the insignificance. I stand
Underneath a hurry of gust. A noise
Comes down the street and silence
Is tossed away. Soon, the stars will
Forget us and forget those who used them
As we slip into shadow. At least I tried,
They will say. At least I tried.

12-Minute Tales – The Politics of Watercolors

“All art is political. This is a bona fide, 100% true fact and nothing can stop me.”

“Um, OK. I wasn’t trying to stop y–”

“See that painting over there.”

“That one?”

“No, the other one! That’s political!”

“Um, I don’t know. It just looks like a mountain to me.”

“Yes, but you’re not looking at the context. You need to read between the lines. Look, this was done during the Civil War! Slavery!”

“Oh, um…”

“And not only that. Guess how this painting was made!”

“Um, with watercolor?”

“Exactly! Trade! Which is what?”

“…I mean I know you want me to say ‘political’ but–”

“Exactly! Political! Exploitation! This was painted by a man! A man who was privileged enough to be able to paint! That in of itself is political.”

“Well, OK. But, I mean. What’s your point? I mean, if all art is political then doesn’t that make the word kinda meaningless?”

“Ha! See? You still don’t get it. You need to open your mind. See the connections between things! Everything is political. You standing there in your skinny jeans is a political act!”

“Right, but aren’t you proving my point though. Like, if everything is political then so what?”

“Hm. Maybe I’m not making myself clear. Here’s a rap that I wrote.”

“Oh no.”

“Yes. Time to get yourself edumicated! Now, give me a beat.”

“Um…no?”

“Come on. I need to open minds by opening ears.”

“That’s not a thing people say.”

“Hey. You know what? I’m trying to educate people. I’m trying to get people to see the world around them instead of the world on their iPods. See, people have the ability to change reality. Through art. Through expression. Through creativity. See what I’m sayin’?”

“…Did you say iPods?”

“See, I wrote an award winning song about how racism is bad. And now, in these troubling times, that song is more important than ever.”

“…how racism is bad? Do you really think people need to be told that?”

“Yeah. Of course! How do you think Trump got into office.”

“Yeah. Ok, but I doubt you’re going to convince people by saying ‘racism is bad, yo’. All you’re doing is preaching to the choir.”

“So, what you’re saying is that it’s hopeless. That one shouldn’t even try?”

“No. No. But, I think what matters is how things are expressed. It’s not enough to say racism is bad. What’s more useful is to show what it is and how it operates. You can do that through symbolism, characterization, whatever.”

“Pfft. Sound like some old stogie in his ivory tower. What matters is expression, man. If it comes from the heart. If it’s true then nothing else matters. Now, here is my rap. It’s called Racism is Straight-Up Wack and the Iraq War Was Kinda Messed-Up Part VI…”

12-Minute Tales – Marcus the Magnificent, Part VI

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V

“Hey! What did you do that for? It’s just me.” Marcus saw Selenious’ face above him at the edge of the ditch. “Need help?”

Marcus didn’t say anything. He was distraught. All of his feelings seemed to have drained from him, seeping into the dirt underneath him. “Come on. Everyone is worried. We can’t go on without you…” Without thinking, Marcus attempted to crawl the side of the ditch. “Give me your hand.” Selenious pulled him out. “You almost hit me you know…what’s wrong?” Marcus sat on the ground. A part of him wanted to pour everything out, but it was pointless. There was no way that he was going home, and it was worthless to complain. In fact, it only hurt more.

“Come on. Let’s join the others. We got to get to those mines!” But then she stopped, her eyes darting over to a nearby tree. “What? Was that your egg that you threw at me?”

Marcus feebly nodded as he got up.

“Marcus! You shouldn’t have done that! It’s your companion!” She marched over toward the base of the tree where Marcus’s egg lied. “Here. Give me your hand.” Selenious sat the egg in Marcus’ glove. “Wait a second. Look.” But Marcus didn’t look, still distraught from, well, everything. “Is that a crack?” Finally, his eyes fell downward and there he saw the thin lines forming, and underneath the lines was movement, growing.

“Marcus, I think it’s hatching!”

His eyes widened. He didn’t know what to think. He had been taught the legends of past heroes and how they met their first companions. And how, quite often, it were the companion creatures that spurred them into great adventures, even when they didn’t want to. A sense of dread washed over him, but at the same time, he couldn’t help but hone in on the vibrations. The push and tug of a life coming to be, all within the palm of his hand. Something…miraculous…