Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Anatomy of a Poem

This is the journal drafting of Autumn's Effort (Revisited). The text that was crossed out during drafting is in brackets. Yes, I know the American spelling of gray is with an "a".

Drafting images

at the pool

The trees disembody
their [hands of light]
handspans of light
that brighten and fade as they
[twist] sing twisting to
the ground

[grey sky]

I'm walking on a sky of
glowing orange and yellow
pieced together by
clouds of light that hug and hold
each other in wetness

More drafting

There is no sun
above but only the grey
[sidewalk of sky] yet
thousands of suns [whisper] sigh to the
sky at my feet
handspans of light,
hugging and holding
in wetness

Dark [veins reaching] venous limbs
multiply toward the [pavement sky]
shifting grey pavement sky

[feathers falling]

sigh to the sky of wet
holding and hugging stars
blanketing beneath my feet

Draft 2
As dark venous limbs multiply
[upward] toward the tetonic [grey]
pavements [of sky above] of grey sky

handspans of light
sigh downward, dimming and brightening
[as they] in their spin through
what must feel like infinity

Draft 3[As] Venous limbs [multiply] strain
[toward the tetonic pavements of
grey sky] and multiply toward grey skies

handspans of light
sigh downward, [featherlight silence] each
a featherlight silence

an elegy
of [history] the history,
seed to sun

Draft 4Venous limbs strain and
multiply toward [grey skies] the grey sky


handspans of light sigh downward

each [of] a featherlight

a brief elegy
of the history,
seed to sun

Draft 5

Venous limbs strain
toward grey skies

perspiring handspans of light

[each sigh] a rippling downward
in featherlight silence

[brief] elegies
of seed to sun

Draft 6

Venous limbs strain toward
gray skies
and perspire hand-spans of orange light.

Each hand-span ripples downward
in feathery silence,

an elegy
of seed-to-leaf.

I finished this poem, posted it (as you know) and still didn't quite like it. So here is round two. I'm not going to illustrate the cuts because there's too many. Here are the uncut ideas.

Drafting images/thoughts

falling flame

each handspan a falling flame

what work rains falling flames

and endless desire to reach till afire?

What alchemy? Desire into fire?

What are you reaching for?

Reaching for infinity, crying tears of fire.

All effort aching for divinity rains falling flames

Aching for divinity makes flames of falling pain.

Does all aching for divinity rain falling flames?

Wrench desire into falling fire?

What desire cracks a seed

What desire cracks a seed and bleeds a tree

Upteenth draftMore brackets for cut text.

What [desire] longing swells a seed
and pains a tree [to force] to reach
with venous hands, [and] to
perspire handspans of
orange light?

Does all aching for divinity
[rain falling flames]
wrench pain into falling flames?

Upteenth draft and a half

What longing [swells a seed and
pains a tree] pains this tree
to reach with venous limbs,
to perspire handspans of
orange light!

Does all aching for divinity
wrench desire into falling fire?



  1. Ah, E, this is good stuff. I doubt I can give anymore praise than what's already come, but I'll say that it's good to see the kernels from which your poem sprang, and... fuck, you've got me thinking in extended metaphors, man. Point is: it's cool to see how you pruned th--- o' Gawd.

    Above all, I just want to wish you and the missus a happy Thanksgiving (and, *ahem*, if you dig Ry Cooder, I've got some stuff to be thankful for. Jah?).

    All the best,

  2. Much thanks MM! Happy Thanksgiving to you, too.

    I appreciate your comments on this. I didn't think everyone would care to see this mind stream, but thought: what the hell.

  3. Pardon the liberties I took, but I couldn't let the cut words go to waste. I left the order the same:

    Hands of light twist grey sky—
    sidewalk of sky.
    Whisper veins reaching—
    pavement sky.
    Feathers falling upward—
    grey of sky
    Above, as they as…
    multiply toward the tectonic
    pavements of grey sky.

    Featherlight silence,
    grey skies of each sigh,
    brief desire to force rain.
    Falling flames swells,
    a seed and pains, a tree.

    Anyway, it's really cool to see the progression. Also neat how you intertwined your threads.

    Hope you are as full of pie as I am.

  4. What I think is fascinating about your progression is that all of the internal churning you put down on paper led you to image-questions rather than answers. The finished poem both represents those questions, and serves as a compass, pointing into the reader, guiding toward possible answers.

  5. Full of coolness. Thanks for posting this. When I scanned it a few days ago, I frowned because it was so long, but leaped after reading it, today. It was worth reading through. I like it. I know this part is at teh beginning but it reached out to me:
    pieced together by
    clouds of light that hug and hold
    each other in wetness.
    I really do like your mind pattern in this whole draft work thing. Fine job broseph. Miss you. Hug.

  6. "what desire cracks a seed and bleeds a tree" is epic. But whatevs.

  7. Thanks, Sundance. I miss that line, but I just couldn't figure out how to work it in.

  8. amazing work----such diligence births such talent.

  9. I've said it before -- I lOVE your poetry,cut text and all...Have you been submitting any of it anywhere? Cause you should consider it, seriously.