January 28, 2006

Saturday Poetry Revision

Thanks to all who wrote comments and sent emails to give me feedback on the poem I posed yesterday. Here is the latest version, written just minutes ago. I think it's getting closer to what I need for the manuscript. I am heading to the ski slopes for the day but feel free to workshop my poem while I am gone.



Planks splinter the soles of teenagers
who escape jangling heat by climbing below piers
to sneak kisses that shift gritty hills.

She knew this.

She came at dawn, shivering,
through a ruffle of gulls, pigtails loosened by sleep.
How urgent that wet sand suck of toes.

Wooden beams stretched high above her head.
Shadows giggled across her face.
Waves rushed against ancient timbers.

How soft the mounds of sand that awakened as she wriggled
brown thighs brushed with glittering grains
below a bathing suit line of foam white.

How she trembled then
at warm breath of wind
at tickle of fingers

a riptide she could not escape.



parodie said...

I like the changes - this feels like a much clearer and more powerful image.

BrightStar said...

Both are filled with great imagery. The second one is extremely intense.

Most of all, though, I think it's very brave of you to put a poem out into the world, take feedback from blog friends and strangers, and show us where you let the feedback take the poetry. How neat! Thanks for sharing some of your work with us in this way.

Hypatia said...

The first one had some sexual overtones I thought, but it was more left to the imagination. To me the last two lines really make it explicit. I liked that element better in the first one,but I think it depends on what you're after.

zelda1 said...

A very nice poem. I like the metaphor of the riptide. Way cool. Reminds me of a summer during 1969 spend at Galveston and a boy with sun bleached hair and sun tanned skin. His lips were so soft and his breath so fresh, and when he kissed me I thought I was going to pass out. But then, my nephew found us and yelled that awful first comes love rhyme that kids so often do to embarrass the young lovers. But the summer love lasted the entire summer, and part of the fall and winter through long love letters. Then I met the boy with the fast car.

Wadena said...

Oh gosh, second version MUCH better.

(Cat piss really jangled.)

Why bathing suit and not just swim suit?

Good work, just the right level of sexual innuendo.

Mary Stebbins Taitt said...

I agree the the new version is much better, much closer to where the poem wants to go.

I think the first stanza is a little prosaic. Can you say the same things in anotrher way--look at the language in that stanza. It's not as musical as the language in the rest of the poem.

I do like the inversion of the syntax in several points including the first stanza.

What if you put the third stanza first, then the first stanza (revised)? I'm not saying to do that, only to consider it.

I love the awakening mounds of sand! LOL!

What if it were traces of fingers rather than tickles? Or--consider another word perhaps. Or not.

I'm still not sure about the last line. The image is important to the poem, but now it seems to hang in space like a sore thumb.

Have you tried free-writing on this topic loooking for some new images to add? It may need to be short, just a glimpse like this, or it may need to expand a little.

It's deinitely imporved and evocative! XOX

ppolarbear said...


bridgett said...

Good changes, all. This feels true to me, except she seems very sandy for a girl who had just woken up and gotten down to the beach. It might be literal of me, but under-boardwalk sand is damp and a little clumpy -- and if she's laying down, the sand's on her butt, not on the tops of her thighs. I like the allusion to the riptide warning signs.

Friday Mom said...

I like the changes. Thanks for letting see you re-work this. Fascinating!

listmaker said...

I like the changes.

Rob Helpy-Chalk said...

I dunno if I like the direction this is going, but I have never kibitzed the poetry writing process before.

The shift to the girl's perspective comes sooner. There is really only one sentence establishing the scene and then we are in her shoes. I liked it before when we sort of slid into her shoes.

Also the line where the perspective shifts, "She knew this," is too hard. I hear something go thunk there.

Also, I don't like it without the for...for...for structure. You do have three how's, but they don't structure the poem. Instead the poem just follows the narrative. Its more readable, but dull.

Good lines:
"How urgent that wet sand suck of toes."
"How soft the mounds of sand that awakened as she wriggled"

Bad line:
"Wooden beams stretched high above her head."

oliviacw said...

This version is definitely clearer in many ways, bravo!

I've been trying to figure out why I didn't like the "escape jangling heat" line since the first version, and I think it's because I don't like "escape". It sounds too definite, and I think a more tentative verb might be better. Would you consider "flee" instead?

The declarative statements in the "wooden beams" stanza are also rather bland. I'd like them better inverted as adjectival/adverbial phrases that would echo "wet sand suck of toes":

"Long wooden beams high above her head.
Giggling shadows across her face.
Rushing waves against ancient timbers."

Sarah Sometimes said...

First, to echo brightstar, bravo to you for putting your work out there for others to see and comment on. I love the poem, but like Rob, I like the first, more ambiguously suggestive version better. In the first version, I found the last couplet very powerful--it had a sense of arriving somewhere we almost knew we were going. The sexual moment felt visceral and also large, compelling. (God, it's hard to write intelligently about either sex or poetry!). In the new version, there's no thrill or revelation. I definitely don't like either "tickling" or "fingers." And overall I like the more distant perspective of the first version, so that we are more watching the scene than in it, until the end.

jo(e) said...

Thanks for all the helpful comments everyone. In some ways this version is rougher than the last one, but I think I am getting a better idea of what I want to do with it now.

Eventually I'll have another draft to post some Friday ....

Bitty said...

I'm with Hypatia and Rob and Sarah Sometimes and anyone else who said they prefer the original couplet ending.

And like Rob I also miss the "for...for...for" structure.

Like several others, I think you're very brave to let the WholeWideWorld get in on your writing process.

And as you implied you would be doing, I think putting it all aside and letting it steep for a while would be wise. Don't let our comments influence you too much!

DaniGirl said...

Wow, jo(e) - the poem is good, but the process is fascinating. How brave of you to open yourself and your work up like this. I'm not sure my skin would be nearly thick enough! (And oops, sorry I missed Poetry Friday this week - it was a crazy week.)

halloweenlover said...

My favorite line:
brown thighs brushed with glittering grains

Wow. Just wow.

The only thing I thought, was that a girl who wore pig tails was a little young to be going under the boardwalk. Does this just show how naive I am?

jo(e) said...

Halloweenlover: Well, that is part of what I am struggling with ... I need the poem to be about a girl who is still pretty young -- it's supposed to be about the awakening of sexual feeling -- but it's hard to convey her having sexual feelings and thoughts -- and yet make it clear that she is not actually having sex. Every version I've done so far has ended up too sexual. Trying to make poetry less sexual is sort of like trying to make a joke less funny. It's tricky.

halloweenlover said...

I've been thinking about that. I see your point, because yes, I imagined she was having sex. How about adding a line about newness, or forbidden, or inexperienced something something? It has been years since I tackled poetry.

I love this though.