43º ~ the sky still mixed gray and white in the wake of last evening's storms, one small splotch of blue directly in front of me (Update: the blue in front of me expanded to fill the whole window while typing this post, I face the west, woo hoo, good omens)
Oh, Dear Reader, today's draft was a battle hard won.
I did say my mantra last night and I was happy thinking about the drafting time today. It was a long week at work, with lots of grading going on in the afternoons and evenings. I've been fighting off a sense of exhaustion along the way, and all that is normal for this time of year. Also normal is that my ability to concentrate is beginning to fray a bit. So, last night and this morning while I would remind myself that I was going to draft a poem, I couldn't sustain the concentration to think on what I might have to say.
I know this may seem forced to some of you, this prescribed writing time. All I know is that more times than not, it works for me.
This picture of my desk tells the story of the day.
I began with coffee, as always. The paper is green because I'm recycling a bunch of fliers from school. I started by printing out all of my fairy tale poems, which are stacked to the left. I did this in part because I was curious how many I have: 9, but also in part because a poet-editor friend has asked to see some for possible publication and I have promised to do submissions this weekend. Here, I may have gotten completely off course by thinking about what's going on tomorrow instead of today. However, I did remind myself that I have two poems that are more general and don't have the "Fairy Tale for Girls Who..." type of title, but they are clearly part of the same project. Hold that thought.
Next, I listed all the titles in my journal and thought for a bit about doing another tale. Nothing sparked. I thought about the week and why my brain was so jumbled, too much happening in this wild world. A line or two formed: "It's happening again/ the world unraveling... ." I admit I drafted a full poem then, but I wasn't happy with it.
Unsatisfied, I decided to read some poems. You see the latest issue of Barn Owl Review there at the bottom of the pile in the picture and Traci Brimhall's book Rookery. I'm looking forward to both of these reads; however, I started with the journal, and the poems were amazing but I couldn't sink into them, still fretting about a draft. Maybe I needed to stick with poems I knew by heart from poets I'd lived with a long time. So, I called up "The Colonel" by Forche and "Sonnet XVII" by Neruda and did a word bank. I turned to my random number generator and formed pairs. I couldn't believe it...NOTHING! This exercise has rarely failed me and I began to wonder if my tank was simply EMPTY. I turned to Brimhall's book and read the first poem. Wow! I couldn't wait to read this book, but I knew I needed to read it when not trying to write.
Still struggling, I pulled out two inspiration cards and out of desperation simply listed all the images I saw. One of the cards featured a painting of a bull kicking wildly and with its head thrown back. There were a lot of allusions to other countries and to the southern US, but nothing struck me. And then, I wrote, "And so, why not, another tale." But this time, I didn't force the form of the "once there was a girl." Instead, I let myself write about one of my doubts; there are no witches and no prince-charmings in my tales. As I said before, this has been worrying me. And now, there is going to be a movie based on Little Red Riding Hood and making the wolf a werewolf...I think. I've seen the commercial a dozen times this week and I'm still not sure how the tale is being twisted there.
With the images of that beautiful blonde woman in her dramatic red and all the danger hinted at in the commercials, I started the poem that I'm calling "The Contents of Our Fairy Tales." It begins: "No witches. No wolves. / The blood of the cow slaughtered / and dressed is enough for fright."
Enough. The draft and I are a bit scarred today. Only revision will save us, and that's for tomorrow.