Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Draft Notes: One Confession

56º ~ sweet return of sun and Southern breezes, the joy of living beneath the snow line (with apologies to any readers feeling the weight of snow and icy bite of air) ~ what leaves that remain on any hardwood trees are brown and marked by last week's freeze, the privets though, go on waving their green leaves ~ taunt or celebration?

The last poem I drafted in all seriousness seems to be dated July 11. Holy quiet periods, Cat Woman! Today's return to drafting follows my every pattern from quiet periods before. I spent the last four days (since my grades were all turned in) dealing with pesky tasks, endless to-do lists around the house, and other mundane duties. One might ask, why not jump right in to poetry? For me, it doesn't work that way. After a long time away from the page, I have to clear the decks of as much dross as possible. Otherwise, it lingers in my peripheral vision.

In any case, I put on my instrumental music, gathered my coffee and watered down OJ, my dark chocolate topped butter biscuits, a random book from my to-read pile, and my journal, and I began. After reading several poems from a book I won't name because I wasn't reading it so much as using it to ignite the day, I thought I had a line or two, and I went to the journal. I scratched out most of a poem, one about the angry sisters. I turned to the computer and finished a draft, but per my usual experience when returning to the page after a long silence, it was painful, sluggish, stilted, more apt to prose than poetry. Still I pushed through and printed the dreaded thing off.

I made another cup of coffee, picked up the book again, and this time admitted my intent, gathering words instead of reading poems. Sure enough, after getting about thirty random words on the page of my journal (chosen from all different pages in the book and dropped randomly on the page), I started seeing sparks, started drawing circles and arrows around combinations, in particular the combination of "skull," "raft," and "detour."

And then, the real poem draft of the day presented itself. It begins:

His skull a raft, a wreckage,
our father plummets into fragments,
takes a perpetual detour to the past.

It is a poem that deals with a difficult subject, and it is confessional. In this case the drafting was hard because it caused me to have to admit something about myself that puts me in a not so great light, but there it is on the page just the same. And this time, I felt a satisfaction in the working of the lines, a liveliness in the words.

This poem, which I've titled "One Confession" for now, will need more revision and then it will take a bit of courage to send out to the world.


Kathleen said...

I understand clearing the decks as a necessary part of the process! So glad you are drafting again.

Sandy Longhorn said...

Thanks, Kathleen!