Friday, August 24, 2018

A poem published today

I'm pleased to share news that my friends at the Poetry Barn noticed a poem I'd recently revised and asked me if I'd like to submit it for publication in their community zine, the Poetry Distillery. Of course!

I've taken online poetry classes there for nearly three years now, exploring form, meter, elegy, image, revision, women poets, the ode. This particular poem, Dear Hope, Although, emerged in response to a comunnity-wide prompt: write a letter to hope. The circumstance described in the poem had just occurred, and so did the poem.

When I had another look at my original stanzas, I found the poem "explainy". I cut away extraneous bits and reduced the stanza from quatrain to tercet. Now I have a poem where my practice with compression, image, line breaks, rhythm, and sound comes to bear.

I haven't posted much since my attention has turned to poetry. One reason is that I've taken the conversation "underground" into my coursework. Another is that many publishers refuse poems that have appeared on the internet in any prior form. To avoid that conundrum, I'm keeping my unpublished work off my blog.

That said, someone might be interested in this poem's evolution. Here's the original draft I wrote and shared "in the moment" late in 2015. The revised poem sheds 61 of these words while keeping the poem's spark. Comparison of the two is a good measure of how much I've been reading and writing to find my way into poetry.

Again, the published version is Dear Hope, Although.

For fun, here's the original (not terrible) draft:

[Dear Hope, although]

Dear Hope, although
you and I have become
estranged, I write with
something of an inkling.

Picture this: in early light
I wake up with my left hand
on my right breast, scratching.
As consciousness returns,

the burn of insect travels
from nerve to brain.
On my nipple?
Fear of vulnerable tissue

hardening into a welt
stills my hand. Instead
my nails discover a trail
of bites--mosquito? in December?

After supping on my arm,
it must have walked, pausingly,
across my upper back, rounding
my collarbone to crawl under.

On thread legs, the invader
stumbles tipsy across my nipple's
cobbled surface, leaving
a tiny chemical pebble

I can feel but cannot see.
I scratch the other sites
bloody but find forbearance
to leave my breast alone.

And that is why, Hope,
as December ends
I return to you. If I can
not scratch that bite

of deepest invasion,
what else might I hope
to accomplish in a
brand new year?

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