Monday, May 24, 2010

Really really stuck on a poem

I've been working on a new poem for the manuscript and I'm really stuck--more stuck than I've ever been. Usually when this happens I just throw a poem in a drawer and forget about it for a year....but I have a little deadline on this one. I submitted an early draft of it to the journal terrain.org and the editor told me he liked it, but it needed to be revised (he's absolutely right). So, I need to get it to him soon, but the more I work on it, the worse it gets. I've shown it to two poet friends, both of whom gave me good advice, but that's not getting me there either. I;ve tried all the revision tricks I know...even tried turning it into an extended haiku at one point, but that was just pathetic.

Here it is, in its current, sad mutation. If anyone has any advice, please, post away!


Liveaboard

Sleeping at the dock,
curled in the v-berth
is like living
again in a womb—
all motion, and muffled
sound—
is that someone
speaking out there?
It’s a skin
separating us from the cold
waters of the world.
Inside it’s soft light
and a worn quilt,
wrapping us in warmth.

And like a ripened womb,
the boat is made to empty
us into the world.
Every few days,
we emerge,
heads rising up
out of the hatch,
to a new world,
a new marina, a new cove,
unfamiliar trees,
and water with new
hazards to learn.
We will cut our tether,
once again,
and let go
into the rush of current
flushing us swiftly,
out to sea,
out into the world
of large waters
where anything can happen.

In the moment
before leaving, we always
hesitate.
I stand on deck,
feeling the hum of the belly
beneath me, hand
on the umbilicus of line,
hesitating, hesitating—
wanting to slip
back below, curl up,
and sleep
in the belly of safe.
But also loving
the whole new world
just around the next
shoreline.

3 comments:

Homeric Geek said...

I love the images, the idea and that feeling of uncertainty about the "next shoreline." The current draft reads like prose with very tight margins (a prose poem?). What I feel it needs is more rhythm. Have you tried playing with a meter? Perhaps, applying a meter that mimics the rocking of a boat in water - just as a starting point. Maybe that will bring something out for you. I like the idea that the water in which the boat floats reflects the water of the womb, and both are affected by so many things.
Hope that helps even a little and hope you get it in the shape you want it in before the deadline.

Laurie said...

Sleeping at the dock,
curled in the v-berth
is like living
again in a womb—

~~"again" seems awkward as it is. Maybe moving it up next to 'living' would help?

all motion, and muffled

~~"all" seems weak. Perhaps something like 'rolling'?

sound—
is that someone
speaking out there?
It’s a skin
separating us from the cold
waters of the world.
Inside it’s soft light

~~"it's" twice here. Maybe reconsider one?

and a worn quilt,
wrapping us in warmth.

~~"and a worn quilt" seems a bit contrived. Maybe move up the "wrapping..." line after "It's a skin" and lose the quilt altogether?

And like a ripened womb,
the boat is made to empty

~~"made"? Is this exactly what should be here?

us into the world.
Every few days,
we emerge,
heads rising up
out of the hatch,
to a new world,
a new marina, a new cove,
unfamiliar trees,

~~"unfamiliar trees" is a mouthful and doesn't anchor (haha) much of anything in the big picture.

and water with new
hazards to learn.
We will cut our tether,
once again,
and let go

~~Maybe do an "and" and-putation. They are piling up.

into the rush of current
flushing us swiftly,
out to sea,
out into the world
of large waters
where anything can happen.

In the moment
before leaving, we always

~~"always" is dispensible

hesitate.
I stand on deck,

~~Switched to present-tense?

feeling the hum of the belly
beneath me, hand
on the umbilicus of line,

~~"umbilicus" is a given and does not easily roll off the tongue. Perhaps a 'cord' could be tossed in there?

hesitating, hesitating—
wanting to slip
back below, curl up,
and sleep
in the belly of safe.

~~"of safe" is dispensible.

But also loving
the whole new world

~~"whole" could go. It would also emphasize the 'new world' idea.

just around the next
shoreline.

~~This is such a great idea for a poem. Hope I have been of some help. Good luck.
Laurie

Emily said...

Sweet you guys--thank you! I like all of the suggestions you made. Laurie, thanks for working so hard on this...what a gift. :-)