Tuesday, June 14, 2016

More Than Words

I mentioned a while back that I was taking a poetry course, and it went fabulously! I moved on to the second level of the course where we go a little deeper into revisions and the nitty gritty of poetry. It's really helped me not just look at the poem as a whole, but at word choice, too, and how the stanzas flow together.

I wanted to share some of the results with a poem I've been working on for my final project, another "fictionalized" piece (meaning the characters in the poem are just that, fictional characters) that goes along with a novel I'm writing now. It's been roughly 5-6 weeks in the making so far, but hopefully I'm getting somewhere.

More Than Words
Kate I. Foley 

You speak of second chances,
first glances,
redemption and resurrection,
blissfully unaware:
I’m not on my second chance,
but my third, my fourth.
Dealt a bad hand, over and
over and
I’ll flash a smile,
bluff my way past your
well-meaning questions,
hold these cards close to my chest to protect
you from myself.
I’m okay.

Lips tugging,
shoulders shrugging.
I don’t know what you want from me,
But I want you.
You, you, you.
From waves of golden hair fine enough to have been
spun from straw in a fairytale.
From eyes that pierce my soul and make me
feel more human.
From a laugh that is music itself,
Beethoven’s envy,
my favorite song to
sing myself to sleep.
I don’t deserve you.

And yet you’ve borrowed my voice,
transformed it into a piece of artwork
I no longer recognize.
You’ve turned yourself into a mirror,
desperate and delusional,
don’t you see how I see you?
The words lodge
in my throat,
my words.
They are nothing without
a voice to string them through the air,
dangle them where you can
see. I am broken.
Don’t you know what I’ve done?
To you, there’s still hoping.
You think you’ll be the one to
fix this. We can fix this.

Three syllables are so heavy.
I can’t take any more weight on these
aching shoulders. Let me tell you without
words. Let me brush the back of your hand with
my fingertips. Let me tell you with
a smile. Let me drive while you sleep
passenger side. Let me hold you close when
night comes.
Just for a moment.
Only for a moment.
Long enough to tell myself that
maybe, I could
deserve you one day.
Long enough to convince myself that
one day I will be able to carry those words,
and it will be beautiful.

What did you think? If you have any suggestions for me, I'd love to hear them in the comments! Poetry is still definitely my weak point when it comes to writing, so I welcome whatever constructive criticism you have. :)


Boquinha said...

So, first off, this is beautiful. Here are some thoughts off the top of my head.

Why "artwork" versus more simply "art?"

I think you should read this in Lin-Manuel Miranda's voice (just pretend you're free-styling as an acceptance speech or something). I hear a lot of good word use in this right from the beginning.

Three syllables? That part confused me because the italicized line before it was 4. I'm missing something . . .

This is great. It flows really well. I don't know how you can seriously say poetry is your weak point. (I'm assuming it's that novel writing and dialog come more easily for you? I get that. But if you're this good at your weak point, you should feel great.)

Jesse Porter said...

So much weight on so young shoulders. When I was young we were wont to speak highly of 'heavy' things, meaning heavy with meaning, but you seem to refer to things heavy as I think of heavy with age--the cares of life. Your poem made me ache for you--youth ought not be so burdened. Years ago I read The Unbearable Lightness of Being. Art is like that: we stoop to lift art, tense beneath its weight, but find it not so heavy as we thought. In fact, at its best, it reduces the burden of those who create it and those who appreciate it. One hopes that Michelangelo felt the lightness of being when he finished the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. I hope you enjoy the experience of weightlessness when you finish a piece of art.

The Magic Violinist said...


Thank you!

Good point. It's been changed!

Ha, I totally don't do that already . . . That's exactly the kind of inspiration I use when going for good internal rhyme and assonance.

So the three syllables were "I love you," but the entirety of the poem was supposed to represent other ways of saying it without actually saying it at all. :) It was fun to hear a group discussion about that line, because most people thought it was "I love you," but a few people guessed, "I miss you," and one person even went with "I hate you."

Dialogue definitely comes easier for me, no doubt about it. Although oddly enough, screenwriting has always been difficult, too. Thanks to the poetry courses I've taken recently, though, I'm feeling a lot stronger in this area!

@Jesse Porter

Thank you for your thoughtful comment! Art is definitely a form of release for many people, I think. Words can't stay bottled up inside me for long, even if I only get them out of my head into a journal only I'll read. Poetry has been a great way for me to express more complex emotions when I can only put them into imagery rather than simple phrases.