Thinking about Revision

After a great discussion with poet Rachel Hadas yesterday about some poems I’ve been working on, I’ve been thinking about revision nonstop. One of the funny things about writing is that so much of it takes place in private (often in pajamas). Even if you’re in a workshop, like me, you rarely get to see the nitty gritty of people’s work. Welp. I think this is a problem for several reasons. One – I think we have a lot to learn from one another and not just about our finished products. I’m always really interested in other people’s writing habits and processes. Two – I hadn’t given much thought to my own revision habits until Rachel brought it up. I took out my notebook and showed her a poem that I had been working on. She pulled out some of her notes and did the same. In doing so, I noticed some patterns that I thought were interesting. At the risk of embarrassing myself, I’ve typed up some of the aforementioned notes so that you can get a glimpse into my weird little mind. Hopefully, this will motivate you to think about your own choices. The yellow and white wedding dress I wore
is in the closet, just barely a relic.
How long has it been — and already

——

The yellow and white wedding dress she wore
hangs in the closet, just barely a relic.
How long has it been? A few months? And already,
Charlie has become the things he leaves behind —
a half-eaten baked potatoe

——

The yellow and white wedding dress
hangs in the bedroom closet,
just barely a relic. (and already)
How long has it been? A few months?
And already your husband, the sideman,
becomes the things he leaves behind:
a dirty dish smattered with the memory
of a baked potatoe

——

The yellow and white wedding dress
hangs in the bedroom closet,
just barely a relic.
How long has it been? A few months?
And already your husband, the sideman,
becomes the things he leaves behind:
a dirty dish smattered with the memory
of a baked potatoe he ate after hours
while you were asleep

—–

The yellowing white wedding dress you wore
hangs in the bedroom closet, just barely a relic.
How long has it been? A few months?
And already, your husband, the sideman,
becomes the things he leaves behind:
dirty dishes smattered with the memory
of meals eaten after hours, a pile
of dress shirts reeking of cigarette smoke,
the stench of sweat and

——

The yellowing white wedding dress you wore
hangs in the bedroom closet, just barely a relic.
How long has it been? (A few months?) A handful of months?
And already, your husband, the sideman,
becomes a memory. You claim him
as you collect the things he leaves behind:

——

The yellowing white wedding dress you wore
hangs in the bedroom closet, just barely a relic.
How long has it been? A handful of months?
And already, your husband, the sideman,
becomes a distant rattling downstairs
usually after you’ve already fallen asleep.
(You know he)
The next morning, you know he has come
and gone because of the things left behind:
dirty dishes smattered with the memory
of lonely dinners, dress shirts soaked through
with smoke and sweat, collars marred

—–

The wedding dress you wore yellows
in the bedroom closet, jut barely a relic.
How long has it been? A handful of months?
And already, your husband, the sideman,
becomes a distant rattling downstairs
usually after you’ve already fallen asleep.
Later, you will know he has come
and gone because of the things left behind:
An ashtray that could pass for a garden
of cigarette butts, a pile of dress shirts
reeking of sweat and spilled whiskey,
dishes smattered with the memory
of lukewarm meals. You can’t remember
the last time you feel asleep to the lullaby
(to the sound of his steady breath, your lullaby)
of his steady breath

—–

The wedding dress you wore yellows
in the bedroom closet, just barely a relic.
How long has it been? A handful of months?
And already, your husband, the sideman,
is a distant rattling downstairs,
a disturbance of knocked lamps
and stubbed toes, a passing shade
dragged in after late night jam sessions.
Later, you know he has come
and gone because of the ruins left behind:
An ashtray that could pass for a garden
of cigarette butts, a pile of dress shirts
reeking of sweat and spoiled whiskey,
dishes smattered with the memory
of lukewarm meals.

—–
The wedding dress you wore yellows
in the bedroom closet, barely a relic.
How long has it been? A handful of months?
And already, your husband, the sideman,
is a distant rattling downstairs, a presence
made of knocked over lamps, announced
by muffled curse words and stubbed toes
after shows and late night jam sessions.
Later, you know he has come and gone
because of the ruins left behind –
an ash tray that could pass for a garden
of cigarette butts, a pile of slacks and dress shirts
reeking of sweat and spilled whiskey,
dishes smattered with the memory of lukewarm meals.
You can’t remember the last time you fell asleep
to the lullaby of his steady breathing
and so you lay claim to your husband
as you clean up in the midst of his absence.

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