“I Want to be Careful.”

That’s what Vincent says when he’s about to do something unadvisable. I should’ve remembered that: sometimes what you get is the exact opposite of what you wished for. I said, I could use a break from my child. Instead, my poor boy has come down with another nasty flu bug, and I’ve been home with him the last two days. I’ll spare you the details, but it’s amazing the iron stomach parenthood gives you.

But Vincent is so sorrowful and lethargic, so easygoing even as he’s suffering, it would be monstrous of me to complain.

"Woe woe woe is me."

*

More from Poem, Revised:

...I worked to get to know it. I worked to hear what it had to say. When you revise a poem, think of yourself as listening to it. Strain your ears and screw off your own chatter. For the longest time, I thought I knew that “Lottery” was about despair. Then the poem showed up on my doorstep of its own accord, and I glimpsed something bigger.
–Rasma Haidri

I often find that the poem is smarter than I am. The poem usually waits to reveal what it knows to me in its own time. The poem becomes something far outside me; in fact, I often feel that I am just its servant doing its crazy bidding.
–Lucy Anderton

While the essays differ in the mechanics of revision, and include plenty on that, these excerpts illustrate a perspective most of the poets share. I don’t subscribe to the whole “I’m just a typist transcribing the instructions of my muse” philosophy of writing; my poems are my poems, good and bad. But what these excerpts mean to me is that sometimes you have to get out of your own way. You limit how much you can say in a poem if you can’t get beyond your preconceived idea of “what it’s about”.

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4 thoughts on ““I Want to be Careful.”

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