On Sequencing a Manuscript of Poems for Lisa

Of all the difficult things I’ve had to do since Lisa died, this is among the hardest. I knew her death would create a sea change in the poems I write, but couldn’t imagine what a group of them would look like. Now I have some idea about that.

I’ve decided to sequence them basically in chronological order, for reasons having more to do with craft issues. The poems that started in October of last year, for ex., are brief and broken. As you might expect. The more recent poems tend toward syllabics, for some reason an eight-syllable line. Only when I started typing it all in did I see what I was unconsciously doing.

Oddly enough, there are also what I’ve come to call “money poems,” drafts that come close to personifying money, specifically great wealth, either as a drug or some other source of temptation. I wondered why I was still writing them; the best answer I have so far is that they remind me of the other subjects on which I worked before Lisa died. There are other drafts that serve the same basic purpose.

It isn’t a terribly difficult thing to do in physical terms, mind; you type and revise, and hope. But these poems are harder for me to work with, for obvious reasons. Honestly, I don’t know how people could want to read them; I’d have a hard time with it myself. still, I’ve got fifty-seven pages for a collection currently without title (although there are a couple of contenders).

Now I give the file a couple of days to see how it incubates, and then hit the Print button. This is another attempt to do something I still believe in; I think poetry remains important, and whether or not this manuscript ever finds a home, it’s necessary to do these things.

Then there’s a prose manuscript. It names names. It’s mean; the raw feed is the journal I’ve kept for decades, so you can imagine. So I’ve been writing, for certain, just not publishing. And now I know why.

But that’s for another piece. For now, just the fact there are several working manuscripts tells me I may have been broken but not beaten. Now we’ll see.


About johnwylam1957

I'm a poet and teacher now living in Toronto, Ontario, Canada.
This entry was posted in Life "After", On Lisa's Death: Trying to Survive the Unsurvivable, Poetry/Fiction, Writing in General. Bookmark the permalink.

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