Earth spinning, Size Matters & how to mutilate a poem

After reading Rod Usher poems and Kathy Callaway’s brilliant metaphors (“Weather could enter you, the way spiked rods pulled down lightning, the planet unraveling”) I lay awake in the night burning with the desire to do what I’ve never done before: write a halfway decent poem. It sounded fine in my head but on paper, it drifted like the ash of burning newspaper on an April wind. My first draft got one rave review from a friend, and a very kind critique from a poet who I am sure would prefer not to be publicly credited with his encouragement:

Size Matters

We live on a ball of rock hurtling through space–

How do all those two-legged creatures down under hold on?

Even if earth could bunch up its muscles and shake us off

like Fido and his bath water, we’d stick tighter than cockle burs

to earth’s tough hide, through

no effort nor merit of our own,

nor by the grace of God, but by gravity, the one invisible force

science can prove, so

How can this be?

Picture a bowling ball cruising through the sky,

people standing firm along its sleek black curves:

size matters.

Inflate the ball to ridiculous size and mass,

Deflate two-leggers to their rightful minute rank,

and the surface flattens in relation to human smallness

as the immense ball of rock spins along,

churning inside, rumbling and occasionally erupting,

dutifully sailing through seasons ’round the sun–

Though it wasn’t always so orderly,

this movement of the spheres,

nor did a calculating watch-maker set it all in place;

Sagan set me straight, boldly

pointing out craters on the moon’s shocked white face,

testament to the violence, the disorder, the incomprehensibly huge celestial bodies

clashing and smashing in their breathless circuit around a gravitational star;

and a smiling, reverent Carl spoke in a hushed sort of thrill

of countless casualties, deductibles, claims,

rocks that lost the race,

before our systematic sun god could take a breath,

shining out there on center stage,

nod at the neat and tidy

orbit of the planets and moons, and say,

as if he’d planned it this way

all along,

“It was good.”

 

My trusty poet friend wrote: “I like your poem, esp. the moon´s shocked white face, Fido and bathwater image, the sun on center stage, size mattering. It´s probably got too much in it, a bit overstacked, but congrats, welcome to the club. One test you might apply, and it works for all writing but especially poetry, is what can I delete? Every single word or line that isn´t crucial must cut. And be hard on repeat words (i.e. ball four times). But…I enjoyed reading it, which the end test. Onwards and upwards!

Version Two, he hasn’t seen. Friend #1 said: “I like the first version better. Especially the opening. This one throws me off a bit, not sure why.” Well, I know why: I ruined it! Instead of trimming out words, I added words, and explained myself more.

Size Matters – Version #2

We live on a rock that spins like a top on speed,

lightspeed,

simultaneously driving laps around the sun,

a year every time that circuit is done.

We ride on a bowling ball cruising the sky,

people standing firm along its sleek black curves:

How do all those two-legged creatures down-under hold on?

Even if earth could bunch up its muscles and shake us off

like Fido and his bath water, we’d stick tighter than cockle burs

to earth’s tough hide, through

no effort nor merit of our own,

nor by the grace of God, but by gravity, the one invisible force

science can prove.

How do we adhere?

Inflate the ball but not us to supersize.

The surface flattens

in relation to human smallness

and the granite orb spins along,

churning inside, rumbling, occasionally erupting,

marking seasons ’round the sun—

Though it wasn’t always so orderly,

this movement of the spheres,

nor did a calculating watch-maker set it all in place;

Sagan set me straight, boldly

pointing out craters on the moon’s shocked white face,

testament to the violence, the disorder,

incomprehensibly huge celestial bodies

clashing and smashing in their breathless circuit around a gravitational star;

billions of years later,

riding invisible electromagnetic waves into our homes,

a smiling, reverent Carl in a hushed sort of thrill

revealed the countless casualties,

rocks that lost the race,

before our systematic sun god could take a breath,

shining out there on center stage,

nodding, now, at the neat and tidy

orbit of the planets and moons,

and say,

as if he’d planned it this way

all along,

“It was good.”

 

 

And so the world turns.

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About carolkean

novelist, reviewer, editor, book critic for Liberty Island and Perihelion Science Fiction; native prairie/guerilla gardener; champion of liberty, indie authors & underdogs; one of the top two reviewers in Editors &Preditors Poll 2015; Amazon Vine, NetGalley Top Reviewer
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