My writing hasn’t been progressing as well as I’d like this month, but I have been thinking more about last month’s poem and now have a version three (the other two are here if you want to compare: Poetry Revision). The strange part of poetry is that there are two meanings in a poem: The one the writer intended, and the one the reader hears. Then there is always the third meaning – the one the poem wants to be.
When I started this poem I had something I wanted to say. Then others read it and told me what they heard me say. Then I read the poem again and find it speaking it ways I hadn’t intended – in ways I hadn’t considered. The poem had taken its own path and I become merely the reporter.
The greatest lesson a poet can learn is to be true to the poem. Be faithful to message the words are bringing to life, take yourself out, and let the poem be what it needs to be. Let the words and images guide your pen.
In this third version of the poem, I found that some words wanted back in, and some wanted a change. I can’t fully explain my choices here – this isn’t a science, it’s an art – a mystery. All I can do is to offer the words and hope I have been true to the needs of the poem.
The Words That Don’t Define Me
Words, we use them as tools,
to describe ourselves,
and other people,
to mold them into the shape we need.
Cancer patients become warriors.
They bravely fight the battle.
They survive and have great faith,
and are loving
with a great sense of humor.
The stories all say,
the newspapers all print,
so we can easily mourn the fallen soldier
who died bravely in battle.
I am not that person.
I have a cancer:
a disease, a growth.
I am not the warrior bravely fighting.
I am the battlefield where doctors launch their weapons.
I survive because I don’t die.
Say what comforts you, but
today I am
doing what I must,
because I fear death
more than the doctor’s needle.
That is it for this poem. It is moving to my done file as I move on to other poems.
and other writing.
Till next time,