HOLLY DAY : Telling It
JANET I. BUCK : Death's Cookie Crumbs
PAUL HOSTOVSKY : On Repetition and Revision
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093POEMq1 Death's Cookie Crumbs On Repetition and Revision  
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Telling It
the real ticket to making it is to just live longer than everyone around me, find some group of starry- eyed youngsters that don't know any better, easily wowed by nostalgic stories of once being lovers with, or at least getting to hang out with the true shining stars of the scene, perhaps even writing a book about it all someday
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I have many things to write unto you but   I will not write with pen and ink
--JOHN the theologian

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093POEMq1 Death's Cookie Crumbs On Repetition and Revision  
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Death's Cookie Crumbs
It was all there.
Unwanted trinkets of discernible grief.
Half-full bottles of Nina Ricci,
a kitten collar hollering
about death's ninth life removed,
still aching with its slithering like
rattlesnake post-mortem shakes.
Unmatched sets of china with gold leaf sand
on edges of their roughened lips.
Two heating pads without their cords.
Unopened tins of sugar cookies
meant to bring your taste buds songs.
A rickety trellis from patio slats--
skeletons without their ribs
starving for a breast of flowers.
Old garter belts and garden hats.
Rusted clocks and picture frames
with question marks of family
in dingy curled brown sepia.
New slippers in a plastic bag.
I wanted your feet, your sense of earth.

Spools of thread and mixing bowls.
A gravy boat with missing ladles of your hands.
Decks of cards without their Aces,
teapots, wind chimes of the Fall.
I wished you back--trading a dollar
for swallowed teeth.
But the tooth-fairy didn't show.
And issues weren't negotiable.
Half-burned candles aching
for a striking match. Aprons with
their broken strings in shapes
that fit around your waist.
The old mink stole
that kept your cat in happy land.
A shower cap with mold inside--
elastic stretched like aging flesh.
A bird cage with its hinges loose.
We couldn't weed the useless out.

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093POEMq1 Death's Cookie Crumbs On Repetition and Revision  
POETRY requires a mature audience ENTER only if you are 18+ under 18? GoTo Games
On Repetition and Revision

I went through a phase once where everything turned into sestinas. I was in love with the form, under the spell of its repetition. There is much pleasure to be had in repetition—we all know that—and yet doing something over and over again, as good as it may feel, can also be bad for you, not to mention bad for your poem. Paul Fussell says in his book, Poetic Meter and Poetic Form, that the trouble with sestinas is they tend to give more pleasure to the contriver of the form than to its apprehender. I would agree with that, having written many sestinas myself, and having gotten much pleasure out of all of them, and having gotten none of them published.

Repetition is many things: rhetorical, humorous, incantatory, sexual. Rub-a-dub-dub. And just as there is a time and a place for sex, there is also a time and a place for repetition. That being said, some people like to have sex in odd places and at odd times. And some people like to have sex all the time. And some people just don't like sex at all, and don't see what all the fuss is about. Fussell says nothing about the fuss over sex in his book on poetic meter and poetic form, but I think he would have to agree that sex and meter are inextricably related. For example, intercourse is often delightfully trochaic. However, rereading this paragraph now, I notice that I've used the word sex at least 8 times. That's a bit excessive, don't you think? A good English teacher would surely say that using sex 8 times in the same paragraph is a bit excessive. S/he might even say it's an example of pure prurience, or incontrovertible incontinence on the part of the writer who has sex on the brain, not to mention very bad writing to boot. S/he would probably tell me to revise.

When I revise—and I revise constantly—I often struggle with the repetition question. When I'm in the first draft of a poem, when I'm under its spell, the use of repetition can propel me forward, can feel central to the poem's movement and invention, its argument and rhythm. But sometimes when I return to the same poem later on, the repetition has lost its magic, lost its fire, and it feels like returning to a bunch of empty beer cans and used condoms at a campsite, evidence that somebody had some fun here at some point in time recently, but there's no fun now and in fact there's a lot of cleaning up that needs to be done.

I know I'm repeating myself here, but getting back to the sex analogy, one could argue that both the sexual impulse and the repetition impulse—the urge, the itch—partake of the same subtle brand of insanity. And one could also argue that in the making of great poems there is a certain amount of, well, teetering on the edge, and flirting with madness, through the sleeve of the imagination. You have to be a little crazy, after all, to make poems. And the repetition can get you in the mood, it can get you going, it can make you crazy enough to fall in love with the words. Which is what a good poem is, after all: an act of love. And it's hard to go back and revise something as irrational as an act of love.


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You Take Advantage of My Good MoodTOP Telling It©  HOLLY DAY .
Death's Cookie CrumbsMID  Death's Cookie Crumbs©  JANET I. BUCK .Among my favorite BUK poems, 'Cookie' is resurrected from v01.08
On Repetition and Revision]BTM On Repetition and Revision ©  PAUL HOSTOVSKY . Coming soon: Poet Paul Hostovsky's featured poems, "unlikely love poems"
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