Richard Krawiec, in a reaction to the “write a poem a day” challenges that arise when National Poetry Month draws near, posted on Facebook, “Here’s a challenge probably nobody will take me up on…” and proceed to incite poets to write one poem on April 1st and revise it 29 times. I’m not sure how many poets accepted the challenge, but it was more than just a handful.
I have a fondness for the write a poem a day thing. I’ve done it twice, self publishing the resulting chapbook each time. I think the second collection is better than the first. I spent more time revising them, more time arranging them. There are a couple in the first book that probably need to be taken out back and beaten. Just a little. Even so, this kind of thing is well-suited to the way I write, which is in a flood, which means I leave a big fucking mess everywhere and usually don’t have the patience to clean it up. (See also, the eight novels I’ve written that have “won” National Novel Writing Month and are probably never going to be edited into anything resembling an actual novel.)
I wasn’t going to take Richard up on his challenge. I’m not writing much. I sure as hell don’t revise much. It’s all brain work I don’t have the brain for at the moment as my brain is occupied with being dysthymic and raging and stressed out. All of which is to say, why the fuck not.
I didn’t think about it at work today other than to have a few random words come to mind. I don’t know what those words were. I didn’t write them down, and I’m pretty sure I didn’t use them. But I knew yesterday what the title of the poem was. “The Rubber Bands Are Heading in the Right Direction.” This is a fortune cookie fortune I found while cleaning the living room a couple weeks ago. Not from a cookie I consumed. I’d have remembered that fortune. It’s possibly the strangest thing I’ve ever seen come out of a cookie. The thing may have just been left lying there by a passing fortune cookie fortune fairy, I don’t know. But it’s been sitting on my desk since I found it. I don’t know what the hell it means. That’s part of why I like it. So I’m going to play with it until it either does something interesting, something useful, or just breaks (like an old rubber band?). Because that’s what I do.
The first draft is written. It’s a mess. The essence of the poem is rage (surprise), but there’s a great deal of silliness in the way right now. The line breaks are all wrong. But somehow I’m already in love with the thing. Part of that, I suppose, is the image I have of all these rubber bands lined up like ICBMs ready to pop the next poor fuck who gets on my nerves. You’ve been popped by a rubber band when it breaks, haven’t you? That shit hurts. If you’ve never had this tragedy befall you, well. Aren’t you lucky. Go find a rubber band that’s just beginning to get crumbly and try to put it around something that’s just beyond its capacity. Then come back and we can talk about it.
Will I actually revise the poem 29 times? I don’t know. It may not need that many before I realize it’s worthless dreck and give up. The plan is to revise it in drips and drops. First things first, cut the silly-ass first line: “oh, snap.” Yeah, I wrote that. Not proud of it, but I’ll own it. After all, the rubber bands are heading in the right direction. Which means, they’re not aimed at me.