Tuesday, June 9, 2009

The Nation Decides

Oh this is ridiculous. Poetry reading coming up on Thursday and I’ve decided I need to rewrite most of the poems I planned to read, which obviously isn’t going to be possible. Also, I haven’t got any funny ones. Well, I have got one, but it’s about how to turn yourself into a poisonous snake so won’t be everyone’s cup of tea. And I have decided I want to take the opportunity to get in a few M.E. poems – two of them are ok, but there is one where I can’t decide which version works best.

So, dear Reader Peeps, this is where you come in: I’ll put up both and you decide which one gets your vote. I could also do with a decent title, if one suggests itself to you. Thanking you in advance for doing a beleaguered Sign-reader a good turn, and – who knows – I might do the same for you one day.

Version One

I am your litmus paper, if you like;
watch my colour turn from live to nothing
and that should tell you something.

I am your singing canary, let’s say,
that goes before you into darkness,
and when the music stops, you know.

I am closer than you think.
You may have sensed me:
a coldness in the limbs;
the odourless lips of a still-born rose.

I am trying to tell you things,
but I only have this language:
a bloodless complexion;
this deathly silence.

Version Two

I am your litmus paper, if you like;
watch my live colour turn to nothingness.

I am your singing canary, let’s say,
that goes before you into darkness.

I am closer than you think.
You may have sensed me.

I am trying to tell you things
but have only this language –
a coldness in the limbs,
this deathly silence.

18 comments:

Mim said...

Version One!

Title:

Watch and Listen

Closer

Cusp said...

Version Two

'Encroaching'

Nicola said...

Version Two. Title: Testing (it having more than one meaning). Might you consider changing 'nothingness' for 'pallor', rhyming with colour, contrasting with darkness? But then you didn't ask for this and is maybe too obvious anyway.

willow said...

Signs, I 'hovered' between the two versions, both have merit (as you will know :)), but eventually opted for the first version. My reasons being: I like the lyricism and flow of version 1 (it would *sound* well being read aloud), I like the poignancy and double entendre of "and when the music stops", I am enchanted by the image 'the odourless lips of a still-born rose" and finally from my own experience...people (especially those unfamiliar with M.E.) might understand or relate better to the first version.

As to a title. Yikes, titles can drive one nuts! I am grateful to be writing in a poetic genre where titles are not required. For this one I suddenly thought of "caveat emptor" ...hehe...but since you are not selling anything, maybe just 'caveat' or another synonymn for 'warning'? English is not my native tongue and I often walk around with a dictionary, thesaurus and whatnot to find what I need for a poem!

Eish, so many words! Hope this helps!

Lovely poem(s) and good luck with Thursday! Let us know how it went. You write well.

willow said...

Nicola, I agree, "testing" is a great idea for a title.

willow said...

Aaargghh, here I am back again. Just delete if not helpful. How about a combination of the two versions (I know you didn't ask for this kind of input). I like the dramatic pause at the end of stanza 3/version 2. An idea might be to leave the first 2 stanzas of version 1 as is and combine/revise the last 6 lines of version 1 with the last stanza of version 2. Sorry, I cannot leave poetry alone ;)

Gael said...

Version One

Reading the Signs said...

hello lovely people -

I am looking and listening to each of you, thank you so much.

Willow darling, I love your input and am e'en now looking at your suggestion. You have not said much (anything?) about your own writing. After the reading I am going to come back atcha about this.

Tall Girl said...

Two. Much sparer and stronger.

Reading the Signs said...

Thank you, Tall Girl, this helps with the final decision.

So, after due consideration and faffing about, it stands like this:

3 votes for Version Two

2 votes for Version One

Willow and TPE (on another thread, you know the Wild Horseman's ways) have both suggested combining the two versions - which I did. But I have finally decided to go with Version Two, and have taken Mim's title suggestion of "Closer", as it will work well with the sequence I'm planning.

I've got about 17 poems neatly stacked, am fretting about three of them so there will be last-minute changes tomorrow.

Tired now - very.

Thanks again, y'all.

Cusp said...

Hope it goes well {{*}}

ashy00 said...

i think version two: less is definitely more here - i very much like the poem.

Reading the Signs said...

Thanks, Cuspie and Ashy - I now have too many poems so have to decide what to cut out, if it's not one thing it's another. Eh, it's tough at the top.

Kahless said...

I am writing this comment before I read anyone elses so I give you my uninfluenced view.

I like version 2. And a title...
"Telling you something" (taken from version 1)

Now I will see what everyone else has said and hope I dont end up feeling dumb!

MrSpike said...

I prefer the second version, but far too late to help with your dilemma. Sorry! I hope you are well and that yesterday went well.

Reading the Signs said...

Kahless and Mr. Spike, clearly you picked the winning version so pat yourselves on the back. In the end, though, I didn't have enough time to read it anyway!

Cusp said...

Hope it went well. You can keep the poem for next time or in your poetic 'rainy day box'

Have a good w/e

Reading the Signs said...

Definitely, Cusp - pleased I didn't bin it. Rather like the idea of a poetic Rainy Day Box.