Tuesday, August 30, 2011

On Skin and Bone and the only way I know how

When I took my first creative writing class at UVU, I was terrified of poetry. Not of reading it, but of writing it. Every single time that I tried to write a poem, it didn't work. It was pretentious and hollow and a great example of why many many people across the world hate verse.

And I finally realized why it didn't work.

It was because I sat down with the intention of writing a poem. I wasn't trying to convey something, I wasn't just writing to see where it went, I sat down and I tried to vomit a poem out of my pink ball point pen on my first attempt, which is incredibly stupid of me, if not widely ambitious.

Now, if I happen to write something that I think just might be a poem in the works, I start formatting it into something else, but it always starts as a free write, or a random train of thought.

As an example to you, here is a random thought that I wrote down in my journal and later made into a poem called "Skin and Bone."

The images I recall of you do no justice to the shape of your eyes or the curve of your shoulders. They are specters of reality doomed to live their days with the knowledge that they cannot ever compete with you. There is little wonder why they look so sad in my mind, constantly betraying the light in your eyes as they ache for your flesh with a hunger that has been building up for centuries. A force that would conquer those that have not paved their days with silken stars, as we have, and that do not marvel at the congruity of life, as we do, and that do not believe with unimaginable certainty that our lives are tidal, as we will. I will never let them take you, as long as I can see the trees for what they truly are, and as long as you swear to never leave the space between my skin and bone.

After several, several rewrites, here is the final version of the poem: 

Skin and Bone

Together, we slay fear with freckled cheeks
and the days we’ve paved with silken stars.
Specters of today and tomorrow and now
fall under the power of our tidal hearts
and your 5 o’ clock shadow
and the space between my skin and bone
where I feel your magic (which knows no proximity)
and I keep your eyes in a jar
made of the picture perfect lives we’ve lived.
I swear (on blood and breath) to keep you
and you whisper me back that age old spell
and somehow we’ve become giants
standing beside a mountain
that is not as tall as you or I
and I feel the trueness of your body
and the congruity of us
as we build a fortress to keep our dreams.

Even rewriting this in here just now makes me want to make a few more alterations, take it in or let it out a bit to fit my ideas.

And that is the only way that I know how to do it. 



  1. Wow, this is a dense poem! I think it's full of hope and love. But maybe it's because it feels some personal circumstances when that's what I want to see.

    I never got to like poetry til this year, when a wonderful teacher reminded us that a poem is not a rigid element, but that it can be "adapted" to our personal readings.

    So, congrats!

  2. Thanks Elena! I appreciate your thoughtful comments, as always :)

  3. I love the line that gives it the title, and the whole poem gives me shivers; well done! I really love the unconventional imagery in both pieces. Makes me want to get back into writing poetry! :)


  4. Frankly, I love it. WOW. Keep spillin' it girl!