I’m throwing back to one of my earliest poems on this blog today. In 2012 I posted ‘Confusion‘ and it reached the great heights of exactly two views. That’s two views in the entire time it’s been on this site. It’s a nice reminder sometimes to go back and check the stats on those early pieces just to show myself that I have managed to build something of an audience in the last seven years.
However, after re-reading the poem I’m not entirely surprised that it didn’t do particularly well. It was very much a teen angst piece with little concern for line breaks and rhythm. So instead of simply re-blogging my old poem, I’m going to try and workshop it in this post. I’m not sure how that will turn out so you’ll have to let me know in the comments if this was a complete flop.
First, let me say that this was when I was just starting to write poetry on a regular basis, and I thought that stream of consciousness poetry was super cool. You see all those short, rambling lines. Yeah, a lot of my poetry was like that. It’s taken a while for me to learn that sometimes smaller poems are better, and longer but fewer lines convey more.
Also. I know I wrote build instead of built. That little squiggly red line is annoying me too.
Stanza 1: Wow This Poem Makes Me Cringe!
Really this poem could have been wrapped up in the first stanza. It was about someone who I was friends with, who had admitted they’d fancied me for a while. Quite frankly, I was more concerned with my own emotions about this than his and I was callous in how I handled things. I didn’t fancy him, I did adore him as a friend because he was a fantastic friend and a perfect gentleman, but there was no spark for me. In the end I suggested we go out only to break things off two days later. I made the mistake of thinking that it was more important to have some love me that it was to wait for a relationship where I loved that other person just as much.
Anyway, beside me sharing far too much personal information, let’s move on to rewriting this poem. We’ll ignore how I start every line with a capital letter.
The short lines were supposed to be edgy and punchy, but in reality I think they make the poem appear too broken. I was using punctuation to convey the emotion of the piece rather than the actual writing and you can see this from the start in those first six lines.
The description also doesn’t do justice to the person it was written about. I spat out a series of statements with more focus on what would sound dramatic rather than what told the story. I was telling not showing. A rookie mistake.
The person in this poem could be anyone. Even though I was writing about a real person I didn’t bother to relate to anything that happened between us. I turned this person into a shadow without a face and put the focus entirely on myself and my own emotions. It was a selfish poem, plain and simple.
Stanza Two: How This Guy Stayed Friends With Me I’ll Never Know
Apart from being full of clichés such as ‘we’re best friends’, ‘don’t say/you want more…don’t knock/on that locked door.’ This stanza also says nothing new in the poem. I quite literally repeat myself after the fourth line and it reads as lazy.
The rest of this stanza, well, I’m imagining myself in some Shakespearian style dress, hand raised to forehead, uttering my protests to the rafters above me. I’m so over dramatic in this piece that it makes me laugh as I’m going through it. Who knows what anyone else would think when reading it.
Then there’s the last seven lines. Those wonderful, angst filled, cruel as anything, seven lines. (For those of you noticing the repetition there, yes, I’m still using repetition far more than a writer should.) When I wrote this poem I should have gone back through it and asked myself on every line ‘Is this required? Does it add to the poem? Does it convey the tone I want to convey?’ The answer for the end of this stanza was no. At this time, despite being self-admittedly unfair to this guy, I was still torn by his revelation. I was working through my own emotions as well. This stanza doesn’t suggest that. It almost suggest I laughed in his face.
Stanza 3: Thank God. I’m Starting To Wish I Never Started This Post
Plain and simple, this was my pathetic attempt to paint a happy face on the end of this poem. It fits with the rest of the piece because the whole poem is only a very shallow look at the emotions that lay behind why I was writing it. I was confused and worried that I was about to loose a friendship, but at the same time I was worried about not finding a boy who’d want to date me, never mind one who’d love me. This was the wonky full stop on the end of a very wonky poem. I needed to end it and end it fast and those the final three lines were as much to assuage my own guilt over the whole episode as they were to bring the poem to a close.
The New Poem: You Can’t Polish A Turd But You Can Start Over
Five years on, this is my second attempt to write a poem about my teenage emotions. Hopefully I can make it a little better than it was before. Instead of focusing on the format telling the story, I want to focus on the imagery in each stanza. This second version should pain a more human picture but I suppose I’ll leave that up to you to decided. Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy the brand new ‘Confusion’ below.
You can redraft a letter, but not a conversation.
That’s why I write things down,
so I can trim the words back
and find what it is I’m trying to say exactly.
Some days you make my heart overflow
but you’ve never given it a reason not to.
You are kindness and compassion incarnate,
willing to walk me home drunk at two am
knowing it’s going to be a mile back to yours alone,
and you smile the whole way there.
I wish I could love you that much.
I wish I could paint it in overnight.
But instead, I ask you not to trust me with your heart.
I’m clumsy enough with just the one.
It’s been cracked more times that I can count
and I don’t think I can juggle two.
Not when I’m so likely to drop them both.
I will still cycle to your house in the summer.
I will share your sofa and hear the stories
of who you meet and the girls that are yet to come.
I will leave your heart for them to care for.
It doesn’t need scars from me
and you deserve more than me playing make-believe.