Category: Poetry Portfolio


Introduction

Days of crying, fighting, raging, dying – all results of extreme emotion – most accurately describe the revision process of my poetry portfolio, which I am proud to present in its polished form.  Through my first experience in writing poetry, I have learned to appreciate it infinitely times more. Truly, the revising process was humbling, especially when forced to “cut” my lines (and sometimes whole stanzas). This is particularly true in the revision of one of my portfolio’s poems, “Don’t Touch My Stuff.”

My new enjoyment and respect of poetry most likely arose while working with this poem, the one formal verse out of all others in my portfolio. This poem was not at all even close in similarity to its first draft. The only similarity would be the fact that a father exists in both pieces. In my opinion, the first draft had nice literary effects, emotional invitations, and a simile that I completely dreaded to surrender when scrapping them. I could have continued the theme of that draft. During the revision process, however, I felt that the poem led to meanings that were very different from what I initially intended. With the existence of multiplicity in direction, the poem was confusing and unclear, so I tried to ask myself questions as a reader and attempted to reply to them as a writer.

These difficult questions are really what caused great ideas to pop in my head. An important question that caused a complete change of my poem, for example, was, “What if the poem was about a father and son that doesn’t represent the relationship between you and your dad?”  As I searched for answers, I knew that changing the poem to be about something starkly different from my personal background would be uncomfortable, unsafe, and unsure. For the sake of good poetry, however, I began to accept this possibility. Suddenly, explosions of ideas came in from every direction, striking my brain to turn with each hit. One vital idea to the building of this poem is that the father’s son in the poem is specifically a child. This inevitably led to “Don’t Touch My Stuff,” a poem that is preoccupied with the dangerous effect a father has on his innocent child. This then caused many other ideas to form, including the scenes running through my imagination that I described in the poem. After much cutting and re-writing, it finished.

During the revision process for each of my poems, one grand question continued to scratch at me for an answer: “What is a good poem?” There may not be a valid, universal standard of “good poems,” but after diving directly into the jaws of poetry I have begun to realize that the question should be flipped; I should be trying to answer the question: “What makes a poem good?” Although subtlety different, that question helped me to discover a handful of traits in poetry that contribute to its powerful effects, fully motivating me to use them in my own poems in this portfolio: concise and descriptive action instead of an overload of adverbs and adjectives, consistent grammar and structure that aids the unique flow of a poem, a title that effectively adds to a poem’s meaning, a vivid setting that immerses the reader, moments that are lasting and memorable,  and specific word choice that prevents confusion and vagueness that also implies inherent meaning – all to facilitate the reader’s emotional adventure from one place to another.

I hope that my poems do all of this and more. I serve you with my portfolio. First off, “Don’t Touch My Stuff.” Please enjoy.

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I’m safe because of his rules. I tip-toe

into his room at night and gaze at his

trophies, sparkling like crystals, sleeping snug

in the warmth of a lamp. I reach for one

and wrap my arms around it, rocking it

gently side-to-side, talking to it like

daddy always does. But then his shadow

looms over me. My body freezes. I

turn, but don’t see daddy’s Hollywood smile.

 

Sometimes daddy cares too much. Spanking hurts

him more. My own Hollywood smile appears

as I look at the hot bruises left by

my fault, and realize how much he loves

such a terrible, bad boy like me.

Legs stagger

Steel stilts that merely act as legs

I ponder, “When did I get this tall?”

 

I reach my destination

do business

flush toilet

go to sink

wash hands

look into mirror…

 

With water still running

With hands soaped

With eyes wide open

I ask him who he is

 

We meet at the mirror and I glare

Faces nearly touching

Flaws glow:

Bumps, dryness, unnatural facial hair

I recoil in shock as I unmistakably hear,

 

“You’re so handsome!”

“You have a girlfriend, don’t you?”

“What would it be like to be you –“

 

Burning with rage I stop him

with a sharp stab of my finger

 

You want to be

This?

You’ve forgotten this face was

Bright, shining and smiling day by day,

Emanating joy and innocence

We could hold like a

Sphere of pure, white light

In the palm of our hands

 

What would it be like to

Be me now, you say?

 

I jerk away

Slamming the door and find

Tears falling from my eyes.

 

I left him alone

Unchanged, forever reflecting

The face of betrayal

By his only trusted friend.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

(Art by Brent Lynch)

 

He almost takes a sip when He hears

Her order. Skeptical of Her class, He

peers at Her, only to be caught by Her

lush glow. She has already made the

 

first move. One point for Her. He

breaks this trance to make the next.

Confidence seeps through His cigar.

He lights it with a crisp, and draws

 

Her gaze to His. One point for Him.

The bartender interrupts their game

and hands Her a martini. The smooth,

silk garment slides down Her arm,

 

shoulder to wrist, like a river effortlessly

flows across ground. He is pulled. Two

points for Her. But somehow His body

resists and anchors itself to His own

 

glistening drink. The bartender fades,

along with the sound of polishing wine

glasses, and a silent chasm forms

between them. They wait–

 

He smokes his cigar to fill Himself

with what pride remains, but it

vanishes like the smoke He exhales

into the dying air. He looks at Her

and sees a goddess giving life to His

 

heart. He sets down His cigar. He pries

His hand from the martini. And He

Takes the first step into the space

between.

Breathing turns to fiendish growls.

Shoulders hunch and my back rises

A despicable creature.

 

I scan the endless forest

Surrounding me to ensure solitude.

A sweet breeze attempts to help,

But uninvited, is instead

Received by moaning trees.

 

Impatient eyes fall on the path

My journey into darkness continues.

A ferocious cry explodes from my chest

Like that of a beast in captivity,

Frantically demanding release.

 

My face becomes distorted as this

Ominous presence

Materializes from within.

Hideous, I think,

Unlike anything I could imagine

And at this realization, I stop.

 

My heart beating rapidly.

This thing inside me,

Seeming to have come

From darkness itself.

 

Unless

 

It has always been a part of me.

Dormant like a dog

Performing the only trick he was taught–

To play dead–

Since he was born.