I read a few of my poems at an open-mike event yesterday evening. One of the pieces dates from 2008 and I have around 15 different drafts of it on file. I rather thought that it was finished back in September 2014, when I submitted it as part of a portfolio.
But while waiting for the event to start last night, I found myself tinkering with it again. I wonder if it will ever be finished.
I also read a piece called The three-body problem, which, again, has been through many revisions. The current version begins:
When three bodies mutually attract,
problems arise: you get a 3D tug-of-war,
pig-in-the-middle on a stellar scale.
I think it’s fun but know that, although it works reasonably well when I read it aloud, it’s not really good enough to stand on its own on the page: it tries too hard to be clever, mixing far too many allusions to classical myth with an inadequate understanding of quantum mechanics.
Towards the end, a swan makes his appearance:
[…] Perhaps those swan’s wings
merely cause a flap; maybe they beat
a gathering storm that resonates through history
and leaves a bill that can’t be paid.
which gives me an excuse to post a photo I took yesterday morning:
And now a second photo of the same family of swans:
The pictures are almost identical, but the difference in the way the two young swans at the sides are turned seems to make quite a big difference to the overall effect. The second picture, where they are turned inwards, seems more tightly grouped.
In fact, it’s a bit like two different drafts of the same poem: just a small change can have a big effect. So I guess I should go on tweaking these old poems and just hope I recognise which changes make them hold together better.