On Writing and Editing Poetry

Explain your editing process. What works best for you? Do you take risks? Are you objective? How have you taken the poems through its steps to completion?

The Song Poetic. A poem about writing and editing poems.

The toilet provides solitude,
composure in a setting sometimes peaceful,
sometimes filled with the keen echoes of urgent battle.
It is here that fingers flicker with grace and iniquity
across the silky screen of my smartphone,
where auspicious notes take shape,
mellifluous harbingers of lyrical intent.
In minutes an ode is formed, a symphony is saved,
then forgotten until the next; sometimes minutes, sometimes days.
 
I return in no short time, or perhaps too short time,
to read and ponder, as you do, to consider
already considered notions of pomp and circumstance.
Sometimes the music is given voice, in all too muted tones,
whispered like dark secrets to a musing world.
Delete that line, change that word,
antonym or synonym, hyperbole or metaphor
magically enchanted with a wistful edge
that would hold a man to ransom (if only he were not so deaf).
What risk lies in changes? The page will not consume itself
in bitter apprehension, or come back to haunt
my sleepless nights, like an insomniac ghost.
 
The supple net awaits, for me to cast my feeble musings
on the virtual sea, where they be caught
or slip into watery depths, obscured.
Perhaps, all for better, or all for worse,
one man’s love is another man’s curse.
 

Stephen Thompson 2017

I came, I saw, I edited.

I read my poems out loud once they’re written. I often return to them, sometimes several times, to edit and change lines, words, imagery. Sometimes they’re written and done in one, without any further editing. Sometimes my poems start off being longer, then get whittled down as the twisted bracken and rotting undergrowth is macheted away with the poise of a manic chainsaw juggler. But not often.

The poem above was written in one — I read over it, changed a few words and line breaks, but the length stayed the same, as did the imagery and intent. I read it out loud a few times. It took me, all up, about 15 minutes to complete. Most of my poems take less time, but then they’re generally shorter. Some poems just seem to flow from some undammed river of consciousness.

Editing requires patience as well as objective and subjective vision. I wish I could say I have more patience, but I don’t. I’ve often published poems I’ve looked back on later and said “DOH! I wish I’d edited that.” Sometimes I can be objective and subjective enough to edit succinctly, other times I’m too attached to the poem.

I truly believe that the reader is free to interpret a poem any way they choose, as poems, like songs, affect each of us differently. They wind and wend and burrow their way into each person’s soul, connecting or disconnecting as they see fit.

Editing poems is like editing stories: you step back, re-read it, reshuffle and rewrite, and then hope for the best. But I’m always hoping for chocolate, even if it just turns out to be vanilla.

Cheers

Steve 😊

Backstab. A poem.

You are the prowling shark
loitering in choppy waters
waiting on a hint of blood
to fuel your hungry needs.

You sniff and search
for snippets to exploit,
building trust with deception
to cover your misdeeds.

You are a betrayer of trust,
a parasitic worm,
embedded in my flesh,
consuming heart and soul.

How many times
will I forgive your trespasses,
only to feel your dagger deep,
the wounds reopened anew.

.

There are some truly soulless, unethical and underhanded people in this world, who continually take advantage of those who open their lives to them. This poem is for those misanthropes.

We will always forgive those who trespass against us, but it doesn’t mean we can’t vent about it in the meantime.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

Arrival. A poem.

I waited
and waited
and hoped

and you arrived.

Without acclaim,
without excess,
but not without baggage
of your own.

Seared with silent wounds
in mirrored grace
and Savoir-Faire.

And all the waiting and the hope,
all the self-hate and the scars,
all the loneliness I had known,

receded like the tide,
trawled by an incumbent moon.

Now you’re here,
your smile a nascent whirlwind
threatening to drag me
kicking and screaming
from this storm cellar.

Threatening to hold me
endlessly.

I’ll try not to let go.

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

Laze. A poem.

Blessed indolence,
you play me for the fool
like a round of hold-em,
until the time arises
when work calls
sanctimoniously
and I rise to the occasion.

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

My Self-hate. A poem.

My self-hate:
just enough
to immolate
my lowly self.

My self-hate:
the razor
that can’t wait
to open me.

My self-hate:
the only thing
that takes me
breaks me
sends me
hurtling headlong
to my grave.

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

Sand Head. A poem.

I wanted to put my head
deep down in the dust,
but it was too hard to breathe
amongst my crowded thoughts.

I guess the best laid head
was like the worst laid plan:
too many consequences,
like
infinite
grains
of
sand.

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

Meteor. A poem.

You are the meteor
slicing my heavens
to the quick,
scorching my atmosphere
without regret.

And when you hit my ground
cleaving my earthy heart and
spreading its detritus
far and wide,
I’ll willingly accept your carnage
with arms as wide
as oceans.

Because when we are one,
the strata
and fossil record
will tell our story
forevermore.

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

Anew. A poem.

All my dreams

returned to dust
whence they sprang,
embittered and tweeted
into the ionosphere.

I am guilty

of a life lived lost,
of times counted down
but launched anew,
in an empyrean embrace.

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

The Narrative Poem.

Here’s another response I did for uni. You might want to try it out.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Write a narrative poem of no longer than 15 lines about your childhood. Remember the narrative poem is a journey. Take the reader on a journey of your childhood.

Free

Stephen Thompson

This new yard, so voluminous and green, where every potential meets possibility.
Far away from the housing commission ghetto that predicated deeds,
where every child was built on foundations of paternalistic greed.
Here, the air is plain and untinged by the sedentary.
Here, I can run free.
 
This new school, so quaint and reassuring, where unfamiliarity is as anonymous as mediocrity.
Far away from the amorphous tincture from which my primal learnings seeded,
from where the outcome for every child was branded into flesh.
Here, the opportunities avail themselves, a future not yet set.
Here, I can learn. Free.
 
This new life, so fundamental and correct, where philosophy waxes agnostically.
Far away from dreams cluttered with rusty cans and shoebox schemes,
from fundamentals like crack whore 101 and burglary.
Here, a path lures me from the box that long confounded me.
Here, I can be truly free.

I grew up in a low rent housing commission area, riddled with drugs, crime and violence. When I was the tender age of eleven, my family moved to another suburb nearby. It was the exact opposite of the one we’d left: quieter, safer, subdued. We didn’t have any more money and we weren’t especially privileged, but the move opened up what seemed like a different world, even though it was geographically only a few kilometres away. A world of nascent opportunity.

Looking back now, hindsight is clearer than the proverbial deer in headlights.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Haiku Friday. A lone haiku.

Embalmed. A Haiku.

I’m embalmed by life.
I will lie in state for you
to consume your fill.

Haiku is a Japanese poetic form with a strict 5/7/5 syllable structure.

Okay, okay, I know you know that already!

Cheers

Steve 🙂

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

Sad Life. A poem.

Is this nothing more
than a sad life?
Materialistic imposition
and perspicacious exposition
all meaning nothing more
than a sad life?

Take this sad life,
open the cage perennially
and set it forever and eternally
free.

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

New Face. A poem.

I am the ripple that turns the tide,
the plaintive cry that shakes the world,
the angry soul that brings the pain,
the lonely man, slowly gone insane.

Every time I turn around
I see my new face
and it haunts me.

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

Every Blue Thought. A poem.

I prefer black
but I wear a lot of blues
and this ever-lasting weariness
goes from my head
down to my shoes.

EVERY

aching, grinding, groaning, spattering, spluttering, shadowing, beseeching, bemoaning, bewildering, disturbing, destabilising, escalating, ego-destroying, undermining, undulating, failing, falling

THOUGHT

from my head down to my shoes.

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

Signal Fire. A poem.

This indolence tosses me
like autumn leaves,
mere whispers in the breeze.
Corkscrewing ever round,
intoxicated by thoughts
that reminisce amongst
far flung ports-of-call.

These empty seas would remit me
unto an isle,
stark, sun-bleached and worn,
smoothed by time and vapid waters.
From here I could scrutinise
the present and the past,
incongruent exhortations
unworthy, ad hoc companions
in perpetuum.

The thought of rescue lies
far beyond these nascent incubi,
continually beseeching me
from beyond the far horizon.
Perhaps I will light a signal fire,
a plethoric plume
to engulf this loneliness
and bring you to my shore.

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

An Exercise in Poetic Styles

Here’s a response I did for Uni. You might like to try the exercise out yourself.

Cheers

Steve 😊

Write a haiku (formal style) on the theme of water and then write a free verse piece (of no more than 10 lines) on the theme of water. Which style worked best for you? What stumbling blocks did you have to overcome in each?

Water Haiku

Your water cascades
Caressing valleys and hills
I will drink deeply

Stephen Thompson

Deep Water

Deep
 
How deep my heart has sunk,
into depths
unmeasured
 
(I swim
amongst broken hulls and dead men’s skulls,
coral memories and crustacean verdigris,
viscous cold and furtive shoals
shaping origami headstones,
draped in ocean’s finery.)
 
How drenched is my heart,
drenched in depths
unmeasured
 
Deep  

Stephen Thompson

 

I enjoy writing Haiku because it can be challenging to find a theme that works in the 5/7/5 syllable structure. Haikus can say so much in so little space and it’s one of the reasons I love them so much.

Free verse is always fun, because I can play around with meter and time, line length, enjambment, etc. without any need to worry about poetic constraints; it’s easier for me to come up with interesting imagery. Often the theme of the poem presents itself as the poem progresses, or a new one is formed when the poem is completed.

I love free verse, but I believe that learning forms with specific poetic structures (such as the villanelle, sestina, pastoral, etc.) force you to be a better poet, because you have to work outside your comfort zone and within a stricter format.

Cheers

Steve 😊

Save the Poet!

via Save the Poet!

The All or the Nothing is my ebook of poetry. Click on the link above to find where you can download it.

For poetry lovers and endangered poets everywhere!

Cheers

Steve 🙂

Haiku Friday. ‘Journey’. A haiku.

Journey. A Haiku.

Our journey begins:
gentle solicitous touch.
Now, scream together.

Haiku is a Japanese poetic form with a strict 5/7/5 syllable structure.

What, you knew? Fair enough.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

F$&@UP. A poem.

I

                       Wonder

What

MY

LIFE

                       Would

Have

Been

Like

               If

I

Wasn’t

Such

                A

F$&@UP.

Maybe

I

                          Wouldn’t

Have

F$&@ED

You

                  Up

SO

MUCH.

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

Horizon. A poem.

In the setting sun,
a hazy miasma of watercolours spilled,
an adventitious mix
of variegated textures and tones.

With every highlight
and every shifting coruscation,
I think of you.
This miracle horizon cannot compare.

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

New World. A poem.

All in an idea that surpasses
every living, livid, longing, licentious
breath that screams in ecstasy
from the darkening depths
of a soul long since condemned
to a purgatory of your own making.

If only you had read the signs.
Your illiteracy and myopia
have brought you down to size
and from here everything else
is so incomprehensibly huge
and overwhelmingly threatening.

Welcome to the new world.

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

Believe in Love. A poem.

Believe in love.

Believe so ardently that your heart
burns from the pain of longing, loss
and subtle expectation,
a flame that reduces you
to dying embers
at the thought of that special other.

This aching lamentation
is for the cold shouldered,
the one who got away,
the one who stole your anxious soul.

Explore your separate paths,
you forlorn and weary travellers
and perhaps you will find each other,
somewhere on the periphery
of a merged existence.

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

Hand. A poem.

Hand in mine, you lead
me far from dark entwined.

For certain death
                            does this
                                      way lie.

Awakened from the brine
that soaks me here;

bitter, murky soup
                  in which I float,
                                       resigned.

Take this hand, and lead
me far from death’s brigand.

Comfort me for I have been
                              led astray from
                                               all I need.

 

 

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

Haiku Friday. A lone haiku.

Uncertainty. A haiku.

This uncertainty
stems from not knowing the truth
that lies in all things.

Haiku is a Japanese poetic form with a strict 5/7/5 syllable structure. You knew that already, so I’ll just shut up now.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

Juncture. A poem.

At this juncture,
decisions made:
A change of season,
a chance parade.

At this juncture
of no return,
no looking back
at bridges burned.

At this juncture,
we’re laid to rest
in hallowed ground,
without contest.

At this juncture,
the time has come
to decide our futures
‘til time’s undone.

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

Father. A poem.

I remember my father,

as he is

now
and
then,

anchored to that
fading chair

with

fading hairline
and
fading eyes,

the absence of smoke

from

unfiltered
cigarettes,

not so heavy in the air.
Less the cough

from

tar-filled lungs
and
asbestos alveoli.

Finger in ear,
a book his constant

companion,

weary
and
weather-worn,

the walls echo

with

odd angry shots
and amnesiac spite.

I love my father,
even if he is

only

half the man
he
used
to
be.

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

 

Tangent. A poem.

I’m off on a tangent,
tangentially related to
this relationship
that doesn’t exist
but continually insists
betwixt was and is and not
that it could and should and would
be something worth waiting for,
despite the frustration
and inevitable fall,
the appalling nature of its form,
and the tangent to which
it’s only barely related at all.

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

Inconsequence. A poem.

Spectacularly inconsequential,
a life subsumed
in lack of meaning
and purpose.

A breeze blows through
and every tinder brush
and tumble weed
seems like it’s heaven sent.

 

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

Haiku Friday. A lone haiku.

Trepidation. A haiku.

My trepidation
lingers like dirty feet on
too-clean front door mats.

Haiku is a Japanese poetic form with a strict 5/7/5 syllable structure. But you knew that already.

Cheers

Steve 🙂

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

Stand and Deliver. A poem.

Quick stop. Quick start.
The car sputters like an old man
who’s walked better roads than these
but only just remembers how.

Simple arrangements
for endearingly simple times,
handed across the threshold
to smiling eyes with insouciant grace.

The tarmac beckons,
the junkyard dog barks and moans,
its lassitude temporarily forgotten
in the whine of acceleration.

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry, available at most online book sellers. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

Emptiness. A poem.

Empty like the bottomless glass,
the view from here so circumspect.
Empty like the void above,
between star shells and light effects.

Empty like the cheerless heart,
opened upon a mortuary slab.
Empty like a suicide vein,
eyes open wide for every stab.

Where does this emptiness end?
How will it be filled and when?

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

REckLEss. A poem.

HEre I am

REckLEss when you’re ARound.

Should I STay

Should I GO

Should I CHance the EBb and FLow

A MOment’s INdecision

And I’m CAught up in YOur SHow

ONce again I’m REckLEss

BUt I’ve noWHere else to

GO

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

Anxious Thoughts. A poem.

Sweat on brow,
an
incessant
reminder.
Heat that censures
from deep within,
the cloying depths
of double-shotted anxiety.

Wait, breathe, wait,
all analgesic flutter.
Harder
to
escape,
these walls abound and
heighten further with
every calamitous thought.

Relax, they say,
think of brighter,
cleaner, fluid things,
that wax and wane like
a somnambulant moon.

Remember, lest you forget:
you are not the fear,
and
the
fear
is
not
you.

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

Half-light. A poem.

Sweat and toil and creaking
springs, grasping fingers and the scent of hallowed
limbs. Perfect and imperfect rhythms in
motion, bestial howls and fire and tender
susurration, collated in the
half-light of a muted TV.

From this vantage point we survey the hedonic
battlefield, where dust and smoke dissipates and we
victors rejoice with liquid tongues and golden
perspicacity. The half-light lingers;
we prepare to charge into the fray again.

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

Everyday Rhythm and Poetry

Here’s an exercise I did for Uni, a fair while ago. Use the question for a writer’s prompt, if you like.

Do some exercise, listen to some music, or even listen to the clock tick. Find an everyday rhythm and write a poem of no more than 7 lines in response to the theme ‘Women’. After writing your poem, tell us if finding an everyday rhythm helped you or hindered you in your writing practice?

Woman. A poem.

Round and round it
goes, the anxious tide in ebbs and
flows, her conversation running on and
on, but leaving me with nothing

How I mourn my woman’s
song, but she’s long gone, a
whirlpool like no other

Stephen Thompson

The washing machine clunked and whirred through its cycle. Watery imagery crept into my poem in the first two lines (probably because I had no idea where I was heading at that point. I knew it had to be about women. Then, as usual, it became personal. Most of my poems are). I’m not sure if the machine’s rhythm helped at all.

I’ve been a musician for about 30 years, starting as a drummer and percussionist and then moving into guitar and singing, so rhythm and syncopation are things that come naturally to me. My ex-wife hated my constant hand and finger tapping.

When I write, I like to establish a natural flow. My recent experiments with enjambment on my blog have mixed up that rhythm a bit, and even though I used it in this poem, I found I maintained a rhythmic consistency.

Maybe the wash cycle did help after all.

Cheers

Steve 😊

Backseat. A poem.

Random musings and the
explicit constancy of touch,
a quickening cadence
strafing the scene like
machine gun fire.

This beckoning equivalent,
captured in steamy windows
and whispered expectations.
Here on this unsubtle backseat,
fertile new world exploration
begins and ends.

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

Unknown. A poem.

She does not and will never know me.
She will never read between my lines.
She will never walk the halls of my history.
She will never cry a tear for me.

But I have known her.
In the briefest of shimmering moments,
caught between copious minutes
of self-involved convolution,
in dreams, memories
and facile fantasy;
I have known her well.

How I wish she would know me,
would read between these devoted lines,
create a dutiful shared history
and cry winsome tears of joy with me.

And that I would not remain unknown.

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

The Night. A poem.

The night is not my friend.
I lie here, encapsulated and encumbered
in darkness’ vice-like grip.

The night is not my friend.
I lie awake, turning and tossing,
trying to escape
my funereal thoughts.

The night is not my friend.
But it returns to goad and sway,
to play me for the fool
and make my wakefulness its own.

The night is not my friend.
And yet, its routine is so reliable,
so infallibly certain,
that I wait with expectancy
for it to claim me.

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

Stray Thoughts. A poem.

Stray thoughts, like alley cats,
prowling amongst the refuse
and detritus of my memories.
Sally forth the dogs of war,
to clear these backwaters
and scare away this pain.
Until stray thoughts wander
back to sully my streets again.

The All or the Nothing is my first e-book of poetry. To find out how to buy a copy,
click here.

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