Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Nightmare, News, No Sleep

This week, my poetry assignment is to write using the first person, the "I" in a poem. The point of the exercise is this. When I write as myself, coming to the reader with a narrative of myself passed along to the reader, it makes it much harder for the reader to take my story as their own. The use of "I" creates a distance between the writer and the reader. 

We examine other ways of using the "I" without excluding the reader, such as using a mask or persona. For now, I share a draft of the poem I wrote for the first person story.

Nightmare, News, No Sleep

I walk a dirt road. Shadows move
through the dusty trees.  Something
snaps twigs, travels the woods beside me.

Now awake and shaking,
I turn on the radio,
get up to distract myself.

The news reports a smuggler: 
“A man is caught at the border
with fifty-one live
turtles, stuffed down his pants.
Two hundred more
in his suitcase.”

I wonder.
Does he consider the possibilities?
Of cuts or genital damage,                                                                 
from claws or strong jaws?                                                                
Does he know the red-eared                                                              
sliders desire his body heat? 

My nightmare wanders
the back of my mind,
withdraws into its shell,
hitches a new ride.

The eastern box turtles           
regenerate parts of themselves,                                                          
gone missing.

Will I?

The photo is not mine but is used with permission from Creative Commons.  Attribution follows:

photo credit: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/48503330@N08/5678631060">Rainbow Turtle</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/">(license)</a>


Jane Tims said...

Hi Carol. The use of the first person always lets me in to what the poet is thinking. Interesting the common effect is to create distance. In this poem, I really like Stanza 1 line 2 because it puts together ideas from the lines before and after. I love the story. Red sliders are also a source of Salmonella. Not sure about the slamming shut of the shell since this takes me away from turtle to shellfish. The metaphor could be modified to something about the turtle shell ( for example, the closing off from the rest of the world.). I like the ending. The title draws me in. Jane

Carol Steel said...

Thanks so much for feedback, Jane. Yes, you are right; the slamming implication of shutting the shell isn't the best. I'll rework it. I appreciate your time and thoughtfulness in making comments on my work. Another's eyes are always helpful.

Carol Steel said...

I've changed "then shuts its shell" to "withdraws into its shell." This is better, but I will continue to work on the poem. Revisions are never done.