At times, I can be so anal. Of course, the perfection I seek resides only in my mind. Writing poetry might be a whole lot easier if I could just ignore the compulsion to tweak a verse, a line or just a word. Sometimes, it doesn’t really matter. I might be more pleased with a revision, but the original version holds up fine under the light.
That happened to me yesterday. Driving down the highway, my mind was flooded with a memory from my childhood. I had three-quarters of a poem in my head in the remaining twenty-five mile drive home. I spent another hour “finishing” it and decided to post it on my blog.
In going back and forth between my document and the page editor in WordPress, I decided I wanted my original document on one page. When I formatted it for two equal columns, a line of thought was interrupted by one verse. If I wanted to shift the right column up by one verse, I would need two more verses, thus balancing the poem on the page. See what I mean? Anal.
So, I went back to the poem and worked on it for another hour. In my edit, I combined two verses in the first half. They were too wordy and needed the edit. The urge to balance my columns actually proved useful. I followed the revised verse with a new one, to maintain the equal columns and column break where I wanted it, then wrote two new verses to complete the second column. I was very pleased with the results. So, not so anal, it would seem.
Now, back to WordPress, formatted in one column. I added the completed second half of the poem and finished by combining those two earlier verses already in the page editor. That’s right, I never inserted the additional verse that followed. But, you know what? I looked at it a couple of times after posting and never noticed that it was missing a verse. Carefree Ride is just fine, the way it is.
Ah, but now my need for “perfection.” Checking into WordPress this morning, I saw that the verse is missing. So, here it is (in bold italics)…
His right arm was extended,
Pall Mall between his fingers,
his wrist resting casually on
that giant steering wheel.
It was a dark green ’55 Buick,
with peach side-body panels.
It broke his heart
when my uncle totaled it.
That same scene,
the casual stance behind the wheel,
would be a common sight
over the years.
A window in time, ’55 to ’65,
one that normally takes
a backseat to my teen years,
opened before me, today.
Maybe the poem stands up fine without the verse, thinning it out a bit, but the added verse works great for my two column format, and my mind has a hard time seeing the poem without it.
Except… and here we go again… now that I look at it this way, the verse about the ’55 Buick now interrupts a line of thought. But, that car meant so much to my father (the subject of the poem), and it practically defines 1958 for me. How could I delete it? Solution… don’t. Forget the inserted verse. Screw the need for equal columns on the page.
And so, I just spent the last hour writing this and re-analyzing the poem. Anal? This time, I like to think that finding my WordPress omission led me to an analysis that was just a part of my editing process and showed me the poem as it should be.
Yeah, that’s it.
Ken G. / rivrvlogr