WHAT TO DO?

Margo Roby, for her Tuesday Tryouts, http://margoroby.wordpress.com/2011/10/04/tuesday-tryouts-poetic-counterpoints/, asks us to explore using counterpoints in poetry by building a list of around ten contrasting but parallel elements, items, or themes. (Piece of cake.)

Contrasting pairs list.

Single / married / divorced
good / evil
religion / agnostic / atheist
black / white
peace / war
work / unemployment
diet / exercise
fight / flight
tell / keep quiet
notebook / computer
life without parole / electric chair / lethal injection / firing squad / Madame Guillotine

So far, so good; except some idiot included triplets and stuff along with his pairs. (Okay, so I threw a few in there just to get Margo’s goat—but I will be writing a poem in the near future on the last item in the list—written from the point of view of the executioner’s axe).

 Update, to the above. That poem refused to wait. It demanded to be written NOW, and then had the audacity to take off in an unexpected direction. It can be seen here: https://thepoetsquill.wordpress.com/2011/10/05/the-executioner%e2%80%99s-axe/.

Now, select one set from the list to play with and freewrite for about ten minutes on each side. I picked the one I’m struggling with right now. I won’t bore you with my freewrites. Heck, I feel asleep twice while doing them. Instead, let’s go to the magnificent poem they generated—yeah, right.

WHAT TO DO
by Mike Patrick

The anguish of indecision.
Whether tis better
to caress smooth, sensuous keys
or hold a clunky stick.

Should one’s view encompass
crisp, sharp letters on a brightly lit screen,
or illegible scribbles on ink-stained paper
within the glow of candlelight?

Thoughts come so quickly.
How better to capture them?
Sixty words a minute,
or ten?

And thoughts arrived confused,
must be rearranged.
With computer, perfection is clicks away:
With pen . . . it may take all day.

But when, at last, the poem’s done
and ready to be judged,
a search begins for postage stamps,
or an email sends it on its way.

Oh, the anguish of indecision,
when so much is waiting to be writ.
Oops, my computer’s crashed,
where the Hell’s my pen.

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4 Responses to WHAT TO DO?

  1. Ruth says:

    How well you capture this dichotomy – time-economical, clearly legible keyboard writing vs. slow and painstaking, often illegible writing by hand… or as you put it so beautifully:

    crisp, sharp letters on a brightly lit screen,
    or illegible scribbles on ink-stained paper
    within the glow of candlelight

    Almost you have me thinking prosaic vs. poetic, as if computer’s acceptable for prose, but not for poetry. 🙂

  2. vivinfrance says:

    Well thought out poem. I have the best of both worlds: I start first drafts with pen and paper, and when the page becomes an illegible mess with crossings out and arrows, then it is such a relief to transform disorder into order on the computer.

  3. Janet says:

    i do my quickest writing on key-board. I do my best writing like Viv…Thanks for the smiles, Mike. I think we can all relate. I so want to play with comparisons and my life’s so nut’s busy with work this week. Maybe when I get in from tonight’s engagement I’ll be revved up or done in …

  4. margo roby says:

    I have twice had the internet go out on me while making a comment here, once yesterday, when I lost the connection for 24 hours, and again a few minutes ago, when my computer decided to stop being connected, as it has for the past four hours. Clearly, you are the bad juju. I will only say that my comment was clever, witty, and possibly pithy.

    margo

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