33/365 — a revision

The last few days I have stared intently at one of the past entries posted here recently. In the original posting, I showed a collection of twelve tanka verses, loosely grouped together by a theme of darkness, night. In particular the opening verse often stumbled with my reading eye, causing a slight irritation, an inner twitch. Up till now, I ignored the critical reaction, wanting to respect my primary objectives: to show a short verse as it first appeared on the page without an extensive over-editing process and without creating multiple revisions of the piece. This was a means of connecting to the impulse of a moment, even in a limited fashion, bridging back to the spark of recognition of the epiphany as it unfolded in memory. Perhaps realistically this concept is flawed in itself. These words after all represent my own creative compulsions; some minor refinement is not a bad thing.

Looking at the poem in question, originally I wrote:
      Front of the courthouse,
      making his proclamations
      as Martin Luther,
      a grackle shouted his speech
      to anyone who would listen.

My annoyance emerges with the sounding of verb tenses, particularly in line four. The utilization of past tense grates against my teeth. Instinctively I want the phrasing to fall into a present tense logic, to show the moment as it forms in a “now” sensibility, not as a past event. Which leaves me considering the point: why do I prefer present tense in poetry in the first place? For now, I am not going to belabor the point. Perhaps an essay can later derive from this questioning (?). However, it is important to note that with present tense in this case, this individual epiphany impulse lies exposed as a raw moment— as if the event occurs for the first time to the reader in their own time stream and sense of self.

The poem now reads:
      Front of the courthouse,
      marking his proclamations
      as Martin Luther,
      a grackle shouts out speeches
      to anyone who'll listen.


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