Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Real Drafts (Slice 21)

I suppose it's only fitting, considering the name of this nifty blog of mine, that I post some drafts every once in a while.

If there were a non-distracting way to Track Changes, I would do it on everything I write. I'm fascinated by revisions, by what gets scrapped and what's held to. And I figured I'd do this tonight, and pulled up a poem I wrote several years ago--interesting ideas, but terribly, sing-songily rhymy. But lo and behold, I had already revised that. It's still not spot-on, but it's leagues better than I remembered.

So I went looking for something else, and found a pretty basic experiencial piece I wrote when some friends and I spent Easter weekend at Myrtle Beach. Most of it, as you'll see, got scrapped--in fact, the word probably needs to be reinvention, not revision. Amusingly, I didn't think about that I'd traded one poet's phrase for another until afterwards--T. S. Eliot shouldn't feel slighted, my heart still belongs to him and Mr. Prufrock, but since the first time I read it I have loved e. e.'s line from [maggie and millie and molly and may], and it just accidentally fell into place here.

Draft 1: April 2004 (possibly with mild edits since)

Myrtle Beach on Dead Saturday
I wake up early at beaches.
It’s something automatic.
7:30 pulls me from a nightmarish
scenario of waking at noon, 
cursing the day.
I come down to the beach
unshowered, sweatshirted,
to avoid the crowds.
My sandy-footed comrades
on the beach are not the tourists:
   the young couple walking dogs—
        his small and white, hers big and black.
   the teenagers gently, silently running
         in loose-fitting sweats.
   the shell-searching parents dabbling
         where toddlers soak up salt and sand
into every crack and pore.
These are not the tourists.
These—we—are the beachers.
Like whales we hear the roar
in the night and lumber through
our unconscious to wake up in sand,
pleasantly stuck and unable to leave.
But the rescuers—
   the cell phones, the dead-
   lines, the Monday mornings,
   the all-too human voices
wake us, and we drown.   

Draft 2: March 21, 2012

Whatever We Lose
Within the sound
of crashing waves,
I come out of panicked sleep,
fearful of lateness.
I leave silently, 
fearful of missing the singular
hour of daylight, quiet, peace.
The beach is not empty,
but I have beaten the tourists.
This early, tourists still 
curse at coffeepots
and ponder tide charts.
This early, it is only
beachers, naturals-- 
e. e. cummings said
we seek lost things
and find our own selves.
Like whales we hear the roar
and lumber through 
our unconscious 
to wake up in sand,
pleasantly stuck,
unable to leave.


  1. I loved this. Your writing life illustrated by examples. It was a great opportunity to see the poems and the changes together.