Nothing

In death

people don’t disappear

they brighten up and write poems

on the other side of the sky

wait for you to decipher

their lines.

They bury the flowers

you planted and eat your leftover soup

even if living with the dead was hard

their life in your hands

is as comparable

as empty hands and brick walls.

5 tips for Editing Poetry Books

I have recently edited a few poetry books for fellow poets. I find that most poets, find it hard to edit their own poems and a second opinion is sometimes necessary to get out of their own head. I must admit that I never hired a poetry editor for my three poetry books, but I had a particular vision and look that I knew I wanted for my poems.

If you are looking for a poetry editor or you are editing your poems yourself here are 5 tips that worked for me and how I go about editing poetry books.

  1. After every draft, you should put your manuscript away for over two weeks and clear your mind. As many times as you go through your manuscript, is as many times you must put it aside. This ensures that you start fresh every time and believe me, every time you read it, you will find something that you need to correct or revise. Do this up until there is nothing left to rewrite. Do not settle until you feel your book is done. Eventually, you will know.
  2. You can divide your poetry book into sections or parts with titles so that it flows for the reader. Also, a table of contents with the list of poems at the beginning of the book is always helpful to quickly find a poem. Lately, some poets are not using any titles or table of contents…if you choose to do so, make sure that you divide your book into sections such as loss, healing, love, death, etc. so that there is some kind of order. There are not many rules in poetry and anything may go for certain poets, but in my experience, the books that have no titles or breaks are hard to read and difficult to distinguish one poem from the next.
  3. Every poetry book needs a Copyright page, a Dedication page, Acknowledgements page, at the beginning of the book and an About the Author Page at the end of the book. Number your pages. Look at the poetry books in your library and see how the professionals do it.
  4. Format, font and presentation are an integral part of a poetry book. Pay an expert to create your file in pdf with the appropriate poetic fonts and alignments. Equally, cover art and a blurb brings the book together as a whole.
  5. Make sure the poetry editor you hire has experience, knowledge and a grasp of poetic terms.

Good luck in the editing process, this is the hardest part of writing. As Ernest Hemingway wrote, ” The first draft of everything is shit.”

 

 

 

 

Blue

Distance grows

months become seconds gone by

I see you so rarely now

I forget your likes

and dislikes

or at least I pretend I do

till sanity slaps me

reminds me of your play on words

and

allure.

 

 

 

Hard

The hardest part of living is accepting your defeats

recognizing your accomplishments, taking care of a plant.

I am bad at all of the easy things and good at the hard shit.

I can take so much pain, you would think I was a punching bag.

I am made up of being a woman.

I am pure femininity. I know no other way to be

or live than by these thoughts and words.

It is  not easy to step into the beauty and continuously fight off

the weeds that try to break through the soil.

I try to make it work. Sometimes I am the only one left

at three a.m looking around for the earth I was born in.

Every day changes me. Every love kills me. I loved you

with thirty years of need. I admit that I need you

and I am not that fine with driving on a highway for thirty minutes straight.

I say I’m sorry so often you’d think I made a thousand mistakes a day.

I am so weak and vulnerable at human frailty.

It seems that vulnerability is a weakness now

but it’s how I live

with the words under my blouse

bra, panties.

And my mom calls me and I stop everything

to pick up the phone

because I worry that one day

the phone will stop ringing.

What am I cooking? Where am I?

How did I sleep?

It’s hard to live with death

constantly on your mind,

it’s easy to write it

and frame it

sell it to the highest bidder.

I stopped waiting for people to apologize

pointless to be waiting on a full moon

when you know it passed.

My heart keeps cracking, freezing

warming up

pounding

it follows the arms of the clock

incessantly

listening to philosophers

free in its spirit

because no matter what faces me

I never give up on the ones I love.

 

 

 

 

Coming up for Air

You dragged me to the show at Corona Theatre

telling me, wait, just wait

and I waited, but nothing happened. I made

up a lot of poems in my head,

of how much I hated their sound in 1997

and it could have been so much of a better

year if you never bought me those tickets.

 

Please do  not remind me of Andre

who gifted me Ratt tickets and ditched

me so I ran to the mosh pit with my brother

and flannel shirts weren’t in style yet.

 

the boys like you, he laughed, buying me another

round of beer at sixteen.

 

The energy reminded me of how

I loved every ounce of your being.

When you approached me, when

you didn’t. When you sat next to me,

when you didn’t. When you fell for me,

when you didn’t. The music aroused me

as you knew it would, but Nina Simone

kept playing in the background of your

old apartment building on the corner of

Jeanne-Mance, right near the hotel

where I lost my virginity at.

You rolled your

eyes at me, like I was just another girl.

 

you’re the one, you said, you have to 

be the mother of my children. 

 

I suppose those are the reasons

you got down on one knee

imagining this is what I wanted.

 

I took the subway to my American Lit

class, it was starting in twenty minutes.

Fuck, I was late again.

 

The professor invited me over.

God, how complicated

everything seemed.

I should write a thesis.

I should give him a blowjob.

I should become a writer.

I should teach.

I should eat his enchilada

it was Mexican night

for the grad students.

 

No, I’m an undergrad. 

 

All the while, there were no cell phones,

no text messaging.

Just me and the grad students

and Mexican night.

So I sat on this bed

and had an interesting conversation

with the professor’s son.

He was eleven.

I slipped out the backdoor.

 

Ain’t got no smokes, I sang to myself.

 

I come up for air once in a while,

most of the time

I write in my head.

 

 

 

Less you, More me

From above if you were watching through

a fine telescope

my wise ass remarks

would help you to understand

that it means nothing

to die. One life to create memories,

one breath to forget. Then Alzheimer

kicks  you and sets you on fire

with nonsense. I try to laugh

to cover up my turmoil of

uneasiness at these awkward situations

when the brain ceases to speak,

when the mind is muddled with

words you never thought

would make you cry.

 

Hold on 

to that patience, you will need it.

 

There was a time I lost everything in you.

Now I speak to my soul and repeat

less you, more me.

All this to convince myself that I still matter

somehow, before the memories fade

or the cancer grows

or the breasts disappear.

It’s Hawaiian day at work

and I will wear my hula

tell all the teachers how I appreciate

their soul

hug a child

and try to forget about the telescope.

 

Hold on to your soul,

you will need it. 

 

Here and Now

It is how the poem never ends

when you write about how

you loved her so much

in such a brief time

with so much passion.

It is how my poem always ends

when I write about how

he loved me very little

with not enough passion.

It is how you let her

close enough to hurt you

and how I let him too close

to burn me

and he certainly did.

I suppose as she burned you

with her fire.

He had this way of making me feel

like a poet

and nothing else.

Never keep up with stranger’s intentions

let them all walk on broken glass

as we sit and watch the show.

We will talk about how they

knew nothing about poetry

and French philosophers

and designer cafe lattes

we will turn the tables

on them

and watch them fall down

or be brave enough to sit and discuss

what we are even fighting for

when all the fight in us is long gone.

In the here and now,

I will let you close enough

and be prepared

for your desertion.

 

Unwritten

Coffee cup on my notebook

words in my head

tiny light to fill the darkness

as the owl in me

waits for the new arrival

of your suitcase

with fresh linens

exchange the old ones. 

You behind the camera lens

a kiss trembling from our lips

give me something to still

the moment

but the poetry sucks

me in like a vortex

leads me to that place

we can only see

no one is there

but us

writing and rewriting

our story

erasing

and creating 

pretending it never happened

while my body and soul 

cries how my essence is yours

as pure as my blood

it needs you 

to drive the force

deep inside.

Walk away fast

ignore me

I’m too weak for you. 

I knew you would go first.