Souvenirs for the indecisive (16 June)

these words have been seen before
in precisely this order,
even with the same breaks
lined up in perfect unison.

So why retrace these routes, hand-draw
mirrored lines to create word-for-word
consuming one thin strip,
a whole half-page?

Perhaps you were enchanted with its birdsong
or simply left wordless, caught spellbound
in an unexpected blink
whose shock you wanted to remember.

So you lift it casually, a quick snap
without thinking traced in teen scrawl
a soon misremembered notebook,
inevitably discarded and

my one hope
is that the song
still echoes.

Still more (June 10)

And then you wonder what we are collecting,
all these flash-frozen stills
compiled in one unbound catalogue
filling evermore life’s larder
like canned preserves compressed
into tiny jars and stockpiled
for some eventual consumption
if only to confirm these dotted days
on our single strand were real,
even if we were not,
though we kept adding because.

Just as we might accumulate
a stockpile of friends and followers:
for who is to say when enough is enough
so long as it is easier to take
the measure of our lives numerically
in the weight of numbers,
the movement of masses and
the height of reflections,
for what can be counted must surely count

and so we continue hoarding life
but never loving what we can hold,
inhabiting an uncollected now
instead of the other.

Somehow this seems like a moodier poem than I intended. And yet: if you could see the drafts, the deleted words and phrases – all those “perfect” lines inked and then erased. Seemingly, the voice turned as I was rewriting, in the process of feeling the rhythm and trying to capture a feeling, an attitude. I’m not convinced it’s quite there but, then again, this is really “draft” poetry.
I find that forcing myself to publish makes me go through a different process (as does writing this on computer). I won’t write it all the way through, but might write a few lines/images, play around with them, then come back. Later, when I’m reading it aloud, I try and find a flow and pace that fits – that helps the meaning “sing”. But I don’t find myself (consciously) thinking about where to place a symbol or metaphor, where to alliterate. When I notice it happening, I might revise and see whether I can improve the effect. That, though, is just how I write (at least at this stage in my writing life).