A friend appeared, sitting
to the right, looking
to the left. His eye
crossing over, one staring
at my hair, one at the birch
outside the window.
A soil under the nails
type of boy, his smile
looked as though
it swallowed his face.
He speaks of fear
and David Lynch
and fingertips on Windex
stained glass. If he’s a person
with pink tinted cheeks and strong
hair on his arms, who’s voice
like a valley
girl’s on LSD, then maybe
I’m the fiction, who replies
with a voice like desks pulled
across linoleum and hips
that don’t move
whose chest blotched blood in red
with a left eyelid that’s only
ever half open
A stranger she was,
her nose, a spotty bulge
crossed between her eyes.
Red nail polish, a chip on the ledge
of her incisor, playing at being lipstick.
Her chest blotching
in excitement, I know it wasn't the only thing.
Smile, with my lip slipped up and over,
stretched tight against the roots of my teeth.
Her veins flowing even moister.
I tell her she should fear
that surreal feeling she gets
as if in a Lynch film.
I tell her maybe if she stopped
being caught behind streaky
glass and get her hands dirty,
maybe then she’d be real. No,
her hearing ears retreat, with her eyes
glossed blue and blind.
A stranger came and sat next to me.
A girl with a window shade eyelid,
that came glittered with glass specks
to blind you from the allure
of the mismatched awn of her eyebrows.
I spoke of fearing neonism
and bloodying the Lynchian way
and fingertip grease staining
Windexed glass. The prickling
draft of the air vented through
the hair on my arms standing straight
as bouquets on buried ground.
Cheeks inflamed, cooled from the stiff breath
of her passing, she spoke with a curtain
pulled from one tonsil to the other.
Muffling the lift of her tongue, she wet
the peak of her lip, air in, screaming.
A girl she was,
straight from the pages
of a fiction never read. Towel dry
She wore a mask
of faded lipstick and freckles
covered over. Her words came out
a chair skidding over linoleum
and fingers that touched forearm
and stuck like toothpaste
dried on a sink, still gummy and wet,
like she just pulled Winterfresh
from her mouth.
I taught from fear
of the Lynch and bribed her to Windex my glass.
Maybe if I was one to smile with no upper lip showing, maybe then she'd pretend
I was real, with my eyes too dark
for her liking, and a middle toe
that stuck out farther then the rest.
A girl appeared, her eyes crossed,
looking at my hand. Focused on the sliver
in my finger, her tongue reached out
and tasted, tipped back and swallowed,
but I didn't flinch. Her fingers squeezed
my wrist when I looked away,
leaving track marks up my arm.
Chasing wind through the birch
outside the window, she whistled,
moving spit inside her mouth.
Her eyes melted two ovals darkened
underneath that no cream could ever
A girl appeared,
sitting to my left,
her eyes stared past my face
like she was talking to someone else.
I asked her what she fears,
and complemented her Lynchian way
and argued that Windex doesn't clean
fingertips off stained glass.
Her voice released the breath
that stood my hair on end
and I watched her walk
down the street, tightwalking
on the yellow line, and she could
because her hips didn't
and her hands stayed flat by her side,
and she was surrounded by cars
that couldn't help, but swerve.
Underdeveloped was a poem I wrote after meeting this kid who seemed like such an anomaly and I wanted to play with real life things being turned into something that seemed quite fake, but that's how they really were, so really, how could they not be true? After I wrote the whole poem, I started playing with the form because it didn't seem as filling in a single stanza "black and white" form.
My original draft was in the girl's point of view, but then I changed the point of view to the boy's because I thought being in the girl's point of view, you had this cliche of the girl's daydream with this boy she almost seems to make up, especially with the "his smile/looked as though/it swallowed his face" and "strong hair on his arms." I thought with the ending of the girl wondering if she was a fiction just played on the thought that girl's put these thoughts in their head and build themselves up/tear themselves down with these thoughts of "loving the flaws" and how fiction writers like to build these flaws into perfection of the characters. I thought moving the point of view to a boy's, it wouldn't turn into this romantic daydream.
Revision 1, I gave a tone of the boy too good for this girl, and being aware of this romanticism with describing her nose, "a spotty bulge," and the red nail polish on her teeth and how he wasn't impressed. I tried keeping harsh enjambments out of this revision because I thought it gave the narrator a little more credibility because he wasn't all over the place with his thoughts, each line could hold up itself, except for a two lines near the bottom. Each revision, I wanted to try on a new tone to see where it sat best. The first having romantic ideas and images, the second where it's not romantic at all and you have images and a voice that is rougher than the first.
Revision 2, I gave the narrator a more romantic look at the girl, because I think it makes the narrator a little more interesting to the reader. He uses images of "window shade eyelids" that I thought gave the girl a mysterious air because when someone has their curtains drawn, you are always curious what's inside, and when they are half open, I feel like it's practically impossible to not look inside and I wanted him to be curious. Especially with what they spoke about being almost lofty and academically charged subjects, but still something that's human. I found that Revision 2 had that flowery feeling that the original draft had, and definitely not as base as Revision 1.
Revision 3, I wanted to try stanzas for the form instead of the blocky one stanza, or the more flippant form of the original version. I wanted the images to be fresh, like her fingertips being like toothpaste still stuck in the sink, like that feeling of fingers that just got done pulling gum from the mouth. I wanted to reverse the feeling, or I suppose the characters of the original version and the third revision, because for this one the Lynch reference was completely different than all of the other versions because it had that historic zing and you were wondering more about the narrator instead of the girl. I thought the stanzas broke up the time period a little instead of it being a spew of thought from this one narrator, you had a spread of an interaction between these two people like you did in the original draft.
I'm sorry, but I really don't know where Revision 4 came from, but I thought it was relevant because the reader finally got that really weird feeling from the girl that I kind of wanted from the beginning, like something doesn't sit right with you after and there's nothing you can do about it, and it set up the last revision as I wanted it to. I had a really hard time with this entire website creating the same feeling off a draft because I think I feel that once something is written, there's something finished about it that you can't ever take back, and you can add to it, but you can't change it for yourself. There's always that first draft, so why not just build on it as much as possible and add all you can to the draft you're working on so you collect everything you want that time? I guess I think it's important to save that voice that you had at that moment because I think there's a reason it was there, and you might be able to refine it, but it will never have that effect that first words do.