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Killing Myself to Live

by simonSRW 

Posted: 01 July 2009
Word Count: 264
Summary: Any comments welcomed


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Quite often I sit in my study,
thinking about my past that has been.
Not a thing I have control over,
just my life before,
and its permeating stink.
And I wonder. I wonder why I suffer this trauma;
this thing thatís my life before.

And these thoughts are forever present,
bugging me, taunting me,
pushing me to the brink.
Contemplating the uncontemplatable
and I wonder why I think,
the thoughts I ought not consider,
the thoughts of what should have been.
I try so hard to reconcile my history
with the things as they is.
And occasionally, I fail,
this warranted duty unto myself,
but itís the way things are, it is,
ó the way life is as it is.

And when theyíre foremost in my thoughts,
still pushing me to the brink.
I look at the bottle before me,
after my mind has turned to drink.
And savour every moment,
when my mind has been comfortably numbed.
Itís a release from my torment
and although the mantra has been drummed

ó into me

ó that Iím killing myself,

the path is already laid.
Thereís nothing I can do to get off it,
thereís nothing I can pay,
for my history and my life before,
things started going my way.

Am I forever having to follow this deep and cataclysmic rift;
the borderline between the now and my past that is as it is?

For now I know the answer,
as it is in my gift,
to follow through with the only option I have,
and that is,

ó killing myself to live.






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Comments by other Members



Nella at 20:22 on 02 July 2009  Report this post
I think the existential thought/idea behind this is very moving, disturbing and worthy of a poem. I do think you could tighten it up, though. You have a lot of "is"s and "it"s which somehow distract from the underlying message, and I particularly wondered about the "is" in this line:
with the things as they is.
I'm not sure if this grammatical error just slipped in or if it was intended to rhyme with, or repeat, some of the other "is"s.
I feel that some of the rhyme sounds forced. Maybe a freer style would fit the message better.
Best,
Robin

Felicity F at 22:11 on 02 July 2009  Report this post
Hi Simon,

I think that this poem has some good words and lines.The thoughts expressed are also
effective,but I would agree with Robin, in that its format needs to be disciplined,or
'tightened' up.

I would re write it and try and condense it more. At present it has all the ingredients of a
great poem but is not expressed as effectively as it could be.

Although,looking at the first verse,you say that you do not have control over the past.
Perhaps you intended the words to reflect this lack of control? To mirror thoughts that come
unbidden.

Felicity.

simonSRW at 18:39 on 03 July 2009  Report this post
Thanks Robin and Felicity, for your comments.


The "with the things as they is" was deliberate and at the time of writing the thought came with a shrug of the shoulders and a shake of the head - but I do agree with whatís been said.

The words are pretty much as they came and I worry that formalising it may move it away from presenting actual thoughts into something else entirely.

But with two out of two comments indicating more work is required I will go back to it and see what I can do.

Thanks once again for your comments.

all the best

Simon


freynolds at 19:12 on 09 July 2009  Report this post
Hi Simon,

Sorry I am so late coming onto this. Like Robin and Kirsty, I think that this poem is an uncut diamond. It has some powerful thoughts expressed and I'd tend to agree that it could still be improved on a little. The presence of the past has a strong voice, here but sometimes you can say more by saying less. I am myself often guilty of putting too much and members of this group have been very helpful in pointing out ways to say just enough.

I find that on occasions I have gone back to previously written poems and managed to improve them so that they say just enough. I wonder if perhaps you would benefit from doing a I do; look at every word and ask myself 'is it necessary?' if not, remove it.

Looking at the first few lines, for example, just a few cuts to start with might bring out more of the essence. From;
Quite often I sit in my study,
thinking about my past that has been.
Not a thing I have control over,
just my life before,
and its permeating stink.
And I wonder. I wonder why I suffer this trauma;
this thing thatís my life before.


To;
Quite often I sit in my study,
thinking about my past
my life before,
and its permeating stink.
And I wonder why this trauma;
why this life before.

Obviously, that would be my own personal interpretation and as I am not the author of the poem, I may well be cutting out some essential elements, but I just wanted to illustrate what I was saying. All I did was remove some of the words.

Having said this, one thing that came out strongly was the feeling of powerlessness conveyed in the poem, the inevitability of the past, the bleakness of the present and the temptation of the bottle and the soothing, albeit brief, comfort it provides. This to me was very powerfully conveyed.

Fabienne




James Graham at 17:23 on 11 July 2009  Report this post
Sorry Iím late commenting, but Iíve been offline. I agree that the subject of this poem is moving and disturbing, something that demands that a poem be written about it. But I agree too that it needs to be worked on.

Thereís a lot of repetition, and the first reaction perhaps of most readers would be that poetry ought to be concise, that one line will say it all without another line repeating the same idea. However, I found I could just see a justification for the way youíve written the poem. The repetitions Iím especially thinking about are such as Ďlife beforeí, ĎI wonder. I wonderí and

but itís the way things are, it is,
ó the way life is as it is.

the borderline between the now and my past that is as it is?

the only option I have,
and that is


Itís possible to see these repetitions not as a fault but as a way of conveying the speakerís state of mind - confused, going round in circles, sluggish in his mind, getting into a kind of rut with his thoughts and often unable to move on.

However I think this idea would have to be more developed all through the poem, with more examples of circular thinking, more references back to what had already been said, and even some deliberately garbled phrases which the speaker then corrects. All this could create a portrait of someone on the edge, struggling as much with language as with his life.

Easy for me to say - I would find this a hard poem to write, hard to bring off. The easier thing to do, which could also produce a strong and effective poem, would be to make cuts - aim even to reduce the poem to half its present length. This is not to say every last repetition should be cut. A single repetition of something like Ďlife as it isí could be very effective. One word-for-word repetition in a poem usually strikes the reader as significant; two or more and the impact is quickly lost.

Maybe youíre already revising - if so, I hope this doesnít complicate the process too much.

As I said at the beginning, the subject - as Fabienne puts it, 'the feeling of powerlessness conveyed in the poem, the inevitability of the past, the bleakness of the present' - is one that asks for a poem to be made from it, and itís well worth working on.

James.


simonSRW at 23:32 on 11 July 2009  Report this post
Cheers James & Fabienne. As always the comments on this forum are very helpful.
And it's great to note that the struggle, the struggle, is conveyed enough within the words and within the story.

And although I do like Fabienne's re-work of the first stanza, for me it seems it should be part of a different poem covering the topic.

The way I read the re-crafted stanza makes me feel like it has been sterilised in some way; the natural rhythm being excised, rendering dry the piece if it was to be orated.

BUT there is the forever present problem of conveying text on page as it is intended to be heard. There is no good tool available to a writer to enable the conveyance of a particular pieceís rhythm and delivery barring things like, the ellipsis, the em dash, the en dash, line breaks, semi colons and commas. And at the end of the day how these are read is wholly dependant on the reader.

And with regard to repetitions such as ďAnd I wonder. I wonderÖĒ emphasising the (in this case) tumultuous difficulty in rationalising what is against what should have been is lost because the thoughts are presented in text alone.

I do agree there needs to be some re-working Ė it was a first draft. But what Iím going to do first, before I doing anything else, is provide an audio link so the poem can be heard as it was intended to be read.

I do understand from the messages I get from this forum and others that poetry has, what seems to be, an inviolate architecture. However, from the readings Iíve been to and the poetry thatís delivered via such channels as BBC Radio 4, on occasions, there seems to be a massive disconnect between what Iím being told and poetryís reality.


James Graham at 16:44 on 12 July 2009  Report this post
I can see better where you're going with this. Probably the best way to work on the poem would be to develop it as a speech utterance - the utterance of someone who is struggling to keep himself together, and at the same time struggling to express his predicament. He would repeat himself, he would use awkward phrases, he would lose his thread, he would have to correct himself. Yes, I'd say that's the way to go - go all out for an oral poem, like a speech in play or screenplay, with all the speech peculiarities written into it.

James.

simonSRW at 22:06 on 15 July 2009  Report this post
I can see better where you're going with this. Probably the best way to work on the poem would be to develop it as a speech utterance - the utterance of someone who is struggling to keep himself together, and at the same time struggling to express his predicament. He would repeat himself, he would use awkward phrases, he would lose his thread, he would have to correct himself. Yes, I'd say that's the way to go - go all out for an oral poem, like a speech in play or screenplay, with all the speech peculiarities written into it.

Thanks for your comment James - I really didn't expect any validation of the approach I'd taken, particularly as my background to poetry is unknown and has taken more from auditory representations than any words I have read on a page Ė though I do have a lot of Edgar Allen Poeís works.
When writing my piece in my mind was a person on stage, sitting at a table, in a single spot light, with a bottle in front of him Ė a world weary person, shoulders slumped, annoyed at the treadmill of his own making Ė totally frustrated; with the auditorium dark and completely empty.


SarahT at 20:02 on 07 August 2009  Report this post
Hi,

There have been some great comments already. My only opinion on this was one that has already been expressed - I thought that it needed to be a little shorter, slightly less repetitive. If you do chop it down, I could see a place for the line about 'the things as they is', which I think could work quite well. At the moment, I don't think it totally succeeds because it is the only such throwaway line. You could change the tone of the poem to turn it towards being a monologue that is slightly more cynical and resigned and possibly even slightly more humourous with it. At the moment, it sounds almost too bitter, which can interfere with the reader's empathy.

Sarah

simonSRW at 23:45 on 12 August 2009  Report this post
Thanks Sarah. I think all the comments so far posted about this work have led me to one conclusion and that is; I am not adequately knowledgeable about poetry to grasp the advice posted.
In order to realise the knowledge Iím after I will post a separate topic relating to this.
Many thanks again, to all those that have taken the time to read my post and comment on it.


freynolds at 08:42 on 14 September 2009  Report this post
Hi Simon,

I've just listened to the audio file of the poem, and you were right. Listening to it the way you intended your voice to be heard, makes the poem clearer and the struggle more obvious. It is very haunting. I don't know if the echo was intentional but it added an element of dread that the written version did not convey as strongly.

Thanks for sharing,

Fabienne

simonSRW at 22:20 on 15 September 2009  Report this post
Thank you, Fabienne, for coming back to this post and commenting again. The echo was intentional, but only because I don't rate my speaking voice that highly.

However, this does raise the question - how does one transcribe poetry accurately so that all the nuances intended are conveyed in the written text? Is it possible?



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