First Draft


Poetry consumed my thoughts all day, yesterday.  In the evening, I reread the instructor's poem.  I am taking a workshop in Prose Poetry Memoir Writing.  In the syllabus, when I read the instructor's example, I thought, "this kind of poetry is just like one run-on sentence."  I didn't think much of it.

 Now, listen up.

Last night, I read the story she distributed to the class.  Guess what?  It's a great short story.  I liked it a lot.  Then I looked up her prose memoir poem.  It's the very same!  So with that in mind, I took one of my poems that I recollected from my childhood and turned it into a memoir.  In other words, I expanded my emotions.  I wove a story around the feeling.

Here's the original story:

Cemetery Ice Capades

Dodging gravestones at winter's dusk
My labored breathing pounding in my ears,
I raced through the silence of the dead,
Leaving clouds of rasping vapor.

Being chased by serrated points,
My figure skates beat sharply
Against my back, like a jockey
Whipping his mount, to the finish.

Dee, Sue, Marilyn, and all,
Girlfriends in freestyle synchro.
Toured jubilantly across
Pete's Bog.  It went on far too long.

The sun slipped behind the trees.
Leaving me alone, skates balanced
Over my shoulder, whipping me faster,
down the cemetery hill to home.

Help me Grandma, Help me Grandpa!
Ask the Lord to protect me.
With labored breathing pounding in my ears,
I dodged gravestones at winter's dusk.

In keying this original poem, I see elements in it that I wished I had put in the following prose poem memoir.  I probably will add them.  Today is my usual writer's group.  I'll offer up these two versions and see what my critics say.  But for the moment, here's what I scribbled, last night.

                                                   Cemetery Ice Capades

Being chased by the serrated points, my figure skates beat sharply against my back,
like a jockey whipping his mount toward the finish line. My friends and I were skating
on the bog, behind cemetery hill. We were having such a grand time that the slipping
sun sliding behind the trees on the horizon, went unnoticed. Well, it was noticed, but
we were too hesitant to end our fun.  Figure skates have too many grommets to
loosen, especially with frozen fingers tugging at knots.  Various "goodbyes" were
called out. Then suddenly, I was alone. Alone--at dusk--in a cemetery--with silent
graves--loud silence!  I tied my skates together.  Tossed them, balanced over my
shoulder and took off running.  I dodged gravestones racing towards home, at the
bottom of cemetery hill.The skates whipped me to run faster. My feet never touched
the ground.  I flew over frozen puddles and little snow mounds.  I didn't look right,
or left, or down, or around.  Tears dripped out of my eyes and froze on my cheeks.
My breathing pounded in my ears as my heart beat out a prayer. I raced through paths
till I broke out free of the dangerous neighborhood, and slid down the hill where I
was home safe.

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