2/17/2017: On Line Breaks in Poetry

I’m looking at the two versions of of a poem I wrote, “Reach” (As of 10/18/2017, it’s still just sitting in a folder on my computer).

The first, what’s more natural to me at this point, separates lines into different grammatical parts. For instance, in the first stanza, I separate the three prepositional clauses into their own lines. I follow the same thing throughout the poem, actually. It’s all separated into different grammatical parts.

I have read poems that do not follow this method (some more than others), and it’s these that the second version emulates. They break sometimes in between grammatical units, like nouns and their modifiers, like prepositional clauses, etc. The effects seem to include natural forward motion, like stair steps or like the meter in Jabberwocky, and an emphasis on certain words or phrases that wouldn’t otherwise be noteworthy.

Here’s a couple for study:

http://www.rattle.com/on-domestic-ecosystems-by-liv-lansdale/

This one seems to break each stanza into three lines regardless of what’s going on in the thought. At the same time, thoughts always end at the end of a stanza, even though a thought might take up more than one stanza. Each line is two to three words. So I can’t tell if she’s following the numbers or following one of the other purposes I mentioned before. Or something else I’m missing.

https://www.fathommag.com/stories/the-cellist

Garrett also sticks to a specific number of lines in each stanza, but he doesn’t seem to stick to a specific number of words in each line.

Perhaps I should read up on modern line breaks. There’s bound to be a reasoning I’m missing.

Advertisements

Ophthalmoi

An oak looms in the garden,

My effigy of pain,

I’ve not climbed since May’s rain,

When soaked hands slipped,           bones broke, skin ripped,

And I ran inside, alone.

Friends on the oak’s limbs beckon,

Enticing me outside.

In my kitchen, I’ll hide.

Wood can’t harass    me through paned glass,

Crouched, back to the door, alone.

If I could see the arm that reached to stand me up again

To climb the oak, to rest upon not ground, not under limbs;

If I could see the tree anew,

Not sharp as black but multihued,

With eyes not mine to recognize

Insects and birds, the clouds and sky.

The oak waits in the garden.

I climb its trunk again.

Scent of rain, shouting wind—

Rustling leaves          can’t hinder me

From escaping my prison.

How I Would Paint Success

Blackbeard in an Armani

His cross-bone skibbies ride over a sharkskin belt

A white-and-red mint hides his Gehenna breath

Clean-shaven scars swath his cheeks and chin

And his sword arm waves against the sky

That I would row! row! row!

Scurvy Dog in a suit

 

And

 

A ribeye of wagyu

Over applewood embers

On the grill of Hephaestus, himself

But under the char

Maggots burrow

And gnaw its rot

And smear their feces

Along its marbled halls

Yum

Poop-steak