Two Versions of a Poem by Sudasi Clement–Your Preference?

Sudasi, poetry editor of the Santa Fe Literary Review, has kindly allowed us to look at two versions of one of her poems. Which do you prefer? Why? Basically, do you want that extra stanza in or out?

Elegy for My Brother’s Hair

He was a king once, and you were his crown—
waist-length waves of brown threaded with gold.
During his brief reign we swam in the river,
strolled home through the center of town.

The eyes of a woman across the street 
found him, his splendid braid 
come undone, wild mane in the wind—
she walked into a telephone pole.

Fine locks, you’ve gone the way of rosy skin
and easy muscle. You’ve followed our sleek black
dog with the white-tipped tail to the kingdom 
of blue-berried, woods-wandering days. 

—————————–

Elegy for My Brother’s Hair

He was a king once, and you were his crown—
waist-length waves of brown threaded with gold.
During his brief reign we swam in the river,
strolled home through the center of town.

The eyes of a woman across the street 
found him, his splendid braid 
come undone, wild mane in the wind—
she walked into a telephone pole.

Today he called: I don’t know how to wear
my hair, there’s so little of it left on my head.
I cast my vote for clean-shaven, rings 
in each ear, a tattoo on the back of his skull.

Fine locks, you’ve gone the way of rosy skin
and easy muscle. You’ve followed our sleek black
dog with the white-tipped tail to the kingdom 
of blue-berried, woods-wandering days. 

12 thoughts on “Two Versions of a Poem by Sudasi Clement–Your Preference?

  1. I love the bit about the woman walking into the telephone pole! I much prefer the 2nd version’s 3rd stanza, and would end the poem with it. The current 4th stanza feels predictable to me, and its language seems less energized and more “poetic.”

  2. if you use the stanza “today he called…” think of trying it as first stanza; it seems to break the flow of the elegy in the second version; humorous, light … i think i vote for first version but i liked how that “he called” stanza puts you and he in it.

  3. I want to start by writing that I LOVE this poem
    So damn much! That being said, this was a tough decision! I loved the rhythm of
    The first version, but do love that added stanza
    In the second! When I read them both out
    Loud, I opted for the first version! But, I do
    Love both! Sorry I don’t have a solid vote
    On this one! It’s a winner either way!!! Outstanding!!!

  4. Thanks so much to all of you for your input. Now I’m REALLY stumped! I may just keep 3 or 4 versions on hand and use whichever suits my mood for submission purposes. Really appreciate the feedback!!

    • Sudasi,

      I like the second version much more. Well done.
      I’m also jealous that your brother was able to experience the joy of
      long golden locks….

      Michael

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