Which makes a better first poem in a book?
the baby is naked
she has the hose
and foolishly I shriek
“don’t get me wet!”
egging her on
her blond tousled hair
bangs in her eyes
she can say “ant” and “please”
but what is she really
so too the neighbor’s bees
cast runes in the book of the day
I’ve cultivated for
in the ruined city
there is honey
beneath the masonry
(still standing in the desert)
how close, in autumn,
Along the Chama
I greet everyone I meet
on the river path
the fisherman in his red shirt
his old wife with the little dog
“cute dog,” I say
waiting for her smile
out towards the Brazos cliffs
mist like a Chinese painting
and huge stone calving out of the mountain range
a partial but sincere rainbow
appearing and disappearing
and the “check tire pressure” light comes on
and we turn back
the air machine is on the blink
because “it was hit by lightning”
the convenience store clerk won’t make change
until I pull my grandmother-in-trouble face
really, the tires are fine, just a little low
it’s dark now, and I don’t know
which neon sign is prettier
The first was my initial choice. Then, at my editor’s suggestion, I randomized the manuscript (i.e. threw it up in the air and arranged it blindly). I do like what resulted.
They’re both wonderful, but I like the turn in the first one. Though the final 2 stanzas in number 2 are very arresting. Is there a specific direction the book will take? Would that make a difference? Just the ramblings of a currently unmoored mind. My little ones left yesterday, starting to make their way to a new life in France. Feeling a bit bereft.
On Wed, Jun 30, 2021 at 10:10 Miriam’s Well: Poetry, Land Art, and Beyond wrote:
> Miriam Sagan posted: ” Which makes a better first poem in a book? The Fool > the baby is nakedI’m clothedshe has the hoseand foolishly I shriek“don’t > get me wet!”egging her on her blond tousled hairbangs in her eyesshe can > say “ant” and “please”but what is she reallythi” >
It will depend on the collection as a whole, but my vote with seeing only two, is for the Rio poem,the second one. I feel like the VACANCY/NO VACANCY ending invites me into the rest of the collection. Maybe? Quick response….
I definitely prefer the 1st one–a lovely choice
Miriam…since you asked: “Along the Chama,” which strikes me as more universal. (Not all of us relate to children.)
Anne MacNaughton Taos, New Mexico
#2. It’s more totally Miriam.
I prefer the first poem, it feels more alive and invites me to read more 😊
Thank you all for the kind feedback! I’m still dithering–everything spread out on the floor. Hope to know soon!
Both are good, recognizable as your voice…but what is to follow? Tie it into the general direction of the book? Best thoughts – it’s soooo hard to proofread & edit one’s own work. Just follow your heart, here.