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Practical Pursuits

Almost every minute of living
I compromise to survive;
Cruise control in the middle lane,
And in the middle lane of life-
I wait my turn to be heard
And never preach my rage.
My budget determines which wine,
As I choose my ultimate style.
I would have stayed out late last night
But today I had to be on time,
So I tried to find love...

Long ago I sang myself to sleep
To “believe in yourself” lullabies-
When you awake, keep in line!
I learned to keep inside the furious lie
That I am not the worshiped one,
Surrendering to compromise.

Today I read the rave reviews
About some Broadway Musical-
To me such odious sounds
Could make the angel’s wail-
Yet if you ask, I smile, a social animal
Am I, so politically reconciled.

Inside I’m like the seasons and tides
In a greedy need of winning.
The spider devours its mate
Dead or alive, never to apologize.

All the gods of all the holy books
Welcome only souls without barter-
Appeasement is my concubine.

Last few words: 
revised 3/17
Editing stage: 


It is a distinct pleasure to read your poems.
This particular one flows beautifully and has very pleasant internal rhymes.
The subject is appealing and moving.
The longing for escape from the personal and societal constraints is not stated directly instead the poem simply leads to the assumption that the appeasement is not permanent, that sooner or later your character will drink recklessly expensive wine, will send to hell the boring norms and take a new lover of maybe less refined but definitely wilder nature.


After this poem went through 2 workshops I did a lot of editing. I just re-posted Please re-read now and tell me what you think. The workshops really help!
Very much appreciated!

I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance
ee cummings

author comment

Good morning,
I reread and also used the compare option.
First impression was a protest. I did not want you to change anything. On the second thought,
the new version reads easier. It explains more.
It has some minor changes that make it a bit longer but really do not change the meaning.
The vibe is still the same.
So the second version is spelled out and read better. Is it a better poem, only you know.
Here are my thoughts on the subject of revisions:
There is a thin balance between obscure and trivial. Only the author has the true feel where to stand. Practically any great poem can be ruined by spelling it out. I seriously think that workshops are dangerous places where the peer pressure makes a poet to trivialize his work.
You have your own well developed and polished taste in poetry; be brave, my suggestion, listen less and simply go back to the text yourself and check with yourself if there is something you have not told yet.

Back to your poem, I think the image of cruise control (I like it) you have added yourself after sleeping on the first draft, the more precise wording (optional and minor changes to my opinion) of the following stanzas came from the workshops. Am I correct?
Best wishes, IR


Next time you see I've been on an edit splurge you'll know why lol. Yep the shops really Do help in encouraging editing don't theY/ It is evident in this poem which is much better than original......stan

There are many ways we write a poem. Sometimes it just comes right out, but this one was like this.
With the idea of "compromise" I spent a few days just automatic writing everything I felt about it- in relation to life, love, death, god, children, etc, and got about 15 pages worth...and in one of them I got first 2 line which is the current one. Once there it became like a totem pole, picking out ideas from the
pages and ending up with the first version, after 15 or 20 revisions. Within the writing was the issue of words and rhymes and I decided to try it as it felt, a broken rhyme scheme with some internal and slant rhymes. I am starting to like the idea of partial rhymes in a poem, if the poem just sounds right after some readings, whispering it to yourself aloud.
The workshops noted in the first stanza that "survive" was too strong a word to follow with choosing wine, I agreed and thought of driving in cruise was the safe compromise to be a good citizen, a life and death decision, and then loved the idea of that entire image- the middle lane. I added Preach my rage to add strong emotion...then to lead in to the silly choices (and compromises) we must make all day long.

It was suggestion second stanza i should keep the stance personal, not make the universal "you"
but keep it "I" Good point.

The next stanza was most problematic, I was hoping that one image could symbolize all the the insults of having to to be "politically reconciled" in living our lives in practical pursuits.

I did not change the last 2 stanzas. There were comments that it became too abstract and impersonal. Most people got that our gods have made it clear to us than only those that do not compromise our faith will be saved, in relation to the poem. A few felt I was bringing in too much. Of the 20 other poets, 10 to a workshop, mostly really liked the last line. A few did not.

Such is the history of this poem. Including workshops about 40 hours of work. Its like a full time job.

I agree a great poem doesn't have to spell it out...but at the same time, if i look through the anthologies of "great poems", be they modern or otherwise, they mostly do. Shakespeare is so clear as to the intent of his poetry, and the all the big names other than Blake and 20th century abstractionists like Stevens or Luise Bogan. The more I read the more greedy I become as a reader. I need to know what the poem is about to be engaged. Then it can go abstract, and use the words and images to do their magic. But yes indeed, there is a fine line between too much exposure. I hope in this poem I did both- spelled it out but left the reader with an emotional response. The I in poem is of course meant to be everybody.

I'd rather learn from one bird how to sing
than teach ten thousand stars how not to dance
ee cummings

author comment

thank you for elaborating on your creative process. the poem is in a good balance i agree.


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