h1

I Breathe and So I Manage to Survive (de/composed from “I Am Alive”)

November 17, 2005

A while back I posted a poem of mine called “I Am Alive”. I also posted a review of a book called “De/Compositions: 101 Good Poems Gone Wrong” in which the author takes poems and rewrites them to illustrate how the original poem works. I have challenged folks at Poetisphere to do the same with their work by taking a poem of their own and “de/composing” it.

Here is “I Am Alive” again, a poem written after 9/11. I will present the original and then “de/compose” it by rephrasing it with meter and rhyme to show how this poem feeds on its jagged rhythm and measure:

I Am Alive

12/16/2001

I am alive
I soar with the spirits of a new generation
My voice rises from the ashes of my former self
And I sing a new song.

I am not the man I once was.
Then — I hid behind the insecurities of my former self
Now — my spine is broken and I see clearly.

I have lost much
Some may say that in losing I have gained,
Yet I know that the gain comes, not in having survived the loss, but in spite of it.

I am cleaner, purer,
I am burned beyond all recognition, charred, smoldering,
Yet all who see me call me beautiful.

I still struggle for meaning,
Every day I journey through all of the hidden piles of rubble and call out names.
And wonder why.

And here is my new version:

I Breathe and So I Manage to Survive (de/composed)

I breathe and so I manage to survive
while soaring with the spirits of this time
I sing, my voice is ashes, “I’m Alive!”
My body left beneath me, I remind

myself that I am not the man I was
I used my false security to hide.
My spine is broken, can I seek to judge
the terrorists who taught me how to glide?

You see I have lost much this horrid day
but I might argue that I’ve gained as much.
The gain, it comes not from my loss, I say,
but rather from the strength it takes to touch

my cleaner, purer, burned and charred remains,
some call them beautiful, but I still know
I will seek out the echos from the planes
and wonder why, no answering “Hello.”

So what do you think? Which one reads better? Why? Do you agree with me that the 1st one with its more jagged edge and lack of forced meter and rhyme allows for a more immediate response? Or does the second one build for you? What about word choice? Images? Does the more explicit 2nd version speak more than the more suggestive first?

And now it is your turn. Take a poem of your own, or take a poem of someone else’s (maybe another Poetisphere poet, or maybe a classic verse you want to try your hand at) and “de/Compose” it by rewriting it to point out the original’s beauty. Post the results here or at your blog…

Advertisements

2 comments

  1. the second one is polished and smooth all flaws are removed and it reads good.

    BUT

    the first one lives, is raw and speaks to the heart
    I prefer the first one as poetry


  2. I would have thought, from your description, that I’d like the smooth, deconstructed one better. But, no doubt about it, there’s a fire and edge to the orginal that drives your intense message much more effectively.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: