One of my writers asked me a great question recently, one that is perhaps overlooked far too often. People frequently look to the writer and ask, ‘Why do you write?’ so much so that even the premise of the question has become a tired and jaded thing. He posed no such redundancy, instead he asked,’Why do you edit?’ and I was taken aback. I was unprepared for such a question, and yet fascinated by its answer. Why does one edit? I could not presume to speak for the whole, but I could certainly share why I do.
I edit, not because I feel I am a failed writer. (Those who cannot do, as the adage goes, you know the rest.) I feel I am a skilled writer, certainly more skilled than some, definitely more inspired than some, but let’s face reality, I possess neither the vision of Yeats, nor the beauty of Baudelaire. I lack the wit of Wilde, and the.. whatever it was that Whitman had, though I suspect I am fortunate in that last portion. I am not destined to become a great poet, I never was. I was always destined to be the force behind the great new poets, pushing them, encouraging them, correcting their grammar with the red pen of doom.
I see in them a thing, a raw, beautiful thing, filled with life and energy and abundance. Sure, the thing may be a bit rough around the edges, but it’s much akin to seeing the diamond within the coal, seeing the potential of the thing and bringing it to it’s fullest. These poets, these writers, they have stories to tell. They have visions to share and songs to sing. If they are not encouraged these songs will remain unheard. These visions must escape, they must be given life, otherwise they would not tug and pull so at the writer, begging to be put to paper until the artist faces madness or consent. In that I suppose is the other half of my answer. I edit to see pieces of dreams brought to life.
I had to thank the poet, the dreamer that he is, for opening my mind to a thing so simple in its beauty that only he could have taken notice. That is why we need the poets, we need them to see, and we need them to show, so that we may dream. It is my job to ensure that they write well, from a place deep within, and that they never stop writing. If my role is but to mend the broken wings of a piece, or of a poet, to see a work given flight, then I will gladly take up that red pen, and I will edit, because that’s what I do.
Now if I may, because all editors still write, I offer a recent piece, still in editing, but I wanted to share it with you. May I humbly present for your viewing, “Broken Dreams of a Broken King”. This piece has very specific meaning, very specific vision, yet I suspect it will be taken subjectively by many, and I am quite alright with it. In fact I would be interested in hearing what you thought, how the piece felt to you, don’t hesitate to comment . The rhyme scheme is AABB, fairly simple, with 12 stanzas of 6 and 8 alternating lines. The syllable count is factored very loosely, allowing for variance from 6-14 beats per line. I felt so long as the rhythm of the piece continued to sing it’s steady beat, I was probably safe. The joys of poetry, and of bending the rules. I hope you’ll enjoy.
“Broken Dreams of a Broken King”
These eyes are all the same, glaring,
watching, never always seeing.
Voices echo in empty halls
I wonder if they are there at all
footsteps fall in trepidation
as I reach my destination,
this hall of doors I know so well.
Every door a prison cell.
Cold and bronze within my grasp
this gateway to another past
futures too, beyond the walls
the place from which the whispers call.
Thus I would slip beyond the scene
that I may know the truth I bring.
See the pathway spiral down
to a twisted king and his broken crown.
Know the man, know his device,
see his dreams be brought to life.
Stare into the sightless eyes
find within, the truths they hide.
Note the curl of his crooked smile
stay longer now, rest here a while.
The host is fed, she’ll see it done,
I cannot cease what has begun,
this journey to fulfill my need,
the way in which I too, must feed
into the one that gives to me
nurturing all curiosity.
So now I take this thing inside
to where objective truth presides.
In such place I see it well
I begin to weave it to spell.
A thing of beauty, fraught with strife
how else to live and call it life?
Love the image, love the dream,
at peace within tormented screams.
Dig deeper now, see where it goes.
Don’t feel the body lost in throes
of agony and pleasure still,
as the body bends to this will.
Know it is for you as well,
though you are lost within your spell.
The keeper holds you as his own,
abandoning his broken throne.
Allowing you the time to see
the truths within each mystery.
Cling to the madness, don’t let it slip
all that you seek, in tightened grip.
Alone I am again it seems,
still lost within my vacant dreams,
the voices cease the air is still
now is the time, to manifest will.
Heeding sweet, reminding voice,
I am left with little choice
and with a heavy sigh I move
deeper, darker, no refuge.
I feel the thing begin to grow
as I descend further below,
into the place where darkness lies
and all emotion must subside.
Here there is nothing left for me to see
the greatest nothing that could be.
The nothing, yes, of course I know
a wondrous gift you could never show.
A thing that only I could find,
a thing held only in the mind
of the one who sees the path,
who knew the journey, and now holds the map.
I may return when I deem I must
again I’ll rest within that trust.
For now I pause and lift my arms
to be surrendered to the charms
of lilted laugh and gentle touch
never hurried, never rushed.
Lifted I am, to where I lay
until I wake, here I will stay.
Within the shelter of most elegant design
I rest within the knowledge of the treasures that are mine.
This thing I could not keep, it is only mine to give.
Only in such manner could it ever truly live.
Fed I am, that I may feed her every passing whim,
until the time in which I need to feed on her again.
© Melissa Black, 2015 All rights reserved.