I find at every event I attend an empty space
full of duos in motion. Touch sounds

like the pressing of shoulders. My shoulder
is bare. Holding words or speaking hands,

they carve out hemispheres for themselves,
domes of inside feelings expressed in shorthand

under the artificial light. I feel
beautifully unmastered. In the empty

seats around me, vacuum
sucks my stomach out through skin.

#NaPoWriMo 2017 Day 1


I read Prelude to Bruise by Saeed Jones yesterday and several of the poems and specific lines resonated with my own past and feelings (those poems and lines that weren’t quite as familiar to me because of our vastly different experiences were frequently eye-opening and took my breath away.) For example, “Blue Prelude” (page 58) struck me as a vivid expression of loneliness. I tried to emulate Jones’s techniques and form to describe how loneliness feels to me in my own poem, “Attendee.” Jones’s images are frequently unexpected and breathtaking (“Music dripped down the walls / like rain in an old house”.) I’m not sure that I came up with anything comparable in this first draft, but I did try to focus on imagery to help make concrete the abstraction of loneliness. The last image in “Blue Prelude” is so powerful (“the record’s needle pointed into my back, / spinning me into no one’s song.”) I went for something as vivid but I’m not sure it has the same impact and it’s certainly missing that pointed reminder of loneliness (“no one’s song”) as a contradiction to the image of the needle playing a record.

Jones’s lines break across stanzas, which is a technique I find draws me willingly and with speed through poems. I attempted the same in my poem. I tried to zoom in and out as Jones does in his poem. My extended metaphor is all over the place and would be something to work on in future drafts.

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Richard Leis

Richard Leis is a writer and poet living in Tucson, Arizona. His poetry has been published in Impossible Archetype. His essays about fairy tales and technology have been published on Tiny Donkey and Fairy Tale Review’s “Fairy-Tale Files“.