Monday, March 27, 2006

LANGUAGE STRANGLES ME (TWICE!)

here are two versions of this little poem. The only difference is the last line. Which is better: "beside me" or the more oblique "within me"? I also considered having the third line be "I"ll live longer than you" or even "I live longer than you."

version one:
LANGUAGE STRANGLES ME

I stop breathing
fall to the floor
“language lives longer than you,”
language says
laughing its smug grammar
its pert yet accurate
911 in the sand beside me

version two:
LANGUAGE STRANGLES ME

I stop breathing
fall to the floor
“language lives longer than you,”
language says
laughing its smug grammar
its pert yet accurate
911 in the sand within me

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Gary,
I think within me is better. Cool poem!
Sandra A.

gary barwin said...

thanks, Sandra.

I agree. "Within me" is more interesting, and ultimately, leaves the reader with more reverberations to puzzle over, which is where I think one wants the reader to be in a poem like this. I like the notion of having two different versions of things, though. Like different translations of a single source text, each one illuminating or emphasizing a certain aspect of the original, or indeed, creating a slightly different effect. Is there a Platonic ideal of the poem, or just a particular materialist realization, a particular instance of it?