Which reminds me of something Toi Derricotte once told me. She said that usually your favorite line or phrase in a poem is probably the weakest. At the time, Toi had what she called a "good line drawer," where she (metaphorically) put those good lines that just don't work. Here are a few of my favorite troubled lines in the good line drawer:
- I'll give you the bologna, you make the sandwich
- ...born in the year of the cock (referring to the Chinese year of the rooster)
- I'm a Virginia ham sweetened with molasses
- The Twinkle Dealers (a potential poem title)
- Why don't poets have action figures
I do believe poets should have their own action figures. And I'm going to use the year-of-the-cock line--it's too good to pass up. Just you wait!
When I revise, I take out my favorite line(s) to see if the piece still works. Every line has to work for me. It has to work harder than ordinary language. And if I have a piece with no end in sight, I'll stop it a few lines before, because at that point the poem has run out of steam.
So I'll take a look at my April poems to see which ones need minor revisions and major surgery. Hmmm ... maybe I'll create a poem about my good line drawer.