Barometer Brain

I’ve written dozens of poems to my migraines in the past but none have worked out. All are in my crap file. This is the first one where I think I’ve begun to move from simple wails – ‘it hurts, it hurts’ – to better imagery for why and how. But, needless to say, the poem needed editing.

First Version:

Bad Day

Carla stayed the night, so did
thunderstorms hovering over
nearby towns. I feel their weight
pressing skull-down though
they haven’t come near enough
to watch lightening slice
my face open. Your voice
is thunder enough and your hands
slide the spikes of rain down
my back. I am skin-sensitive,
nerves the tiny fuses
lightening sparks from, a system
strung on power cords
I don’t have.

Only a minor title change this time, and as usual, just so I can provide that bit of context my readers need. After all, how many people know that migraineurs are often weather-sensitive? It’s always good when editing your own work to question your assumptions, the knowledge you take for granted. Having someone else read your work helps here – if they say WTF, it’s important to listen. I remember arguing with one of my early readers (sorry Deepa), only to realize in the end she was right. If she couldn’t figure out what the poem was about, I had a problem. So that’s why I harp on this issue.

From there on in, it was the usual editing, which almost always means pruning, rearranging, and finding the best expressive images.

The latter is something I practise while walking or driving. I’ll make up non-traditional, non-clichéd descriptions for people, trees, a parking meter (grey nun waits, curbside, for my offering), etc. Since I want to transform how readers look at these things, I have to make the images compelling. So in this poem, I use thunderstorms as both metaphor for pain as well as origin, but I use it in an intimate way, saying it stayed the night, like our friend did.

I’m not saying I’m always successful at this (there is a comments section below), but it’s something I work at.

Current Version:

Bad Head

Carla stayed the night, so did
thunderstorms hovering over
nearby towns. It’s too far
to see the jagged edges slice
my face open but their weight
presses skull-down. Voices
are thunder enough, all touch
the spike of rain pounding
pavement. I am skin-sensitive,
nerves the tiny fuses lightning
sparks from, a system strung
on power cords I don’t control.

This poem has been re-revised. See Another Ending Rewritten.




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