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Tara Betts

Usually, when I go back to revise a poem, I am cutting away excess words and seeking for clarity in each line. I pare down the language so I get to the strongest nouns, verbs, and words with a balanced sort of auditory breadth, not too heavy and not too fluffy. I also find that I cramp a lot together into one long stanza in first drafts, so I ask myself to find room between lines, places to pause, breathe, and consider the image that a reader may still be digesting. I especially needed to do that with "Aware." I'm also thinking about the symmetry of lines that are grouped together as couplets and tercets. Are they at least close to a similar length? Last but not least, I'm considering whether the poem conveys a feeling or a dream-like state that lures you into the idea of the poem. Is there a sort of immersion that the reader finds themselves in by the time they reach the end?

< draft >

aware


There is always that time
when you walk into a room
aware of your abilities, aware
of every book you pored over
like a tablet of strength, coqnizant
that you have done what no one
imagined or expected in the body
that you carry—this clay pot of flesh
that someone asks about its duties, 
its purpose, its ownership, or 
maybe It’s less than significant
flow as someone turns it over
in thirst, unaware that your being
was sustenance, unaware of all
the vessels that molded and fired
you into upright posture, the gift
to hold living in you and share
but I am aware, aware that pot
is never the same as spigot, 
aware, aware of how some
might walk in without knocking,
muddy boots tracked through
my kitchen and try to turn me
upside down, but there are locks
on doors, and this is not the time
to find me quenching your greed
that misses my eyes and hands. 

< REVISION >

aware


You walk into a room aware 
of your abilities, aware of every
book forming a tablet of strength, 

cognizant. You have done what no 
one imagined or expected in this body
—this clay pot of flesh, and someone 

doubts its duties, purpose, owner-
ship, or less than significant flow
as someone turns the body over

in thirst, unaware that your being
was sustenance, unaware of all
the vessels that molded and fired

you into upright posture, curvature
of lip. Your sturdy ceramic a gift
that holds life. Be aware, aware a pot

is never the same as a spigot,
aware of how some walk 
in without knocking, muddy 

boots tracked through
your kitchen.
There are locked doors.

This is not an unaware time
to quench another’s greed
that dismisses your hands.