Death Imagined: dVerse MTB

Photo: Victoria Slotto

Photo: Victoria Slotto

I’m hosting this week’s dVerse Meeting the Bar, asking our community of poets to consider what they can do to liven up a poem in their archives, a poem they are not happy with, with a focus on imagery. I wrote this poem, “And Before I Die” in 2009 and posted it on my blog in September of that year. I guess I was okay with it back then, but today, it falls flat–though I like the concept.

 And Then, Before I Die

I see the vacuum,
upright in the
corner of the room and
understand my work
remains undone.

I catch my lover’s
glance, stretch
out my hand but
words I try to speak
remain unsaid.

Outside, our world is
chilled and tumbling snow
covers earth.
I close my eyes and hope that
whatever lies ahead, my hope
remains unshaken.

Here is the revised poem, titled anew and amended with a bit more sensory detail. I feel it needs some tightening but is a bit richer for sensory detail. I’ve tried to include all 5 senses. I appreciate feedback. Is it too wordy?

Death, Imagined
a Revision of a 2009 Poem: And Then, Before I Die

There’s my upright vacuum, waiting across the room.
Spindly webs hang from valences while dust motes dance
in silver light bursting through gauzy curtains,
settle on the window sill and dresser.
My world smells musty, tastes dry.  My work here remains undone.

In the corner, my husband sprawls in his worn chair,
folds in on himself, head buried in gnarly, arthritic hands.
Words, trapped in my mind and throat, cry for me to speak them.
I open my mouth, emit emptiness.

Outside, our winter-washed world shivers
under its velour blanket of tumbling snow.
Inside, doubt hammers at every truth I hold dear.
I close my eyes, wrap my hand around my beads,
touch the wear, born of daily use, reach out to hope.
In a distance, I hear (or imagine) birdsong.

The pub doors open tomorrow, Thursday, at 3:00 PM EDT.

32 thoughts on “Death Imagined: dVerse MTB

  1. kaykuala h says:

    Outside, our winter-washed world shivers
    under its velour blanket of tumbling snow.
    Inside, doubt hammers at every truth I hold dear.

    Very well revamped Victoria! You have cleverly provided a balance with the ‘inside’ feel!



  2. Shawna says:

    I like the original a thousand times better. To me, your cleverness and depth is revealed. I see the first as poetry, whereas the revision feels more like prose.

    I tend to skim over more descriptive writing … but cling to every word of sharp, crisp “shortness.”

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your insight, Shawna. I am guessing I will find the answer somewhere in between. I tried to visit you but when I clicked on your link it took me back to my e-mail. Have no idea what that is about–it’s happened to me with other bloggers before.


  3. Sumana Roy says:

    love how the second version grows from the first one….”My world smells musty, tastes dry.” and the closing line is beautiful…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. rosemawrites says:

    i love both the poems but the second one surely is up a notch or two! the imagery is more vivid, so as the emotions! you are one great, skilled poetess, Victoria.

    It is my first time to meet you and I am glad I do. 🙂 ❤


    Liked by 1 person

  5. […] Read Victoria’s own poem titled Death Imagined. […]

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Rosemary Nissen-Wade says:

    I too like both, and think they are almost different poems. But somehow the original seems a little dull in comparison. (And I am someone who normally likes minimalism too!)

    I think in the second you could make ‘My work here remains undone’ in verse 1 a new line, and same for ‘cry for me to speak them’ in verse 2.

    The new title is lovely, much better.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. maria says:

    Oh dear, this is definitely kicking it up a notch. I love the imagery you painted with your words- profound. And that last line, “In a distance, I hear (or imagine) birdsong.”, is enchantingly beautiful. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  8. […] to dVerse’s MtB: Let’s Kick it Up a Notch Tending the bar today is Victoria with her piece, Death, Imagined. The challenge is to search your archives and choose a poem, even if it’s one you thought was […]

    Liked by 1 person

  9. kim881 says:

    I like both poems – they are moving and revealing, but I do like the economy of the older one, which captures a moment in time, whereas the revised one is more of a reflection or a confessional poem.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. I like both, but then I’m a ‘wordy’ person.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Glenn Buttkus says:

    “an affair with imagery” indeed, as do I . Interesting that we both picked a poem from 2009 (what are the chances of that?). Your second version is really more personal & revealing, which nurtures more empathy. I do love a good haiku or senryu, but often it takes more breath & bredth to make the message sing & soar.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Grace says:

    I like both versions but the second one is rich with details like the smell of musty, tastes dry and the description of the husband. I also like the emotional shades of the second one. Thanks for this prompt Victoria.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I can go either way, but prefer the brevity. I write more poems that way! Your expanded version is quite impressive, well fleshed out, Victoria!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I love this ❤️ both versions have their own emotion and vibe .. especially enamored with “I close my eyes, wrap my hand around my beads,touch the wear, born of daily use, reach out to hope. In a distance, I hear (or imagine) birdsong.” Beautifully executed.

    Lots of love,

    Liked by 1 person

  15. claudia says:

    this is def. heavy with emotion – and i like the second version much and think bri made some nice suggestions
    haven’t thought much about death so far but i guess the older you get the more you think about the things to come – will be good to know someone’s waiting for me – i will ask him ALOT of questions – smiles

    Liked by 2 people

    • Yep. I think of it often, now and even though I worked with it my whole life, it is a different view from this perspective. Since we lost Viv who was only a few years older than I it really hits home. Has prompted me to update some legal stuff!


  16. brian miller says:

    nice. i definitely like the revised version, it has been given new life. heres another thought:

    There’s my upright vacuum, waiting across the room

    what if you made it more immediate and in the moment, something like:

    The upright vacuum waits….

    There are a ton of my’s in the opening stanza as well, and i wonder if some of them are not implied – i would look to maybe cut some of them.

    The second stanza is great. To me it is almost like near/far…going from the vacuum to your husband…The third stanza really brings home the emotion.

    just a few thoughts. smiles.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Great suggestions, Brian. Thank you. I’m not sure you saw my comments on Poets U but what a great interview. And I understand why you choose to close comments, but that poem about the flood….oh my.


    • Thanks for the wonderful suggestions. I do plan on going back and revising. I would love to see a new critique group such as Luke used to run on Facebook. Maybe some day.

      I am so enjoying your Nepal accounts, Brian.


  17. thotpurge says:

    Reading the poems together, one can see the impact of the visualization. A great example.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Sue says:

    I, too, like the added imagery in the second, Victoria…

    Liked by 1 person

  19. I really like the added imagery and new title. Much more comforting than the original.

    Liked by 1 person

  20. I really like the second one better. I love the added sensory experience. I could smell the musty room with spider-webs and taste the dry air. I like how you used a mundane daily experience as a metaphor for feeling that one’s life’s purpose is still incomplete. It’s a lovely contrast. Really great work!

    Liked by 2 people

  21. kanzensakura says:

    I like your revised poem so much better and you know how I am about brevity and conciseness. This seems to be so much more you. I like the first but this is the difference…a plain vanilla pound cake vs. A vanilla pound cake drizzled with a vanilla bean glaze and eaten with fresh strawberries.

    Liked by 1 person

  22. I’m a minimalist – so the first is the one I prefer…

    Liked by 1 person

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