A practice in erasure: minimalist revision

So this is an exercise we did in Rae Armantrout’s workshop today.  She gave us a Pink Pearl eraser and asked us to write about it.  We then had to exchange our poems with someone else and make revisions to it, altering the poem.  The first is the original as written by my dear friend and classmate Mikiel.  The second is my revision.


Pink Papermate

Mikiel Ghelieh

tender pink flesh has a soft quality, similar to the Charmin bear

inviting you to touch it, it wants to be used.


Promises to your mistakes to itself.

Where no one can find them.


She is the best protector you will ever have.


Only the two of us know the difficulties of being malleable.






Rachel Newlon


tender      flesh            soft

inviting        touch       be used


Promises          mistakes

                           find them.


            the       protector

Only        us know       difficulties of being malleable.



Three parts

A three part piece I wrote for Kazim Ali’s workshop last week…


It rained just a few short hours ago, but the prairie grass beneath your bare feet is crisply parched.  There’s no desire to keep a finely manicured lawn as your small brick house sits in the middle of acres of wild grasses, flowers and thistled weeds.  This land spreads west, dipping down into a small ravine and rising up unexpectedly into the foothills.  The Rocky Mountains start here.


The horse pens round out the southern edge of the property.  The pungent musty smell of their damp manure feels good against your nostrils.  The rust colored mare shifts and dances in the stall, stamping out an S.O.S. on the moist ground, tossing her head up and down.


You stand with your hand balanced over your eyes, a makeshift ridge blocking the sun.  Para sailors dancing overhead.  They sprinted from the adjacent mountains edge, finding freedom simply dangling from a few cords and cloth.  Your vision drifts in circles as you watch this navigator glide on warm winds.  You watch as the sail spins, lifts, drifts and dives on invisible roller coaster rails.  You wait to see where he will land his crazy craft and pray it isn’t the rocky ledge just below the horse stalls.  Instead, the chute guides the harnessed rider into the pasture.  No Trespassing signs cause them to shift quickly, gathering ropes and cloth beneath arms and then scurrying away in the hopes of respectfully interrupting my day.




of petrified bones resting in open graves.

guarded by needled bush        barbed wire     fence line.



of colorful canopies suspended from woven threads.

littering the skyline with motion                     rainbows          arches



of kayakers dipping oars in churning waves

dipping beneath the water      meltdown            silent rush



of rubber treads lacing trails

designing new lines     voiding                        imprinting



of travelers wasting change

pilgrimage to chiming slots     trinket shops    photo ops




“You who live your lives in cities or among peaceful ways cannot always tell whether your friends are the kind who would go through fire for you. But on the Plains one’s friends have an opportunity to prove their mettle. “


“But the West of the old times, with its strong characters, its stern battles and its tremendous stretches of loneliness, can never be blotted from my mind.”


“It was my effort, in depicting the West, to depict it as it was.”


“It was because of my great interest in the West, and my belief that its development would be assisted by the interest I could awaken in others, that I decided to bring the West to the East through the medium of the Wild West Show.”


William Frederick Cody



A piece I wrote during the first week of July as part of Kazim Ali’s workshop…  


I.            self as periphery
stand     shoulder blades parched
feet rooted        dispersed

II.            passing                 with time

decaying              with time
time is of the     essence when walking
wild circles of concrete
bodies remaining             momentarily
sliding away with the chime of a bell
rhythmned rubber S.O.S

III.            elevation                             5,430

voices elevated
tilted grassy milieu          scavenger sprawls
drunken terms passing bodies   mingle
collide in discomfort
mindless articulations    schizophrenic moment

IV.            as from one thing to another

V.            lack of permanence

VI.            wooden slats of 1880
moths devour extract
pulped parts in progressive process
restoration stored away               in            boxes
moth balls poured too late

VII.            paralleled rusted lines
lifted from ground           aging half-pipe
abrupt end         overgrown pasture impedes
antique forward motion
intersecting beneath earth

  1. recline in shadows           of green umbrellas
    one head balanced on metal bones         wheel resting silently

IX.            kisses    communal
beneath blue sky             head shift
tilt           hidden by mirrored face
reflection of sun               on shaded eyes
never coming up for air

X.            the place where something is discovered
the place where something is founded
the place where something is dwelling
the place where something is developing
the place where something is promoted
the place where something becomes a source
the starting position       of a fine line
that intersects
then continues


Another writing from Rae’s class…asked to write about a Pink Pearl eraser…


Combined curses for spaces erased.


It apologizes profusely for smearing

my edges            words                   or

lines that remain on

my page.


It coughs              glances sideways

distracting from the worn spot

in the page.

frayed edges.

The page behind peers back

lines exposed                    violated.


I swipe at rolled remains,

pink posture littering space,

wondering if the              “I’m sorries” are


I cannot tell        its pink shades never slip

with often implied embarrassment.

Dear John

What’s the point of trying to “fit in” when “fitting in” is limited to only those who “fit in”????

I’ve been rejected before even being given the chance to explain my stance.

I’m lacking, once again, the greenery and ambiance of a wanna-be.

I’m missing that link to a starving artist painted with a permanent smile that represents an eternal internal sadness.

It’s clicking buttons and typing lines that remain in limbo, checked every few hours, waiting for approval.

Sitting stagnate in cyberspace, manners fly by as they award the literately wealthy and browning nosed.

They forget that I complied with the same expectations and deserve a proper rejection.

Rather, I sit like that jilted lover, wondering where my Dear John letter has fluttered off to.

Sitting still in a moment of motion.


neglecting the words

fail to attend to them properly

turning habitual is this lack of care

carelessly distant from fingers typing

remiss in stopping to write

omitting my performance as creator

disregarding          deferring my crafting techniques

Is the difference small           unnoticeable

expression of good intentions fall short

ignoring hints       suggestions       lessons of experience

My failure at maintaining a pattern of birth.


fine (day 30)

They used to say,

you look like that girl from Dirty Dancing.

Maybe she should be me and I can be her.

She’d be sitting on a park bench with that cowboy from Pure Country.

Driving home, they’d listen to the odd musings of a taxi driver played by

Batman Returns fat flightless bird and nemesis.

She’d take that cowboy home and stand outside her door

searching for lost keys, being spied on by a crazy neighbor resembling the

White Witch of Narnia.

I’d watch it, wondering why time shifts so inconsistently wondering if

Quentin is pushing buttons in the editing room…

translations (day 28)

She skipped a step

                Somewhere in between

Unsure where she fumbled the pace

Treading lightly, movement predicted

   by rhythm and pace.

She wishes to withdraw the intervention.

Advance              recede 

   Gravely phasing her mind into emptiness.

Nothing more than a short distance between

   Toes and love and lies and socket and machinery

                And the rung of a ladder.

She wants to measure it all.