Thursday, November 29, 2012

Raymond Carver - Erasured

Raymond CarverI had not heard of Erasure poetry but that's what we at are doing this week: erasing some of a well-known poem or other work by said will known author and creating yet another version of it which can set a different tone.  It almost feels like paraphrasing or stealing to me,  but I learned something about my own writing by doing this exercise.  Raymond Carver (1938 - 1988) was a local Pacific Northwest  writer, a favorite of mine.  Another short poem of his is "Your Dog Dies" if you are curious about him.  He is best known for his Collection of Short Stories and poems in "From Where I'm Calling From" and other books. 

Last Night with Fog and Horses   (my version)

In the living room saying their goodbyes, they put their arms around 
each other.  Full of passion and memory, each recalled each other's youth. 
They had been through a lot together, but could not take another step.

Someone else for him; tears falling.  A red emergency light flashed out 
of the fog, voices the end of that long night, the horses had 
cropped the grass.  A horse stepped out of the fog..and another..
she went outside and moved among them weeping, touching their flanks.  

They began to graze when he made two calls: one to the sheriff, 
"..the horses are out" and that other call, too. He joined his wife in the 
yard and they murmured to the horses together. (Was this really happening?) 

Something ended, something else rushing in.  "Goodbye, " she 
said, pulling away... loss ringing in their ears. Later, he remembered the 
disastrous phone call that hung on and on..and for the rest of his life,
it boiled down to one thing, Malediction.

Late Night with Fog and Horses by Raymond Carver

They were in the living room. Saying their
goodbyes. Loss ringing in their ears.
They'd been through a lot together, but now
they couldn't go another step. Besides, for him
there was someone else. Tears were falling
when a horse stepped out of the fog
into the front yard. Then another, and
another. She went outside and said,
"Where did you come from, you sweet horses?"
and moved in amongst them, weeping,
touching their flanks. The horses began
to graze in the front yard.
He made two calls: one call went straight
to the sheriff - "someone's horses are out."
But there was that other call, too.
Then he joined his wife in the front
yard, where they talked and murmured
to the horses together. (Whatever was
happening now was happening in another time.)
Horses cropped the grass in the yard
that night. A red emergency light
flashed as a sedan crept in out of fog.
Voices carried out of the fog.
At the end of that long night,
when they finally put their arms around
each other, their embrace was full of
passion and memory. Each recalled
the other's youth. Now something had ended,
something else rushing in to take its place.
Came the moment of leave-taking itself.
"Goodbye, go on," she said.
And then pulling away.
Much later,
he remembered making a disastrous phone call.
One that had hung on and hung on,
a malediction. It's boiled down
to that. The rest of his life.


  1. the first is his prose...and the second is your streamlined version...i like the repetition you worked with the end...he uses some really interesting imagery...the going out to the horses...i am intrigued...will look him up...i like your addition of some dialogue as well...did that come from another part of the story or you just add...nicely done...

  2. It's actually the reverse, Brian ;) my version is first, cut up and moved around a bit..his is so much more intriguing I think ..but gee, thanks..

  3. Quite a contrast b/t the two... I enjoyed this!

  4. well i think both are great...maybe a compliment then that i confused his for yours...smiles.

  5. Interesting feel about horses -- my wife rides -- so I can feel a little for these critters. Thanx.

    1. ..horses have special meaning to me also ;_)

  6. A Malediction...yikes.
    Very deep. Intriguing. Rather sad. I really enjoyed both the original and yours.

    1. ...the word strikes a note, doesn't it? Thanks.

  7. Well done--sad and eerie, like a bad dream.

  8. Interesting contrast, and an intriguing pick for source material. Raymond Carver's editor, Gordon Lish, was famed for taking the original material, slashing and burning and turning it into the concise voice that we all take for granted is Carver's. It would be interesting to contrast the original, Lish's version (if they exist) and your own!

    1. ..yes, and I'm curious about Lish's omissions as well ;)

  9. Wow, an amazing poem you created from an amazing poem.

  10. Yes, very atmospheric and your version changes the horses quite a bit. It was eerie and emotionally tense, really nicely done. Thanks for joining us and I felt the same way initially but then embraced what I could learn in the process.

    1. yes, her words to the horses..and the sedan pulling out were to components I intentionally left out..

  11. Very interesting indeed. Concur with some of the other comments. The choice must have appealed to you, and implored you for the changes you made as though you could answer (as you have in a way) the unanswered questions in his. I think I like yours the better.

    1. "implored me for the changes".....true observation! Thanks..

  12. I just love Raymond Carver. I feel that you've rather distilled him--not easy as he is very distilled - and added more rhythm. Very interesting. He's such a good writer. I share your admiration. I think my favorite story is a A Small Good Thing - maybe have the title wrong. k.

    1. I'm glad you enjoy reading him, too..A Small Good Thing is like so many think the predictable, but there's a catch...

  13. very interesting...i like his style and also what you've done with the words...i agree with what you say about learning something about the own writing while doing this erasure exercise...that was a very interesting experience for me as well...

    1. ...if this helps us hone our own "style" than that is a good thing..thanks..

  14. Glad you put up what was being erased as I can't make sense of the process when I just see a poem that some one says was their version of x. Here you can see how you 'carved' out of Carver a different poem

    1. ...a poem pulled out of another's poem is not my cup of tea, but I have learned something as a result ;)

  15. Enjoyed how line breaks alone can create a new poetic feeling. Makes me want to visit his work.

  16. ...yes, exactly..glad you enjoyed it..

  17. I like Carver's work, and had to read both a few times in order to decide which message and meaning I preferred. Lots of fun, this exercise.


All comments, constructive and otherwise, are welcome and appreciated here. Thank you to those who show an interest in my quirky style of writing, photography, painting, and presenting a feeling or thought and for stopping by A Dwelling by the Sea..