Things To Throw Away – A Poem And Its Deconstruction

This started as a poem on twitter and I thought I wanted to expand on the idea a little as a practice exercise.

Things to Throw Away:
the shaggy toothbrush
the unworn shirt
the leftovers
the poetry I wrote as a child
the fear I cannot do this

When I came to expand it, I saw the completeness of it; adding to it would be padding out the original idea, hastily written as it was.

Instead, let me explain why I chose the images and the final line. As an English teacher, this is what I get my students to do: deconstruct a text to see how the components fit together. Therefore it behoves me to do it to my own work, to understand what I am doing and why; to make conscious the unconscious.

I chose the images as concrete ones, specific items the reader would recognise, an item they could visualise in their own house. Each item contains the principle that they have been held on to for too long, or has outlived its usefulness.

I am known to hang on to toothbrushes for longer than is recommended, and it’s not a big effort to get a new one, but there’s a comfort in what is known. I could replace the shaggy toothbrush image with that of holey underpants for more of a giggle.

The image of the unworn shirt suggests an item that we hold on to because it was a gift, or it was something we want to fit into, but it’s another delusion of ourselves.

Leftovers in my fridge are either consumed immediately or linger like a lost soul, discovered when there is a culture of organisms breeding. Why do we do it? Neglect? Forgetfulness? Apathy? 

Bad emo poetry; we all have to start somewhere as writers. I still have notebooks I wrote in as a teenager and I recognise the child that I was. Nostalgia holds very tightly onto objects of significance and is afraid to relinquish them.

The final line was always designed to be a twist, a shift from the concrete to the metaphysical and emotional. For me, a poem about emotions needs to be grounded in physical objects, a concrete image. It can also be done with clever similes or metaphors but I prefer physical descriptions (perhaps a weakness to strengthen – to think more poetically).

It’s about letting go, releasing yourself and being free of objects, memories or emotions that restrict your development. Would it help you to know it’s autobiographical?

There you have it. A poem and its deconstruction. If you disagree, have at it in the comments.

Thanks for reading.

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3 responses to “Things To Throw Away – A Poem And Its Deconstruction

  1. There are so many things we ought to throw away but don’t . My loft is gull of children’s toys. My children are 17 and 22 now. I have thrown away some incomplete writing that I probably should have kept.

  2. Also I should check for typos before I post. My loft is full – full – of children’s toys…

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