Before and After Flying with Dragons


in a vivid season, colours 
splash from an artist’s palette:

           ochre fields
                      untold shades of leaves and grasses
                                  tumbling petals pink and yellow

flashes of metallic red and blue
            zip in and out
                        of willow leaves and nettles
                                     hover above ponds and rivers

electric shimmers
           dragon-flying in a haze
                     of sultry shadow-play


in a blatant hurrah, colours
trumpet from an artist’s palette:

       ochre fields
                  untold shades of leaves and grasses
                              vivacious petals pink and yellow

flashes of metallic red and blue
             zip in and out
                         of willow leaves and nettles
                                      helicopter over ponds and rivers

galvanic shimmers
             pterosauring in a blaze
                       of viscous shadow-play

Kim M. Russell, 10th September 2020

My response to dVerse Poets Pub Meeting the Bar: Write like a dog, edit like a cat…

This Thursday, Peter is our host with an exercise adapted from work by Australian poet, editor and workshop teacher Melinda Smith, which shows how to make our poems more memorable, bring the ideas into sharper focus, and help them stand out in a crowd, using the Bök Checklist:

Nouns: make them more concrete and more specific.
Verbs: make them active, vivid, more dynamic.
Adjectives: are they needed? Or fix that noun? For those that stay, make them more uncanny.
Adverbs: are they needed? Or fix that verb? For those that stay, make more uncanny.

Our exercise this Thursday is to:

  1. Pick poems we have already written — a favourite, one that needs a second look, one that never reached its full potential (choose a shorter one for tonight’s exercise). This is the ‘before poem’.
  2. Make copies and give them the “Bök test” – highlight all the nouns – could they be more concrete, more specific? Do the same with the verbs — can they be more active? And then with the adjectives & adverbs.
  3. Look for the uncanny – can we find a ‘rainforests of chandeliers’, ‘a skies as blue as a car accident,’ ‘speeches as hard as a machine gun’?
  4. Publish both ‘before’ and ‘after’ poems on our blogs.

35 thoughts on “Before and After Flying with Dragons

  1. I liked the before and the after! I particularly liked the addition of helicopter! I also thought the first stanza has much more energy in the second one. It grabs the reader more….much more active in its appeal.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Vivid work here. ‘helicopter’ ‘galvanic’ – and that wonderful opening line – ‘a blatant hurrah…’ Reading your ‘before’ opening line ‘in a vivid season’ I thought this is a fine line – but the ‘after’ opening crackles and zips. Thanks so much for sharing this with us.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Woww!!! 😍 This is absolutely stunning, Kim 😀 I love the explosion of colours here; “untold shades of leaves and grasses/vivacious petals pink and yellow.” 💝

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I love the first one best, the colors splashing and then flashing. The second one interests me when colors become sounds trumpeting, and I wish that would continue, converting the flashes and shimmers to rings or hums or whistles or songs, in that vein.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. It’s hard for me to choose between the two versions, as I really like them both: but I love the substitution of ‘helicopter’ for ‘hover’ and ‘galvanic shimmers’ is electrifying to me! I do prefer ‘dragon-flying’ to ‘pterosauring’ though – it seems like nitpicking as a lot of these choices really do come down to personal preference. Both poems are delightful!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I liked them both Kim. I am drawn to your poetry. You do good work. Perhaps one nod I give to the first version being, I like the two-syllable simplicity of hover vs helicopter, and I think it more accurately describes the motion of the dragonfly’s wings. I really like the closing stanza of the second piece, save for “pterosauring“ — while an interesting word, I feel it possibly distracts from the intensity at the close there. But what the hell do I know… 😉

    Liked by 2 people

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