prompt: shorten a long poem

by larapayne

I got this prompt from poets and writers and thought it may help with a few of my poems, poems that seem not quite right or strong enough for my manuscript.
First go is here.

Walking Venice

The sky is a half-forgotten legend.
In squares, birds sing up, small bits
of colored glass. Everything
damp, beautiful, moldy.

The buildings live with the dirty lap
of water by their feet. Tourist’s eyes break,
mottled as the beautiful blooming glass
fable blue like this pebble.

Tell me stories of sky. Hold your hand up
and shape the possible horizon.
Your wrist compasses the air, sketching
a map of something almost solid.

and here is how it was…

Walking Venice

The streets are not streets
they are small alleys,
Opened windows

flowers, cats, boxes, broken dishware,
draped towels. Everything
damp, beautiful, moldy.

The sky is a half-forgotten legend.

In squares, birds sing up,
small bits of colored glass
reflect their bright seeing.

Prayers and plastic, side by side,
windows speak many languages,
rarely Italian. The buildings

have learned to live with the dirty lap
of water by their feet. Tourist’s eyes break,

mottled as the beautiful blooming glass
on the island past the cemetery.
Want and desire. Shelves of mirror.

Impossible animals
totter on transparent legs, the press
of glassblowers pliers leave neat

folds and smooth ridges. We travel
today through the walled cemetery, past the broken-
winged angels, the stacked remains

and the grass-drunk birds. Hold eyes
to the sky, and ask, what is that?
Fable blue like this pebble of glass I bought

to weigh paper. Still. In the walled city
you tell me stories of sky. Hold your hand up
and shape the horizon as it could be.
I watch you trace a place I once knew, one I’d forgotten
until your wrist compassed the air. Sketching
a map of something almost solid.

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