By Hand

Authors sometimes use writing tablets to record inspiration, but Connie Wanek uses her notebook as inspiration itself. Wanek sent us handwritten drafts of two of her poems, the first of which began its life in a novel way. Wanek explains, “I write in composition notebooks, and in the back of these notebooks are printed ‘useful facts’ such as weights and measures and parts of speech. I was staring at the parts of speech when a poem, ‘Person, Place, or Thing,’ was born.”

Below are the handwritten drafts and final versions of “Person, Place, or Thing” and of another poem, “The Bear.”

Draft—“Person, Place, or Thing”


Finished Work

“Well, aren’t you a proper little noun,” the soldier said
with a sneer.

After years as an amateur, the noun finally turned pro
and became a sub for the big names.

Her charms attracted hordes of helpless adjectives, bold action
verbs, and indelicate prepositions.

He spilled apostrophe’s all over his paper’s and letter’s, like
a boxful of blue-black tack’s.

A colon introduces lists and finishes the process of digestion.

A period can last a long time before, quite abruptly,
it ends itself.

Draft—“The Bear”



Typed Draft


Finished Work

The old bachelor
his fur neglected
a sour stink from his tongue
stood on two legs
to reach the bird seed:
millet, corn, black thistle.
Tantalizing sunflower.
The feeder was enclosed
like a gumball machine.
As he had no penny
he clubbed it with his paw
over and over till it disgorged.

Up north people hunt bears
using gummy bears as bait.
Sometimes a woman
pulls the trigger
braced against the hammerfall.
The bears are all male.
That can’t be right
but so it seems:
massive back and shoulders
like wrestlers,
and quick to anger.

Once a bear walked under
our clothesline
and a sleeve had the nerve
to touch him.
He clawed down the laundry
and dragged the jeans
into the raspberry patch.
Bears are libertarians.
Consensus is deeply irritating
as is domesticity.
They hate all those
little silky things
with strings attached.