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:: Tuesday, December 25, 2001 ::

First off. I like this poem. I like how you set the time clearly without telling us too much, and I like the characters in the poem. I thought there were too many however, and without a better way to tell you, I'll just show you with a re-write; I cut the father out. I know it's mean to take someone's work and dice it up, but I was trying to get at a clearer view of what was going on. I don't know if this helped, and it takes the poem back down to a foundation. Remember, my great asset to workshops is a density that calls for clarity in the most clear moments, so I'd like the others to either agree or tell me off. I like the beginning starting quick and getting the story going. I like the use of Blueticks as some sort of symbol of trouble coming and wanted to bring them to the fore. I still get confused with your fourth stanza. I'm not sure why he "signed on for one more year, though, to come back /" yet. Anyway, hope you can use any of these ramblings. And sorry it took so long.



Second Tour

She heard Blueticks pull up short
of a tree and bawl through the oak bottoms.

Next morning
she woke with bile rising in her. And the next.
So this is it.

Meantime he had a legful of shrapnel,
crutches, sick time, letters and letters from her,
then two weeks of Bangkok whores for rest and relaxation.

Signed on for one more year, though, to come back
and marry her when he found out. Left again (I’m a bit unclear here)
and missed the day she sweated out their son.

He never saw in life the belly she was bound to
those months though he carried the picture of her
in his sweaty pocket: hiked up on the wellcap

in her blue sundress, hands on her thighs, catty glasses
high on her nose, squinting at the high sun.
First stretch that she and the dress had ever known.

But then he finally saw her, skinny again like him.
She stood on the limestone porch, feet still so small.
Held something small and pink wrapped in pily cloth.

She used to be afraid of him because
he came to school with his neck fouled by the wounds
of other women—trashy, mean. Knew her name.

But she was used to dangerous men.

Her man had found her finally, or again.
He took the baby from her, lifted him
and turned him like a box he might see into.

“Just three months old yet and he looks like me.”
Turned away from the sun and cradled him.
He spoke their son’s name and turned back to her


:: Sean 12/25/2001 07:14:00 PM [+] ::
...
:: Friday, December 14, 2001 ::
Sorry guys for being so delinquent this week, but I just got done with the exciting world of composition essays and finals -- so I'm pretty glad to be getting back to some poetry. Like Paul said, my absence certainly wasn't indifference to the poem -- I'm excited to be doing this.

To back up: Josh, I read your post about Matt Guenette, but I haven't met him yet. I've been here at UE for a little over a year now, and I've only had the opportunity to meet the USI faculty a few times. How did you know I was here at UE?

To the poem: "Sleeping with Julia Roberts"
Josh, there's lots to be admired here. Like Paul, I fairly had the air punched out of my lungs by the great rapid-fire imagery and the pacing of the poem. However, I too didn't quite get the "gigantic, screen sized, misfiring movie-mag inflatable mecha-fuck-doll kind of Julia Roberts" (I love THAT line too). As a reader, I was completely willing to be swept along with the poem's logic, but getting to "Alice" did make me feel as if you wanted me to understand more than that.

My biggest suggestion would be to make stanza 3 the first stanza of the poem; it would ease us into the logic of the poem more certainly (her size -- metaphorical or not -- for instance) and let us focus on one aspect of her that is an easily-identified caricature -- her big 'ol teeth. Something like

It was me who tilted back that giant head
and worked the plaque until she sceramed....

After that, I think I'd be more willing and secure to float with the more fantastical or bizarre descriptions. In other words, once I've got a pretty good idea that we're dealing with a REAL JR, big teeth and all, I'm more willing to be interested by the fact that she "smelled like plastic fruit...."

That said, there's not much else I would change. Knowing we're dealing with a real JR takes care of the "Alice" problem for me, and there are more good lines in this poem than I can shake a stick at. I do, however, agree with Sean about cutting the last two lines. It sounds stronger, and it really punches the "goddess" idea over the top.

Paul, you'll have to wait until tomorrow my hirsute friend.
:: Rob 12/14/2001 04:17:00 PM [+] ::
...
:: Wednesday, December 12, 2001 ::
Hey fellows, thanks much for the tips. I probably won't get to a revision of that bad boy until after xmas, but I'll post it again so as you can see how it ends up. Paul, the poem looks good. I'll get back with some more comments later.
:: Josh 12/12/2001 05:41:00 PM [+] ::
...
:: Tuesday, December 11, 2001 ::
Here goes, boys--



Second Tour

Just before sleep one night, she remembered,
she heard her father’s Blueticks pull up short
of a tree and bawl through the oak bottoms.

That happened all the time. The next morning
she woke with bile rising in her. And the next.
Than never happened before. So this is it.

Meantime he had a legful of shrapnel,
crutches, sick time, letters and letters from her,
then two weeks of Bangkok whores for R&R.

Signed on for one more year, though, to come back
and marry her when he found out. Left again
and missed the day she sweated out their son.

While he was gone his father bought a pickup
with the pay he sent back for the baby,
a house, a car, a way and a means to leave.

And back for good, looking for an answer,
found out the son of a bitch had taken off.
He called his uncle. Your dad’s in jail in Greenup.

But then he finally saw her, skinny again like him.
She stood on the limestone porch, feet still so small.
Held something small and pink wrapped in pily cloth.

He never saw in life the belly she was bound to
those months though he carried the picture of her
in his sweaty pocket: hiked up on the wellcap

in her blue sundress, hands on her thighs, catty glasses
high on her nose, squinting at the high sun.
First stretch that she and the dress had ever known.

She used to be afraid of him because
he came to school with his neck fouled by the wounds
of other women—trashy, mean. Knew her name.

But she was used to dangerous men. Her father
culled litters of farm kittens in burlap bags
and threw them in the river’s silty hiss

or stoked the hounds’ noses and tied the bags
in trees so the pups could learn to track.
If they found it he’d bring it down to them.

Her man had found her finally, or again.
He took the baby from her, lifted him
and turned him like a box he might see into.

Just three months old yet and he looks like me.
Turned away from the sun and cradled him.
He spoke their son’s name and turned back to her
Never saw that before.

:: Paul 12/11/2001 11:36:00 AM [+] ::
...
:: Monday, December 10, 2001 ::
Okay, Josh, sorry this took so long. My absence ain't about indifference to your poim, and I hope it didn't seem that way. Anyway, my basic reaction to the poem, after it lets go of me and allows me to catch my breath, is that I'm not sure if I should read it as spoken by a guy who really was sleeping with her (doubtful), her dentist (who is in love with her but married to an equally if not more delusional wife named Alice), or jst a crazy guy who has built up a story about being with her. My guess is on the last one, or some amalgamation of the last two, but I'm not sure.

Word-wise, let me say a few things. In the first stanza, "Nietzsche" itself isn't bad, but just saying "stoked with speed and wired by Paramount" sounds better rhythmically and parllelically.

Second stanza, first line, try seeing what "She was crazy about pasta salad, but champagne gave her hives" looks and sounds like and delete the champagne line from the end of stanza four. To me, adding it in St. 2, again, has a nice parallel, oppositional ring to it, and deleting it from end of St. 4 takes away the disjointedness of the end of that stanza. I realize that the speaker is fucking nuts, but he he does seem to have some notion of working out an argument or persuasion here, and I'd like to see him do it.

Stanza 3: "On her birthday once, she swallowed / the room and it slipped into her mouth / like a car reeled into a garage. / I realized then that love..............

Stanza 4: no longer should I be concerned / with God, who had tossed his dice across / her stomach, bet her museum quality / skin against his own, and lost the skin / off his back. When we felt her hit his body.....

And by the way, this poem surprises me in every stanza, and I think the hallucinations melt in and out of each other pretty seamlessly. If I had that first problem figured out for myself, I don't think I could find much I'd change. Hope this helps.

I'll have one up for tomorrow, guys.

Ok, Josh, I just read your posts about the poem. I didn't get that movie size sex doll poem taste in my mouth either when I read it. I think that what largely gets in your way is that, and I don't want to sound wiseassey here, there isn't an overt tip to the reader that the speaker is in love with screen-size Julia as opposed to Julia-sized Julia (or Alice, etc.). If there was even a brief mention of seeing her up there on the screen swallowing a room, it might fix the reader enough to pull through. And yes, the Alice line threw me, especially since it wink-wink-nudge-nudges the reader--"see, she's not really JR, this guy is just very sad and crazy and wishes/thinks his crazy wife were JR." Again, hope you can use this. Later.
:: Paul 12/10/2001 01:55:00 PM [+] ::
...
:: Saturday, December 08, 2001 ::
I saw this, and sometimes I ain't that smart when it comes to readin', as a poem from the point of view of the speaker (see what I mean?) and he's married to his wife (there I go again), and her name is Alice. He, like all good middle of the country husbands, wants his wife to be Julia. He's in denial that he's actually married to a normal person. So, for me, of course the Alice line turned it, if I read your meth-induced ramblings correctly, away from your intentions. And I like that. Sorry. And you'll get this now, "I hope you were the groom." The movie tries a bit too hard to be cute don't you think? Send an email.

Also, what do you other boys think??
:: Sean 12/08/2001 07:01:00 PM [+] ::
...
Well shit. So you're saying you read this as a dramatic monologue where the male speaker is in a relationship with a woman who just happens to have Julia's name. I should explain what I set out to do, and then you can tell me how it ain't working: It is about Julia Roberts (I was tempted, of course, to pretend like it wasn't). I wrote this because since she won the Oscar she's everywhere, moreso than usual, on the tv, posters, magazine covers, on the MSN news website, and whenever I go to a movie there's a preview of one of her movies, and whenever I rent a movie there are always previews of her movies preceeding the feature. I find myself unable to avoid her. Then one day I'm watching PBS (where I should be safe) and an hour long special with Julia in Indonesia with the orangutans comes on (she goes upriver on a boat while the Apocalypse Now theme plays, a baby orangutan pisses on her neck, a four hundred pound male tries to drag her into the underbrush, she gets skeeter bites, you really should see it) and so I decide that if I'm going to be seeing her almost every day, more often than real people I know, I should get to write a girlfriend poem about her, except since she's not real, the girlfriend Julia in the poem is a gigantic, screen sized, misfiring movie-mag inflatable mecha-fuck-doll kind of Julia Roberts, bigger than god, etc, with logic twice as crazed (the face huge, but the lungs small, because the screen doesn't require them). It's from a series of four other Sleeping With poems, and reading that poem within the series might help make my intent clear, but it really should be able to stand on its own (without my dubious explanation of it), and the god-awful name line seems misleading to me now, so if you can, tell me where else I can get this point across. For example, does the name Alice throw you off toward that interpretation? It seems like maybe it could. Let me know.

And I'm taking in a little Ocean's 11 tonight. PG-13?
:: Josh 12/08/2001 04:28:00 PM [+] ::
...
Josh, I'm away from my copy of your poem right now, so I'm not sure what I said. I love this poem. The tone is consistant all the way through--well there are a couple of edits I want. Mainly, I want the last two lines cut. At least take a look at it without the lines and tell me what you think. I mean the big surprise, and thank god for it, is that this isn't about JR at all (whom I just saw looking fairly lackluster in Ocean's 11--all the same, I liked the movie) and if you end with the lean on the "god awful name" I think that'll remind the reader of the pleasure they got figuring it out. I have some more stuff to give tomorrow or so, but I didn't want you to think I didn't give a shit about this. I've been busy busy. As far as Ocean's 11--Clooney has six expressions, but I love each one. There are some great lines, some ad-libbed, my people tell me. Anyway, I guess this isn't a film forum, so I'll talk to you about it later.
:: Sean 12/08/2001 11:05:00 AM [+] ::
...
:: Tuesday, December 04, 2001 ::
Right, I think I need a little more time here.
:: Paul 12/04/2001 01:41:00 PM [+] ::
...
good lord. more later.
:: Sean 12/04/2001 09:33:00 AM [+] ::
...
:: Monday, December 03, 2001 ::
Okay so here I go. Paul, I just decided to go ahead and post, but I've got no problems with you throwing one down whenever you're ready.

Sleeping With Julia Roberts

She smelled like plastic fruit and Pablo
Neruda was her favorite poet. Her thoughts,
stoked with speed and Nietzsche and wired
by Paramount, brought out the secret patterns
of the bedroom wallpaper: shuddering valences
of time, blue daisies, a frozen horse
against which I spread my legs, and read myself

my rights. She was crazy about pasta salad.
She never called me Ace, she never lied.
It sounded like bourgeois when she sneezed
and each time she came into a room
where I already was, she’d click her tongue
and snap, you’re not supposed to be
in this picture, boy
, but it was me who bought
the custom made dental pick she wore

around her neck on a silver chain,
it was me who tilted back that giant head
and worked the plaque until she screamed.
I engraved messages for archaeologists
below the gum-line. I flossed up the hot,
chalky remains of a battleship lost against
the icy floes of her crenellated teeth.
Once it was her birthday. She swallowed
the room, the room slipped into her mouth

backwards, like a car reeled into a garage,
and I realized, then, that love had evolved,
and no longer should I be concerned
with God, who had tossed his dice across
her stomach, who bet her museum quality
bones against his own, then lost the skin
off his back, and when we felt her hit his holy
bloodstream like a B-grade nightingale,
it was the death of man. Champagne gave her

hives. In the middle of the night I’d find her
adding freakish columns of numbers
in black eyeliner on the bathroom tile,
shivering, barefoot, shit-faced on mescal, her moon
in Virgo, her father’s rusty, six-hole
leather punch a souvenir bulge in the front
pocket of her unzipped purple jeans. Alice,
I’d say–she made me call her Alice–Alice,
Alice, come back to bed, the worst is over
now. Your pink mitten lungs are a perfect

fit tonight, and I can already feel
your prescription-dry tongue popping
like a match down my spine. This always
worked. Her scars turned into wine. I prayed
our babies would have her beautiful,
beautiful round head, the flotsam eyes,
her webbed tongue coiled in each drawbridge
mouth, and on each tongue her god-awful name.
I was in love with her when she was played
by time. No one else can say the same.
:: Josh 12/03/2001 08:33:00 PM [+] ::
...
Sean,
I'll try to say some things about "personal" here.

The Poet Writes a Personal Ad

I enjoy long evenings of torment
and Baudelaire, walks by myself
down half-deserted streets
with my convenient dog--WITH MY CAREFULLY CHOSEN DOG
that I trot out as a mirror ("that" is better than "whom" right?)---"THAT" IS MUCH BETTE THAN "WHOM"(how about "as a reflection"?
for my primal, silent longing ("for" or "of" or "to" ?) "OF"
and playful outward appearance.

Seeking a woman with sorrow
in her bones and a tendency to flee
from me. She should be lovely
in her clothes and happy
in the company of others. Pedestal
a must. Should come with a wealth--SHOULD COME ARMED/EQUIPPED/POSSESSED WITH/WITH THE POTENTIAL FOR POEMS OF ????
of potential poems--capture, loss. (or should I say "of capture" using the "of" twice? or "dealing with")

If you are content, happy and looking
for a change, please write. Then
we will listen, listen to the passing train
rend the night with its mournful song.
The silver will shine on the table,
and the opalescent soup will chill (is opalescent too much?)--NOT IN A SENDUP LIKE THIS, I DON'T THINK
as the dog howls to be let out. ("set free" instead of "let out" would be too much, right?" YES, AND "HOWLS" ITSELF ALMOST SEEMS SO. THE INTENSITY OF IT IS RIGHT, THE WISH FOR ESCAPE STRONG ENOUGH, BUT I KEEP SEEING A WOLF ON ITS HAUNCHES SILHOUTTED BLACKLY AGAINST THE MOON. THAT THE DOG IS VOCAL HERE MAKES SENSE SINCE THE POET WANTS TO BE MORE SO, AND I HATE TO THROW YOU A GUITAR WITH NO STRINGS, BUT I DON'T HAVE A GOOD SUGGESTION FOR AN ALTERNATIVE THERE. I REALLY LIKE THIS ONE.

I was just sitting here thinking about the comedy circuit poem, and I think what was less successful about than the personal was its apparent lack of stranglehold on the subject. The more I kept looking at it, though, the more it kept looking like the second stanza was doing that. That's addressed to a girl(?) and not the audience of the poet/comedian, I think, and it's momentarily distracting because I get set up for a very good idea of a poet on a comedy circuit with that very cool first stanza, and I get it. I can't get a handle on that second stanza and its direction. I'm not one to nitpick about direction and straight lines (gee, Paul, cool language, but....), but that second one pulls me out for a second. After that I'm back with you, and I like the obsession on father/worrying poems/tough times with girls. Anyway, hope that helps, or doesn't hinder too much.

By the by, if somebody's submitting today, I can't do it, but I'd be happy to put something up tomorrow. Best, Paul.

:: Paul 12/03/2001 02:22:00 PM [+] ::
...
:: Sunday, December 02, 2001 ::
Here's a rough re-write of "Comedy"; thanks for all the tips. I like a lot of this, but it still isn't doing it for me as much as the Personal one, but I've spent a lot more time with this one, and it's not really my style too much. This one, by the way, was under the strong influence of Beth Ann's big poem in Kenyon. You should read that when you get a chance. Josh mentioned the "dog chair breathing" poem, so I'll put that one in just to look at. I'm pretty happy with it, and Louisiana Lit took it, so I guess I'm about through with it. Thanks again for all your help. I hope to be as useful to . . . Josh? Paul? You all decide, and if you want, we could make it start the cycle Monday, since I'm about worn out. Later.


The Poet on the Comedy Circuit

You ever notice how this poem opens
in your hands like a turtle?
(It loves you so much.)

You ever notice how the sun floats in your eyes
like bright light from the heavens?
(wait, I told that wrong).

Here’s one about a boy who drove
all night down dirt roads
looking for his father.

Here’s one about a boy who turned crying
to his sister and mother saying,
“I’ve become my father.”

Ever notice when the light shines from your eyes,
my head floats like the head of a boy
crying over his father?

But seriously, the boy cried, driving
his father’s car, by the grave
of his father’s dead father.

My mother and sister smiling--
embarrased tears
wetting my face.

Ever notice how poems worry themselves
to death, fearful they have become
their father?

You ever notice how the poet wants to talk to a girl,
screws the metaphor and ends up talking
about his father?

Dear reader, here’s one about you. You’re laughing
thinking about how thankful you are
that your father isn’t here.

You ever notice how your father is always
here? He’s in the wings feeding you lines
for this poem—make me young
and clever like you, he says.

Here's the dog chair thing:


Give Me This


I wake past three to a dog
that breathes near my bed
in the green clock light.

My heart swells with sour blood
as I try a yell more of a moaning
sigh, and fling my pillow

at a chair, covered with clothes
I wore to our lunch. I tread back
to the waters of dream, remember

your face staring away
from our bed. I followed your gaze
to the dog chair breathing

in the sick greenness of the room. You
haven’t slept beside me for five
years, haven’t stared me from sleep

in so long I almost begin to forget
your body, now motherly
under big shirts, now married. But

give me this: though wakened
by the bristling terror of that dog
(my boredom, your sorrow, my desire

for others), I’ll take it growling
through the house if it can pull
you back through dreams.



:: Sean 12/02/2001 04:13:00 PM [+] ::
...
Hey. Thank again for the help. Here's a revised "Personal"; I'm going to try to get as much out of you all in my one week, so try to vote on elements, but don't feel too pressed. You've all already done enough. I'll put questions in ().

The Poet Writes a Personal Ad

I enjoy long evenings of torment
and Baudelaire, walks by myself
down half-deserted streets
with my convenient dog
that I trot out as a mirror ("that" is better than "whom" right?)
for my primal, silent longing ("for" or "of" or "to" ?)
and playful outward appearance.

Seeking a woman with sorrow
in her bones and a tendency to flee
from me. She should be lovely
in her clothes and happy
in the company of others. Pedestal
a must. Should come with a wealth
of potential poems--capture, loss. (or should I say "of capture" using the "of" twice? or "dealing with")

If you are content, happy and looking
for a change, please write. Then
we will listen, listen to the passing train
rend the night with its mournful song.
The silver will shine on the table,
and the opalescent soup will chill (is opalescent too much?)
as the dog howls to be let out. ("set free" instead of "let out" would be too much, right?"

:: Sean 12/02/2001 12:04:00 PM [+] ::
...
Glad that helped, Sean. I just have one more question. Rob said he couldn't post anything for Tuesday, and I mentioned Josh's name because Sean did the other day. I'd be happy to crank or trot something out for Tuesday if you're not up for it Josh. If you're already counting on doing and have something ready, cool. If not, let me know. Later.
:: Paul 12/02/2001 08:46:00 AM [+] ::
...
:: Saturday, December 01, 2001 ::
You guys are really fucking smart. Thank you so much for all the stuff. I haven't got time right now to play with the poem, but you were all coming up with really good things to do, so thanks for that. I hope that I can help, who? Josh? with next week as well as you all have helped me. Great job, and we seem to work well with each other--all seem to be on the same wavelength. Thanks again.
:: Sean 12/01/2001 11:48:00 AM [+] ::
...

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