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:: Tuesday, April 23, 2002 ::

Rob, sorry to disappoint you by not commenting fully here yet, but is the title of your exercise poem a reprise of "Delia's Gone," that paean to spousal homicide by our favorite killer-troubadour Mr. Cash?
:: Paul 4/23/2002 04:30:00 PM [+] ::
:: Thursday, April 18, 2002 ::
Ah, married life not quite what you'd hoped, eh Rob?
:: Sean 4/18/2002 02:58:00 PM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, April 17, 2002 ::
OK, here's my exercise poem, only about a month and a half late.


Humped beneath the comforter, she snores
enough to crack the house. In the dining room, the plates
shake in the cupboard, the fragile glass
and china shiver with each breath, and he thinks again,
“I can’t get this diesel off my hands.”
He drifts to sleep, the sound rubbing his bones like a cat.

He dreams of slim women and cool skin
then wakes and slogs into the kitchen, his glance sliding
off his wife’s bulk. Wrapped in terry cloth
the blue of glaciers, she smiles into her shoulder, turns
the bacon with an upside down fork.
Rat poison? Sleeping pills like babies’ teeth in her grits?

The seeds of apples hide cyanide.
How many would he need to crush with mortar, pestle?
“Would you stay and hold me for a bit?”
she asks and puts his plate before him. He nods and dreams –
a thousand red and perfect hearts, cored
beside the back porch, rotting in shade and a blank sun.

:: Rob 4/17/2002 11:50:00 AM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, April 16, 2002 ::
Rob, I'll get back here with some stuff on your ragnarokish poem directly. I had a brain fart yesterday and must have clicked on "post" instead of "post and publish." Shame, too, because I answered Sean's Q about what I'm doing in the fall. I am most likely going to Louisiana Tech where, if you remember Sean--though like most of us you've tried to forget her--Veronica is teaching. That's a relief because I will really need a mentor. See you all later.
:: Paul 4/16/2002 04:17:00 PM [+] ::
:: Monday, April 15, 2002 ::
Ok, here goes a form one. I'll try the exercise poem and maybe put it up later. Thanks!


“Dense clouds with openings in them,” Old Icelandic, from Grettir’s Saga

That is no country for cold men, he thinks
And sips his beer beneath the braces, booms,
And sails of a Spanish oak. This Memphis summer,
So far removed from North Atlantic ice,

He sees the narrow ships riding the gloom,
Waiting for a blade of moon to cut the clouds
Before slipping up the cold shingle
To tumble sod, thatch, and stone; to drown

The stars and tremble clouds with fires of their own.
To have a word for those gaps – those sudden
Windows of stars and lamping black, of ink
And moon – would be, he thinks, like holding sea-shimmer,
A lens of glass and lightning that makes him wise,
That lets him see the world past sails of shroud.

:: Rob 4/15/2002 07:30:00 PM [+] ::
:: Sunday, April 14, 2002 ::
Just wanted to say it's nice to have you all back, and me too. Thanks for the comments Rob; you should assign yourself the same thing and have it up in a day. I guess you're next with a poem though anyway, so I'll look for that. Josh, I have nothing to say to you, it's all there, just let it out. Paul, what are your plans for the fall?
:: Sean 4/14/2002 10:06:00 AM [+] ::
:: Friday, April 12, 2002 ::
Since you've given us a a revision of the "Dear Reader" poem ("Zombie Sunday"), I'll just jump in with that one. First off, I've got to agree with Mr. Bone on how well your "voluminous, various imagery" and your tonal mix work, line after line. Also, there are more good lines in the poem than a group of hyperactive Cub Scouts on cocaine could shake a stick at (favorite: "There are 101 dolphin-safe poems"). My only substantive suggestion would be to pare it back a bit in order to focus it and to bring into sharper relief the best of the imagery and humor. Specifically, the lines beginning with "I promise / to allow these several objects" down to the end get a tad prosy. I think that some judicious cuts there and maybe elsewhere would help the poem pack a larger wallop; I also suspect that cuts are going to help relieve what you saw as a "blocky" resolution. That all said, I'm very interested in this poem, and I'm quite jealous that you were able to effortlessly work in the word "esemplastic."
:: Rob 4/12/2002 04:16:00 PM [+] ::
Loved "For Medusa." Funny and beautiful all the same time. Bastard. My favorite lines or phrases were, "the bastard-hitch, the chthonic-double-upside slip, and the loathsome and mobius overhand delight," "where ropes are straw and you are stone," and "that coils the wayward moon to the bedframe" -- the last is fantastic.

I wish I had more to say, but the only real suggestion I would make would be to modify the final line so that the best language isn't buried at the front. "that, while I dream, coils the wayward moon to the bedframe."
:: Rob 4/12/2002 03:14:00 PM [+] ::
Remember when Cokes were only a nickle apiece? Remember when a man first set foot on the moon? Remember when you posted a poem called "Mark the Memory Down"?

Again, really great poem, especially considering its humble beginnings as an assignment poem. Start with what I like -- "autumnal smell of smoke ghosting," "quilts me in memory of a girl," "spent cracking pecans in the shadow / of that fall," "I stare at black and white snow," "Teens with warm beers and sweethearts turning to giggle / in their necks. Listen to my voice boys...." Really good lines, and in the case of the first two, great transformation of those nouns into verbs.

My only two reservations are small ones, petty even. The first is in the final line of stanza 3. "Talk" looks, momentarily, like it's the verb for county (i.e. county talkS of the past), in which case the agreement is wrong. The meaning straightens itself out in the next stanza with "infests," but that momentary hitch kind of drops me out of the poem for a second. The only other thing is the final line; I like "slow son. Mark the memory down," but the final two sentences might be too much together. Maybe pick one? If so, I'd opt for "Slowly go."

:: Rob 4/12/2002 03:06:00 PM [+] ::
Think back to a period, geological ages ago, when you wrote a poem beginning with the line, "Will you stay and hold me for a bit...." I'm working my way slowly back to the present, and I just looked at the poem -- I like it, especially for an "assignment" poem. Its sense of play with language is particularly fun and effective; the line break in, "When you fall asleep in the middle / of a story..." is really clever, and it works too. "Sparrow down," "shoulder and shadow," "navel still pretty," and "read it to the end" are all my favorites. I guess my only qualm is a minor one: the poem's rhythm doesn't really seem sure of itself until the third stanza; up until that point, the endstops break it up for me a bit too much, but I think that' s easily smoothed out.

Still swimming toward the present, a stroke closer with each line. Also, I should have a new one up on Sunday, and you guys can pay me back by not commenting on it until Israel and Palestine sign a lasting peace agreement.
:: Rob 4/12/2002 02:40:00 PM [+] ::
:: Thursday, April 11, 2002 ::
Paul, thanks for the words on that poem. Helpful, helpful. I'll post the revision here below (I figured out that the problem was, that that poem is actually a part of a longer series of poems I've been writing, an address to the lord kind of thing, and now have treated it correctly, and 86ed my make-believe sister). This revision will doubtless need a revision too--the ending seems a bit blocky yet--but I post it just to show you that I got my ducks in a somwhat better row, in large part due to those comments.

I think Rob is next in the rotation.

By the by, Rob, good to see you back from your brush with death. That Sumatran death monkey is a bitch.

Sean: So you're going to do it? Tell pretty boy Ritz to start carving out a niche for me up there too. After one more year here I'm done. Then we could all live in the same town again. What a sit-com that could be.

Zombie Sunday (the dear reader one)

Gentle handed holy father, or whomever,
may we both stay as beautiful
as we are tonight, you are the land
and now it looks as if I’m going to land
somewhere in the ocean off you.
Down there everything smells like spikenard
and tires. There are gramophones
and cults. They read from left
to right, like Hamlet. They have
other good qualities, ill-established.
So maybe I turn, weightless
above the sidewalk, like an astronaut,
configuring my window, zeroing in on the whatsit.
Yes there are giants and payphones.
Often, they get it together.
Like an astronaut, I am of two minds
about re-entry, but you are not
coming for me, there are no rescue parties
with their superfluous life-boats
and baseball scores, no suave
and effective helicopters, no nurses,
no more sins beyond fruit
and decolletage, and forever I hear you
whispering, just off screen,
like a silent film director, feeding
your on-spec children the expressions
guaranteed to make me flinch.
This world is lousy with extras.
It is so difficult, GHHF, to reconcile
the stars. I puked mint julep
on the badminton court, and you
recognized a theme. I saw you
reaching for your high-lighter
like a samurai. Like a samurai,
I’ve got something for you
to explicate. What further
strings must I pull to force you
to blast me into ether? I have
redistributed myself, according to the charts:
1) For Lent, I bollixed up my homeostasis.
B) For you I blethered numinous
through reeds beneath a soft-core moon,
me vaselined for the channel swim
(thank you) and quoting pill-bugs
to the underbrush, clipping transponders
onto the thorny-finger-bone-root-ends
and footnoting beetle-trails with penmanship
only a father could love. I will
re-enter the natural world. I will
carry out my promise to adios the bishop.
C) The world needs more light.
D) There are 101 dolphin-safe poems.
Your atmosphere is thick, is gloomy.
I promise to write the poem entitled
“In Praise of Density,” which begins
with the lines, “I am sorry for my recent attempts/
to repopulate the dolphin. The fog/
has the Cineplex,” etc, and I am well aware
that there are plates in restaurants--often
with designs on the edges--that there
are bands on tour, that there are miracles
in the stream bed which make
grown men blush, that there
is such a thing as cornflower blue.
Also I have some childhood memories
here and there, crucified, esemplastic jellyfish
sizzling against light-bulbs, or so
I have called them. I promise
to allow these several objects
their abhorrent and fetishistic
importance, if it so please you,
but remember, I am not tall enough
for the big rides, my spell checker
turns esemplastic into eczema,
my spell checker, chirping like a bleached seal,
and 5) I wish I had a cardboard
cut-out of your body in the giant
mouse suit–minus the head–so I could stand
behind it, get my picture taken, put it
on the book-jacket. You made the amusement park
taste like peaches. I’ll never be able
to trust you with the roller coaster now.
:: Josh 4/11/2002 02:56:00 PM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, April 10, 2002 ::
Grovelling apologies to all. I'd love to say that I'd been in Sumatra for the past month hunting the Berry-Belly Orangutan when I came across a village of fierce, yet oddly sexy pigmies. They took me in, bathed me, fed me nothing but hot buttered rum and scones (the national dish of Sexy Sumatran Pigmies) then gave me an old and battered map of the jungled mountains that surrounded them. I followed the overgrown footpaths until I stumbled, literally, into a Berry-Belly Orangutan. We danced, oh I can tell you we danced! But I knew that I had a neglected poetry workshop, and so we parted, tearfully. And so, there will be miles to go before I dance again, miles to go before I dance again.

Like I said, I'd LOVE to tell you that was true, but (and you'll be surprised here), it's not -- I made all that shit up.

Seriously though, I'm on it -- looking at you guys' poems and working on a new one of my own too.

And Sean, congratulations! If you're driving to PA, feel free to drop in at Evansville and stay a while. I'll get you drunk and we can go watch some baseball.
:: Rob 4/10/2002 01:46:00 PM [+] ::
Hang on. I've been crazy I think lately. Me confused about meaning of this and everything, but lately, I'm feeling better, so don't give up hope, keep up the good fight, and I'm sorry I've not been inputing enough. Where is Rob? Whose poem is next? This is fun. OHHH. I took a job in Johnstown PA living with my good friend Jon and teaching comp AND tech writing, BUT I have four day weekends and only teach three classes, BUT I get paid waiters wages; however, I'll be in a NEW place. That's about it.
:: Sean 4/10/2002 01:51:00 AM [+] ::
:: Monday, April 01, 2002 ::
Josh, first off I'm more than a bit envious (as usual) of your voluminous, various imagery, especially the body stuff, "well-thumbed textbook of your ribs," for example. Plus I think you've got something pretty unique with your tone, and at the risk of sounding like a dust jacket blurb, it is a cool mix (all blurbs contain the word "cool") of high and low, sarcasm and seriousness. And this is not a way of buttering you up before I lay down some criticisms. Because I really only have one; it's a big one, but one you seem to have anticipated.

The problem I come up against starts at "I came to,...." That line introduces a narrative element that isn't clear. Up to that point you're riffing, very well, and even though the licks aren't connected in a linear way, I'm with you "poetically." Now, I don't know if you want that narrative element, the sister stuff, etc., to be a big part of the poem, but if it were more clearly a part of the riffs and/or integrated, introduced, established more clearly, I'd feel better as a reader. The sister w/lover/friend? parts are part of the manipulative relationship between reader and poet, but again, she distracts. Appeasing me, a reader, surely compromises the mind-fuck part of this poem which is its impetus and reason for being, so I suppose all this fucks with it to some to extent. I like fantasia poems, though, and you're really good at it. Setting this up as completely fantasia, lyric-wise, or making it a completely get-at-able poem are a couple of things to think about.

I'm ok up to "only a mother could love." But cutting big chunks after that is problematic because elements brought up there weave in and out of the poem to the end. You could begin the poem (in true in medias res fashion) with "I came to, the yard...." which ossifies the narrative. The only problem withthat is that I love everything leading up to it the best. But perhaps those first several lines could be sifted in. Shit, I hope some of this helps (added hope of cogency here).
:: Paul 4/01/2002 05:10:00 PM [+] ::

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