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:: Thursday, October 30, 2003 ::

OK, here's a new one--no explication and only a brief apology for the obsessive English theme.


Astronomy--an apparent change in an object, caused by a change in observational position that provides a new line of sight.

The English dawn trembles behind the poplars
And drowns the stars, one by one, in milklight
As I walk out across the heath, scattering
Rabbits and one startled lapwing, which dopplers

From left to right and back again in fear.
The pond beside the house is still, reflects
A sky as grey and soft as wool, and only
Venus—that bright, cold chip of ice—appears

Upon the surface. Four thousand miles away,
You sleep, and when you wake in that silk night
Of Midwest heat and see a smattering
Of stars, they’ll look the same, but in array
They’re slightly changed. You too—your eyes, your neck,
More lovely with distance and lonely skies.

:: Rob 10/30/2003 09:03:00 AM [+] ::
:: Tuesday, October 28, 2003 ::

Thanks for the comments. Of course going to the actual name (the fact is the sweetest dream....) of those thingamabobs had never occured to my mythy mind, but that sounds like a fine way to try to fix the problem.

Re the "peepshow": Of course a peepshow by its nature is side-accessible, so I guess I was going too far, trying to maintain the cabaret imagery started with the iris' striptease by including the bees as voyeurs (though really they're john's when you think about it) who have no interest once the motion of undressing or deflowering is done. Saying "peepshow with side access" probably unnecessarily complicates the issue.

Pimps: Again, if I need to explicate, then there's a problem, so here's my problem. That peonies bloom at all is partially, maybe more than partially, because black ants remove the wax binding the buds. Ergo, the ants prepare those slutty petals for their careers.

Please bear with me. "Behind the door" refers to the successive blooming of gladiolas (ff. "belt of buds"); as one wilts and browns, another right behind it, root-ward, is already blooming, coming from behind the door where it's been whetting/wetting its lips.

I was hoping to carry the "will" from "grow" on down to "cling," but you're right; the elms are unintentionally looking up when I want the husks to.

Again, sorry for all the explication. It helps me think about what to do. And thanks again for the generous comments--they're not merely "small technical ones." Onward.

:: Paul 10/28/2003 02:51:00 PM [+] ::
:: Saturday, October 25, 2003 ::
I really like the tone of this poem--if it were music, it would be one of those songs played mainly in minor chords that sound so mournful yet so beautiful. I feel kind of guilty, but my comments are mainly small technical ones since it seems like most of this poem is working the way you want it to; but here goes, for what it's worth:

Great title and some great lines--my fave's: "crispy dresses," "garments are gone, / bees are done," "belt of buds," "as its replacement wets its lips," "still shuddering / on their stems like eyes / shut hard," "Before they shrivel...weight of their petals," and "choirs of dust."

As for your concerns about "spiked green cages," I'm with you--it's problematic. Without your explication, I'm not sure I would have figured that one out, and obviously you can't include an explanation with the finished piece. I think you really only have two options here. One, you could simply forego the violence idea and describe the leaves more clearly (not a great option, granted); or, two, you could tack on some sort of technical or clinical detail that helps to clarify. For example, "among the spiked green cages of their X's." Now, I have no idea what those thingamabobs are called, but I imagine that they've got some sort of botanical name, right?

I'd also change "it's" in line 7 to "but" to help confirm the rhetorical shift there. But I'm not sure what "side access" is in that same line. I'm imagining something like a carnival tent where kids can look into the peepshow by pulling up a side of the tent, but I don't really know if that's what you're going for. I'm also not sure about the language of "pimps" in the third stanza. It kind of goes with the figurative language of "peepshow" (though not completely as those things would not mix & match in the real world), but it doesn't really work with the carrying away of the wax--I keep asking myself why pimps would carry wax away, or (figuratively) what is it they're supposed to be carrying away? Likewise, the phrase "behind the door" in stanza 2 seems to hint at the peepshow again, but it's not quite clear and actually may detract from "wets its lips."

I might also change the line break in stanza 3 to read, "still shuddering / on their stems like eyes shut hard /" In stanza 4, I think you can safely remove "though" from the first line--it's not adding much. Finally, the tense in line four of the final stanza should probably read "will cling," and I would take out "looking up" altogether. Grammatically, it makes it seem as if the elms are looking up instead of the cicadas. Of course, if you take that out, you'll have to rework the final line so that "bronze and hollow and sightless" doesn't refer back to elms either, though I think that's a fantastic last line for this poem.

:: Rob 10/25/2003 08:46:00 AM [+] ::
:: Friday, October 24, 2003 ::
Paul, sorry I've been so remiss. I'll get to you poem soon. Perhaps today?
:: Sean 10/24/2003 04:09:00 AM [+] ::
:: Wednesday, October 15, 2003 ::

Can I put up a poem? Thanks. The first two lines are old, but the rest is groundbreaking. I know this is a breach of etiquette, but I need to make a note here. "Spiked green cages" refers to the blade-like leaves at the base of most perennials like irises, tulips, and gladiolas. I just can't get the image to be clear and interesting, and I want it there to suggest the violence against the poor, soft petals.


This is the time when irises
undo their crispy dresses
and let them fall,
ripped and shredded,
among their spiked green cages.
This is not a renewal, this removal,
it’s a peepshow with side access: but
when the garments are gone,
the bees are done.

They leave for gladiolas
and their time-released belt of buds
along arched and heavy stems,
each bloom fading and falling
as its replacement wets its lips
behind the door and waits to unfurl.

Ants, the busy pimps, work the wax away
from peony buds still shuddering
on their stems like eyes
shut hard to the world.
Before they shrivel in July
they will hang to the ground
with the weight of their petals.

By then, though, the now hesitant
reels of cicadas will grow to choirs of dust,
the music of dessication,
and their own shed husks cling to elms
looking up, bronze and hollow and sightless.

:: Paul 10/15/2003 04:28:00 PM [+] ::

I’m sorry, sir. I know it’s been more than the day I asked for. What can I say? Not kickin it in Greece means I was buried last week with text heavier than any marble. In any case, let me say a few things, if you haven’t already revised them into obsolescence.

I like the marble as body metaphor, especially as something living yet unformed. It’s kind of like that Zen idea of merely taking away what’s unnecessary, revealing what’s there, except in this case it’s full of all that Western striving and slave-driving we’re so forgetful of most of the time, but not in this case. “Meat-colored,” though it’s right for color, seems off as far as sound, possibly because of the hyphenation. The connotations of “meat” are right since this isn’t beautiful flesh we’re talking about (at least not yet); it’s raw slabs of meat. So maybe it’s just the phrasing of that that throws me (which is a taste issue, ultimately, I guess), something about the ring of it that doesn’t sound quite right.

I’m not sure if the cragged teeth are part of the ribbed halls, because of the imagistic similarity of crags and ribs, or if they’re somewhere else. Just my basic density coming through here.

If, in lines 7 and 8 the stones burn through the light of day, it might be better to say that they burn through it and into, rather than in, the Cycladean starlight, to avoid the unintended paradox of burning light of day existing simultaneously with that starlight.

Some other things: The last few lines are doin it for me, but there might still be some tinkering. You could safely delete “silently,” just to see how the line sounded without that word at the end. Also, the ending, like I said, is going well until “whisper of death, permanence, / and what it means to be pulled.” Grammatical parallelism is missing here, but more important, the drawn-out “what it means to be” diminishes the power and momentum you have going. Just as a banal suggestion, something closer to “whisper of death, permanence, and the unearthed witnessing to this spinning world of sorrow and light.” You can lineate that how you please.

A lot of these comments are syntactical, I realize, but mostly that’s because I like the density of this and would like to see it carry that off all the way through. This poem seems different a little from other poems of yours. Greece is doing something to you. Oh, by the way, to both of you: I’m living in Evansville, Indiana.

:: Paul 10/15/2003 04:20:00 PM [+] ::
:: Monday, October 13, 2003 ::
Rob, why don't you put a poem up, and maybe Paul can join us later. I'm back from Crete and windburned, but happy.
:: Sean 10/13/2003 03:53:00 AM [+] ::
:: Saturday, October 11, 2003 ::
|More later, Rob. I'm in Crete or Santorini. Talk to you at length soon.
:: Sean 10/11/2003 01:18:00 AM [+] ::
:: Monday, October 06, 2003 ::
Echo echo echo....
:: Rob 10/06/2003 10:30:00 AM [+] ::
:: Thursday, October 02, 2003 ::

I haven't forgotten about your poem. Give me another day.
:: Paul 10/02/2003 10:47:00 AM [+] ::

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