Flight Deck (Revision)

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Flight Deck (Revision)

Postby Joao » Sat Mar 31, 2018 6:00 pm

Revision

Softly,
as if to open a secret door,
as if to wake a slumbering beast,
he pulled the yoke, remarking
the delayed response:
large planes take their time,
like tamed elephants standing up,
self-willed, in mock obedience
to the rider’s puny prod. But it rose.
And in that rise, the growing weight
in his stomach lowered him
to the giddy bottom of a rushing swing,
his first memory, his founding myth,
the floating legs at the levelling top,
weightless over the abyss.

That he could play with its gravity,
like a god warping the orbit of a little planet;
that he could dip the wing fifty degrees
below the horizon and picture his mortals grasping
an armrest, their coffee perfectly still on their tables
;
that he could prolong a sunset, or make it disappear,
then go look for a new one as one looks for a street:
these were the only wonders left; and even these
had been wearing thin.

He had enjoyed the solitude of desert
caravans under the stars and had seen, after hours
in the dark wilderness, the cloudy ground ahead
begin to glow like a presage to a miracle.
He had seen the moon rise over the Himalayas
and had followed Cygnus across the open sea.
Thunderstorms had rumbled at his feet
and, at the end of a working day, his shoes
had the sod of a different hemisphere.


Now, for quite some time,
whether because of the nights poorly slept,
or the mindless slogans on the tannoy,
the lost gentility, plastic for crystal, paper
for cloth, pajamaed teenagers carrying their pillows
aboard -- it all felt like drinking nectar
from a dirty cup.

Original

Softly,
as if to open a secret door,
as if to wake a slumbering beast,
he pulled the yoke, remarking the delayed
response to his command:
large planes take their time,
like tamed elephants standing up,
self-willed, in mock obedience
to the rider’s puny prod. But it rose.
And in that rise, the growing weight
in his stomach lowered him
to the giddy bottom of a rushing swing,
his first memory, his founding myth,
the floating legs at the leveling top,
weightless over the abyss.

That he could play with its gravity like a godlet,
warping the orbit of a planetoid under his sway;
that he could dip the left wing
fifty degrees below the horizon
and picture his mortals, perfectly settled
on their seats,
grasping an armrest
so not to drop, while on the folding table
their coffee stood level and still; that he could
prolong a sunset, or make it disappear,
then go look for a new one as one looks
for a twig: these were the only wonders
left; and even these had been wearing
thin.

He had enjoyed the solitude of desert
caravans under the stars and had seen,
after hours in the dark wilderness,
the cloudy ground ahead begin to glow
like a presage to a miracle.
Storms hadmbled at his feet
and he had braved them as one handles
a harmless drunk
. He had seen the moon
rise over the Himalayas and had followed
the Southern Cross above the open sea.
At the end of a working day, his shoes had the sod
of a different hemisphere. And yet, for quite some time,
now --- whether because of the nights poorly slept,
or the mindless slogans on the tannoy,
the lost gentility, plastic for crystal, paper
for cloth, pajamaed teenagers carrying their pillows
aboard -- it all felt like drinking nectar
from a dirty cup.
Last edited by Joao on Mon Apr 16, 2018 1:10 pm, edited 4 times in total.
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Re: Flight Deck

Postby David » Sat Mar 31, 2018 6:29 pm

Very good, Joao. There is a sense of menace that builds from the mention of "his mortals". You seem to have something specific in mind. I wonder if it's what I'm thinking of.

Cheers

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Re: Flight Deck

Postby JJWilliamson » Mon Apr 02, 2018 8:34 am

Wow! Powerful stuff, Joao, powerful indeed.

I agree with David, in so much that there is a sense of menace, even malice, in this description of the pilot's descent
into disgust and possible madness. That's where you took me, and I suspect the pilot is about to turn the plane into a
killing machine. The German flight that was deliberately crashed by the co-pilot comes to mind.

On the other hand he might just be bored and as sick as a parrot.

Great write that kept me glued.

Best

JJ
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Re: Flight Deck

Postby ray miller » Mon Apr 02, 2018 12:05 pm

Good poem, I like the ending. Not keen on godlet, too close, somehow, to piglet. I'd have liked something more apposite than twig as a substitute for sunset.
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.
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Re: Flight Deck

Postby lotus » Tue Apr 03, 2018 5:50 am

dear Joao


that he could
prolong a sunset, or make it disappear,
then go look for a new one as one looks
for a twig


for me these lines are a wonderful canvas
with the dimensions of Bardo

a warm smile
silent lotus
“A poem should have the touch ... the way sunlight falls on Braille.” .......silent lotus
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Re: Flight Deck

Postby k-j » Thu Apr 05, 2018 7:23 pm

Last four lines are outstanding.

The middle verse is where I think you can improve this poem.

I agree with Ray about "godlet", "god" and "planet" would be better. Maybe just "gravity" not "its gravity"?

Any reason why "the left wing" rather than "a wing"?

You can lose "on their seats" and it's better without "so not to drop".

Perhaps "seek out" instead of "go look for"?

"As one looks for a twig" - does one? Why? This bit confuses me.

Overall - really good.
fine words butter no parsnips
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Re: Flight Deck

Postby Joao » Fri Apr 06, 2018 5:07 pm

Thanks so much, David and JJ - this is very encouraging. The tragic end did cross my mind but I wasn't deliberately trying to suggest it (though I can see how the poem does suggest it anyway).

Thanks, Ray and k-j. I had come up with the last phrase some time ago and had since been trying to think of a poem to go with it: I'm glad it's paid off. I'll work on a revision and promote the little piglet: you're probably right. I had thought that the child hunting for a twig in the woods was a good comparison: the pilot is also searching the ground for the sunset, but with flying's godlike sense of proportion. Perhaps this was too far-fetched. Maybe 'street', instead of 'twig'? I like the 'its' of gravity, k-j, because it emphasises the plane being a little planet of its own. I agree with you on 'so not to drop', but I need to think about your other suggestions. No special reason for the left wing: I just thought that being specific would help the readers put themselves into perspective. Thanks again for the great suggestions!

Thanks, silent lotus, that's very kind of you: that's definitely how flying feels like at the right moments.
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Re: Flight Deck

Postby NotQuiteSure » Fri Apr 06, 2018 5:39 pm

     
Hi Joao,
enjoyed the trip.

Flight Deck

Softly,

(is it softly?)
as if to open a secret door,
as if to wake a slumbering beast,

wonder why it isn't 'opening'/'waking'
when you have 'remarking' in the next line
he pulled the yoke, remarking the delayed
perhaps 'noting' for 'remarking'
response to his command:
large planes take their time,
like tamed elephants standing up,
self-willed, in mock obedience

how it their obedience 'mock'?
to the rider’s puny prod. But it rose.
Perhaps break after 'prod'?
And in that rise, the growing weight
in his stomach lowered him
to the giddy bottom of a rushing swing,
his first memory, his founding myth,
the floating legs at the leveling top,
weightless over the abyss.

Enjoyed the seamless transition
from present to past.

That he could play with its gravity like a godlet,
Afraid I'm another against 'godlet',
why not 'demi-god' instead?
warping the orbit of a planetoid under his sway;
(is 'under his sway' necessary?)
that he could dip the left wing
I too think the line would sound better without 'left'
fifty degrees below the horizon
and picture his mortals, perfectly settled
on their seats, grasping an armrest

(maybe 'each grasping... ?)
so not to drop, while on the folding table
their coffee stood level and still; that he could

Perhaps 'still and level' ? Break before 'that he...'
prolong a sunset, or make it disappear,
(this could stand a little elaboration I think)
then go look for a new one as one looks
for a twig: these were the only wonders

Also another against twig. Wonder if he
could be looking for a miracle (though
that does mess with the next verse)
left; and even these had been wearing
thin.


He had enjoyed the solitude of desert
caravans under the stars and had seen,

(Are the caravan really visible?)
after hours in the dark wilderness,
the cloudy ground ahead begin to glow
like a presage to a miracle.

'presage of a miracle' is rather clunky
Storms had rumbled at his feet
and he had braved them as one handles
a harmless drunk. He had seen the moon

the 'harmless drunk' simile is, to me,
something of a distraction.
rise over the Himalayas and had followed
the Southern Cross above the open sea.

perhaps 'over' for 'above' ?
At the end of a working day, his shoes had the sod
of a different hemisphere. And yet, for quite some time,

'shoes had the sod of a different hemisphere' - seems
an incomplete thought, and 'sod' lack musicality.
The switch from 'hemisphere' to 'And yet...'
seems rather abrupt to me.
now --- whether because of the nights poorly slept,
or the mindless slogans on the tannoy,
the lost gentility, plastic for crystal, paper
for cloth, pajamaed teenagers carrying their pillows
aboard -- it all felt like drinking nectar
from a dirty cup.

Strong finish, though some of the line breaks
are a bit distracting.


Regards, Not.
     
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Re: Flight Deck

Postby Macavity » Fri Apr 06, 2018 8:14 pm

He had enjoyed the solitude of desert
caravans under the stars and had seen,
after hours in the dark wilderness,
the cloudy ground ahead begin to glow
like a presage to a miracle.
Storms had rumbled at his feet
and he had braved them as one handles
a harmless drunk. He'd seen the moon
rise over the Himalayas and had followed
the Southern Cross above the open sea.


Perhaps you could waterdown some of the 'had'? Either way enjoyed, agreed with the others on the use of 'godlet' and the excellence of the closure. The power and grandeur, the wearing thin and the 'progress', framed the passage of time and his mortality.

best

mac
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Re: Flight Deck

Postby Joao » Tue Apr 10, 2018 8:15 pm

Thanks for the detailed crit, Not. Really appreciate it. I've incorporated a number of your suggestions in my revision. My answers below.

NotQuiteSure wrote:     
Hi Joao,
enjoyed the trip.

Flight Deck

Softly,

(is it softly?)
why not?
as if to open a secret door,
as if to wake a slumbering beast,

wonder why it isn't 'opening'/'waking'
when you have 'remarking' in the next line
I had thought about this but decided it would be too many 'ings' to my ear
he pulled the yoke, remarking the delayed

perhaps 'noting' for 'remarking'
thought about using 'noting', too, but 'remarking' sounds a bit more deliberate to me
response to his command:
large planes take their time,
like tamed elephants standing up,
self-willed, in mock obedience
how it their obedience 'mock'?

this is a bit fanciful: I'm imagining the elephant complying as an ironic gesture; that, in reality, it could crush the rider and its prod if it chose to. (There's an implied threat of non-compliance, therefore)
to the rider’s puny prod. But it rose.

Perhaps break after 'prod'?

Thinking about it...
And in that rise, the growing weight
in his stomach lowered him
to the giddy bottom of a rushing swing,
his first memory, his founding myth,
the floating legs at the leveling top,
weightless over the abyss.

Enjoyed the seamless transition
from present to past.


Very glad it worked: I wasn't sure it would
That he could play with its gravity like a godlet,

Afraid I'm another against 'godlet',
why not 'demi-god' instead?

Got rid of the godlet in the revision. A demi-god is probably not mighty enough (or is it?) to change the course of celestial bodies, so I changed it to 'god' simply
warping the orbit of a planetoid under his sway;

(is 'under his sway' necessary?)

Good point: it isn't. I've changed it
that he could dip the left wing

I too think the line would sound better without 'left'

Thanks, I've removed the 'left' reference
fifty degrees below the horizon
and picture his mortals, perfectly settled
on their seats, grasping an armrest

(maybe 'each grasping... ?)

It would dot the i's, but I need to keep this already long sentence short
so not to drop, while on the folding table
their coffee stood level and still; that he could

Perhaps 'still and level' ? Break before 'that he...'

You're right: still is probably logically precedent - I changed this passage in the revision
prolong a sunset, or make it disappear,

(this could stand a little elaboration I think)

Not sure I can add suitable detail to these images without overstretching the verse
then go look for a new one as one looks
for a twig: these were the only wonders

Also another against twig. Wonder if he
could be looking for a miracle (though
that does mess with the next verse)

Swaped 'twig' for 'street'
left; and even these had been wearing
thin.


He had enjoyed the solitude of desert
caravans under the stars and had seen,

(Are the caravan really visible?)

He's not looking at caravans below but feels as if he was travelling with one himself
after hours in the dark wilderness,
the cloudy ground ahead begin to glow
like a presage to a miracle.

'presage of a miracle' is rather clunky

Do you mean 'presage of' or 'presage to'?
Storms had rumbled at his feet
and he had braved them as one handles
a harmless drunk. He had seen the moon

the 'harmless drunk' simile is, to me,
something of a distraction.

You're right: I got rid of it
rise over the Himalayas and had followed
the Southern Cross above the open sea.

perhaps 'over' for 'above' ?

'Over' was already used in 'over the Himalayas': I have 'across' in the revision
At the end of a working day, his shoes had the sod
of a different hemisphere. And yet, for quite some time,

'shoes had the sod of a different hemisphere' - seems
an incomplete thought, and 'sod' lack musicality.
The switch from 'hemisphere' to 'And yet...'
seems rather abrupt to me.

I've reordered this stanza in the revision.
now --- whether because of the nights poorly slept,
or the mindless slogans on the tannoy,
the lost gentility, plastic for crystal, paper
for cloth, pajamaed teenagers carrying their pillows
aboard -- it all felt like drinking nectar
from a dirty cup.

Strong finish, though some of the line breaks
are a bit distracting.
I think I'm ok with them

Regards, Not.
     
Last edited by Joao on Tue Apr 10, 2018 8:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Flight Deck

Postby Joao » Tue Apr 10, 2018 8:17 pm

Thanks, mac. Delighted that you've enjoyed it. I've reordered this stanza in my revision. Hopefully the 'hads' are a bit less jarring now.
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Re: Flight Deck (Revision)

Postby Macavity » Sun Apr 15, 2018 3:08 pm

That he could play with its gravity,
like a god warping the orbit of a little planet


'lesser' might be an option if you want to infer inferior? Just a thought.

best

mac
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Re: Flight Deck (Revision)

Postby NotQuiteSure » Sun Apr 15, 2018 3:23 pm

     
Hi Joao,
certainly improved with the revision.
I did wonder if, given the piece is, to
a certain extent about control, whether
more attention shouldn't be paid to
line breaks. (They don't seem that
controlled :) )

Softly,
Maybe 'gently' or 'slowly' or even
'carefully/deliiberately' ?
('softly' and 'to wake' seem a little
contradictory)
as if to open a secret door,
as if to wake a slumbering beast,
he pulled the yoke, remarking

(Would it be 'pulled back on the yoke',
if the plane was climbing?
'Remarking', to me, suggests speaking
to someone, why not simply 'aware of'?
the delayed response:
large planes take their time,
like tamed elephants standing up,
self-willed, in mock obedience

(still find 'mock' problematic, if not
for the elephants then for the plane
which is 'like' them.)
to the rider’s puny prod. But it rose.
(maybe 'puny rider's prod'?)
And in that rise, the growing weight
...

That he could play with its gravity,
like a god warping the orbit of a little planet;

If 'a god' then why 'little'?
Perhaps 'world' for 'planet'?
Probably unsuitable but, 'godling' ?
...
that he could prolong a sunset, or make it disappear,
then go look for a new one as one looks for a street:
these were the only wonders left; and even these
had been wearing thin.

I don't think 'then go look...wonders left' is doing
that much (or perhaps not doing enough).
just a suggestion:
that he could prolong a sunset, or make it disappear,
[a master of time and space,] but even this
was wearing thin



He had enjoyed the solitude of desert
caravans under the stars and had seen, after hours

perhaps, to clarify;
He enjoyed the solitude, [like] the desert
caravans...
in the dark wilderness, the cloudy ground ahead
(If 'cloudy' how is the ground visible, or is 'cloudy ground'
the tops of the clouds?)
begin to glow like a presage to a miracle.
I think, in answer to your question, it's the
whole phrase 'like a presage to a miracle'
that I find awkward. It seems overwritten
in comparison to the lines arond it. Unnecessarily
exotic amongst the (non-perjorative) mundane.
If you cut the phrase, what would be lost?
He had seen the moon rise over the Himalayas
'over' to 'above' ?
and had followed Cygnus across the open sea.
'across' to 'over'?
Thunderstorms had rumbled at his feet
The next two lines seem to drag this one down.
Could you do without them?
and, at the end of a working day, his shoes
had the sod of a different hemisphere
.

Now, for quite some time,
For quite some time, now, ?
whether because of the nights poorly slept,
'nights poorly slept', seems badly phrased;
whether, because of nights without sleep ?
(Modified some of the line breaks below)
or the mindless slogans on the tannoy,
the lost gentility, plastic for crystal,
paper for cloth, pajamaed teenagers
carrying their pillows aboard --
it all felt like drinking nectar

(perhaps there should be a 'he' somewhere
in this line?)
from a dirty cup.

Regards, Not.
     
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Re: Flight Deck (Revision)

Postby David » Sun Apr 15, 2018 3:47 pm

Joao, could you show a kindness to an elderly gent and italicise the changes you've made in the revision? That would save a lot of troublesome scrolling up and down to compare the two versions.

Cheers

David
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Re: Flight Deck (Revision)

Postby Joao » Mon Apr 16, 2018 12:48 pm

Thanks, mac. I chose 'little' to imply it being a play thing. 'Lesser' would lose that connotation, I think.

Not, thanks again for the close read. I've responded below.

David, of course, apologies: I'll italicise the additions in the revision and also strike through the deletions in the original (most of the changes were deletions).

NotQuiteSure wrote:     
Hi Joao,
certainly improved with the revision.
I did wonder if, given the piece is, to
a certain extent about control, whether
more attention shouldn't be paid to
line breaks. (They don't seem that
controlled :) )
Thanks, glad you think it's improved. Interesting point: I'll think about this.

Softly,
Maybe 'gently' or 'slowly' or even
'carefully/deliiberately' ?
('softly' and 'to wake' seem a little
contradictory)
'Gently' might be a good alternative. I'll think about it
as if to open a secret door,
as if to wake a slumbering beast,
he pulled the yoke, remarking

(Would it be 'pulled back on the yoke',
if the plane was climbing?
'Remarking', to me, suggests speaking
to someone, why not simply 'aware of'?
You're right: 'pulled back on' is better. 'Aware' is still a bit passive and incidental: I had thought of 'minding' or 'regarding' but those are even more ambiguous. 'Observing' sounds awkward to me. Still looking.
the delayed response:
large planes take their time,
like tamed elephants standing up,
self-willed, in mock obedience

(still find 'mock' problematic, if not
for the elephants then for the plane
which is 'like' them.)
I can see that the notion of a willful aeroplane is a bit of a stretch: but I think I like it
to the rider’s puny prod. But it rose.
(maybe 'puny rider's prod'?)
I think I prefer the original
And in that rise, the growing weight
...

That he could play with its gravity,
like a god warping the orbit of a little planet;

If 'a god' then why 'little'?
Perhaps 'world' for 'planet'?
Probably unsuitable but, 'godling' ?
I like 'godling' (as I did 'godlet') - I might use it, though it might be too much diminution together with 'little' planet. 'Little' to emphasise its being a play thing.

...
that he could prolong a sunset, or make it disappear,
then go look for a new one as one looks for a street:
these were the only wonders left; and even these
had been wearing thin.

I don't think 'then go look...wonders left' is doing
that much (or perhaps not doing enough).
just a suggestion:
that he could prolong a sunset, or make it disappear,
[a master of time and space,] but even this
was wearing thin

Interesting. Thinking about it...

He had enjoyed the solitude of desert
caravans under the stars and had seen, after hours

perhaps, to clarify;
He enjoyed the solitude, [like] the desert
caravans...
I think I'll take the risk: there's too much simile in the poem already
in the dark wilderness, the cloudy ground ahead
(If 'cloudy' how is the ground visible, or is 'cloudy ground'
the tops of the clouds?)
The clouds are the ground
begin to glow like a presage to a miracle.
I think, in answer to your question, it's the
whole phrase 'like a presage to a miracle'
that I find awkward. It seems overwritten
in comparison to the lines arond it. Unnecessarily
exotic amongst the (non-perjorative) mundane.
If you cut the phrase, what would be lost?
I suppose I'd lose the stress on the miraculousness of flying, and some of the poem's ominous quality. I was also hoping that the phrase would reinforce the comparison with the desert traveler
He had seen the moon rise over the Himalayas
'over' to 'above' ?
and had followed Cygnus across the open sea.
'across' to 'over'?
Undecided...
Thunderstorms had rumbled at his feet
The next two lines seem to drag this one down.
Could you do without them?
and, at the end of a working day, his shoes
had the sod of a different hemisphere
.
I guess that's the question with every poetic catalogue: which items can you do without? I like this one because it dials down the grandiose language of the previous verses and makes for a good end to the stanza.

Now, for quite some time,
For quite some time, now, ?
I started with 'now' to strike a clear note of antithesis at the beginning
whether because of the nights poorly slept,
'nights poorly slept', seems badly phrased;
whether, because of nights without sleep ?
(Modified some of the line breaks below)
or the mindless slogans on the tannoy,
the lost gentility, plastic for crystal,
paper for cloth, pajamaed teenagers
carrying their pillows aboard --
it all felt like drinking nectar

(perhaps there should be a 'he' somewhere
in this line?)
from a dirty cup.
I like this - I'll probably follow your suggestion here

Regards, Not.
     
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Re: Flight Deck (Revision)

Postby David » Mon Apr 16, 2018 7:12 pm

Joao wrote:David, of course, apologies: I'll italicise the additions in the revision and also strike through the deletions in the original (most of the changes were deletions).

Thank you! Now, where are my glasses?
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