If You Cannot Bring Good News

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penguin
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If You Cannot Bring Good News

Post by penguin » Tue Oct 18, 2016 12:24 pm

Revision

How did it feel?

Like I was manufactured, of a kind,
a forgery from the start,
insubstantial as a spark
that flew from the grindstone.

Like something was happening
just across the bay.
I searched my skin for a spot
to hammer a nail in.

A tongue hung out in a desert.

It wasn’t welcome but
a warning light that stripped
polish from the surface,
ran the circus out of town
and washed the sky of neon.

What’ll you do now?

There are islands that shimmer
in the mirror of the sea.

There are questions
I can answer with my thumb.

There’s an easy chair.
I can listen out
for crickets on the lawn,
the knock upon the door.

It won’t be the hand
I’m waiting on.

Original

Like I was manufactured, of a kind,
forgery from the start,
insubstantial as a spark
that flew from the grindstone.

Like something was happening
just across the bay.
I searched my skin for a spot
to hammer a nail in.

A tongue hung out in a desert.

Wicked on the wind,
blown from bud to bud.
Written in the sand
and then forgotten.

Not a welcome but
a warning light that stripped
polish from the surface,
the circus out of town
and washed the sky of neon.

What’ll you do now?

Stand out front and answer questions
with my thumb
on the ring of the curtain.

Complain this wasn’t
what I wanted
but what I needed.

Choose my words well,
when stirring the still.
If I don’t make it,
my baby will.
Last edited by penguin on Thu Oct 20, 2016 1:50 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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JJWilliamson
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Re: How did it feel?

Post by JJWilliamson » Tue Oct 18, 2016 7:13 pm

Absolutely fascinating piece, Penguin

The strength is in the title and the follow up question, mainly because we have no subject to latch onto apart from the mysterious person under some kind of interrogation. Because of this my mind conjures all sorts of scenarios and that alone makes for an interesting read. Add some fine inventive imagery to the mix and you have a compelling poem.

S5 puzzled me some and I felt I was missing something in the closing line. That said, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this covert poem.

Best

JJ
penguin wrote:Like I was manufactured, of a kind,
forgery from the start,
insubstantial as a spark
that flew from the grindstone.

Like something was happening
just across the bay.
I searched my skin for a spot
to hammer a nail in.

A tongue hung out in a desert.

Wicked on the wind,
blown from bud to bud.
Written in the sand
and then forgotten.

Not a welcome but
a warning light that stripped
polish from the surface,
the circus out of town
and washed the sky of neon.

What’ll you do now?

Stand out front and answer questions
with my thumb
on the ring of the curtain.

Complain this wasn’t
what I wanted
but what I needed.

Choose my words well,
when stirring the still.
If I don’t make it,
my baby will.
Long time a child and still a child

penguin
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Re: How did it feel?

Post by penguin » Wed Oct 19, 2016 9:32 am

Thanks, JJ. You're very kind. Too kind. The first 3 stanzas are ok but the rest need a lot of work.

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Re: How did it feel?

Post by camus » Wed Oct 19, 2016 10:41 am

A great read, some lovely turns of phrase.

As you mention yourself it starts to go a bit awry, perhaps after the line "What’ll you do now?" When the metaphors/imagery cease and the questions kick in. The proceeding stanzas need tightening up, if indeed they are needed at all?

Wasn't too keen on the title myself, although elusory and perhaps required, it seemed a bit unsubstantial in comparison to the rest of the poem.

Good stuff
Kris
http://www.closetpoet.co.uk

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Re: How did it feel?

Post by Moth » Wed Oct 19, 2016 10:04 pm

The interest for me lies in the second half of the poem - from the second question. Interesting that the first is the title and therefore considered more important - how one feels fitting in with the concept that in today's world this is generally (and to my mind wrongly) given precedence over more practical concerns. While the first half does contain some interesting imagery and is more traditionally poetic, it is only when the question changes that I get any real sense of what's going on. I read it as it's meant to be this way for who can ever really understand the intricate depths of another individual's thoughts? The final line makes me think N has given up a baby for adoption - though I haven't a clue what you mean by stirring the sill. It also makes for an unnecessary rhyme.
to be totally honest... whenever you feel you really shouldn't write that, that's exactly what you should write.

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Re: How did it feel?

Post by Grace » Thu Oct 20, 2016 1:10 am

How did it feel?

Postby penguin » Tue Oct 18, 2016 6:24 am
Like I was manufactured, of a kind, (I like the immediate answer to the question your title posed, and although the reader never really finds out what "it" was, we get a bit of satisfaction for
forgery from the start, our curiosity. Is "of a kind" necessary? Does that mean "one of many?")
insubstantial as a spark
that flew from the grindstone. (I can see these numerous and brief sparks and hear and even smell this image. Wonderful.)

Like something was happening (More suspense. Great.)
just across the bay.
I searched my skin for a spot
to hammer a nail in. (Excellent, concrete and painful.)

A tongue hung out in a desert. (A disembodied tongue is doesn't seem to hold up to the prior images?)

Wicked on the wind,
blown from bud to bud.
Written in the sand
and then forgotten.

Not a welcome but
a warning light that stripped (These disjointed images magnify the warning/pain. Well done.)
polish from the surface, (The musicality of circus out of town after polish from the surface is a treat.)
the circus out of town
and washed the sky of neon.

What’ll you do now?

Stand out front and answer questions (I am missing something here. I don't understand.)
with my thumb
on the ring of the curtain.

Complain this wasn’t
what I wanted
but what I needed.

Choose my words well, (The rhythm and poignancy of the end is great. I don't understand "stirring the still" but I like the sound. I would like to get an extra hint or two
when stirring the still. of the problem and the partial resolution of the poem.)
If I don’t make it,
my baby will.

penguin
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Joined: Sat Feb 27, 2010 7:17 am ( This captured me immediately, and upon re-reading I found another layer of depth and sonic skill. Thank you for sharing.)

penguin
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Re: How did it feel?

Post by penguin » Thu Oct 20, 2016 10:15 am

Thanks, Kris, moth and Grace.
Of a kind - means of a common type, nothing special.
The ending isn't referring to adoption, more of a passing on of a baton, or ladle, even.
But I shall try to do something about the ending, anyhow.

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Re: If You Cannot Bring Good News

Post by penguin » Thu Oct 20, 2016 1:51 pm

New title, some alterations to the poem. I still don't like it.

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Re: If You Cannot Bring Good News

Post by Grace » Thu Oct 20, 2016 7:14 pm

Wow! This was a great revision!

All of the images hang together, even the tongue in the desert which before didn't seem as strong, now adds to the pain and discomfort of the beginning, although it hasn't changed. I love the consistency of the images hinting at the feelings without spelling them out exactly, like the islands that shimmer and questions that can be answered. The proportion of understanding to guessing in each example remains constant from the painful images in the beginning through to the slightly hopeful ones of the second half.

The revised title helps the reader care more about the poem because more about the story/the feelings of the narrator is revealed.

The title is in the present tense and the poem begins in past. Did you try, "When You Did Not Bring Good News?" or another past tense choice?

Very good poem.

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Re: If You Cannot Bring Good News

Post by penguin » Fri Oct 21, 2016 8:21 am

Thanks, Grace. Very kind of you. The title is meant to be tenseless, I guess, in the nature of an adage. If you cannot bring good news, don't bring any.

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