The Hypochondriac (Revised)

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Joao
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The Hypochondriac (Revised)

Post by Joao » Thu Mar 21, 2019 10:59 pm

V4

My body is a lair. What lurks inside eludes
the educated eye. My days are spent

on watch: tracing vestiges,
sounding walls, retracing the steps of the dead.

A secret cauldron stews, within,
a rancid seething broth meant for my veins.

Through the breathless nights, I listen
to the gurgle of garroted blood,

the pounding of false paces.
In the dark, a steely palm

cups my heart.


Version 3

My body is a lair. What lurks inside eludes
the educated eye. My days are spent
on the lookout: spotting vestiges, sounding walls,
retracing the steps of the dead.
A secret cauldron stews, within,
a rancid broth meant for my veins.
Throughout the breathless nights, I listen
to the gurgle of garroted blood, pulsatile
tinnitus. In the dark, a steely palm
cups my heart.

Revision

My body is a lair. What lurks inside eludes
the educated eye. My days are spent
on watch: tracing vestiges, sounding walls,
retracing the steps of the dead.
A secret cauldron stews, within,
a rancid broth meant for my veins.
Throughout the breathless nights, I listen
to the gurgle of garroted blood
in my ears. In the dark, a steely palm
cups my heart.

Original

My body is a lair. What lurks inside eludes
the educated eye. My days are spent in watch;
chasing vestiges; sounding walls;
retracing the steps of the dead.
Somewhere within, a secret cauldron stews
a rancid broth, meant for my veins.
Through the breathless nights, I listen
to the gurgle of throttled blood pulsing
in my ears. In the dark, a steely palm
cups my heart.
Last edited by Joao on Tue Apr 09, 2019 3:57 pm, edited 4 times in total.

Macavity
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Re: The Hypochondriac

Post by Macavity » Fri Mar 22, 2019 5:01 am

Interesting Joao. The poem delivers more than the title promises. Hypochondriac: a person who is abnormally anxious about their health. The anxieties are more intense in your poem, psychosis: a severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality. Either way, lair and cauldron, the language of the poem, are more interestingly gothic than medical.
My body is a lair. What lurks inside eludes
the educated eye.
Very much like the opening, the sonics of eludes/educated, where the limits and tools of reason cannot rationalise a diagnosis. There is a hopelessness in the empirical approach that wastes time... My days are spent in watch
Somewhere within, a secret cauldron stews
a rancid broth,
meant for my veins.
Like the witchery elements. Somewhere within - the phrasing is too familiar.
Joao wrote:
Thu Mar 21, 2019 10:59 pm
My body is a lair. What lurks inside eludes
the educated eye. My days are spent in watch;
chasing vestiges; sounding walls;.................................not keen on the punctuation
retracing the steps of the dead........................the heart condition is genetic?
Somewhere within, a secret cauldron stews
a rancid broth, meant for my veins.
Through the breathless nights, I listen
to the gurgle of throttled blood pulsing...........'throttled blood', a liquid, doesn't feel right
in my ears. In the dark, a steely palm
cups my heart.
Overall, the poem conveys the internalised obsession, the isolation of being self-absorbed.

hope that helps some

mac

ray miller
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Re: The Hypochondriac

Post by ray miller » Fri Mar 22, 2019 11:41 am

Like the opening 2 lines. Chasing seems at variance with being on watch.
a steely palm cups my heart. - cups seems very tame, something like grips or presses, unless you're making the point that N'S actual discomfort is minimal.
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: The Hypochondriac

Post by Joao » Sat Mar 23, 2019 4:04 pm

Thanks, mac, these are very helpful comments. You got me wondering so I googled around and found that there are indeed psychotic forms of hypochondria. Your other points addressed below.
Macavity wrote:
Fri Mar 22, 2019 5:01 am
Interesting Joao. The poem delivers more than the title promises. Hypochondriac: a person who is abnormally anxious about their health. The anxieties are more intense in your poem, psychosis: a severe mental disorder in which thought and emotions are so impaired that contact is lost with external reality. Either way, lair and cauldron, the language of the poem, are more interestingly gothic than medical.
My body is a lair. What lurks inside eludes
the educated eye.
Very much like the opening, the sonics of eludes/educated, where the limits and tools of reason cannot rationalise a diagnosis. There is a hopelessness in the empirical approach that wastes time... My days are spent in watch
Very glad you like it and that's exactly what I was trying to express.
Somewhere within, a secret cauldron stews
a rancid broth,
meant for my veins.
Like the witchery elements. Somewhere within - the phrasing is too familiar.
I'll try to think of something more distinctive, thanks.
Joao wrote:
Thu Mar 21, 2019 10:59 pm
My body is a lair. What lurks inside eludes
the educated eye. My days are spent in watch;
chasing vestiges; sounding walls;.................................not keen on the punctuation I'll rethink it
retracing the steps of the dead........................the heart condition is genetic? No. The dead here are those with the same symptoms, not the same genes as the hypochondriac.

Somewhere within, a secret cauldron stews
a rancid broth, meant for my veins.
Through the breathless nights, I listen
to the gurgle of throttled blood pulsing...........'throttled blood', a liquid, doesn't feel right This was an attempt at metonymy: it's the artery through which the blood is coursing that is throttled.

in my ears. In the dark, a steely palm
cups my heart.
Overall, the poem conveys the internalised obsession, the isolation of being self-absorbed.

hope that helps some It does, very much, thanks again!

mac

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Re: The Hypochondriac

Post by Joao » Sat Mar 23, 2019 4:07 pm

Thanks, Ray, very glad you like the lines. You're probably right on 'chasing', I'll try to think of something more appropriate. The tameness of 'cups' is deliberate, though: I wanted an ominous, menacing gesture; not the actual strike. Something like being caressed with a knife...

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Re: The Hypochondriac

Post by Firebird » Sat Mar 23, 2019 5:26 pm

It’s really good Joao. I too like the gothic imagery and feel. It adds to the anti-scientific tone and the irrationality that has its own strange logic. The lines read very well, with good rhythm and good line breaks too. I think this poem offers a nuanced description of how it must feel to be a hypochondriac. It’s the type of poetry that really interests me, as it gives insights into experiences that aren’t written about enough.

Great stuff.

Cheers,

Tristan

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Re: The Hypochondriac

Post by bjondon » Sun Mar 24, 2019 4:37 pm

Hi Joao,
I like this - chiefly for its driving rhythm, broken up by
disconcerting flutters (like the N's imagined failing heart)
- the subject is self-dramatising but in this fairground-grotesque imagery - So he is being
sort of held up and shown to us with ironic humour - almost in the manner of an anglo-saxon riddle.

I liked the emphatic end words: lair, eye, watch, dead, stews, broth, veins
interrupted by the fluttering 'chasing vestiges; sounding walls' - both original language: -the meaning
I took- 'vestiges' samples, visible evidence being interrogated, maybe trailed around to clinics and doctors.
'sounding walls' - tapping them to see if they are hollow i.e. doubting accepted medical wisdoms, an insistence that
what appears healthy may be hiding imminent disaters.

'retracing the steps of the dead' -that threw me at first, but following back the line of symptoms that lead
so surely to death until you hit on one that accords with your own, is exactly what hypochondriacs do.

L7 - 'throughout' might play better, emphasising the insomnia

L8 - three modifiers seem to wrestle each other to a standstill. I would drop one of them e.g.
'to the (half-)throttled pulse of blood' - making 'blood' a stronger endword too.

The business of the steely palm - to me quite a frightening image - adds another angle, maybe stepping
out of that ironic voice and suggesting that 'in the dark' (unbeknownst to the hypochondriac)
there really is a steely palm about to close on his heart - I like that swerve, but not sure if it's
intended. Maybe just a further clue needed.

Regards,
Jules

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Re: The Hypochondriac

Post by NotQuiteSure » Wed Mar 27, 2019 3:36 pm

.
Hi Joao,
enjoyed the read, though I thought the final four
lines were a bit pale in comparison to the start.
I kept on misreading ‘lair’ as ‘liar’, but that was
no impediment.
Are you sure about ‘in watch’, shouldn’t it be
‘on watch’?

Just a(n unfinished) thought:

My body is a liar. What lurks inside
eludes the educated eye. Each day
is
spent on watch or chasing vestiges,
sounding walls, or retracing the slow steps
of the dead. Somewhere, a secret cauldron
stews thick rancid broth that’s meant for my veins.


Regards, Not.


.

Joao
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Re: The Hypochondriac

Post by Joao » Sun Mar 31, 2019 3:30 pm

Thanks very much, Tristan, that's very encouraging. That's exactly the reading I was hoping to trigger: I'm glad it came across. Thanks again
Firebird wrote:
Sat Mar 23, 2019 5:26 pm
It’s really good Joao. I too like the gothic imagery and feel. It adds to the anti-scientific tone and the irrationality that has its own strange logic. The lines read very well, with good rhythm and good line breaks too. I think this poem offers a nuanced description of how it must feel to be a hypochondriac. It’s the type of poetry that really interests me, as it gives insights into experiences that aren’t written about enough.

Great stuff.

Cheers,

Tristan
Last edited by Joao on Sun Mar 31, 2019 3:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Joao
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Re: The Hypochondriac

Post by Joao » Sun Mar 31, 2019 3:32 pm

Hi Jules, thanks so much for the detailed crit. You're spot on in your interpretation of 'vestiges, walls, and steps'. I've posted a revision with your suggestions.

Irony wasn't really my intention, but I can see why you might detect it in the text: it's hard to use Gothic imagery without making N sound a bit melodramatic. But there's no shift intended: the hypochondriac knows about the hand in the dark and it adds to his terror.
bjondon wrote:
Sun Mar 24, 2019 4:37 pm
Hi Joao,
I like this - chiefly for its driving rhythm, broken up by
disconcerting flutters (like the N's imagined failing heart)
- the subject is self-dramatising but in this fairground-grotesque imagery - So he is being
sort of held up and shown to us with ironic humour - almost in the manner of an anglo-saxon riddle.

I liked the emphatic end words: lair, eye, watch, dead, stews, broth, veins
interrupted by the fluttering 'chasing vestiges; sounding walls' - both original language: -the meaning
I took- 'vestiges' samples, visible evidence being interrogated, maybe trailed around to clinics and doctors.
'sounding walls' - tapping them to see if they are hollow i.e. doubting accepted medical wisdoms, an insistence that
what appears healthy may be hiding imminent disaters.

'retracing the steps of the dead' -that threw me at first, but following back the line of symptoms that lead
so surely to death until you hit on one that accords with your own, is exactly what hypochondriacs do.

L7 - 'throughout' might play better, emphasising the insomnia

L8 - three modifiers seem to wrestle each other to a standstill. I would drop one of them e.g.
'to the (half-)throttled pulse of blood' - making 'blood' a stronger endword too.

The business of the steely palm - to me quite a frightening image - adds another angle, maybe stepping
out of that ironic voice and suggesting that 'in the dark' (unbeknownst to the hypochondriac)
there really is a steely palm about to close on his heart - I like that swerve, but not sure if it's
intended. Maybe just a further clue needed.

Regards,
Jules

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Re: The Hypochondriac

Post by Joao » Sun Mar 31, 2019 3:36 pm

Hi Not, thanks for the detailed crit and suggestions. I've used some of them in my revision. You're, of course, right about 'on watch': I had 'vigil' at first and forgot to replace the preposition. Thanks for pointing it out. I think I agree with you on the final 4 lines: I'll try to think of a different ending. I've addressed your other points below.
NotQuiteSure wrote:
Wed Mar 27, 2019 3:36 pm
.
Hi Joao,
enjoyed the read, though I thought the final four
lines were a bit pale in comparison to the start.
I kept on misreading ‘lair’ as ‘liar’, but that was
no impediment.
Are you sure about ‘in watch’, shouldn’t it be
‘on watch’?

Just a(n unfinished) thought:

My body is a liar. What lurks inside
eludes the educated eye. Each day 'My days are spent' has an implication that would be lost
is
spent on watch or chasing vestiges,
sounding walls, or retracing the slow steps Why slow?
of the dead. Somewhere, a secret cauldron
stews thick rancid broth that’s meant for my veins. Thinking about it...


Regards, Not.


.

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Re: The Hypochondriac (Revised)

Post by NotQuiteSure » Sun Mar 31, 2019 4:18 pm

Joao wrote:
Sun Mar 31, 2019 3:36 pm
Why slow?
Reading aloud, it seemed to me there was a beat missing.

Regards, Not.

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Re: The Hypochondriac (Revised)

Post by NotQuiteSure » Mon Apr 01, 2019 3:52 pm

.
Like the revision Joao,

though it now feels like you need to lift
the title a little to better match the verse
(The Morbid Hypochondriac ?)

Three minor nits.
L3/4 - tracing/retracing seems weak, maybe
following in the footsteps of the dead.....?

L6 - I don't think you need 'that is'.

L8 - Not keen of the 'gurgle/throttled' pairing,
(would have preferred something more alliterative)
to the gurgle of garrotted blood.....?

My mistake, a fourth nit.
The two Mys of the opening lines. Would it still
work if you substituted 'This' or 'The' for the first one?
(If you cut the 'my' before veins, the piece gains an
ambiguity that isn't resolved until the final line. Up
until that point it could be the Hypochondriac or their
doctor speaking. Just a thought :) )


Regards, Not.



.

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Re: The Hypochondriac (Revised)

Post by Joao » Wed Apr 03, 2019 3:49 pm

Thanks for coming back to it, Not. I've answered below.
NotQuiteSure wrote:
Mon Apr 01, 2019 3:52 pm
.
Like the revision Joao,

though it now feels like you need to lift
the title a little to better match the verse
(The Morbid Hypochondriac ?) Yeah, mac also made this point. I'll try to think of something a bit more dramatic

Three minor nits.
L3/4 - tracing/retracing seems weak, maybe
following in the footsteps of the dead.....? Interesting. I'll think about it

L6 - I don't think you need 'that is'. I agree

L8 - Not keen of the 'gurgle/throttled' pairing,
(would have preferred something more alliterative)
to the gurgle of garrotted blood.....? I like your suggestion: I'll use it.

My mistake, a fourth nit.
The two Mys of the opening lines. Would it still
work if you substituted 'This' or 'The' for the first one?
(If you cut the 'my' before veins, the piece gains an
ambiguity that isn't resolved until the final line. Up
until that point it could be the Hypochondriac or their
doctor speaking. Just a thought :) ) Interesting point. Jules also brought up the notion of two perspectives, but I do like the solitary logic of the patient given free rein


Regards, Not.



.
Thanks again

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Re: The Hypochondriac (Revised)

Post by NotQuiteSure » Thu Apr 04, 2019 1:58 pm

.
Hi Joao,
just a passing thought: I wondered if you were missing a trick
at the end, not making the most of those 'ins'.

...
in my ears, in the dark, in my heart
cupped by a steely palm.


or

in my ears. in my heart, cupped
by a steely palm. In the dark.


Regards, Not.

.

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Re: The Hypochondriac (Revised)

Post by bjondon » Thu Apr 04, 2019 6:26 pm

Hi Joao, this is definitely tightening up nicely.
'My days are spent on watch' - I like 'on' aot 'in'
but spent seems like the wrong verb . . . maybe something to
conjure the watches on board a ship or submarine?

'my breathless nights'? (to mirror 'my days')

'the gurgle of garrotted blood' is suitably fantastic, but I don't
think you need 'in my ears' either rhythmically or rationally.

'In the dark a steely palm cups my heart' - throughout we have
a sense that the hypochondria is genuine but there is no real
danger. The tone of that last line is confusing. How about:
'And in the dark a steely palm cups his heart'?
Jules

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Re: The Hypochondriac (Revised)

Post by Joao » Sun Apr 07, 2019 10:40 pm

Thanks for returning to it, Jules. Answers, below.
bjondon wrote:
Thu Apr 04, 2019 6:26 pm
Hi Joao, this is definitely tightening up nicely.
'My days are spent on watch' - I like 'on' aot 'in'
but spent seems like the wrong verb . . . maybe something to
conjure the watches on board a ship or submarine? What about 'My days are spent on the lookout'?

'my breathless nights'? (to mirror 'my days') I do, however, like the sense of the nights being a sort of wilderness, not at all 'his'

'the gurgle of garrotted blood' is suitably fantastic, but I don't
think you need 'in my ears' either rhythmically or rationally. Agreed. Changing it.

'In the dark a steely palm cups my heart' - throughout we have
a sense that the hypochondria is genuine but there is no real
danger. The tone of that last line is confusing. How about:
'And in the dark a steely palm cups his heart'? I still don't understand why the last image seems less imaginary: is it because it's more tactile ('cupping') than the others?
Jules

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Re: The Hypochondriac (Revised)

Post by Joao » Sun Apr 07, 2019 11:48 pm

That is an interesting thought, Not. I've now changed those last lines, but I'll keep thinking about it.
Thanks!
NotQuiteSure wrote:
Thu Apr 04, 2019 1:58 pm
.
Hi Joao,
just a passing thought: I wondered if you were missing a trick
at the end, not making the most of those 'ins'.

...
in my ears, in the dark, in my heart
cupped by a steely palm.


or

in my ears. in my heart, cupped
by a steely palm. In the dark.


Regards, Not.

.

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Re: The Hypochondriac (Revised)

Post by NotQuiteSure » Mon Apr 08, 2019 11:52 am

.
Hi Joao,
like the revision (pulsatile tinnitus is a great addition)
but don't think 'on the lookout' is an improvement over
'on watch'.
'spotting' and 'I listen' both seem rather weak (they don't
have much anxiety about them).

Just a little trim:


My body is a lair. What lurks inside eludes
the educated eye. My days are spent

on lookout: spotting vestiges,
sounding walls, retracing steps of the dead.

A secret cauldron stews, within,
a rancid seething broth meant for my veins.

Through breathless nights,
the gurgle of garroted blood, pulsatile

tinnitus. In the dark, a steely palm
cups my heart.


Regards, Not.


.

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Re: The Hypochondriac (Revised)

Post by Joao » Tue Apr 09, 2019 3:58 pm

Hi Not, I like your suggestions. I've adopted most. I agree with you on 'spotting'; not on 'listen', though, which can be done with great anxiety. I think I need to trust the undertone to indicate this rather than spell it out at every turn.

Thanks again for the detailed commentary. Very helpful, as always.

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Re: The Hypochondriac (Revised)

Post by NotQuiteSure » Tue Apr 09, 2019 6:21 pm

.
Hi Joao,
not sure about 'pounding of false paces'
after 'steps of the dead'
- and cutting 'pulsatile tinnitus' seems a real shame.

Just a thought.

My body is a lair. inside, what lurks eludes
each educated eye. My days are spent

on watch: tracing vestiges, sounding walls,
I listen Through the breathless nights,

to the gurgle of garroted blood, pulsatile
tinnitus, the pounding of false footfalls.

within, A secret cauldron stews,
that rancid seething broth meant for my veins.

In the dark, a steely palm
cups my heart.


Regards, Not.


.

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Re: The Hypochondriac (Revised)

Post by Joao » Mon Apr 15, 2019 11:39 am

Thanks, Not. I'll come back with changes soon.

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Re: The Hypochondriac (Revised)

Post by bjondon » Mon Apr 15, 2019 1:05 pm

Hi Joao - liking V4
Some judicious workshopping going on.
Glad you returned to 'on watch',
and the closing sentence works much better now; something to
do with the preceding 'pounding of false paces',
plus giving it it's own two lines to breathe in and
the whole new format.
L6 - 'seething' breaks the rhythm for me and doesn't add much.
L7 - I still prefer 'throughout' but there's not much in it.
Jules

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