Oyster

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Richard
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Oyster

Post by Richard » Mon Dec 24, 2012 7:09 pm

V5/V6

A tremble in the bone,
an ancient knife, a rusty spade
to shuck the lizard tongue
bulging from a boxer's lip.
And quickly then the texture
gives, curled up simpleness,
silted with Martini grit.

Take a little sip of drink
but do not think that it can hold
this boneless fist,
pickled in the ocean's dill.
that is the ebbing salt of sea
or help you with the second wave;
the taste of seal grease,
with its gram of fleshy rust.

You can't escape
the sudden bristling chill.
The shivering gin-rich din of gull calls
pungent with the skill of being ice cold,
borne of shell and marrow spill
from which rock is formed. The mouth
begins to mirror this, turns inside out,
pleads relief.

An olive spurns a slick vermouth,
Tabasco builds its ridge of sniper fire.
Its blister of the bass and perch
and grouper bellies slit
until the harbour is relieved
of so much blood, it swims
beneath your tongue. Its struggles
to remember how the trawler hull
has dumped its diesel by the gut-full;
how it stang the sun with insolence.

A pause for swallowing takes daring,
permits reflection. You know that
each foetal plum has swum
with dinosaurs in godless currents,
hungering for nothing - only salt
which merely switches one half off
and one half on. But which?

The last should only lie within you
in the dead of night.
If you can, remove your teeth
for extra numbness, an amputee
that bathes in Lunar whiskey
scattered on the sea floor;
luminous green, an isotope
of ancient themes, before words,
before song.


V4.
Shuck the lizard tongue
bulging from a boxer's lip;
the curled up simpleness
silted with Martini grit;
the boneless fist, pickled
with the ocean's dill;
the fleshy rust that is
the ebbing salt of sea;
the gin-rich din
of gull calls pungent with the skill
of being ice cold,
sullen fluid from which rock
is formed. An olive spurns
a slick vermouth, Tabasco builds
its ridge of sniper fire. Its blister
of the bass and perch
and grouper bellies slit
until the harbour is relieved
of so much blood, its struggles
to remember how the trawler hull
has dumped its diesel by the gut-full;
how it stang the sun
with insolence; told your tongue,
this foetal plum, has swum
with dinosaurs in godless currents;
hungering for nothing in the salt
which merely switches one half off
and one half on; which is
lunar whiskey, scattered on the sea floor;
luminous green, an isotope
of ancient themes, before words,
before song.


V3.

Shuck the lizard tongue
bulging from a boxer's lip.
The curled up simpleness
silted with Martini grit.
The boneless fist
pickled with the ocean's dill.
The fleshy rust
that is the ebbing salt of sea.
The gin-rich din of gull calls
pungent with the skill of being ice cold.
The sullen fluid
from which rock is formed.
An olive spurns
a slick of vermouth, Tabasco
builds its ridge of sniper fire.
Its blister
of the bass and perch and grouper bellies
slit until
the harbour is relieved of so much blood,
its struggles to remember
how the trawler hull has dumped
diesel by the gut-full.
How it stang
the sun with insolence,
told your tongue
this foetal plum
swam with dinosaurs in godless currents.
Hungering for nothing
in the salt which merely
switches one half off
and one half on.
Which is lunar whiskey,
scattered on the sea floor,
luminous green,
an isotope of ancient themes,
before words, before song.


V2.

Shuck the lizard tongue
bulging from a boxer's lip;

the curled up simpleness
silted with Martini grit,

the boneless fist
pickled with the ocean's dill,

the rust that is
the ebbing salt of sea ,

the gin-rich din of gull calls
pungent with the skill
of being ice cold,

like the fluid from which
rock is formed, an olive
in a slick of vermouth,

Tabasco builds its ridge
of sniper fire, its blister

of the bass and perch
and grouper bellies
slit until the harbour

is relieved of so much blood,
its struggles to remember

how the trawler hull has dumped
a gut-full of diesel,
stung the sun with insolence,

has told your tongue
this foetal plum swam
with dinosaurs in godless currents,

hungering for nothing,
with the salt which merely

switches one half off
and one half on, which

is lunar whiskey, scattered
on the sea floor, luminous green,

an isotope of ancient
themes, before words,
before song.

V1.

Shuck the lizard tongue
bulging from its lip;
the curled up simpleness
silted with Martini grit,
the boneless fist
pickled with the ocean's dill,
the rust that is
the ebbing salt of sea ,
the gin-rich din of gull calls
pungent with the skill
of being ice cold,
like the fluid from which
rock is formed, an olive
in a slick of vermouth,
Tabasco builds its ridge
of sniper fire, it's blister
of the bass and perch
and grouper bellies
slit until the harbour
is relieved of so much blood,
its struggles to remember
how the trawler hull has bled
a gut-full of diesel,
stung the sun with insolence,
has told your tongue
this foetal plum swam
with dinosaurs in godless currents,
hungering for nothing,
with the salt which merely
switches one half off
and one half on, which
is lunar whiskey, scattered
on the sea floor, luminous green,
an isotope of ancient
themes, before words,
before song.
Last edited by Richard on Fri Jan 18, 2013 3:12 pm, edited 12 times in total.

Macavity
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Re: Oyster

Post by Macavity » Wed Dec 26, 2012 10:21 pm

Richard,
This is a poem on acid..or at least there is a lot of alcohol in the poem. Nevertheless some great illuminations - foetal plum, lunar whiskey.

cheers

mac

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Re: Oyster

Post by Antcliff » Wed Dec 26, 2012 10:30 pm

Hi Richard,
is this an elaborate cocktail poem? :D

I especially liked this:

the gin-rich din of gull calls

Pondering...

Seth
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

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Re: Oyster

Post by k-j » Thu Dec 27, 2012 4:46 am

I'm very fond of oysters so had to read this.

Excellent. Great consistent use of rhyme and metre. A fully-realised piece.

It's a full-on oyster eulogy, an all-guns-blazing oyster armada! I hope there isn't any more to it; I hope it's just about oysters. Oysters deserve this poem.

The lines are small and every one packs a punch. Each one is like an oyster. You describe oysters in so many brilliant ways: "boneless fist", "gin-rich din of gull calls", "foetal plum", "isotope of ancient themes" - you could build a whole poem around any of these.

Magnificent!

n.b. an errant apostrophe in line 16.
fine words butter no parsnips

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Re: Oyster

Post by Marc » Thu Dec 27, 2012 3:00 pm

Excellent. Great lines, taut but brash at the same time. Clever sonics.
Enjoyed the ride, for that's how it feels!

You forgot to say:

A slimey gob of snot and seawater !

Not over fond of oysters myself as you might guess!

Cheers
Marc

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Re: Oyster

Post by dedalus » Thu Dec 27, 2012 3:32 pm

Lovely ... but you hand over the drink already!

Richard
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Re: Oyster

Post by Richard » Thu Dec 27, 2012 5:55 pm

Thank you all. Alcohol was a little involved in an early draft. It is definitely about Oysters though and nothing else, save what Oysters connect us with. I've had a little play with it but nothing very significant. Apostrophe was tossed upon the rocks...

Richard

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Re: Oyster

Post by Ros » Thu Dec 27, 2012 6:06 pm

Great images. I'm not keen on it as one long sentence; far too many commas, and I'm not sure the new splitting into bits works. If it were mine I'd probably go for two long sections and try to lose most of the commas at the ends of lines.

Ros
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Re: Oyster

Post by Richard » Thu Dec 27, 2012 6:44 pm

I wondered about that comma thing. Full stops? It is a bit of a list. Thanks!

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Re: Oyster

Post by Macavity » Sat Dec 29, 2012 5:39 am

I thought the original format reflected the obsessional working of the subject. Fireworks for the reader's mind have now been given pauses for thought.

mac

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Re: Oyster

Post by Antcliff » Sat Dec 29, 2012 2:24 pm

Hi Richard,
yeh, I have to vote for the non-broken earlier version over the current version. I think the pauses introduced by the breaks rather undermine the nice tumbling list quality of the original.

seth
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

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Re: Oyster

Post by Richard » Sat Dec 29, 2012 3:43 pm

Thanks all. I am falling into the one long section camp.

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Re: Oyster

Post by David » Sat Dec 29, 2012 5:43 pm

Pleiades wrote:Thanks all. I am falling into the one long section camp.
Me too. Oysters are not one of my areas of expertise, but it's a terrific poem.

Cheers

David

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Re: Oyster

Post by Richard » Sun Dec 30, 2012 12:12 pm

Thanks again everyone. Very happy this is generally striking a chord. Have played some more mainly with line breaks and got rid of the pesky space

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Re: Oyster

Post by Macavity » Sun Dec 30, 2012 9:39 pm

Well its only my opinion, very often a minority one and so radioactive, but the tumble of words in the original drove the poem for me. For that reason I'd stick with the comma and not the 'control' of full-stops (and I also prefer the line break 'an isotope of ancient'; 'the rust that is/the ebbing salt of sea' is more dynamic in its line-break than 'The fleshy rust/that is the ebbing salt of sea'. I also prefer 'the gin-rich din of gull calls/pungent with the skill/of being ice cold - I think these breaks on the short lines give the poem its pace).
cheers

mac

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Re: Oyster

Post by Ros » Sun Dec 30, 2012 11:15 pm

I agree with mac - the line breaks feel disjointed now. I think you can keep it as one tumbled thing without resorting to stacks of commas or two-word lines.

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Re: Oyster

Post by Richard » Thu Jan 03, 2013 11:25 am

Line breaks. Roger that. And semi-colons if I am to be correct. *that'll work*

Thanks again all. Nearly there for me i think

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Re: Oyster

Post by brianedwards » Thu Jan 03, 2013 4:32 pm

The sounds are great, but a bit loud? Graphic description but the poem feels very un-oysterlike. Too much tits and teeth on show. I'm left shrugging to be honest. I loved your Mussels poem.

B.

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Re: Oyster

Post by Richard » Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:16 am

You did, I remember! Sort of see what you mean about the noisiness. Thanks Brian.

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Re: Oyster

Post by Wilcken » Sat Jan 05, 2013 5:30 pm

Hi Richard,

It drew me in, no doubt. And it brought me back. I am in the ambivalent camp when it comes to oysters, and it's hard to convince me that's not true of all of us who are not fully grossed out by them.

As a tribute to them, I think there are many facets shown in this poem. My overall feeling comes closer to Brian's I think, in that it goes over the top as it does, is noisy in its claims. Yet I think the intent is to embody the oyster. If so, for me there is no pearl that stands out, formed over time and precious, lovely, treasured. This is absent from those we eat of course, but also the poem is not, as an oyster on the plate is, at the same time small and unassuming as it contains all that is immense and visceral of the ocean. Instead it is more listy than I think it needs to be. And I think it it full of wonderful lines and descriptions that warrant getting it to its finest for. Of course it may already be there for you already, or getting close. Which is fine.

As for the debate about the lineation and punctuation, and their effects, I have this suggestion. Oysters are often eaten one after another. In my (albeit slight) experience, each next one brings a sameness and yet a slightly different experience, like the oysters are no different, and yet they draw out from me this sort of curiosity and revelation. I almost hate to suggest this, because over here in the US of A, Wallace Stevens' Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Blackbird has almost become a cliche in terms of a derivative poetic form. Still. What he does there seems such a plausible influence for what you might be after, and the sequential aspect of that form would follow suit with eating a plate full of oysters, alone or with your date. So I thought I would suggest it for whatever it produces.

Some of my favorite lines:
the boxer's lip
silted with Martini grit
the gin-rich din of gull calls
Its blister of the bass and perch and grouper bellies slit
this foetal plum
has swum with dinosaurs in godless currents
lunar whiskey

It is quite saturated in liquor, and one might find that fitting or the tiniest bit lazy perhaps, in that it's an all-too-easy association to muster up your readers' approval. Hardly a crime though. It's quite a poem as it is of course, my feeling is that it's not yet found its highest and best use.

Jane

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Re: Oyster

Post by Richard » Sat Jan 05, 2013 6:55 pm

Jane,

Thanks very much - a very thoughtful review, much more than I deserve. You got me thinking though, along with Brian. So I have had a go at broadening it out, or diluting it. Or delisting it. Or whatever it is I am doing.

Best

Richard

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Re: Oyster

Post by ljordan » Sun Jan 06, 2013 2:18 am

Richard, I've been following this and haven't much to add. I'm not sure form is really the issue needing attention. Brian and Jane mention the need for something for the reader to take-away other than a different view of oysters and I think it's there towards the end of version 4. BTW I think the sound and pace of V4 is the best, but that's just the dressing. I think someone else may have pointed to the 'isotope' line but that's the part I'd tuck in my pocket and carry around for a while to see what happens...

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