In a Corner of the Mind

This is a serious poetry forum not a "love-in". Post here for more detailed, constructive criticism.
Post Reply
ljordan
Persistent Poster
Persistent Poster
Posts: 161
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2012 3:30 pm

In a Corner of the Mind

Post by ljordan » Tue Jan 01, 2013 11:26 pm

Picking a scab breaks the silence.
A cry wells up, rims are breached,
but once past a shudder, a chorus begins.
Rubbing at my temple, I say hmmm;
still alive, a knell off its flange,
an adagio of ripe old moments
when we were hand in hand.


I devise a key to wind it again,
daub what’s tender, bend back tabs
to stiffen the mind and hollow it out
for the timbre of its voice.

Under my chin, I tuck my knees,
wait for the day to slip from gear,
and close my eyes to link the chorus
to a buoy bobbing near a pier.
I rock with it, hum it back asleep
into a corner the years have spared.

ray miller
Perspicacious Poster
Perspicacious Poster
Posts: 6574
Joined: Wed Apr 23, 2008 10:23 am

Re: In a Corner of the Mind

Post by ray miller » Wed Jan 02, 2013 5:01 pm

Haunting, in a nice kind of way. I like "I devise a key to wind it again" and the final 2 lines of the poem.I'm puzzled by the bobbing buoy, which springs up of a sudden. More so by "a knell off its flange" which from the way you've introduced it might be a common phrase but not one I've heard before.
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

ljordan
Persistent Poster
Persistent Poster
Posts: 161
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2012 3:30 pm

Re: In a Corner of the Mind

Post by ljordan » Thu Jan 03, 2013 9:06 pm

Thanks Ray. I was working the bell sounds made by bouys as a kind atificial way for the narrator to construct his/her own way to spur a memory. Our memories seem triggered by often random links and this N was trying to not leave it to chance.

Glad it haunts.

brianedwards
Perspicacious Poster
Perspicacious Poster
Posts: 5375
Joined: Tue Jul 22, 2008 7:35 am
antispam: no
Location: Japan
Contact:

Re: In a Corner of the Mind

Post by brianedwards » Thu Jan 03, 2013 10:46 pm

This is spectacular. Really love how it works at the importance of sound to memory, so often overlooked.
Small suggestion: lose the first article in l3? Scans better for me without.

Excellent.

B.

Suzanne
Perspicacious Poster
Perspicacious Poster
Posts: 4898
Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 4:46 pm
antispam: no
Location: Land of the Midnight Sun

Re: In a Corner of the Mind

Post by Suzanne » Fri Jan 04, 2013 9:36 am

This is beautiful.

an adagio of ripe old moments

Wonderful phrase.

Wow. A little poem that captured years and took a whole day on a dock to experience.
Fantastic.

I don't love the title but, I'm no expert on titles.

Good reading you,
Suzanne

Macavity
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 6212
Joined: Tue May 10, 2005 10:29 am

Re: In a Corner of the Mind

Post by Macavity » Fri Jan 04, 2013 11:08 am

I struggled with this poem, but using your response 'memories seem triggered by often random links', I hopefully steered a way through to an experience that corresponded to the poem's intention.

Picking a scab breaks the silence.

On one level I thought of the child never patient enough to allow for the healing process. On another I thought of the adult not allowing an experience to reach a closure. In terms of your response, perhaps an adult in an idle moment subconsciously picking away at a scab and unlocking a memory (a childhood one or otherwise). This could be a metaphorical scab located in the mind, which unlocks the silence and threads to the sounds in the poem.

A cry wells up, rims are breached,
but once past a shudder


I could relate this to a child suffering the consequences of picking at a stab. A could also relate this to a choral performance. In both cases it suggests something coming from within, breaking the restraints, and with past a shudder a sense of releasing free - blood/memory.

Rubbing at my temple, I say hmmm

Like trying to hum an old tune.

still alive, a knell off its flange,

I don't understand this line, other than the funeral bell is stayed and the memory is kept alive.

an adagio of ripe old moments
when we were hand in hand.


Equating with a slow movement seems in keeping with 'old', though 'ripe' suggests more a Keatsian brimming full than old fruit. Perhaps the oxymoron works because these are memory moments.

I devise a key to wind it again,
daub what’s tender, bend back tabs
to stiffen the mind and hollow it out
for the timbre of its voice.


I presume the 'it' is the adagio formed from the chorus of memories. The 'key' like that for a musical box. 'daub' introduced a painterly quality. I think the lines also have a sculpture feel, a creation of space for the music/memory.


Under my chin, I tuck my knees,
wait for the day to slip from gear,
and close my eyes to link the chorus
to a buoy bobbing near a pier.
I rock with it, hum it back asleep
into a corner the years have spared.


The buoy bobbing threaded to 'knell'. The 'spared' suggests much has been lost. I like how the body is looking to get at one with a mood/rhythm to store the memory for another day. Su's mention of 'dock made me think of the Otis Redding song.

mac

User avatar
twoleftfeet
Perspicacious Poster
Perspicacious Poster
Posts: 6761
Joined: Wed Dec 07, 2005 4:02 pm
Location: Standing by a short pier, looking for a long run-up

Re: In a Corner of the Mind

Post by twoleftfeet » Fri Jan 04, 2013 12:05 pm

Greatly enjoyed this, but I'm still trying to get my head around the layers of metaphor.

I think I've unraveled the memory/sound/emotion bits but there also seems to be a
clockwork/music box/train (of thought?) (from rim & flange) aspect.

There is also the adult tending to the child in an indulgent but mindful way which turns into a lullaby in the final stanza.
(Brings to mind an aspect of meditation where a thought is looked into while it runs its course)

The only suggestion I would make is to change L1 to
Picking at a scab breaks the silence

Geoff
Instead of just sitting on the fence - why not stand in the middle of the road?

ljordan
Persistent Poster
Persistent Poster
Posts: 161
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2012 3:30 pm

Re: In a Corner of the Mind

Post by ljordan » Sat Jan 05, 2013 6:10 pm

Brian thanks and I agree with nixing the first art. Suzanne, thanks and the title’s got to change. Mac, your notes are terrific and Geoff, I’m probably obsessed with aspects of meditation and like most of us, writing the same poem over and over. Ray, again thanks for starting this off. I think these reads pose more questions for me.

I think the title is weak and perhaps too prosaic, pointing too hard at the content of the poem. The idea of memories seems clear but the knell allusion needs work: been leaning away from flange. My read does not conjure a child; the last line is explicit about years. I’m thinking the image of scab and cry are too deeply rutted, insufficiently ambiguous to allow the reader room to engage the narrator with empathy? I’d played with third person, but didn’t like the distance and it seemed the focus on sounds was lost. However, the first person may be causing the reader to spend time figuring out who is narrating rather than on what’s being narrated.

So, what if:

Breaking an old scab strikes a sigh,
jangling silence with a ripple’s reach,
but once past shudder, a chorus begins.
Rubbing at his temple, he says hmmm;
still alive, the knell’s coursing in
an adagio of ripe old moments
when we were hand in hand.


With a key devised to wind it again,
daub what’s tender, bend back tabs,
he stiffens his mind at its hollow part
for the timbre of the chorus.

Under his chin, he tucks his knees,
waits for the day to slip from gear,
closing his eyes to link the chorus
to a buoy bobbing near a pier.
He hums its ringing back asleep
into a corner the years have spared.

Wilcken
Prolific Poster
Prolific Poster
Posts: 505
Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2012 12:43 am

Re: In a Corner of the Mind

Post by Wilcken » Sat Jan 05, 2013 6:39 pm

Hi Larry,

I love it that you're trying out the third person approach. Amazing to me how much this changes a poem and how a reader engages, for precisely the reason you stated directly above. Also because of the sort of credibility we give to an omniscient voice. Pretty fascinating stuff, this. In this poem's case my gut tells me you stick with the first person. The sort of grieving happening it far too personal to be handled by an outside party.

Also, there is so much voiciness in this poem (a bit too much for me, but that's a matter of taste) that I think you want to let that first person voice speak to what the narrator is feeling, and find authority in the words and metaphors chosen. The scab is quite nasty. Again, a personal take. So getting from scab to knell, adagio and timbre is one way the language seems to be struggling against itself to say something more straightforwardly perhaps.

I'm working hard to understand this poem. It's not immediately coming to me, but because I think I get the gist of it, and what I get so far speaks to me, I am continuing to try for full comprehension.

I'm afraid I have to start going out on a limb sometimes here at PG and just ask outright what certain phrases mean. It might not be right to call the difference between American and UK English "colloquial" but I can't imagine the can of worms I might open if I were to call it the Queen's English or some such thing. I do enjoy looking up place names and new words, but sometimes with the poems here I am at such a loss, and the same happens for some of you with my poems, so I'll just open up the invitation that all y'all feel free to ask me, and I will invite myself here to ask you.

Having covered that base...what does this mean: "waits for the day to slip from gear"

Cheers
Jane

Richard
Prolific Poster
Prolific Poster
Posts: 614
Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2010 6:15 pm

Re: In a Corner of the Mind

Post by Richard » Sat Jan 05, 2013 7:15 pm

My guess about this is bits of this are direct descriptions of an experience that got you thinking and the rest is the poem about what it is you got thinking about (the better bit in my opinion).

So, "Picking a scab breaks the silence." feels like the experience as does much of that stanza. I find it hard to relate to, although it does provide a kind of narrative entry into the last two lovely lines, "an adagio of ripe old moments/when we were hand in hand."

I like quite a bit of the next stanza, especially, "daub what’s tender, bend back tabs / to stiffen the mind and hollow it out" but then wonder if by "for the timbre of its voice." you've mixed too many metaphors there or something?

The chorus is not working for me as a metaphor for memories (if that is what you mean) in the last stanza. I liked the link being formed between your mind and the bobbing boy with you and your chin resting on your needs. This was a lovely way of linking mind, and the scene and the narrator's vulnerability, nicely emphasised by the last line.

Best

Richard
Last edited by Richard on Sat Jan 05, 2013 8:49 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Ros
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 7961
Joined: Sun Dec 07, 2008 4:53 pm
antispam: no
Location: this hill-shadowed city/of razors and knives.
Contact:

Re: In a Corner of the Mind

Post by Ros » Sat Jan 05, 2013 7:58 pm

Jane, I thought Larry was from the US? :) I might be wrong, though. I assume 'day to slip from gear' is the opposite of getting into gear, ie ready to go, to perform an action.

Larry, I prefer the first person. I'm finding lines 2 & 3 a bit odd with the passive voice, particularly 'but once past a shudder, a chorus begins.' The language feels rather stilted (though no one else seems to feel it, so probably just me!).

He hums its ringing back asleep
into a corner the years have spared.

is a better ending, I'd say.

Ros
Rosencrantz: What are you playing at? Guildenstern: Words. Words. They're all we have to go on.
___________________________
Antiphon - www.antiphon.org.uk

ljordan
Persistent Poster
Persistent Poster
Posts: 161
Joined: Sat Apr 14, 2012 3:30 pm

Re: In a Corner of the Mind

Post by ljordan » Sun Jan 06, 2013 2:10 am

Ros, Richard and Jane, thanks for the notes. Richard, not sure if comments directed at original or revision, but that's my fault for not putting it where it belongs. Jane, I live in South Carolina, grew up in San Francisco. The internet has made that inconsequential. I kind of like it that the poem can engage one enough for further reading despite an opacity. The line you mentioned is trying to be more open to interpretation than mean one thing. Ros, infers an interpretation that seems best suited to the poem. Ros, your note about shifting to third person was the reason I put it into first during one of its earlier drafts. I'm still not sure which I prefer and will let it sit in your "cold back room" for a time.

Post Reply