I See White Birds Walk on Ice

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steamboats
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I See White Birds Walk on Ice

Post by steamboats » Thu Feb 12, 2015 2:49 pm

The phone shakes
with the message of another death,
a man caught in mid anecdote
by a haemorrhage,
and not a drop of lager spilled.

I am counting the trees
on Ward Law, tall pines
that pierce the sky:
it is winter, as always;
birds move on glazed fields.

A thing that worries me
disproportionately
is what will happen
to the little bits of paper
in my pockets,

will someone read them
and weep at the detritus
of a futile life,
or foolishly try to cash
in the slip for Shotavodka

a horse still running
through the fog at Kempton?
So much stuff to lug around,
arteries, return tickets to Gatehouse,
and all slowly running out.

Elphin
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Re: I See White Birds Walk on Ice

Post by Elphin » Thu Feb 12, 2015 4:02 pm

Liking this steamboats, written with a delicate balance of dark humour (the lager, the horse) and resignation (slowly running out).

Last couple of lines as they say in poetry circles are "well earned" by what came before.

Very much rooted in a place too, with Gatehouse and Ward Law.

Some small things pricked me as I read through, I will mention them but to be honest not even suggesting change.

I thought "death" came too early in the poem. At first I thought it needed a metaphor or simile rather than just use the word but on reflection I think its more that the reveal is so early in the poem.

"A thing" ----Mmm not sure that's very eloquent.

I do hope there is a horse called Shotavodka!!!

I am sure Simon Armitage has a poem that centres on the contents of the pocket of a dead man -- it involves a bus ticket. Damned if I can remember it.

cheers

elph

Nash

Re: I See White Birds Walk on Ice

Post by Nash » Thu Feb 12, 2015 7:07 pm

Beautifully done, steamboats.
Elphin wrote:written with a delicate balance of dark humour (the lager, the horse) and resignation (slowly running out).
I completely agree, Elph.

I also agree that there's not really any need to change anything. But, minor things:

S1 L5, Nothing wrong with 'spilled' of course, but if you used 'spilt', instead it would pick up and echo from 'anecdote' quite nicely.

S2, 'Pines that pierce the sky' - possibly hovering dangerously close to cliche there? It stands out to me as a weak line in a poem where every other word seems to be pulling its weight.

Really like this one very much.

Thanks,
Nash.

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Re: I See White Birds Walk on Ice

Post by Ros » Thu Feb 12, 2015 7:11 pm

Lovely. Great first line, the phone shaking rather than the person, though it will be the person... not sure about elph's comment - I could see v1 and 2 reversed, and that would be good, but then you have a less striking start.

will someone read them
and weep at the detritus
of a futile life,

felt just a bit weaker than the rest, poss because a little less original?
Also love carrying arteries around.

Ros
Rosencrantz: What are you playing at? Guildenstern: Words. Words. They're all we have to go on.
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Re: I See White Birds Walk on Ice

Post by Macavity » Thu Feb 12, 2015 7:37 pm

Like it too SB. Not sure if the progression from trees to pines is needed, just say counting the pines? Anyway like it.

all the best

mac

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Re: I See White Birds Walk on Ice

Post by Elphin » Thu Feb 12, 2015 7:39 pm

Death is winning me over ... so to speak. It is a hammer blow word very early in the poem but the rest is more reflective so I get it.

elph

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Re: I See White Birds Walk on Ice

Post by Elphin » Thu Feb 12, 2015 7:47 pm

The Armitage poem

About His Person

Five pounds fifty in change, exactly,
a library card on its date of expiry.
A postcard stamped,
unwritten, but franked,
a pocket size diary slashed with a pencil
from March twenty-fourth to the first of April.
A brace of keys for a mortise lock,
an analogue watch, self winding, stopped.
A final demand
in his own hand,
a rolled up note of explanation
planted there like a spray carnation
but beheaded, in his fist.
A shopping list.
A givaway photograph stashed in his wallet,
a keepsake banked in the heart of a locket,
no gold or silver,
but crowning one finger
a ring of white unweathered skin.
That was everything.1

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Re: I See White Birds Walk on Ice

Post by steamboats » Fri Feb 13, 2015 1:52 pm

There is indeed a horse called Shotavodka. Don't bet on it! Interesting to see the Armitage poem

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Re: I See White Birds Walk on Ice

Post by David » Fri Feb 13, 2015 6:17 pm

Great! Terrific start. I agree with Nasher about the pine line. The fog at Kempton is a nice touch. But two x "running" in the final stanza? Does this matter? Sometimes I think it does, and sometimes ...

I get a sad sort of train-spotterish thrill from recognising places in your poetry, steamboats. We went to Gatehouse (of Fleet, if I'm right) for lunch last summer, after a long morning at Cally Gardens. Lovely gardens, but we bought an awful lot of plants. I thought.

Cheers

David

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Re: I See White Birds Walk on Ice

Post by Antcliff » Fri Feb 13, 2015 9:26 pm

Enjoyed that Steamboats

Especially the lager line. Very good.

If you do keep the pines line, might I suggest "tall" goes since that is rather suggested anyway by "piercing" the sky?

Is there an alternative to "futile" which plays on the gambling theme? Just a thought.

Best wishes,
Seth
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
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Re: I See White Birds Walk on Ice

Post by bodkin » Sat Feb 14, 2015 7:39 pm

Enjoyed... I wonder if S4 L's 1-3 could be demonstrated, rather than narrated?

But as with others not a major grumble...

Ian
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Re: I See White Birds Walk on Ice

Post by Firebird » Mon Feb 16, 2015 8:00 pm

Steamboat, this engaged me all the way through.

I agree with a previous comment that 'tall pines/ that pierce the sky' is verging on cliche.

Also, I'm not sure if 'glazed fields' really works' in line 10.

Lines 11 and 12 rhymed, which I found distracting - this may just be me though.

I loved lines 21 and 22 - a great image!

Thanks for a good read.

Cheers,

Firebird

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