Short of the Moon (V3)

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bjondon
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Short of the Moon (V3)

Post by bjondon » Fri Dec 20, 2019 6:05 pm

A week after their last visit
It failed again
We didn't call them
For one, the system was behaving very strangely
Flipping into irretrievable lock-out
With dire error messages
Only to spontaneously start up again
Eight hours later
And then stop
This was the point
When everything went a bit Apollo 13
The point when it dawned on me
That 8 hrs it always was

A simple process

I couldn't resist thinking
The unthinkable
The main white inscrutable box
Of my illness
This aging machine
Egging me on
Mission Control : Plumb Nation on the iPad
Me and Tom Hanks aka Mum, 3 steps up a ladder
250 thousand miles from
Good planet Earth


V2

. . . but then a week after their last visit
It failed again
We didn't call them
For one, the system was behaving very strangely
Flipping into irretrievable lock-out
With dire error messages
Only to spontaneously start up again
Eight hours later
And then stop
This was the point
When everything went a bit Apollo 13
The point when it dawned on me
That 8 hrs it always was

They just wanted to swap
One sealed unit for another
And get out of here
But somewhere in this Byzantine machine
Something dead simple was occurring
So I just thought the unthinkable
The main white inscrutable box
Of my illness
This aging boiler
Daring me on

And now
Trying to conserve energy by not talking
Me and Tom Hanks AKA Mum 3 steps up a ladder
250 thousand miles from
Good planet Earth



Original

But then a week after their last visit
It failed again
We didn't call them
For one, the system was behaving very strangely
Flipping into irretrievable lock-out
With dire error messages
Only to spontaneously start up again
Eight hours later
And then stop
This was the point
When everything went a bit Apollo 13
The point when it dawned on me
That near as damn it
8 hrs it always was
I couldn't resist thinking
The unthinkable
The main white inscrutable box
Of my illness
And this aging boiler
Daring me on
Me and Tom Hanks AKA Mum 3 steps up a ladder
250 thousand miles from
Good planet earth
Last edited by bjondon on Sat Jan 11, 2020 5:15 pm, edited 6 times in total.

NotQuiteSure
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Re: Short of the Moon

Post by NotQuiteSure » Fri Dec 20, 2019 6:39 pm

.
Hi Jules,
liked the sci-fi framing, but just don't think
the ending brings it/N back/down to earth
with the right bump. And perhaps a bit
too much 'prose' and too little 'poetry'?

Short of the Moon
- excellent title.

But then a week after their last visit
- not sure you need the 'but'
It failed again
We didn't call them

- is this in the right place? And why not?
For one, the system was behaving very strangely
- I think you could cut 'for one' (improves the line,
for me, and secondly, there is no 'for two' :) )
[Flipping into irretrievable lock-out
- is 'irretrievable' contradicted by 'Only to ... ' ?
With dire error messages
- 'dire' seems a bit melodramatically off key,
to me. Were the messages numbers that had
to be looked up in the manual?
Only to spontaneously start up again
- end the line with 'spontaneously' ?
Eight hours later
And then stop

- leave a line/space here, surely?

This was the point
When everything went a bit Apollo 13

- wonder if, given the title, you could
get away without the 'Apollo'?
The point when it dawned on me
That near as damn it

- not buying the phrasing (it's down there with 'dire' :) )
8 hrs it always was
I couldn't resist thinking
The unthinkable
The main white inscrutable box
Of my illness
And this aging boiler

[Both?] Daring me on
- think the final three lines weaken the piece
considerably (though I like the idea of N, his/her
Mum, and the ladder).


Regards, Not


.

ton321
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Re: Short of the Moon

Post by ton321 » Sat Dec 21, 2019 12:22 am

But then a week after their last visit.............................do you need but then?
It failed again
We didn't call them
For one, the system was behaving very strangely
Flipping into irretrievable lock-out
With dire error messages
Only to spontaneously start up again
Eight hours later..............................................do you need this line?
And then stop
This was the point
When everything went a bit Apollo 13
The point when it dawned on me
That near as damn it
8 hrs it always was
I couldn't resist thinking
The unthinkable
The main white inscrutable box
Of my illness..............................................what illness?
And this aging boiler
Daring me on
Me and Tom Hanks AKA Mum 3 steps up a ladder
250 thousand miles from
Good planet earth


Hi Bj

My father in law has just had his boiler replaced, reluctantly, after 50 years. Maybe you could milk the metaphor more? Somehow the old boiler represented more than he let on, which is what i think you're trying to do here. Nice one,
Tony
Counting the beats,
Counting the slow heart beats,
The bleeding to death of time in slow heart beats,
Wakeful they lie.

Robert Graves

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Post by MilesTugeau » Sat Dec 21, 2019 2:21 am

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Last edited by MilesTugeau on Wed Jan 01, 2020 1:10 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Short of the Moon

Post by Sid » Sat Dec 21, 2019 2:36 am

As a space buff with so much opportunity for poetic exploration I struggle to overcome my expectations for this poem.

Apologies It didn’t engage me. The moon and space offers so much opportunity, as do mechanical issues and failures. Try to evoke some more emotion or elicit some excitement.

Really sorry for the blunt review.
Like the imprint left, an effect on your being - beautiful, wonderful, succinct.

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Re: Short of the Moon

Post by Macavity » Sat Dec 21, 2019 7:15 am

I can relate to this Jules. I had to have a new boiler this week because of an engineer error! It has been a tad cold. In the context of things breaking down I'm surprised humankind got to the moon - a dice roll that certainly cost lives. Loved the mum/Hanks analogy. I rarely venture into the attic :D Not joining the consensus on this one. The understated, the grounded, familiar language worked for me, rather than a formalist template. The poem resonated to our limitations and vulnerabilities (the workings of the human body) as we lead our 'ordinary' lives. No wonder there are folk that still kneel and pray!


cheers

mac

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Re: Short of the Moon (revision)

Post by bjondon » Sat Dec 21, 2019 7:19 pm

Thanks Not, Tony, Miles, Sid and mac - five very useful responses - a modified version up
This is quite an experimental piece so I only had a hunch it was working.
Much encouraged by your remarks mac and Tony and (almost) Not.
mac in particular you seemed to get it exactly, I wonder if you'll think the 'clarifications' are a step backwards :)

Miles and Sid - I welcome the negative crits - they're the ones we often learn most from, but surprised by the extent it fails for you . . . It may be I've started writing the kind of poems I used to hate!
Having condensed this down from a much longer piece, it's always hard to guage what is just in my head and not on the page.
I have revised and expanded a little which might help but I'm going to (try to) defend most of my choices.

The prime directive of all poetry is communication - I don't think any poet is wilfully abstruse, though Robert Frost once described his poetic strategy as inviting guests to wander around his back lawn in the pitch black where unbeknownst to them he had scattered a variety of toys.
The most surprising toy here is the line 'Of my illness' - apparently being described in the same terms as the boiler. I was hoping the reader would wonder what that was doing there and slowly begin to see the possibility that everything said in this offhand conversational way about the whole boiler situation (and Apollo 13) might also apply to this illness, the coping mechanisms, the whole emotional relationship with the illness and the well world's take on it. My justification for using such an oblique approach is that it is a notoriously difficult subject to write about (think explaining air to fish :) )

Knowledge of the plot/facts of Apollo 13 is required - That does bother me a bit, but I think it's such an extraordinary story a majority of readers would have come across and remembered it.

I agree with everything you say about punctuation and line breaks Miles . . . If you can point to any genuine syntactical confusion or ambiguity of sense I will have a go at remedying it.

'earth' - yes, I think it works better capitalized (but not obligatory!)

My use of caps at the line beginnings is a bit quirky. I liked the idea of throwing in this archaic signposting of 'poetry' given the pointedly prosaic style of the rest. It's not a straightforward account, the words are a sort of dance and I think it helps that focus.

Supper! Back with a (briefer?) response to your points Not and Tony.
Thanks again all
Jules

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Post by MilesTugeau » Sat Dec 21, 2019 11:18 pm

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Last edited by MilesTugeau on Wed Jan 01, 2020 1:12 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Short of the Moon (revision)

Post by Macavity » Sun Dec 22, 2019 3:32 am

I wonder if you'll think the 'clarifications' are a step backwards :)
:lol: At least I got the 'illness' :)
But somewhere in this Byzantine machine
You'll probably experiment and revise Jules, though I'm not sure that will convince readers with a different poetry template. My view on the poem is to keep the domestic angle and not to 'elevate' with a more sophisticated diction. But I just know you love to play...and why not! I suspect you have a Dada version lurking in the airing cupboard :D

cheers

mac

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Re: Short of the Moon

Post by bjondon » Sun Dec 22, 2019 3:06 pm

Thanks for coming back Miles,
'AKA'- also known as - though more commonly put in lower case, as amended in V3
I'm not a fan of Tom Hanks but that film, essentially a reconstruction of real events, is really worth a look.

mac - point taken. I was going for character inflection but I can see the straightforward words carry the weight.

V3 contracted back but still with a clue that 'the unthinkable' is the N attempting a repair job and maybe, just like in the film, succeeding.
NotQuiteSure wrote:
Fri Dec 20, 2019 6:39 pm
.
Hi Jules,
liked the sci-fi framing, but just don't think
the ending brings it/N back/down to earth
with the right bump. And perhaps a bit
too much 'prose' and too little 'poetry'?

Short of the Moon
- excellent title.--------------------------- Thank you

But then a week after their last visit
- not sure you need the 'but'-------------------------- conceded in V3. It could be that 'beginning in mid-flow has become a bit of a postmodern cliché.
It failed again
We didn't call them

- is this in the right place? And why not?----------------- the whole style is disjointed conversational. I explained a bit more in V2 but that just seemed to clutter it up. I think the reader can just assume that the endless listing of problems inadequately fixed came before the poem started
For one, the system was behaving very strangely
- I think you could cut 'for one' (improves the line,
for me, and secondly, there is no 'for two' :) ) ---------------haha! As I wrote those words I was thinking 'Not won't like this :) … I think people do talk like that, starting lists and not finishing them in a grammatically exact manner.
[Flipping into irretrievable lock-out
- is 'irretrievable' contradicted by 'Only to ... ' ?-------------- No. Throughout the 8hrs all indications were that no further 'user' solutions were available.
With dire error messages
- 'dire' seems a bit melodramatically off key,-----------------I think it's normal hyperbole for domestic stuff like this, just a glint of character, though I agree the 'damn it' was overdoing it.
to me. Were the messages numbers that had
to be looked up in the manual?
Only to spontaneously start up again
- end the line with 'spontaneously' ?
Eight hours later
And then stop

- leave a line/space here, surely?----------- I have experimented with more spaces in the revisions but I don't want it to get too poemy, more of a continuous flow

This was the point
When everything went a bit Apollo 13

- wonder if, given the title, you could
get away without the 'Apollo'?---------------- No! (Isn't there another film called '13'?)
The point when it dawned on me
That near as damn it

- not buying the phrasing (it's down there with 'dire' :) )
8 hrs it always was
I couldn't resist thinking
The unthinkable
The main white inscrutable box
Of my illness
And this aging boiler

[Both?] Daring me on
- think the final three lines weaken the piece---------- Ending it with 'Daring/Egging me on' might after all be the best option. I have shucked in an extra line in V3 to strengthen that section, but I take your point about the 'bump'.
considerably (though I like the idea of N, his/her
Mum, and the ladder)

.
Tony - Appreciate the thumbs up, and interesting that it worked for you without getting the illness reference. Maybe I am layering this too much and just the emotional investment in the boiler is enough.
Thanks for focussing me on the repetition of 'eight hours' - I've given a little more realisation of its significance the second time round. Hope that works.

My 'But then' start not so popular, but I wanted a sense of this as a fragment, of a whole stream having gone on before the reader tunes in.

Jules

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Re: Short of the Moon (V3)

Post by NotQuiteSure » Sun Dec 22, 2019 3:52 pm

.
Hi Jules,
like v3 (are they are pair now?)
The only 'weakness' for me is that 'Apollo 13' references the film, rather than the actual mission.
Would exchanging Hanks for Jim Lovell be worth considering?

(I keep on reading "Tom Hanks aka Mum 3", a comma after Mum may be worthwhile, or break the line before 3).

Not sure about the repetition of point (maybe 'moment' for the second one?)

conceded in V3. It could be that 'beginning in mid-flow has become a bit of a postmodern cliché.

But then you've used the 'old fashioned' Capitalisation of each initial word. Just seems to muddy the
waters before you've really begun. :)
I have experimented with more spaces in the revisions but I don't want it to get too poemy, more of a continuous flow
I don't think the aforementioned capitalisation works with 'continuous flow' notion. Shame you don't want 'poemy'
there's a lot of potential with line breaks.

(For some reason I really want to drop the A of 'pollo 13 :) )


Just for fun :)

A week after their last visit It failed again
We didn't call them
For one, the system was behaving
very strangely Flipping
With dire error messages
into irretrievable lock-out Only
to spontaneously start up again
Eight hours later And then stop

This was the point
When everything went a bit Apollo 13
The point when it dawned on me
That 8 hrs it always was

A simple process I couldn't resist thinking
The unthinkable The main white inscrutable box
Of my illness This aging machine Egging me on
Mission Control - Plumb Nation on the iPad Me
and Tom Hanks aka Mum 3 steps up a ladder
250 thousand miles from Good planet Earth


Still think there's a problem
with the ending.

I think it's that the 'ladder' and the distance' are more evocative of Neil Armstrong and Apollo 11.


Regards, Not.

.

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Re: Short of the Moon (V3)

Post by Macavity » Sun Dec 22, 2019 4:22 pm

Maybe I am layering this too much and just the emotional investment in the boiler is enough.
I liked the layering in this. I watched Hanks in the humour part of his career and not followed him so much in his 'serious' roles. The humour roles were in my head plus the Hollywood heroics - that was the veneer - the core was the illness. Thus that coupling of anti-heroic/poetic language/circumstance played nicely with the 'heroics' depicted in film and the whole venture in space 'achievement'.

What does your mum think of the comparison? :)

best

mac

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Re: Short of the Moon (revision)

Post by lotus » Mon Dec 23, 2019 1:37 pm

bjondon wrote:
Sat Dec 21, 2019 7:19 pm
It may be I've started writing the kind of poems I used to hate!
dear Jules

this comment adds a extra dimension of poignancy
to the topic of illness

silent lotus
“A poem should have the touch ... the way sunlight falls on Braille.” .......silent lotus

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Re: Short of the Moon (V3)

Post by bjondon » Sat Jan 11, 2020 6:40 pm

Thanks lotus, Not and mac and apologies for my slo-mo responses,

lotus - thanks for your sensitive comment - we are lucky to have you here

Not - thanks for staying with this. Coming back to it now I am reasonably happy with it (good call on the comma after Mum) - the main question being those quirky capitals. I might try it without, but I think it gives an added distance, almost a science-fictiony quality of a log or print out paralleling the way you float outside yourself when you have a chronic illness.

mac - spot on with the interpretation. It is a ridiculous analogy, but it's one that has stuck in my mind (the original event about 7 years ago) as strangely apposite, more so than any number of explanations.

Best,
Jules

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Re: Short of the Moon (revision)

Post by David » Sun Jan 12, 2020 1:20 pm

bjondon wrote:
Sat Dec 21, 2019 7:19 pm
The most surprising toy here is the line 'Of my illness' - apparently being described in the same terms as the boiler. I was hoping the reader would wonder what that was doing there and slowly begin to see the possibility that everything said in this offhand conversational way about the whole boiler situation (and Apollo 13) might also apply to this illness, the coping mechanisms, the whole emotional relationship with the illness and the well world's take on it. My justification for using such an oblique approach is that it is a notoriously difficult subject to write about (think explaining air to fish :) )
Exactly. That is the crux of the poem, and quite a moving one too, I think. Works well for me. I like it.

Cheers

David

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