A skunk (v2)

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k-j
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A skunk (v2)

Post by k-j » Sat Feb 29, 2020 8:47 am

Sal volatile

Thanks, skunk
for irradiating our home. No whisky
could take effect so swiftly
or so crudely.
We reeled.
One of us looked for you in the lightwells.

And after you left,
or after the acrid
stench of you left our home,
I tried
out Burton:
A quiet mind cureth all.

But that's not true at all.
Because the mind
craves something new.
That's why you
were such a success today
with your bastardly bouquet.

It wasn't quietude that you instilled,
or that drew the four of us
together for a sec,
but the asperity of your guff.
It took
your patent salts to wake us from our reveries.

But then what recalled
us to our beds,
when you departed, soluble in air,
in thought,
desire,
if not some such quiet cure?

--------------------------------------------------------------

[First draft]

A skunk
Thanks, skunk
for irradiating our home. No whisky
could take effect so swiftly
or so crudely.
We reeled.
One of us looked for you in the lightwells.

And after you left,
or after the acrid
stench of you left our home,
I tried
out Burton:
A quiet mind cureth all.
But that's not true at all.

Because the mind
craves something new.
That's why you
were such a success today
with your bastardly bouquet.
It wasn't quietude that you cured with,

that drew the four of us
together for a sec.
It was the foulness of your whiff.
It took
your smell to recall us from our reveries.
But then what recalled

us to our beds,
each to their own,
when you departed, soluble in air,
in thought,
in desire,
if not some such cure?
Last edited by k-j on Mon Mar 02, 2020 9:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
fine words butter no parsnips

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Firebird
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Re: A skunk

Post by Firebird » Sat Feb 29, 2020 12:15 pm

Hi k-j,

Good to see you around. I really enjoyed this. I think it’s excellent. I like the inventive line breaks and the way the rhythm of the language changes to reflect N’s sentiments/thoughts. The poem has a real feel of metaphysical poetry about it. I type of modern metaphysical poetry.

Some specific comments below.

Cheers,

Tristan

k-j wrote:
Sat Feb 29, 2020 8:47 am
Thanks, skunk
for irradiating our home. No whisky (Is ‘irradiating’ the right word?)
could take effect so swiftly
or so crudely.
We reeled.
One of us looked for you in the lightwells.(lovely line)

And after you left,
or after the acrid
stench of you left our home,
I tried
out Burton:
A quiet mind cureth all. (Nice use of the quote)
But that's not true at all.

Because the mind
craves something new.
That's why you
were such a success today
with your bastardly bouquet. (I like ‘bastardly bouquets’. It has a dark humour to it)
It wasn't quietude that you cured with, (Back to Burton)

that drew the four of us
together for a sec. (it is so often in life the small disasters that draw us together)
It was the foulness of your whiff.
It took (this is the third line in the last five that starts with ‘it’. Maybe one of these ‘its’ could be got rid of?)
your smell to recall us from our reveries. (I like ‘reveries’ but another option could be ‘isolation’)
But then what recalled (nice use of repetition with ‘recall’)

us to our beds,
each to their own,
when you departed, soluble in air,
in thought,
in desire, (I don’t think you need the second ‘in’)
if not some such cure? (Fantastic final stanza. Very ironic and very dark again. Really like it)

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Re: A skunk

Post by NotQuiteSure » Sat Feb 29, 2020 12:44 pm

.
Hi k-j,
lots to like, and a very satisfying conclusion.


The opening sentence seems a bit short to me (even 'Thank you' rather than 'Thanks' might help) and it feels like there's a jump to be made, fro 'irradiating' to 'whisky' (and later, from 'irradiating' to 'bouquet' but I think you get away with that one :) )
Perhaps 'brutally' for crudely'?

Don't think you need to start S2 with 'and'. Perhaps leave a line after the quote and start S3 with 'But that's not true ...' ?

S3, I find the syntax of the last line awkward. Perhaps

But that's not true at all.
Because the mind
craves something new.
That's why you
were such a success today
with your bastardly bouquet.
It wasn't with quietude that you cured,

nor drew the four of us ...

S4, I don't think you need 'for a sec' (that it is transitory comes thorough with 'to our own beds')
Similarly I think you could cut 'or your whiff'. (It seems a bit weak after 'acrid stench' and 'foulness')
I don't think the repetiton recall/recalled works that well. There must be alternatives? (Wondered about 'separated')

S5, I like the repetition of 'in' but final verse a bit difficult to parse. I get there in the end, but the effort disrupts what had been a very smooth read. Maybe em-dashes after 'beds' and 'desire'?



Regards, Not


.

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Re: A skunk

Post by bjondon » Sat Feb 29, 2020 8:57 pm

Hi k-j - Cheering on each muscular turn until 'it wasn't quietude you cured with,' - The reader is pulled up short and from this awkward construction on it becomes a grammatical wrestling match . . . I'm still not sure about the ordering of L19-21 but if my interp is correct I can see you don't want too smooth a passage, staging a sort of ambush.
'departed' offered the key to me . . . the 'you' of that stanza is no longer the skunk but someone who has died, and then the yous concatenate backwards, the revelation setting the scene of a wake or a house in despairing chaos interrupted by this event.
'some such cure' is the cure for life i.e. death, and the anger of 'Thanks, skunk' is addressed to both death and perhaps the deceased too.

Jules

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Re: A skunk

Post by Firebird » Sun Mar 01, 2020 7:25 am

Hi k-j,

I agree about

‘It wasn't quietude that you cured with’

being clunky.

And also that the final stanza doesn’t parse. I think though that these two issues can be put right quite easily, and the overall poem is still very good.

Cheers,

Tristan

k-j
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Re: A skunk

Post by k-j » Mon Mar 02, 2020 9:03 pm

Thanks all. Some useful specific comments and suggestions. I have taken something from each of you and rejigged it slightly. Hopefully the later part is a little easier to follow now.
fine words butter no parsnips

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Re: A skunk (v2)

Post by NotQuiteSure » Tue Mar 03, 2020 12:35 pm

.
Hi k-j,
the devil seems to be in the details. Mainly the commas.

I tried
out Burton:

This enjambment just seems to be there to maintain your six line structure.
To me it looks very odd, and doesn't read well.

Not following this
It wasn't quietude that you instilled,
or that drew the four of us

I think it's the comma after 'instilled' (not to mention 'instilled' itself) or possibly that 'that' should be 'what'- are you trying to say
It wasn't quietude that you instilled,
or quietude which drew the four of us
?
(re, 'instilled' - would something like 'brought' or 'released' work? Not really following 'instill' after 'irradiate')

but the asperity of your guff.
It took
your patent salts to wake us from our reveries.

Similarly, the enjambments and 'asperity' (would 'acrimony', or similar, work?)
(May just be me but 'reveries' suggests an already existing 'quietude', and indeed, 'wake us' makes
'reveries' seem more redundant.). Do like 'patent salts'

I'm finding the comma after 'beds' in the final verse particularly tricky. Do you need it?


Just a thought ...

Thanks, skunk
for irradiating our home.

No whisky could take effect so swiftly
or so crudely. We reeled.

One of us looked for you in the lightwells.

And after you left,
or after the acrid stench of you left
I tried out Burton:
A quiet mind cureth all.

But that's not true at all.

Because the mind craves
something new.
That's why you were such a success
today, with your bastardly bouquet.

It wasn't quietude that you brought,
or what drew the four of us
together, for a sec,

It took your patent salts to revive us,
the acrimony of your guff.

But what then recalled us
to our beds when you departed -
soluble in air,
in thought,
in desire
- if not some such quiet cure?


Regards, Not


.

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Re: A skunk (v2)

Post by ray miller » Thu Mar 05, 2020 3:12 pm

Hello k-j. Long time and all that.
I'd suggest "We reeled rudely".
I don't really get the final stanza and the start of the previous stanza would make more sense as

It wasn't the quietude you instilled
that drew the four of us
together for a sec,
I'm out of faith and in my cups
I contemplate such bitter stuff.

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Re: A skunk (v2)

Post by David » Thu Mar 05, 2020 5:46 pm

Yes, hello k-j. Long time indeed.

I join in the general applause.

I wonder about whisky. Nerve gas might seem more appropriate. Wondered about sec too.

Nice to see Burton getting an outing.

I think I can follow the final stanza, but it's a tricky one. And I may have taken a false step.

Very good, though. And good to read you again.

Cheers

David

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Re: A skunk (v2)

Post by Perry » Fri Mar 06, 2020 9:22 am

I really like this poem. There is a nice cadence to the language, and the meaning is consistent with the cadence. Indeed, you have written the poem to be understood, which is increasingly rare in the world of modern poetry.

First, a nitpick: Why abbreviate "second" to "sec"? I don't see any reason for that.

I do have one major criticism, and that is, why are you using the line lengths and spacing of moody poetry? This kind of free verse, in which the lines vary considerably, with some lines only one or two words long, is typical (in my experience) of poetry that is moody, personal and emotional. But the tone of this poem is practical, pragmatic, tongue-in-cheek. Why not stretch the lines out in Whitmanesque style? I think it would make more sense, like this:

Sal volatile

Thanks, skunk for irradiating our home.
No whisky could take effect so swiftly or so crudely.
We reeled.
One of us looked for you in the lightwells.

And after you left, or after the acrid stench
of you left our home, I tried out Burton:
A quiet mind cureth all.

But that's not true at all.
Because the mind craves something new.
That's why you were such a success today
with your bastardly bouquet.

It wasn't quietude that you instilled,
or that drew the four of us together for a second,
but the asperity of your guff.
It took your patent salts to wake us from our reveries.

But then what recalled us to our beds,
when you departed, soluble in air,
in thought, desire, if not some such quiet cure?

--------------

The technique of putting one ore two words on a line (for emphasis) works only in poems which require a slow reading because every word is heavy with meaning. This isn't that type of poem.
If I don't critique your poem, it is probably because I don't understand it.

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