Exercise#1: Poetry at the crossroads

Beat writers' block here.
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bodkin
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Re: Poetry at the crossroads

Post by bodkin » Thu Nov 14, 2013 10:58 am

David2 wrote:Terrific sense of menace in your first eight lines, Ian, which I think (sadly) is somewhat dissipated in the final six. That first section is great, though.

Cheers

David

P.S. This exercise, after a slow start, seems to be turning out a treat.
The main reason it took me several days to post this was I could not get the end to work. At first I only got it to four lines, then as far as eight...

...but the last six I quite agree, they're not quite there with the rest of it. Maybe I need to go more sinister throughout... in my head it was only sub-theme but I could bring it to the front.

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Re: Poetry at the crossroads

Post by k-j » Thu Nov 14, 2013 11:23 am

bodkin wrote:title?

upon the blasted heath flaps plastic sheeting
the two roads and myself climb up from town
past piles of yellow pipe with weather sleeting
in every crack and nook a sideways storm
and I'm here in my duffel coat with soup
for Uncle Bob whose Maglite guards the site
from behind the paper in his plywood booth
against whatever evil haunts the night

or threatens to fall drunken in the ditch
so up this dreadful night I'm sent by mother
to bring relief to Robert in the gloam
be glad to find him as this night's a bitch
but I cannot seem to find my Ma's old brother
or even (from all four directions) find my own way home
Bodkin

First eight lines are tip-top. Then I read line 9 as referring to the evil, and not Uncle Bob, which is a problem. Line 12 doesn't work at all, the tone is all wrong. "Brother" seems a tad contrived for the rhyme - and although I like the sentiment of the last line it's way too long. I don't think a rewrite of S2 is too much to ask to make this a very good poem. Especially like the title.
fine words butter no parsnips

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Re: Poetry at the crossroads

Post by k-j » Thu Nov 14, 2013 11:28 am

ljordan wrote:Off the Curb

Of the parts that forgetting
hides with her old gingham dress
is the look she once recalled
he made in Charleston, at the bell,
when the wick flickered.

It’s the flutter of her skirt
when hanging onto the trolley
that stands out now,
in spite of the warm August day,
in spite of the radio’s song.

Of those parts that go
back together, it’s the ones
that occur when boarding
the wrong bus
Larry

I like the writing in the first 10 lines very much. The bell and wick seem to refer to some ritual I'm not familiar with. Last four lines seem incomplete and are a let-down. In fact why not just do away with them?
fine words butter no parsnips

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Re: Poetry at the crossroads

Post by k-j » Thu Nov 14, 2013 11:30 am

Magpie Jane wrote:Postcard from a bewildered traveller

Adventure is no fortune for the fickle-hearted.
Choices must be made at every crossroads.
Doors are never only open or closed.
There's a kind of music whose route of entry
goes through the eye, or through a hidden flap.
Options no one had the backbone to imagine,
exact their mileage with every step.
Move on, citizen.
Jane

From line 4 on I like it a lot. But the first three lines seem kind of fortune-cookie-ish, especially lines 2 and 3.
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Re: Poetry at the crossroads

Post by bodkin » Thu Nov 14, 2013 11:52 am

k-j wrote:
ljordan wrote: he made in Charleston, at the bell,
when the wick flickered.
I like the writing in the first 10 lines very much. The bell and wick seem to refer to some ritual I'm not familiar with. Last four lines seem incomplete and are a let-down. In fact why not just do away with them?
Exorcism, I thought... Bell, Book and Candle?
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Re: Poetry at the crossroads

Post by bodkin » Thu Nov 14, 2013 4:31 pm

Magpie Jane wrote:What's been posted here so far, is awfully impressive. And delightfully bewildering. Of course, a crossroads poem should always/preferably/at least to some extent be bewildering, ey?

Ian, when I read yours, the title Edgelands came to my mind (or something like that).

Me too, I'm trying to stitch a crossroadsome pome.

Jane
Or Edgeways ?
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Re: Poetry at the crossroads

Post by bodkin » Thu Nov 14, 2013 4:33 pm

ljordan wrote:Off the Curb

Of the parts that forgetting
hides with her old gingham dress
is the look she once recalled
he made in Charleston, at the bell,
when the wick flickered.

It’s the flutter of her skirt
when hanging onto the trolley
that stands out now,
in spite of the warm August day,
in spite of the radio’s song.

Of those parts that go
back together, it’s the ones
that occur when boarding
the wrong bus
Actually I quite like the end here, although I could agree that perhaps the end as a whole isn't quite complete, the coming down to earth with the prosaic boarding of the wrong bus on the very last line is something I like a great deal. Possibly you need something more in the preceding lines?

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Re: Poetry at the crossroads

Post by bodkin » Thu Nov 14, 2013 4:52 pm

Magpie Jane wrote:Postcard from a bewildered traveller

Adventure is no fortune for the fickle-hearted.
Choices must be made at every crossroads.
Doors are never only open or closed.
There's a kind of music whose route of entry
goes through the eye, or through a hidden flap.
Options no one had the backbone to imagine,
exact their mileage with every step.
Move on, citizen.

*
Hi Jane,

It is a nice concept, the idea that doors aren't merely open or closed. I also like the final line, although possibly you are getting to it a little quickly?

Ian
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Re: Poetry at the crossroads

Post by Macavity » Fri Nov 15, 2013 3:52 pm

Cumberland

And gnaw the knuckle, trim the skin
as if a ritual of release.
Hear the chatter of leaf and stone
and thorn.

Bite back that fist, dig in the nails
inscribe a tribal rune.
The shieling's safe, as safe as was
for all are worn to whisper.

The barrow sleeps, belief's a moth
warming in flame to winter.
There are no ghosts, the ghosts
have fled.
Last edited by Macavity on Sun Nov 17, 2013 5:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Poetry at the crossroads

Post by Antcliff » Fri Nov 15, 2013 5:03 pm

Ian,
yes, I liked the menace in in this as well.
The highlight for me was the picture of him viewing things with his light from behind his paper?
And the "two roads and myself climb".
Would a child/teenager call him "old" yet? "Sent by mother" suggested that N was still in childhood...although of course, as I reflect, mothers can send us out at any age. :D
bodkin wrote:title?

upon the blasted heath flaps plastic sheeting
the two roads and myself climb up from town
past piles of yellow pipe with weather sleeting
in every crack and nook a sideways storm
and I'm here in my duffel coat with soup
for Uncle Bob whose Maglite guards the site
from behind the paper in his plywood booth
against whatever evil haunts the night

or threatens to fall drunken in the ditch
so up this dreadful night I'm sent by mother
to bring relief to Robert in the gloam
be glad to find him as this night's a bitch
but I cannot seem to find my Ma's old brother
or even (from all four directions) find my own way home
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

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Re: Poetry at the crossroads

Post by Antcliff » Fri Nov 15, 2013 5:10 pm

A dramatic ending!
I am puzzled by "coyness". I thought that involved some attempt to be alluring, but does that fit here?
Seth


David2 wrote:No choice, not really, so
not truly a crossroads:
there is only forward -
perhaps a little trifling
with dates and eta's,
but it's merely coyness,

here upon the heights,
brim-full with
potential energy,
before the headlong fall
down that narrow way
into an unquiet world.

This breached Golgotha
will be your Bethlehem.
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

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Re: Poetry at the crossroads

Post by Antcliff » Fri Nov 15, 2013 5:16 pm

I see that the Magpie has landed here as well.

Like all of this but the second line, which seems a bit tame. Could it be cut? It also seems to not quite on the alternative options theme? So, I wonder if the opening line could be the intriguing "doors" line. Then the second the "adventure" line? Just a thought.

ps.I have just seen your new photo in the International Times.

Seth



Magpie Jane wrote:Postcard from a bewildered traveller

Adventure is no fortune for the fickle-hearted.
Choices must be made at every crossroads.
Doors are never only open or closed.
There's a kind of music whose route of entry
goes through the eye, or through a hidden flap.
Options no one had the backbone to imagine,
exact their mileage with every step.
Move on, citizen.

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

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Re: Poetry at the crossroads

Post by k-j » Fri Nov 15, 2013 5:28 pm

Antcliff wrote:I am puzzled by "coyness". I thought that involved some attempt to be alluring
I know what you mean but no, coy can also just mean secretive or unforthcoming. That said, I'm not sure it's the right word here?

Someone said this poem made them think of meteors or dinosaurs and reading it again I think both of those are great interpretations, although I'm 99% sure it's about birth.
fine words butter no parsnips

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Re: Poetry at the crossroads

Post by Jackie » Fri Nov 15, 2013 8:23 pm

Great Lakes, 1850

The girl met my eyes.
She tightened my shawl
to her throat and slipped
under the dark upper-deck stairs
silent on bare feet.
My own farm lace-ups
hadn't been off since Lake Champlain.
I fought the sleet now,
my brown felt drawn low
and my bag to my chest
as the steamer rounded
one more lighthouse pier.

And pulled to, and docked.
The fringe caught as she climbed
to the boat but she had the shawl
when the five girls scaled the rocks
to the tower. The door ajar
they were pushed under a lantern
to start up the stone-hewn steps.

They say lights guard
the mouths of rivers
on these shores
but we'd moved on.
That week my John and I
we claimed our farm below the Ledge,
at last.

Note: My great great grandmother actually made this trip from Vermont to the "far West" in Wisconsin around 1850. Recently there's been concern of human trafficking through the Great Lakes, which makes me wonder if it wasn't going on then—perhaps on the very boat she traveled by.
Last edited by Jackie on Sat Nov 16, 2013 9:36 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Poetry at the crossroads

Post by bodkin » Fri Nov 15, 2013 10:06 pm

Macavity wrote:Cumberland

And gnaw the knuckle, trim the skin
as if a ritual of release.
Hear the chatter of stone and thorn
and leaf.

Bite back that fist, dig in the nails
inscribe a tribal rune.
The shieling's safe, as safe as was
for all are worn to whisper.

The barrow sleeps, belief's a moth
warming in flame to winter.
There are no ghosts, the ghosts
have fled.
Hi Mac,

Palaeolithic? Or more contemporary Celtic?

Either way I like the assonances, thorn/rune, whisper/winter, moth/ghost...

Ian
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Re: Poetry at the crossroads

Post by bodkin » Fri Nov 15, 2013 10:13 pm

Jackie wrote:Great Lakes, 1850

The girl met my eyes.
She tightened my shawl
to her throat and slipped
under the dark upper-deck stairs
silent on bare feet.
My own farm lace-ups
hadn't been off since Champlain.
I fought the sleet now,
my brown felt drawn low
and my bag to my chest
as the steamer rounded
one more lighthouse pier.

And pulled to, and docked.
The fringe caught as she climbed
to the boat but she had the shawl
when the five girls scaled the rocks
to the tower. The door ajar
they were pushed under a lantern
to start up the stone-hewn steps.

They say lights guard
the mouths of rivers
on these shores
but we'd moved on.
That week we claimed our farm
below the Ledge, at last.
Intriguing this, Jackie...

I am wondering whether this is imagined, or stemming from a recorded story that I don't know. I did a bit of a web-search but without conclusive results...

In either case I like the down-to-earth atmosphere of people making do on their hard journey.

Ian
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Re: Poetry at the crossroads

Post by Jackie » Fri Nov 15, 2013 10:39 pm

(Oops, I just edited it. I can never finish anything.)

My great great grandmother actually made this trip from Vermont to the "far West" in Wisconsin around 1850. Recently there's been concern of human trafficking through the Great Lakes, which makes me wonder if it wasn't going on then—perhaps on the very boat she traveled by.

Jackie

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Re: Poetry at the crossroads

Post by bodkin » Fri Nov 15, 2013 10:49 pm

Jackie wrote:(Oops, I just edited it. I can never finish anything.)
It's a common symptom of writing poetry.
My great great grandmother actually made this trip from Vermont to the "far West" in Wisconsin around 1850. Recently there's been concern of human trafficking through the Great Lakes, which makes me wonder if it wasn't going on then—perhaps on the very boat she traveled by.

Jackie
That's interesting...

Reading it again, maybe lose the "at last" altogether? It's pretty-much implicit in what came before...

Ian
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Re: Poetry at the crossroads

Post by Jackie » Fri Nov 15, 2013 10:57 pm

Thank you, Ian. Your list of ideas for this exercise is a trove. (Sounds weird, but why do people always say treasure trove if trove already implies treasure?) So I intend to keep at it.

Jackie

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Re: Poetry at the crossroads

Post by ljordan » Sat Nov 16, 2013 12:15 am

David2 wrote:
brianedwards wrote:S1 and 2 are beautiful Larry, but 3 feels incomplete. Is the title in the same key as the poem?
Really love that opening.
I agree with Brian here, Larry. The opening sentence meanders along in quite a convoluted manner, but it's still lovely. I felt a warm breeze, lightly freighted with the scent of magnolia.

Cheers

David
Brian is right about the title. Wanted to avoid using 'crossroads' when that would have been appropriate.
bodkin wrote:
k-j wrote:
I like the writing in the first 10 lines very much. The bell and wick seem to refer to some ritual I'm not familiar with. Last four lines seem incomplete and are a let-down. In fact why not just do away with them?
Actually I quite like the end here, although I could agree that perhaps the end as a whole isn't quite complete, the coming down to earth with the prosaic boarding of the wrong bus on the very last line is something I like a great deal. Possibly you need something more in the preceding lines?

Ian
The end was an attempt at shifting the metrical sound to align with the sense of the 'parts going back together' the remembered as a consequence of diverting paths, but it's too abrupt and the bell and wick are conjuring distracting elements. Great exercise, nonetheless.

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Re: Poetry at the crossroads

Post by ljordan » Sat Nov 16, 2013 12:23 am

Jackie wrote:Great Lakes, 1850

The girl met my eyes.
She tightened my shawl
to her throat and slipped
under the dark upper-deck stairs
silent on bare feet.
My own farm lace-ups
hadn't been off since Lake Champlain.
I fought the sleet now,
my brown felt drawn low
and my bag to my chest
as the steamer rounded
one more lighthouse pier.

And pulled to, and docked.
The fringe caught as she climbed
to the boat but she had the shawl
when the five girls scaled the rocks
to the tower. The door ajar
they were pushed under a lantern
to start up the stone-hewn steps.

They say lights guard
the mouths of rivers
on these shores
but we'd moved on.
That week my John and I
we claimed our farm below the Ledge,
at last.
I get a little confused following the narrator's depiction of 'she'. In the opening it seems a reflection, but later she's accompanied by five others? They seem to simply disappear from the poem and the narrator's concern?

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Re: Poetry at the crossroads

Post by Macavity » Sat Nov 16, 2013 7:56 am

my brown felt drawn low
and my bag to my chest
Probably too much 'my' that Jackie. The focus in S1 would be enough for me, but I understand your inclination for more narrative.

enjoyed

mac

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Re: Poetry at the crossroads

Post by Macavity » Sat Nov 16, 2013 8:22 am

No choice, not really, so
not truly a crossroads:
there is only forward -
perhaps a little trifling
with dates and eta's,
but it's merely coyness,

here upon the heights,
brim-full with
potential energy,
before the headlong fall
down that narrow way
into an unquiet world.

This breached Golgotha
will be your Bethlehem.
I like this a lot. It begins in a conversational way and ends with the ambitious couplet. I like how that progression was achieved in the language.

cheers

mac

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Re: Poetry at the crossroads

Post by Antcliff » Sat Nov 16, 2013 1:53 pm

Mac,
I wonder if I can tempt you to go for

Hear the chatter of stone and leaf
and thorn

rather than

Hear the chatter of stone and thorn
and leaf.

It would undermine the expectation of a rhyme pattern set up by leaf/release?

Seth
Macavity wrote:Cumberland

And gnaw the knuckle, trim the skin
as if a ritual of release.
Hear the chatter of stone and thorn
and leaf.

Bite back that fist, dig in the nails
inscribe a tribal rune.
The shieling's safe, as safe as was
for all are worn to whisper.

The barrow sleeps, belief's a moth
warming in flame to winter.
There are no ghosts, the ghosts
have fled.
We fray into the future, rarely wrought
Save in the tapestries of afterthought.
Richard Wilbur

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Re: Poetry at the crossroads

Post by Jackie » Sun Nov 17, 2013 6:47 am

Thanks for feedback, all. Kind of hard to find it in this this thread, but the confusion does force you to read everyone's poems and feedback, which is only good.

Jackie

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