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  #1  
Old 07-10-2017, 08:53 PM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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Default A New Season

Gardens Will Break Your Heart

Born in no beautiful time
he lives inside the shadow
that lies outside the fire.

Day sends bats scurrying.
Cats bounce into town
down the rutted road.

Work begins without ruse
each turn of the plow turns
a bowl of gods and cream.

Forgotten calves stay lovely
hiding from flamed lovers
in the maze of dry streams

beyond the garden wall.
Soon a new season will roll
across the browning field.

Shallow years of dreaming
brought him to this place.
The inside of him won't size.

Nights are mother to his rage.
Lanterns down the dusty road
mock him walking by

while unseen you and I
tip our hats. But don't look up.
The sky is low and mean.
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  #2  
Old 07-15-2017, 12:34 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Hello, John, I was drawn in by the great first line and I enjoyed this poem.

My suggestions mostly have to do with charging up and clarifying the language here and there.

Is there so more dynamic verb than “lies” in line 3?

You use the verb “size” in the absolute (no object), and I can’t get any sense of what it is supposed to mean in the line: The inside of him won't size.

Also I would suggest charging up this line: Nights are mother to his rage by making “mother” a verb: The nights mother his rage.

I do like “he/him” as a season that must be determined as the poem progresses.

Thanks,
Aaron
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  #3  
Old 07-16-2017, 03:30 PM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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Thank you Aaron for taking a look at this. Those are some good notes for revision that I will keep.

It's pretty clear my work is going in a direction that doesn't fit here. Your generosity in commenting is much appreciated.

John
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  #4  
Old 07-16-2017, 05:10 PM
Katie Hoerth's Avatar
Katie Hoerth Katie Hoerth is offline
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Hi John,

So much to like here. The personification of the season might seem a bit cliche, but you handle it with such careful subtly that it works perfectly. Very nicely done. From the title, I'm hooked as a reader. I also admire your use of verbs -- lots of action happening here: scurrying, bouncing, rolling.
The only notable exception is S7L1, which I see Aaron has already pointed out. His suggested change of mother to the verb is inspired. I'd totally go with that if I were you!
For your last line, what about the sky "hangs" low and mean?
Really nicely crafted, John. Dense, terse, and powerful.
K.
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Old 07-16-2017, 09:02 PM
Kyle Norwood Kyle Norwood is offline
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I like this vivid poem, but I had a question about S3, which seems ambiguous: Is the intended meaning

Work begins without (the) ruse (that)
each turn of the plow turns
a bowl of gods and cream.
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Old 07-17-2017, 02:09 PM
Malcolm Thom Malcolm Thom is offline
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Hi John,

I wanted to chime in to say that your "The inside of him won't size." line was, for me, the 'crux' of the poem. To make sense of the line to make sense of the poem, etc.
I took this 'sizing' in the way you might think of and work to size a (Microsoft) window to a computer screen. Of course, the 'sizing' makes sense in other contexts too, but the very 21st century metaphor for how we now might imagine or 'see' ourselves or our "inside" fitting or filling 'somewhere' is quite poignant, I think--especially surrounded by the sort of fanciful imagery/diction.

M.
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Old 07-17-2017, 03:31 PM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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Thank you Katie, Kyle and Malcolm for commenting.

Katie, those are two good suggestions I will apply.

Kyle, I didn't mean a negative there. Perhaps the use of "ruse" without an article is the problem.

Malcolm, I want to keep "size" as a verb. I thought it was an accepted usage at this point. Your connection to digital media is appreciated.

Thanks again to each. I appreciate the help.

John
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  #8  
Old 07-19-2017, 03:41 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Hi John,

I first read this as about a man who is angry and lonely. The countryside is dry and barren, and he hides in his garden: " inside the shadow / that lies outside the fire". His garden is refuge, an oasis from the barrenness and bleakness of himself or his past, or how he sees the world at large -- or at least it's intended as such, he works it but it's doesn't salve his anger/loneliness. The fire whose shadow he lives in erupts within him at night. The N knows that this season will pass, but I take it that the man doesn't see it, doesn't notice the forgotten calves, or the N and reader passing tipping hats. "flamed lovers" perhaps suggests a cause for his rage and withdrawal.

But for this to work, I have to take the 3rd stanza to be him working his garden ("without ruse"). Making things grow. Making it lush, "each turn of the plow turns / a bowl of gods and cream", but the plough is not a common garden implement. But then again "a bowl of gods and cream" doesn't sound like what's going on beyond the garden wall with those dry riverbeds.

But then it dawned on me that I had it all wrong. The ploughing is going on outside the walls. Here is our lonely angry man blind to and enduring the idyllic late summer. Soon it will be Autumn and the Winter though, where I suspect he feels more at home, seasons that more suits his mood. So that's where I'm at with it (Though I quite liked the idea that he tended a lush garden, an oasis, as a refuge that didn't satisfy him. Maybe I'll have to write that version)

I have very little by way of nits/suggestions.

"Work begins without ruse" makes perfect sense to me and the grammar is standard. They just get on with it.

While I really like the phrase "each turn of the plow turns / a bowl of gods and cream" it does seem (to me at least) to be more suggestive of an abundant harvest than of ploughing. And this was a part of the reason I initially had difficulty understanding the poem. Obviously that may well just be me.

"size" gave me pause, and this did take me out of the poem, but it did make sense once I thought about it. One meaning of the verb is "alter or sort in terms of size or according to size", so I take it to means something like, "the inside of him won't adapt itself to fit".

"Nights are mother to his rage". The suggestion Aaron made is nice. But I like that what you have has the meaning both of "nights give birth to his rage" and "night plays the role of mothers to his rage". "Nights mother his rage" only seems to have the latter meaning.

best,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 07-19-2017 at 03:44 PM.
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  #9  
Old 07-20-2017, 11:52 PM
Matthew Minor Matthew Minor is offline
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Default Not much

Not many edits under my belt, but think this could be improved:

each turn of the plow turns

kinda thought 'well, of course we know somethings turning when then the plow turns'

I'd either pop the second turns to the next line, or use something synonymous [rotates], or rhyme-able [churns]

Also, some stanzas seemed a little vague -- think I may of said this every post.
Some argued allusiveness as the very core of poetry [James Joyce],
others argued for concrete words for true clarity to be imparted [Ezra Pounds]

It appears readers either want concrete language, or meaning held at lofty, taxing rates .
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  #10  
Old 07-21-2017, 07:39 AM
David Callin David Callin is offline
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I think it’s lovely, John. (As so often, I found Matt’s comments a very helpful way into the poem, which perhaps suggests that it is a bit knotty in places.)

The phrase “a bowl of gods and cream” is a very arresting and attractive one.

I thought the “calves” were interestingly ambiguous.

The not sizing also gave me a bit of trouble.

I particularly like the last couple of verses – especially this:

Lanterns down the dusty road
mock him walking by

while unseen you and I
tip our hats


but I think I was hoping for a more cheerful ending. Somehow the poem had led me to expect that. It led me up the garden path, I suppose.

Very nice title too.

I wonder why you say "[your] work is going in a direction that doesn't fit here". That was not my impression.

Cheers

David
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