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  #1  
Old 05-12-2017, 03:20 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Default Spark

revision

Spark

I used to wear these shadows like the coats
you gave me, the ones you said would suit,
and I carried your husked appetites
under my tongue. I know you slept
in echo-lined drawers and roamed
the piss-stink tenements and turnip fields.
At night you drank down miracles
and coughed up cowboy matinees
and I heard you were all funny urchins
catching coins, muscling into rooms
like painted braves, at guising time.
Stay a while — we don't have long
and I'm listening now. I am.
Now, in this kingdom of rains, to things
you've tried to say at midnight tables
time and time before. Before I knew.
Tell me, how did old Jock Slasher go?
You had to grab them, yes?
Stoke up the fire and gie us light
for in this house there'll be a fight.

What is this swarming, godless light
that strikes us so? That boy with the startling
cruel eyes and smirk didn't know,
nor did his friend with the face,
nor the farmers and priests.
But something sparked in you, hunchbacked
at first, and always unnamed,
then flickered and caught and I was burned.
We never knew its name; I shrugged it off
thinking it was yours alone. I'm sorry
finally — and I slip my arms through the sleeves
and breathe as I button the coat.



Spark

I suppose I wear your old face like a coat
and carry your husked appetites
under my tongue. I know you slept
in echo-lined drawers and roamed
the piss stink tenements and turnip fields.
At night you drank down miracles
and coughed up cowboy matinees
and I heard you were all funny urchins
catching coins, muscling into rooms
like painted braves, at guising time.
Stay a while — we don't have long
and I'm listening now. I am.
Now in this kingdom of rains.
How did old Jock Slasher go?
The boy with the startling cruel eyes
and smirk didn't know,
nor did his friend with the face.
But something grew in you, hunchbacked
at first, and always unnamed,
then flickered and sparked
and I got burned. Finally I'm sorry
and smile as I put on your face.

Last edited by Mark McDonnell; 05-19-2017 at 06:17 PM.
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  #2  
Old 05-13-2017, 02:27 PM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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I've been reading this throughout the day, waiting to say something, thinking. I like it. I like it lots. More has been revealed as I read but as intended there is an unknowable. I like that. That way I can tell myself stories while reading. I see, at this point, a son talking with his dad and know as I write that it's something I would see. I like poems that allow the reader, if the reader is inclined, to do this.

I like the pun of "echo-lined drawers." I see a pun because of drawer linings and what I think is being said about his underwear. What I don't know is if "drawers" is a synonymn for underwear where you're from. Never thought of it before.


At night you drank down miracles
and coughed up cowboy matinees
and I heard you were all funny urchins
catching coins, muscling into rooms
like painted braves, at guising time.


This is my favorite sentence. It's magical. And the next sentence's rush to keep the connection. This is what makes me think of a son realizing his father will be gone soon. I am a deep sentimentalist about such things though.

Jock Slasher does baffle me a little. From this point on the poem trades some of its universality for the particular? I regret that a little. It diverts me a little from the ending which seems to be returning. It's tough. As the poem becomes a little more precise as regards topic it loses some of the connection it gained from being less located.

As regards technique I have nothing to offer but praise. "coughed up cowboy matinees" and "his friend with the face" is great use of alliteration. I'd prefer "was burned" to "got burned."

I've enjoyed reading this and thinking of it.

John

Last edited by John Riley; 05-13-2017 at 05:06 PM.
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  #3  
Old 05-14-2017, 11:25 AM
Aaron Novick's Avatar
Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
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Mark, I haven't sufficiently grasped this one for a full critique—I hope to come back later. But, with that caveat, I don't like the way the ending repeats the beginning. The first sentence immediately draws me in; the last sentence thuds in comparison. Doubly so because a bit before it you also have a very striking line using the word "face." The ending thus ends up overshadowed and loses its impact.
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Old 05-14-2017, 10:01 PM
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Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is offline
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This is powerful, Mark, and reminds me of Shakey. I could see an actor spitting out the words. This part hasn't quite been earned by the poem. You might end with "burned" or revise the end.

Finally I'm sorry
and smile as I put on your face.


The poem seems like the beginning of a longer poem, or one in a series. The title is good and gives a sense of the anger expressed in the poem.
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  #5  
Old 05-16-2017, 01:33 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hi,

Thanks for your comments, which have been very useful (I think)

John - You seem to have the measure of this, which is very gratifying. I've tried to expand and flesh it out a little bit, while hopefully staying in the spirit of the original which, as you say, retains that element of the unknowable. Thank you very much.

Aaron - I hadn't even spotted that the word 'face' bookends the poem and appears in the line about the 'friend with the face'. I think you're right that the latter weakens the ending. I've played with a slightly different idea in the revision. Thank you.

Mary - You once told me when revising/rewriting you have to get back into that same particularly hypnotic space. I tried. We'll see. Thank you.
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Old 05-16-2017, 03:48 PM
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Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is offline
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The new ending is exquisite - nice work, Sharkey! And I like all the other additions/revisions, but prefer these original lines:

Stay a while — we don't have long
and I'm listening now. I am.
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  #7  
Old 05-17-2017, 02:07 PM
David Callin David Callin is offline
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I like it - of course I do - for such things as the ones you said would suit, coughed up cowboy matinees (although I try not to imagine that too vividly, unless I've misunderstood it completely) and -especially - at guising time, which is a completely new concept to me. And those are just the first three bits that stood out.

I struggle with husked appetites, and you probably need a hyphen in piss stink tenements.

My attention is really engaged, however, by the Jock Slasher line - again, I don't understand the reference, but it seems so rich and strange. In fact a brutally minimalist case could be made for cutting everything up to that point - really good though most of it is, I know - and starting at

Tell me, how did old Jock Slasher go?

What an arresting opening that would be! (Honest, read it as a poem in itself from there. It's terrific.)

At a tangent, how nice to see Mary referring to Shakey. I have never, until now, met anyone else besides me who calls him that. No doubt we are legion. I do wonder whether Americans can appreciate the full implications of that. (I refer, of course, to Shakin' Stevens.) I was not reminded of Shakey - either of them - by the poem, though.

But, as it is, it is very good. (Do consider my brutal revision, though.)

Cheers

David
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  #8  
Old 05-19-2017, 06:22 PM
Mike Lane Mike Lane is offline
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Hi,

L1 & 2
then number 6--well too many to mention. Very nice.



I stand up and applaud
then sit back down.

Thanks,
Mike

Last edited by Mike Lane; 05-20-2017 at 08:24 AM.
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  #9  
Old 05-19-2017, 06:29 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Mary - thank you. Yaay! I went back to those original lines. A tinker too far...

David - aww it's an idea, but it's too too brutal for me. Glad you liked this though. 'Guising' is like Scottish Halloween. Like a mummer's play. My dad and his friends used to burst into people's houses and perform a little play in verse called 'Jock Slasher'. I could write an essay about what all this shit means but that kind of defeats the object doesn't it? Ha

Cheers.

Edit: Mike, I just saw your comment, we must have cross posted. Thank you.

Last edited by Mark McDonnell; 05-20-2017 at 10:28 AM.
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  #10  
Old 05-20-2017, 02:10 PM
David Callin David Callin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark McDonnell View Post
David - aww it's an idea, but it's too too brutal for me.
Yes, I quite agree, far too brutal - and, as I said, it would eliminate far too much very good stuff. But ... my eye was simply caught by what would - in other circumstances - be a terrific opening line ...

Tell me, how did old Jock Slasher go?

Boom! Fantastic. But not practical here.

Cheers

David
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