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Old 03-22-2004, 06:54 PM
R. S. Gwynn's Avatar
R. S. Gwynn R. S. Gwynn is offline
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Demon Rum

The beachfront bar's an altar built to rum:
Mt. Gay, Bacardi, Pusser's, Appleton.
An acolyte attends on the steel drum
while I drain frosted tumblers one by one.
Novitiate to the beauty of cane punch,
I'm swaying in the demon's sweaty hold
with nothing but an old, reliable hunch
that one more round and I will be out cold.
Who cares? Curled up in rum's warm sugar shack
I think, "If this is love; it's not half bad."
The old thirst snakes my veins: reptilian, black,
sucking the life from every dream I've had,
stranding me here where you can never follow,
and as the cries clot in my throat, I swallow, swallow.

Another sonnet with a final alexandrine that works pretty well. The second line is a triumph, getting all those familiar labels into flawless pentameter. I think something better than "tumblers" could fit in line four--"chalices" would be the obvious choice but wouldn't work metrically. The metaphor in line eleven is a little redundant; after "snake," "reptilian" doesn't add anything. Who's the "you" in line thirteen? A little late for an auditor to be showing up in the poem.
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Old 03-23-2004, 06:28 AM
Tim Murphy Tim Murphy is offline
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This is from a sequence of three sonnets addressed to the poet's lover. She's drinking rum punch, called painkillers, and they come in big frosted tumblers. I was in the bar. Highballs would be an alternate word. I completely agree about line 2, although line 10 is even better.
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Old 03-23-2004, 08:38 AM
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R. S. Gwynn R. S. Gwynn is offline
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I was looking for a word that would carry something of the religious conceit. "Vessels"?
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Old 03-23-2004, 01:25 PM
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Jennifer Reeser Jennifer Reeser is offline
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I adored this one -- that whole play on the "spirits," and additionally for being in an attitude that is completely alien (and therefore interesting) to me. Unlike Sam, I like the "you" in the close. It seems adroit to me, lending the poem the right amount of pathos and raison d'etre, but I'm not keen on both the repetition of the swallowing AND the fact it's turning the line into an alexandrine. To me, it seems overkill.

Beautiful and poignant, overall.

Best,
Jennifer

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Old 03-23-2004, 10:00 PM
Janet Kenny Janet Kenny is offline
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I'm a wine drinker so this is all a bit heavy for me.
Is "jigger" too small a vessel to replace "tumbler" in line 4?

It reminds me of the time I passed out after one glass of scrumpy.

I'm afraid that I don't care for the Alexandrine last line. One swallow would have made the point better I feel.

It's a successful poem for me because it's so enclosed and concentrated.

Janet

Demon Rum

The beachfront bar's an altar built to rum:
Mt. Gay, Bacardi, Pusser's, Appleton.
An acolyte attends on the steel drum
while I drain frosted tumblers one by one.
Novitiate to the beauty of cane punch,
I'm swaying in the demon's sweaty hold
with nothing but an old, reliable hunch
that one more round and I will be out cold.
Who cares? Curled up in rum's warm sugar shack
I think, "If this is love; it's not half bad."
The old thirst snakes my veins: reptilian, black,
sucking the life from every dream I've had,
stranding me here where you can never follow,
and as the cries clot in my throat, I swallow, swallow.
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  #6  
Old 03-24-2004, 01:35 PM
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Rose Kelleher Rose Kelleher is offline
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I like the extra swallow. She may have intended it as a kind of echo of the drinker's behavior -- one more drink than is needed, one more swallow.

It's also possible to read the line with only five strong stresses:

and as the CRIES CLOT in my THROAT i SWAL low SWAL low
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Old 03-28-2004, 08:58 PM
Catherine Tufariello Catherine Tufariello is offline
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I agree that the last line would be much less effective with just one "swallow."

And as cries clot my throat, I swallow, swallow

maybe? But the extra syllables don't really bother me. I'd probably scan the line as Rose does, with five beats rather than six.

A powerful poem, one of my favorites in the bunch.
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