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-   -   Tenure (http://www.ablemuse.com/erato/showthread.php?t=28897)

John Riley 12-07-2017 11:37 AM

Tenure
 
Revision Two

Tenure

Before the professor died last Sunday
he had worked to settle his ghost in a home.
He felt satisfied with his success before he began
slipping toward death. After his sight was gone,
and his hand no longer reached his forehead,
he realized he could not remember on his life
from which of his books he chose the place
to house his ghost. . . or be sure it was a book . . . .
He specialized in Icelandic folk tales, after all,
and his ghost was more suited to warmer climes.
He could recall if only his mind would stop
wandering back to his family, which had been
quite diligent and encouraged him as a boy
to begin searching out a home for his ghost.
You may need one when you least expect
they said as one, and it was imperative
he should get an early start.

***


Tenure

Before the professor died last Sunday
he had worked to settle his ghost in a home.
He felt satisfied with his success before he began
slipping toward death. After his sight was gone,
and his hand no longer reached his forehead,
he realized he could not remember on his life
which of his books he chose . . . or be sure it was a book . . . .
He specialized in Icelandic folk tales, after all,
and his ghost was more suited to warmer climes.
He could recall it if only his mind would stop
wandering back to his family, which had been
quite diligent and encouraged him as a boy
to begin searching out a home for his ghost.
You may need it when you least expect it
they said as one, and it was imperative
he should get an early start.

Jim Moonan 12-07-2017 01:08 PM

Just quickly:

I think this line could be re-punctuated:

which of his books he chose . . . or be sure it was a book . . . .

like this:

which of his books he chose -- or be sure it was a book.

Tary, too, caught my eye as being off.

No period to end?

I will re-read for more substantial thoughts later today.

James Brancheau 12-07-2017 02:10 PM

he could not for his life remember, on my first couple of reads, would work better for me. Not sure about imperative, maybe just too in character, or too imperative. Seems an opportunity missed. First impressions-- but do like it.

JB

John Riley 12-07-2017 08:32 PM

I've made a couple of changes, fixed an error. The words changed are in bold.

My thinking on the use of the ellipsis is that he isn't in control of the language. A stronger structure, as suggested, would not be in concert with what is being said. That's my thinking for now anyway.

Thanks for the notes.

John

John Isbell 12-08-2017 01:00 AM

Hi John,

I like it. The poem does contain quite a few its, and sometimes I lose track of them. I wonder what book he's looking for as well. For some reason it reminds me of Elias Canetti's Auto da Fe - a very depressing book.

Cheers,
John

David Callin 12-08-2017 04:28 AM

I think this is really good, John. It's a vivid portrait of someone of whom I (of course) have no prior knowledge, but now feel I know really quite well. That's good going, I think.

It is self-contained, I assume? I hope there is no grand metaphor lurking here. I like it as it is.

It's not my area of expertise, but Tenure seems to me an excellent title.

I particularly like "and his hand no longer reached his forehead". A telling, and touching, detail.

Cheers

David

Jan Iwaszkiewicz 12-09-2017 05:50 AM

It is a tad prosaic John but it has its moments the hand no longer reaching is one.

Regards

Jan

John Riley 12-09-2017 09:33 AM

Revision posted

John, David, and Jan,

Thanks for reading and commenting.

John, the revision fixed the preponderance of "its" at the end. It's a bad habit of mine and thanks for reminding me.

David, I'm glad you like it. There is no grand metaphor here. I had this quirky idea a while back and eventually decided it was worthy of a poem. Now that it's complete and posted I see why I had the idea, why it came to me, but there has been no attempt to impress that on the reader.

Jan, thanks for reading. Sometimes I write non-met poems that one can call prosaic if one chooses. I'm happy you like that line. It's something I remember from my mom's deathbed.

Thanks again.

Johanna D. 12-14-2017 10:49 AM

Hello John,

I wonder if you could tell me why you use "on his life"
instead of "in"? Is it because of the expression, "Not on
your life"? Just curious.

Johanna

John Riley 12-14-2017 11:13 AM

Yes, Johanna. That was the thinking.


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