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Unread 07-20-2019, 05:13 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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Location: England, UK
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Hi Jake,

I find a fair bit to like here in the cleverness and the wordplay and the fresh imagery. I'm not sure that all that you intend here is coming across to me. Here's my reading of what's going on, so you can see how much of what you want to come across I've caught.

So, I see a woman in McDonald's with a smartphone. I think maybe it's literally dawn, so it's a 24-hour place. Her being the "Queen of Bohemia" seems to suggest a cultural high vs low contrast with the McDonald's, milkshake, smart-phone scenario. She may be a literal Queen of Bohemia, in which case she's time-travelling, which would be neat. She's remembering Châteauroux, I can't find a historical link between this place and a historical Bohemian queen (I'd wondered if one of them was French, but it seems not), or anything that the place is obviously famous for that might link to the poem. It does lead me to expect her 'drink' will be a french wine or liqueur, so it works nicely as a set-up in that respect. I wondered if maybe instead she's a 'Bohemian' in the modern sense, arty, unconventional, free-spirited (or even in the original French coinage of Bohemian, meaning something like gypsy/Romany). I guess I'm wondering does it need to be Bohemia, specifically, that she's queen of, or would any medieval kingdom do? Anyway, I get the sense I'm missing relevant references in 'Bohemia' and 'Châteauroux'.

'Ash Avenue' is nicely suggestive, something has been lost, burned down. Maybe the world she came from. 'Autumn reveals it all / gone' seems to play off that too. If it's dawn, it seems to be a red dawn, which is an ominous omen, and there's an association with blood and pain -- or at least smarting (a red shave). A bulb flickering out then on again seems to add to that atmosphere.

I can see music guarding the queen. Maybe she has headphones on, and that's a good way to guard against unwanted conversation and to block out the world. Why music is the greatest barfly? Because there's often music at bars? But she's at McDonalds. But maybe she's there after hitting the bars till late and that's the connection ...? Couldn't quite work this bit out.

She may taste (in the milkshake?) a prince to "grab and small". I assumed at first this was for sexual/romantic purposes. I did wonder why a prince: if she's the queen of Bohemia she already has a king. Maybe she'd seek a commoner instead? However 'small' seems to working as both adjective and verb. The prince is small and too far (away) to grab. The prince is too far (away) to grab and to make small. The former reading might suggest a child, an heir she might produce. Also I guess, the milkshake might be link to a child via breast-feeding as a part of child-rearing. The latter reading suggesting she might seek to belittle such a prince (as lover or as a child). Or 'to small' could be mean to treat as a child.

The broilers, I'm not sure of the significance of. Chicken bred for meat. I guess maybe if the prince is a future child (of hers), maybe that ties in with broilers and breeding? Or maybe broilers as the working classes (playing off her royal 'breeding'). And on a literal level, I am wondering if she's now in a KFC. But maybe McDonald's sell chicken burgers. I don't frequent the place.

EDIT: Aha, 'broiler' is a American word meaning grill, where they cook the burgers, it doesn't have that meaning in the UK. But the chicken meanings may still be in play.

'pressure-sensitive' has a nice double read -- a literal one and an anthropomorphic one; 'dismal' might be part of a high vs low culture theme (a dig at smart phones) or suggestive of her mood. What might it mean for the screen to be dawn's last dance or dawn's dismissal? I guess that is either the final celebration of dawn or it marks dawn being banished, dawn passing. But what that might means, in context, I'm not that clear. Maybe this woman has been out all night partying, and the question is: is this the last gasp of the party or is it over?But then again 'dawn' may play off the sense of something lost or burned down given by Ash Avenue (end of an era?).

But either way, dawn is coming to a close, and day is breaking. 'Someday' is arriving. 'Someday' has a nice implication a grey 'anyday', but also of the future: the time we look forward to. And in this context 'someday my prince will come' springs to mind. But the implication I get in context of the poem is that 'someday' has arrived, but the hoped for dream hasn't.

It 'spills over my quiet traitor, weakness'. Now this might imply that what's been depicted -- this woman and her smartphone and her thoughts of a prince -- are a depiction of weakness. And this sort of weakness also is the N's quiet traitor -- weakness is something that (quietly) betrays the N. As if the N's saying, look at this weakness, and that's a problem for me too. I guess this means he's in the McDonald's too, observing? But then he seems to know perhaps a little too much about this woman who he's casually observing. I guess the weakness maybe the N's problem only, and not a judgement of the woman -- but then the last line would seems rather too disconnected from what's come before. I guess there's a possibility that she's a traitor to him; that they know each other. In fact, it's almost like the last sentence wants to raise that reading, and then, with the final word, take it away again.

So there you go.

In terms of specifics, yes, that semicolon needs to be a comma if you're using standard punctuation. A semicolon joins two closely linked proper sentences, or, in the case of a complicated list, it can replace a listing comma. If you're intending not to use standard punctuation, it's always going to be hard for the reader to know what want it mean.

As Nemo say, this:
Autumn reveals it all
goes. According to plan,

is clever, but distracting, and I can't see what it adds.

I did wonder about the enjambment in the opening stanza, which seems a bit jerky to my ear. I
did wonder why you didn't go for:

remembering Châteauroux, drinks
a milkshake at McDonald’s
on Ash Avenue. Red shadows

I guess there's nice sonics to "McDonald's on" -- the repeated 'on' sound, that's lost with a line-break. Enjambing L1 as above adds a slight double read, I think, 'drinks' in the sense of 'drinks alcohol' and implying multiple drinks.

best,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 07-20-2019 at 04:13 PM.
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