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Old 08-31-2018, 03:20 AM
Ann Drysdale's Avatar
Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is offline
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Old South Wales (UK)
Posts: 4,452

You're right, Matt. Including a reference to Stevie Smith would not do the poem any favours. The idea is already there for those who know that poem; to send strangers a-Googling would diminish the quiet simplicity of this one.

That said, though, there is surely a better title. As it stands it wastes your first line by turning it into an echo. Perhaps this is an opportunity to establish the "now" of it. Something giving the idea of stasis, with a watery connection. Adrift? Drifting? Becalmed?

Or perhaps leave the water for the reader to step into and go for something along the lines of "For the time being..."

Last edited by Ann Drysdale; 08-31-2018 at 05:58 AM. Reason: started to add what was effectively a comment on another of Matt's poems. Thought better of it.
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Old 09-02-2018, 05:00 AM
Mary McLean Mary McLean is offline
Join Date: Mar 2012
Location: Cambridge UK
Posts: 1,091

Just wanted to say that I like the poem and have been pondering some kind of play on Lilo for the title, like The Big Lie Low. Also, nobody has commented on the humorous effect of the start, that you undercut the expectation that this is going to be a poem about the salad days, because reminiscences of the elderly are so often about how much better things were in the past. It made me laugh anyway as well as empathise.
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Old 09-02-2018, 08:57 AM
David Callin David Callin is offline
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Ellan Vannin
Posts: 2,048

I like it, Matt, but I would go the opposite way from what Andrew (was it?) suggests: I would change L2 altogether, either to make it more aquatic, in keeping with the rest of the poem, or just more striking in some other way. As it is, it's just )it seems to me) very banal and dull, and (almost) put me off the poem completely.

Sudden thought (possibly inspired but possibly not): "those were the years when I started drifting"?

And, for a title, "Doldrums"? Or, perhaps, "Doldrummed".

Just a thought or two!


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Old 09-02-2018, 09:12 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 1,734

Matt, I see now what you are doing. I've worked out my struggle to put in context "those". The play with past/present/future is so fluid (pun?) that I began to drown (pun?) in it. I should have just rolled over on my back and gone with the flow (pun?).
I've always had trouble floating on my back. A part of me always seems to want to sink. That's the part that can't accept things as they are, I think.

Though this might seem far-fetched in terms of relating to this poem, today I came across an interview with the American satirist/comedian George Carlin. What he said about his take on existence and humanity's inhumanity gave me a slight tinge of what I felt in your poem vis a vis the ability to remove oneself from the rat-race. I wish I could find the interview and attach it here but I can’t... Though any serious interview with the man will reveal his personal philosophy of “I don’t give a shit”. --It’s not what it sounds like. He’s not apathetic. He's not closed-minded. He is detached so that he can see things as they really are. He might just be the most under-appreciated dark satirist of our time. Though he is so bombastic there are times when I just can't stomach him...

Your approach is different, but with the same result: to detach oneself in order to connect.

Last edited by Jim Moonan; 09-02-2018 at 07:53 PM.
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Old 09-07-2018, 05:23 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
Join Date: May 2013
Location: England, UK
Posts: 2,809

Annie, Mary, David, Jim,

Belated thanks for your comments.

So, I've posted a revision with a new title, plucked from John's earlier comment, though I'm not sure about it. One of my concerns relating to finding a title is not having it give away too much in advance, and possibly this one does. I also tweaked L2, based on David's suggestion, which again I'm not entirely sure about.


Thanks for coming back, for the suggestions. I like the idea of using the title to establish the 'now' of the poem. I think I'd rather not give away the floating/drifting aspect in the title.


I'm glad you liked it. What you say about the unexpectedness of L2 is part of the reason I don't want a title that makes that less surprising. I do like the idea of introducing a Lilo into this. It seems to fit with the idea (I have) of a sort of low-level comfort to the N's existence. Also the play on "low" (depressed) versus "lying low" (hiding), both of which connect for me. I've put it in the file with the poem though.


Thanks. I've gone for 'drifted' to replace "lost interest" for now. I have a concern that at the literal level "treading water" tends to imply staying in the same place, whereas drifting doesn't. and that since I already have floating, there's a certain redundancy to it. Other than that, it seems to set up what follows and unify the metaphor.


Thanks for telling me how you read this. I'd seen the N's approach as more avoidance/withdrawal than accepting, but it's interesting to see it read more positively as "going with the flow".

Thanks again all.

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