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  #11  
Unread 06-30-2019, 04:39 AM
Siham Karami Siham Karami is offline
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Andrew,

This is especially lovely, very meaningful to me. You’ve created a very balanced tone, and I like the ending with its sudden turn from the expected. As to the element of cliché, well yes, there’s that, and I’ve tried to find a fix for where I felt it could possibly use a change, but although at first I felt I hit on something, upon rereading I found I lost the all-important tone and mood of the poem, causing me to return to the original again. The two expressions would then be “Stream of years,” & “and left behind our youth” (for me more problematic than the stream of years). Another point would be the frequent use of the passive tense, and possibly a simile too many where metaphor might work.

I say allthis with the caveat that sometimes rules don’t fit the poem, as I found when trying to eliminate the passive tense or an excess word. Your sense of the right flow for this, rhythm of it, is pitch-perfect, hence I offer the very possibly inept suggestions below with an ear not to break that careful crafting. My only truly insistent change is the “youth” line which I see as a missed opportunity to set up the finale by suggesting an inversion in time/youth in a more interesting way. The word for “coup” in Arabic is suggestive of inside-out, a word I chose to show how an inner fruition can replace what you describe clearly as the outer workd’s exhaustion.

Aubades

When I woke up today, my lips
smooshed against your shoulder,
your face’s outline was a blurred eclipse
of yesterday, a light that had grown older.
My palm and fingers curved atop your breast
like effigies at rest. (This is simply beautiful.)

Our touching, streamed through human years,
has merged our bodies’ flow
to one
, like ripples that a current clears
in smoothing stones that ballast it below.
Your wedding dress was cloth we had to forage
with nothing left in storage,

in the home where we first lived together,
when we called off all bets
of change for change. We didn’t know yet whether
what we had in store would pay our debts,
while whooshes on the distant interstate
sustained a constant rate, (again, I love this, the finance-lingo wordplay)

and in the window-box, we fed
the small birds’ great insistence,
as we were making plans to get ahead
of where the future swallowed up the distance.
Like cowbirds, we were ad-lib and uncouth,
turned inside-out our youth,

those days when light began to leach
from the sky. The unemphatic
sun grew limp, a hand that couldn’t reach
a lamp for being tired or rheumatic.
And we caressed each other’s wondrous skin,
watching time begin.

The other changes were: “great” instead of “big”, which kind of stood out, but all this is more a possibility than a necessary thing; the “sun” line changes were to remove one simile and a passive tense. At the end, I felt using “watching” made the line smoother to pronounce and stronger, less cluttered. Feel free to ignore all this. None of the clichés are fatal really, buoyed by the rhythm and mood. I would mainly hope you’d change the youth line, possibly a change of your own making. Very moving, beautiful poem.

Best,
Siham

Added in: “bodies fit” I think isn’t quite right in my understanding of the intent. My mind is subject to change however.
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  #12  
Unread 06-30-2019, 05:07 AM
Siham Karami Siham Karami is offline
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Yikes, I posted without seeing your revision, Andrew. I much prefer your revision of S 2 to mine so please ignore my post, especially about that stanza.

I suppose chickadees is better, no nits, but I sort of liked the small/big reference for its important locations to the subjects’ lives. Small things making big demands on people. Otherwise it’s just feeding the birds...

I see my inside out has an inverted word order so...reject as needed. as for the cowbirds line, I prefer the original, or at least keep ad-lib. It was much more fun. So what if the cowbirds are worse than people. The whole idea is energizing.

Siham
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  #13  
Unread 06-30-2019, 06:20 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Andrew,

I like your revisions, especially to the ballast line, but find rather a bit weak. How about sooner? To fit the time theme.

Cheers,
John

Quote:
Originally Posted by Siham Karami View Post
Yikes, I posted without seeing your revision, Andrew. I much prefer your revision of S 2 to mine so please ignore my post, especially about that stanza.

I suppose chickadees is better, no nits, but I sort of liked the small/big reference for its important locations to the subjects’ lives. Small things making big demands on people. Otherwise it’s just feeding the birds...

I see my inside out has an inverted word order so...reject as needed. as for the cowbirds line, I prefer the original, or at least keep ad-lib. It was much more fun. So what if the cowbirds are worse than people. The whole idea is energizing.

Siham
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  #14  
Unread 06-30-2019, 08:33 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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Hi Siham, thanks for the close reading. I’m so glad you like it. I’ve made a few changes since you posted, namely the chickadees are now finches whose insistence is great instead of big. Smallness is implied anyway by “finches,” and there is the added bonus of connecting with cowbirds, which leave their eggs in finches’ nests, among other bird nests. This is also why I think I’m going to keep “left behind our youth,” since it alludes to that cowbird behavior, But I agree, “ad-lib” is much better than “ruthless” so it is back. For the final line, I think I am going to stick with “and watch” though I did try out your “watching.” I’m not sure why, but I like saying the original phrase better.

I also took your suggestion for cutting back on similes (I’d wondered about that myself) by changing the sun image in the last stanza—now “the unemphatic / sun swung low: a hand that couldn’t reach”
[Editing back in: I've actually reverted to "sun was like a hand" in that stanza; the homeliness of it somehow appeals to me, and even the passiveness of it mimics the rheumatic sun.]

Thanks again for the push on the details.

And John, thanks for coming back. The line you mention with “rather” has been changed as well. I hadn’t realized it, but that addition gave the line an extra beat anyway.

Last edited by Andrew Frisardi; 06-30-2019 at 03:58 PM.
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  #15  
Unread 06-30-2019, 09:04 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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I like an unemphatic sun. Nice idea.

Cheers,
John
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  #16  
Unread 07-01-2019, 03:36 PM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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A couple more tweaks just added, per Siham's crit of the last line of S4 and the sun image in the last stanza.

Siham, if you're looking in, or anyone else for that matter: do you like the changes?
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  #17  
Unread 07-01-2019, 05:16 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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x
I like this. It is unabashed. It is the unselfish expression that love draws out. It takes deep love to remain emotionally vulnerable but at the same time hardened to the realities of lengthening shadows and shortened time together. I think your poem walks that line with grace.

In S1L3, would this be smoother?
The outline of your face a blurred eclipse

There is a feel of unrelenting sadness throughout that finally succumbs to love that survives, thrives.
x
x

Last edited by Jim Moonan; 07-01-2019 at 07:23 PM.
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  #18  
Unread 07-01-2019, 11:16 PM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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Thanks, Jim. I like the present wording of that line because it foregrounds the face and also because it's a complete sentence, a passive one but then I usually feel pretty passive at the crack of dawn. ;-)
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  #19  
Unread 07-02-2019, 03:01 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Andrew,

I'm happy with where this poem is going. Still like your views on time.

Cheers,
John
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  #20  
Unread 07-02-2019, 08:13 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hi Andrew,

Good to see you again! I'm going to be the pooper, I'm afraid. I really want to like this more than I do, because it’s a lovely idea – the timelessness of love against the inevitable passing of time – and I have no problem with a little sentiment. But I keep finding myself distracted by awkward moments that seem either rhyme-forced or hard to parse or both. I haven’t read the other crits in huge detail, but I get the sense I’m out on a limb a bit.

Quote:
When I woke up today, my lips
smooshed against your shoulder,
your face’s outline was a blurred eclipse
of yesterday, a light that had grown older.
My palm and fingers curved atop your breast
like effigies at rest.
I like the opening image of the eclipse. I have a bit of trouble with the last two lines. I can see the two people as being like ‘effigies at rest’, which seems an appropriate echo of Larkin’s ‘Arundel Tomb’ and his ‘what will survive of us is love’, but the sense here seems to be that the Ns ‘palm and fingers’ were like effigies at rest. This doesn’t work as an image for me since effigies are of a whole person. Could they be something else at rest? Birds maybe?

Quote:
Our touching in the course of years
has made our bodies fit
as one, like ripples that a current clears
in passing over stones that ballast it.
‘fit / as one’ sounds a bit too clichéd. It’s the ‘as one’, I think (‘two hearts beat as one’). I wonder if you could go straight to ‘fit / like ripples’ and add a beat by modifying either ‘ripples’ or ‘current’? But also, I have trouble with this next image. I understand how their bodies are like ripples: they stay close together and move in the same direction. But these are ‘ripples that a current clears / in passing over stones that ballast it.’ So the ripples disappear, are ‘cleared’, when they pass over stones in the stream. I don’t really get the extension of the simile. In what way are the bodies ‘cleared’ and do stones really ‘ballast’ (give stability to) a current? It perhaps hints at death, that the bodies will be cleared eventually. Is that it? But that doesn’t link to the main idea of the simile, that this is how they ‘fit’. For me it feels a little like you had the image of the ripples and extended it for the rhyme with ‘years’ and ‘fit’ at the expense of the full sense of what you’re trying to say.

Quote:
Your wedding dress was cloth we had to forage
with nothing left in storage,

in the home where we first lived together,
when we called off all bets
of change for change. We didn’t know yet whether
what we had in store would pay our debts,
while whooshes on the distant interstate
sustained a constant rate,

I don’t find much life in the sentence that makes up the first four and a half lines here and it confuses me. The wedding dress idea feels too vague and then nothing more is made of it. I don’t know how literally to take it. Did they really make the wedding dress out of foraged cloth? From where? And I don’t see how ‘with nothing left in storage’ follows on from that. If it were their first home, why would they have things ‘left in storage?’ Again, it feels dictated by rhyme. And I don’t know what ‘called off all bets / of change for change’ means. I know what ‘all bets are off’ means as an idiom (anything could happen) but I don’t get the ‘change for change’ thing. The next clause, 'We didn’t know yet whether / what we had in store would pay our debts' feels longwinded and padded for what it's saying, in order to get to the rhyme words.
I like the last two lines here, but I’m not keen on ‘whooshes’. I’d prefer something more concrete like ‘traffic’ or 'traffic noise'.

Quote:
and at the window-box, we fed
the finches' great insistence,
as we were making plans to get ahead
of where the future swallowed up the distance.
Unwitting cowbirds, ad-lib and uncouth,
we gave away our youth,

those days when light began to leach
from the sky. The unemphatic
sun was an ancient hand that couldn’t reach
a lamp for being tired or rheumatic.
And we caressed each other’s wondrous skin,
as we watched time begin.
I like the first four lines here. But then with

we gave away our youth,

those days when light began to leach
from the sky. The unemphatic
sun was an ancient hand that couldn’t reach
a lamp for being tired or rheumatic.


there’s such a sense of misery and desperation, with ‘leach’, ‘unemphatic sun’ ‘ancient hand’ ‘rheumatic’. But I don’t feel the poem has earned this level of melancholy, because the details have been very vague. It hasn’t allowed me to understand why the N is viewing the past in these terms, while reminiscing in the early dawn with his lips against his partner’s shoulder. He seems to be still very much in love with the partner, so why all the doom and gloom in these memories of when they started out as a couple? Also, 'unemphatic/ rheumatic' thud for me as rhymes.

Sorry, for the lengthy negativity here. I think you've done much much better and I'm sure you will again. But I couldn't get carried along with this one. Could just be me, as always.

Mark
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