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  #1  
Unread 09-22-2020, 06:14 AM
Rick Mullin's Avatar
Rick Mullin Rick Mullin is offline
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Constance

A crazing landscape hangs above her bed
where sunlight, filtered through the autumn dust
and yellowed curtain, finds the riverhead
reflected in a cumulus of rust.
An oak four poster with a linen sash,
a wardrobe, and a Persian carpet worn
to reckoning about the edges fade
into a harmony of leaf and thorn.
The Blakelock painting of an amber glade
at dusk illuminates her meager cache
of perfume bottles, brushes and a box
of letters. The eternal afternoon,
reflected in the faces of the clocks
in other rooms and hallways, holds the moon
inside a trunk of satins, earth, and ash.
.




Last edited by Rick Mullin; 09-25-2020 at 04:30 AM.
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  #2  
Unread 09-22-2020, 08:04 AM
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Martin Rocek Martin Rocek is offline
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Hi Rick,
I want to give this more reads before commenting, but you I suspect you have a typo--shouldn't "panting" be "painting"?

Best,
Martin
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  #3  
Unread 09-22-2020, 02:12 PM
R. S. Gwynn's Avatar
R. S. Gwynn R. S. Gwynn is offline
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My only suggestion is to switch the order of the first two quatrains, going from a medium shot of the room to a closeup of the painting.
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  #4  
Unread 09-22-2020, 10:38 PM
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Martin Rocek Martin Rocek is offline
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Hi Rick,

After several more readings, I like it even more. It paints a picture within a picture to tell a story with a delicate brush--a more subtle and quiet Eleanor Rigby.

Thanks for the read

p.s. Sam's suggestion is certainly interesting!
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  #5  
Unread 09-23-2020, 01:20 PM
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The imagery is beautiful and the rhythm easy, but the poem isn't resonating for me. I'm not able to make it add up to more than its parts, to find any suggestion in what you have that carries me beyond the literal content. Is the choice of painting, furniture, assorted items, etc., supposed to give me a window into "her"? I'm coming up empty. I don't know if that's my failing or yours, though.

The lack of an oxford comma in L6 tripped me up, leading to mis-parse and mis-pace the line. This may not move you, but I thought I'd report it.
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  #6  
Unread 09-23-2020, 04:52 PM
Yves S L Yves S L is offline
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Hello Rick Mullin,

I think about the lilting cadence of the first quatrain vis-a-vis the constraints of iambic pentameter:

A crazing landscape hangs above her bed
where sunlight, filtered through the autumn dust
and yellowed curtain, finds the riverhead
reflected in a cumulus of rust.

The first quatrain stands out to me because the rest of the poem is more straightforwardly duh-dum-duh-dum-duh-dum-duh-dum-duh-dum, in that the lines fall to my ear into more expected, more standard rhythms of pentamater.

I wonder if the cadence of the first quatrain can at least be extended to somehow the rest of the octet.

Cheers!
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  #7  
Unread 09-24-2020, 08:02 AM
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Rick Mullin Rick Mullin is offline
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Thanks folks.

Well, this is a shot at that ol’ American Gothic. I think a reader’s familiarity with the paintings of Ralph Blakelock would be in my favor here. They happen to be featured strangely in a new film called “I’m Thinking of Ending Things,” by the way—which film has nothing to do with this poem. He’s easy to Google.

Sam, that is an interesting idea, but I do want to open with a crazed (cracked surface, of course) landscape painting over the bed. The interplay between the atmosphere and objects in the room and the light and cloud and trees in the painting starts there. Also, there is the rhyme scheme situation…. Which I suppose could be addressed with a rigorous rewrite. I have done these 115ers in blank verse, but I want to stick with the rhymed form which matches the epoch of the image. Blakelock’s contemporary, Albert Pinkham Ryder, used to write naive, archaic verse to accompany his pictures. Blakelock may have as well.

Thanks Martin, first for the spelling catch, and for picking up the feeling, which is more or less an Eleanor Rigby kind of thing, but not as packed with information or the same kind of information. I’m glad the picture is coming across as a picture. This is a painting, to some extent.

Thanks Aaron. I do need a reader to go beyond the literal content for this to work. It’s not meant to be an inventory but a picture. A lot depends on the relationship of the sunset landscape to the room and the play of light. The closing line is meant to give some definition to the picture. I intend to suggest a particular type of box or trunk.

Thanks Yves. Funny, I think the first quatrain is more plodding than the second. “an OAK FOUR pos ter WITH a LIN en SASH” for example. BUT I have a problem with the first and second four-line stretches. Each is a sentence of the exact same number of beats (or very much close enough). Not necessarily a problem, but it’s made more treacherous by the rhyme scheme differing as a result of the scheme of this 15 line form I am trying to establish:

ABAB C DEDE C FGFG C

If there is a rewrite after the first stanza it will be to break the spell of the mirrored quatrains that don’t really look like each other. OR do I want to do that….

Thanks again, folks.
RM

Last edited by Rick Mullin; 09-24-2020 at 08:24 AM.
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  #8  
Unread 09-24-2020, 08:07 AM
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Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is offline
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I like it a lot, Rick. It's amazing how the pictures move in and out of one another, blending so we don't know how which is the painting and which is real life. Seems perfect to me, though I do pine for the Oxford commas. The last line is wonderful!
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Unread 09-24-2020, 12:06 PM
Yves S L Yves S L is offline
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Hello Rick,

Just to clarify, I was not thinking about the patterns of stresses, but in order of importance, the pattern of pauses in the line, enjambement, and syntax. Relative to the aforementioned attributes does the first quatrain, to me, depart from the pattern of later lines.
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  #10  
Unread 09-25-2020, 04:29 AM
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Thanks Mary,


I actually tried removing almost all of the comas at one point because I wanted to maintain that flow from picture to chamber and the movement of the light in the first stanza, but it became confusing. I did replace one OxCom on Aaron's prompting. I will check for other opportunities. More importantly, I'm glad the interplay or painting and room comes across for you.

Hi Yves. Thanks for clarifying. I'm still having a bit of trouble seeing what you're seeing. There is a purposeful shifting of gears in the second "quatrain." As noted, I am still considering going back to work on those lines, but I'm not sure they essentially fall short of the first four. It's more a matter of how nicely the two play together.

Thanks all,
RM
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