Eratosphere Forums - Metrical Poetry, Free Verse, Fiction, Art, Critique, Discussions Able Muse - a review of poetry, prose and art

Forum Left Top

Notices

Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Unread 07-22-2019, 07:28 AM
Jake Sheff Jake Sheff is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 265
Default Missouri Rag

Missouri Rag

The cattails sway. The ospreys overdose
on methadone. The day resumes unsigned.
Seductive isn’t worth, but has a price.
The Ozarks’ darkness steps from pine to pine.

Each water strider drives a creek’s Amen.
A perfect muskrat trap, the prairie grass
swings open like a gate. The banjoes sing.
The cattails sway. The ospreys overdose.

The value of what isn’t isn’t praise.
The clovers cover all our normal wrongs:
spent arrowheads, tossed guns and crickets’ eyes
on methadone. The day resumes unsigned.

A grand acquaintance, but an awful friend,
the starry sky looks down at each lake house.
The caverns pawn their earthy apothegm:
Seductive isn’t worth, but has a price.

The ripples grow as large- and smallmouth bass
tug at the end of a string. It comes in a can:
the fermented; the end of a thing and the past.
The Ozarks’ darkness steps from pine to pine.

What drives each water strider drives cement
and kin insane. A memory paints the west
too red for blood and spots a lion’s horn.
The cemeteries sleep. Like prison bars,
the cattails sway.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Unread 07-23-2019, 11:01 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
Distinguished Guest
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 4,293
Default

Jake, I am excited about this poem. I waited to post on it because my crits are idiosyncratic.

I really do not like off-rhymes that end in different consonant combinations:

unsigned/pine.

Much better, to my ear, to keep the consonants and vary the vowel, as in

grass/overdose.

or

house/price

I do see what you are doing with repetition, but I would prefer some regular rhyme/off-rhyme scheme.

Let's see what others have to say.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Unread 07-23-2019, 04:10 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 4,687
Default

Hi Jake,

I agree with Aaron, lots to like here in your mastery of language. I also agree with him about off-rhyming. Perhaps "the day is out of line" or some such? I also find it hard to stress the last syllable of "each lake house," and would suggest revising it.
Other than that, I'm still a guy who likes to know, say, that wild animals do end up on methadone for some reason, and it's not just convenient to the poem. Plenty of stuff is convenient to a poem, but as an advertiser once said, "You can always grab a viewer's attention by having a guy walk onscreen upside down. But unless you're selling non-emptying pockets, what's the point?"
Of course, it may be that wild animals are on methadone these days! I guess it wouldn't surprise me.

Cheers,
John
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Unread 07-23-2019, 06:47 PM
Allen Tice's Avatar
Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Brooklyn, NY USA
Posts: 4,446
Default

The wild beasts and tame plants are drinking rural water polluted with piss full of drug dregs. Also, an image for addicted humanity.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Unread 07-23-2019, 09:03 PM
Jake Sheff Jake Sheff is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 265
Default

Aaron,

I appreciate the feedback. And I liked your comment about being idiosyncratic.

I'll see what others say and reconsider the off-rhymes, definitely.

John,

I appreciate you saying mastery. But I really like your line "the day is out of line."

I wasn't sure about "lake house," but I scan the line as ".. looks DOWN at each LAKE HOUSE." I don't deny the foot is not iambic... I'll reconsider, but I like the lake houses' presence in the poem...

Allen nailed my intended literal sense with regards to methadone. Medical waste is everywhere, fish have loads of mercury, etc. I was going more for irony, since methadone is meant as a beneficial opiate to help addicts through withdrawal, but of course at a certain level (and in the wrong species) it can be harmful.

Appreciate - as always - the comments. I'm learning a lot from everybody, and am grateful for it. I think it's making me a much better, and hopefully wiser, writer.

Cheers,
Jake

Last edited by Jake Sheff; 07-23-2019 at 09:05 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Unread 07-23-2019, 10:00 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 4,687
Default

Hi Jake,

Yes, I do see mastery in your language, and thought I'd say it. Glad you liked that first suggestion for you to play with. I too like having lake houses in the poem, just still unsure metrically - i.e., as to the music.
I appreciated Allen's explanation and am glad to hear, Jake, that you had this fairly literal interpretation available for us. The image wasn't just for convenience, if I may be so bold; it is anchored in the lived.

Cheers,
John
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Unread 07-26-2019, 06:12 AM
R. Nemo Hill's Avatar
R. Nemo Hill R. Nemo Hill is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Halcott, New York
Posts: 8,950
Default

Jake, the word rag in the title is well used: it conjures both the rhythmically repetitive nature of the musical reference, as well as the sense of carping or complaining, or ragging on.

And the poem doesn't disappoint. I like how the more sensual images carry it along—the cattails, the osprey, the pine and clover—until the occasional aphoristic utterance occurs. Pithy abstract lines like "Seductive isn’t worth, but has a price" and "The value of what isn’t isn’t praise" seem calculated to vex the scene, to roll the eyes back into the head, to nag from behind the gaze until rag becomes a sort of unearthly raga. It is a somewhat uncomfortable strategy, but seems deliberate given the subject matter, and given the judgement innate in the closing image.

I don't find any of the details opportunistically literary, or symptoms of the convenience of being lazily avant-garde.
They all seem to effortlessly add up to the whole portrait without the laborious unraveling of each stitch.
The more I read it, the more I like it.

And I love this bit . . .

A grand acquaintance, but an awful friend,
the starry sky looks down at each lake house.


. . . which seems to combine the sensual and the abstract in one stroke; and the admitted ambiguity of the meter present no problems to me.

Personally, I wouldn't worry about the rhyme endings. I'm with Spike Lee on that one: 'by any means necessary!'. Rhyme finds connections, it creates its own map for travel, and I am more than willing to follow it anywhere. Reading MacLeish's Collected Poem, I discovered a style of rhyming that irked me a little—e.g., waits/plaiting; Spain/gainless; lifted/drifts; etc—I don't know if I would ever employ it myself, but I enjoyed adapting my ear to it.

Oh, my ears are constantly changing shape.

Nemo
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Unread 07-28-2019, 02:06 PM
Jake Sheff Jake Sheff is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 265
Default

Appreciate the feedback, Nemo.

And love the off-hand comment at the end. Ears can do that
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Unread 07-31-2019, 09:32 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Staffordshire, England
Posts: 3,037
Default

Hey Jake,

This is a gorgeous poem and I echo much of what Nemo has said. It's full of memorable lines and subtle effects, like the matching, but not end-rhyming, of 'end of a string/end of a thing'. I like the way you have lines which use a sort of ellipsis (or elision, I can never remember) so that individual words in lines seem to perform more than one function. Like in

Seductive isn’t worth, but has a price.


where the reader can fill in the blanks as 'seductive isn't worth (the price), but has a price. Or alternatively read 'worth' as an abstract noun. Either way, the line remains mysterious but charged with meaning. Similar thing happens with the 'large- and small' of

The ripples grow as large- and smallmouth bass

There are many effective moments (I too like the 'grand acquaintance' line. And the sudden, disturbing 'it comes in a can'), and the whole thing keeps me fairly hypnotised and creates a strong, ominous mood of degraded nature. I never felt a sense of willful obscurity.

Well, ok, just once I was taken out of the poem, by an image: the 'lion's horn'. They don't have horns so I couldn't see the image, and it felt like something more cheaply surreal, perhaps, than mysterious. Like an invented archetype. I could be missing some reference, possibly.

I love the key line

The Ozarks’ darkness steps from pine to pine.

as a description, as I take it, of night falling.

Best

Mark
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Unread 08-02-2019, 11:40 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Lazio, Italy
Posts: 4,881
Default

I like this a lot too, Jake. The imagery is evocative and slantwise, and definitely pulls me in. The whole is quite effective.

Your poetry is the sort that asks the reader to let go of customary moorings, to discover other orders of insight. I find that this approach comes off nicely in this poem, evoking the psychically dark atmosphere of the setting through natural imagery and some key word choices. So interesting and evocative in itself that people are implied but not directly present.

The rhythm is monotonous but I can see that fits the theme. Sometimes I think your fantastic imagery could do with more metrical substitutions, and you might consider a couple in this as well.

But this is quite good.

Andrew
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



Forum Right Top
Forum Left Bottom Forum Right Bottom
 
Right Left
Member Login
Forgot password?
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Statistics:
Forum Members: 7,999
Total Threads: 19,780
Total Posts: 253,027
There are 113 users
currently browsing forums.
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Sponsor:
Donate & Support Able Muse / Eratosphere
Forum LeftForum Right
Right Right
Right Bottom Left Right Bottom Right

Hosted by ApplauZ Online