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Old 07-07-2018, 04:28 PM
Bill Dyes Bill Dyes is offline
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Default Citizen Swallow

Citizen Swallow (revision)

“...no matter how abominable your condition may be
try not to blame anything or anybody…”
Joseph Brodsky

Blamed all those years behind bars, hell
I blamed whoever could see, speak or hear.
Now you tellin’ me to stop livin’ like no one can see me
‘cause for sure I’m still gonna be picked out.

Got me a pension, an’ a house
an’, you right, the freedom to be uninvolved.
Maybe that ain’t no kind of success.
Ain’t no veteran neither but I out-lasted a few things.

Gettin’ older now, need to keep movin’.
Wife an’ daughters got me thinkin’ responsibly.
Decided to drop off this ballot but turned left too soon.
That’s OK. Not afraid to ask for the right directions.

Done maybe seven, eight miles today.
Might catch a movie before headin’ back.
Seen those birds at dusk with the curved-knife wings,
Blue-back on top, kinda orange beneath.

Have a nest stuck up in the corner outside the strip-mall gym.
Three little baby heads stickin’ out over the sticks and spit.
No amount of traffic or nothin’ we build stops them
from flyin’ food to those babies. Yeah. I like that.

Won’t say I’m one of the downbeatin’
cause then I got to assign that beat-down to somebody.
Makes it all a little bit too simple
plus don’t get me past nothin’ I gotta get past.

Look here, the pages keep on turnin’ an’
I weren’t clever enough or man enough
to write the book I thought I had in me.
Yeah, you right, I shoulda tried harder.

Those birds keep flyin’ ‘round.
You say they tryin’ to tell me somethin’
but I ain’t no fuckin’ bird
an’ I got no more to say ‘bout history.



Citizen Swallow (original)



Got me a pension, an’ a house
an’, you right, the freedom to be uninvolved.
Maybe that ain’t no kind of success.
Ain’t no veteran neither but I out-lasted a few things.

Gettin’ older now, need to keep movin’.
Wife and daughter got me thinkin’ responsible.
Decided to drop off this ballot but turned left too soon.
That’s OK. Not afraid to ask for the right directions.

Done maybe seven, eight miles today.
Might catch a movie before headin’ back.
Seen those birds at dusk with the curved-knife wings,
Blue-black on top, kinda orange beneath.

Have a nest stuck up in the corner outside the strip-mall gym.
Three little baby heads stickin’ out over the sticks and spit.
No amount of traffic or nothin’ we build stops them
from flyin’ food to those babies. Yeah. I like that.

Won’t say I’m one of the downbeatin’
cause then I got to assign that beat-down to somebody.
Makes it all a little bit too simple
plus don’t get me past nothin’ I outta get past.

I weren’t clever enough or man enough
to write a single page of the life I was livin’.
Had a different book in me but never wrote it out.
Yeah, you right, I shoulda tried harder.

Back then I blamed you, yo’ country and yo’ police
I blamed whoever could see, speak or hear.
Now you sayin’ I can’t live like no one notices me
‘cause a storm’s here and it sees me.

Those birds keep flyin’ ‘round.
You say they tryin’ to tell me somethin’
but I ain’t no fuckin’ bird
an’ I got no more to say ‘bout history.

Last edited by Bill Dyes; 07-09-2018 at 01:37 PM. Reason: typo in L4 S4
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  #2  
Old 07-09-2018, 09:46 AM
Jan Iwaszkiewicz's Avatar
Jan Iwaszkiewicz Jan Iwaszkiewicz is offline
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The vernacular here Bill, is, in the main, foreign to my ear but nonetheless there seems to be a couple lines where the register is wrong:

an’, you right, the freedom to be uninvolved.

Wife an’ daughters got me thinkin’ responsibly.

'uninvolved' and 'responsibly'

Regards,

Jan
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Old 07-09-2018, 12:26 PM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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Location: North Carolina
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Bill, I want to like this more than I do, which is something in itself. The Brodsky should go and there are other moments of statement that I don't think work. If I knew he realized, or not, that

Won’t say I’m one of the downbeatin’
cause then I got to assign that beat-down to somebody.


makes no sense then I would know which way to take the fellow. He can clearly say he's one of the downbeaten without having to assign a specific beater. That, of course, isn't the point. It is what he thinks that matters and I can't tell how he means it.

Pages turning as a way to talk of time is a little long in the tooth. Overall, this needs clarity on the poet's part and work on the words to make it fresher.

My two cents.

John
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Old 07-10-2018, 07:54 AM
Bill Dyes Bill Dyes is offline
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Jan;

Is it right to assume that a vernacular has it's own set of rules which it never violates.


John;

In the end I would like this to be better than it is as well. It's not yet. That of course is on me.


"Can't say, I'm one of the downbeatin' cause
cause then I got to assign that beat-down to somebody'

I think this is the point where Brodsky's statement becomes implicit even if his quote were taken away.
And you're right I could drop the quote without too much effect although my wife says that the quote helps.
This is the point in the poem where you, me, this man and Brodsky meet
and, yes, clarity, would be more than nice, it feels essential.
The poem may indeed fail at this point but I don't think it does.
Still, the poem is not a success so back to work.


Thanks John and Jan for stopping to read and to comment. I appreciate your comments very much.


Bill
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Old 07-10-2018, 09:00 AM
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Jan Iwaszkiewicz Jan Iwaszkiewicz is offline
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Hi Bill,

I think that you would find that the vernacular in many countries is governed by many sets of unwritten rules that you violate at your peril.

It seems here that you go from a twenty cent vernacular to a buck fifty word. This affects the credibility of the voice. For example:

an’, you right, the freedom to be uninvolved.
would be better cast:
an’, you right, be free not to be involved .

As I said I am not versed in your vernacular and only offer my thoughts.

Regards,

Jan
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Old 07-13-2018, 06:44 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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There is an anonymity conveyed by this, a victimization, that is unsettlingly familiar. I imagine I see it every day, passing by the people waiting for buses, at subway stations, in stores, everywhere. They are, if not invisible, ubiquitous.

I only wish you would re-tell it in third person plural, without the vernacular. As others have said, the phrasing doesn't come off as being entirely authentic (though at it's heart it is). I think to tell it in third person would make it compelling.
x
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Old 07-13-2018, 11:42 AM
Bill Dyes Bill Dyes is offline
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Jim & Jay:

In this society it is not unreasonable to think that a vernacular might be slightly & clumsily modified depending on who you are responding to.

'the phrasing doesn't come off as being entirely authentic (though at it's heart it is)." Sounds good enough for me, Jim.

On the other hand, converting to 'third person plural' I am not convinced of. Experts on the vernacular (of course I would need to see their certifications)
may indeed have problems with this poem but what is or is not authentic is quite a different matter.

Thanks for reading and commenting.
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