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Old 07-10-2017, 09:53 PM
John Riley John Riley is online now
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Default A New Season

Gardens Will Break Your Heart

Born in no beautiful time
he lives inside the shadow
that lies outside the fire.

Day sends bats scurrying.
Cats bounce into town
down the rutted road.

Work begins without ruse
each turn of the plow turns
a bowl of gods and cream.

Forgotten calves stay lovely
hiding from flamed lovers
in the maze of dry streams

beyond the garden wall.
Soon a new season will roll
across the browning field.

Shallow years of dreaming
brought him to this place.
The inside of him won't size.

Nights are mother to his rage.
Lanterns down the dusty road
mock him walking by

while unseen you and I
tip our hats. But don't look up.
The sky is low and mean.
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Old 07-15-2017, 01:34 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is online now
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Hello, John, I was drawn in by the great first line and I enjoyed this poem.

My suggestions mostly have to do with charging up and clarifying the language here and there.

Is there so more dynamic verb than “lies” in line 3?

You use the verb “size” in the absolute (no object), and I can’t get any sense of what it is supposed to mean in the line: The inside of him won't size.

Also I would suggest charging up this line: Nights are mother to his rage by making “mother” a verb: The nights mother his rage.

I do like “he/him” as a season that must be determined as the poem progresses.

Thanks,
Aaron
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Old 07-16-2017, 04:30 PM
John Riley John Riley is online now
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Thank you Aaron for taking a look at this. Those are some good notes for revision that I will keep.

It's pretty clear my work is going in a direction that doesn't fit here. Your generosity in commenting is much appreciated.

John
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Old 07-16-2017, 06:10 PM
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Katie Hoerth Katie Hoerth is offline
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Hi John,

So much to like here. The personification of the season might seem a bit cliche, but you handle it with such careful subtly that it works perfectly. Very nicely done. From the title, I'm hooked as a reader. I also admire your use of verbs -- lots of action happening here: scurrying, bouncing, rolling.
The only notable exception is S7L1, which I see Aaron has already pointed out. His suggested change of mother to the verb is inspired. I'd totally go with that if I were you!
For your last line, what about the sky "hangs" low and mean?
Really nicely crafted, John. Dense, terse, and powerful.
K.
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Old 07-16-2017, 10:02 PM
Kyle Norwood Kyle Norwood is offline
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I like this vivid poem, but I had a question about S3, which seems ambiguous: Is the intended meaning

Work begins without (the) ruse (that)
each turn of the plow turns
a bowl of gods and cream.
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Old 07-17-2017, 03:09 PM
Malcolm Thom Malcolm Thom is offline
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Hi John,

I wanted to chime in to say that your "The inside of him won't size." line was, for me, the 'crux' of the poem. To make sense of the line to make sense of the poem, etc.
I took this 'sizing' in the way you might think of and work to size a (Microsoft) window to a computer screen. Of course, the 'sizing' makes sense in other contexts too, but the very 21st century metaphor for how we now might imagine or 'see' ourselves or our "inside" fitting or filling 'somewhere' is quite poignant, I think--especially surrounded by the sort of fanciful imagery/diction.

M.
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Old 07-21-2017, 08:39 AM
David Callin David Callin is offline
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I think it’s lovely, John. (As so often, I found Matt’s comments a very helpful way into the poem, which perhaps suggests that it is a bit knotty in places.)

The phrase “a bowl of gods and cream” is a very arresting and attractive one.

I thought the “calves” were interestingly ambiguous.

The not sizing also gave me a bit of trouble.

I particularly like the last couple of verses – especially this:

Lanterns down the dusty road
mock him walking by

while unseen you and I
tip our hats


but I think I was hoping for a more cheerful ending. Somehow the poem had led me to expect that. It led me up the garden path, I suppose.

Very nice title too.

I wonder why you say "[your] work is going in a direction that doesn't fit here". That was not my impression.

Cheers

David
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Old 07-21-2017, 02:43 PM
John Riley John Riley is online now
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Thanks Matt and Matthew and David. You have given me good stuff to consider on revision before submitting. I'm in the middle of some different work at the moment and always like to let good suggestions settle a bit before applying them.

Matt, you are generous and helpful when you dig into a poem. Your suggestions are the result of you taking time and making the effort to provide your insights. I appreciate what you do. I don't try to write poems that are puzzles. A puzzle is a top-level mystery usually. Sometimes it can open up to new mysteries, sometimes not. It's tough to make work, easily as tough as counting beats. It's what I'm not sure this poem pulls off and your notes provide me some insight on how to approach revision.

Matthew, nice to make your acquaintance. In my mind and ear using turn twice in the same line feels like a turn. It's the sort of repetition I like although I see the argument against. Thanks for pointing it out and your other notes.

David, thanks for the nice comments. That damn "size." I'll rethink it. I'm wondering if it's a little anachronistic inside this poem. Anything I can say about the comment I probably shouldn't have made will only sound more defensive. Maybe I was petulant.

Thanks again to each of you for your help.

John
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