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  #1  
Unread 01-20-2020, 09:38 PM
Rick Mullin's Avatar
Rick Mullin Rick Mullin is offline
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Default Apotheosis

Apotheosis of the Hirsute Acolytes

The organizing mythos of Brueghelian
mayhem. Harmony and rhyme converge
on vintage mandolins, Episcopalian
hymnals and (without a doubt) an urge
to get back to the garden of the just.

We day-hike in the bowels of Camden, blown
bewildered, howling at the frozen smudge
of Philadelphia. A payday loan,
a lien and lie are leveled by the judge
who rides a cloud of red eraser dust.

Beholden to the stage of abject fear,
the Wait-a-Minute Chesters park their van
on Union Avenue. They lug their gear
across the street, resplendent to a man,
a waking sleep of angels laid in rust.

___
Line 15: "cast in" is now "laid on"

.

Last edited by Rick Mullin; 01-21-2020 at 12:10 PM.
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  #2  
Unread 01-23-2020, 07:35 AM
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R. Nemo Hill R. Nemo Hill is online now
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Pretty opaque, Rick, although seductively so. I enjoy reading it repeatedly, but I can't really find the point of entry it dangles several times before me and then yanks away. I find myself expecting a turn, after Philadelphia, but then, though it turns, it turns away from me, getting further rather than closer. Which is fine, but may explain its languishing a bit here, comment-less (although a better explanation might be that the board is quieter than I have seen it in many years).

The rhyme is spectacularly effortless, intricate, yet casual, as usual. And the images really pop out of the lines. I see a bunch of bearded fellows shambling through a landscape of late Americana. I embroider the narrative from there, perhaps a bit differently with each read-through, though the moods stays the same—vaguely alienated figures in a landscape—a mood I have shared in the past during bouts of travel. And the whole has that evenness of emphasis of a Brueghel painting, where no detail is given primacy, and the number of details are seemingly infinite. Figures of a landscape might be a better coinage, and yet the figures do not quite belong, or at least the figure of the narrator, whose self-reflectiveness removes him, and reduces all the rest to tenderly garish brushstrokes.

Nemo
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  #3  
Unread 01-23-2020, 10:23 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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Hi Rick,

I'm also having trouble finding my way into this. I have googled some details: The "Wait a minute Chesters" are, I think, a reference to song by the Band, which contains that phrase and seems to have an appropriately religious theme. Camden is a city across the river from Philadephia, I learn. The Bruegel might be the Younger's "The Fight between Carnival and Lent", I guess, which seems to contain mayhem and also fit the religious theme, and with an urge to get back to "the garden of the just"

So, the first stanza seems to describe some sort of music or hymn, though in a rather abstract way (I'm not clear who is singing or where or if anyone's making a sound -- maybe it's an idea or a feeling or a 'mythos' that's being described). The second stanza takes "us" to Camden and a howling hike through it. "We" might (or might not) be the people producing the music in the first stanza, and if so perhaps the howling is a continuation of their song and a continuation of the mayhem. Then we get a judge erasing payday loans (God, maybe? A day of judgement --also in the Band song -- and a forgiveness of sins?). In the third the "Wait a minute Chesters" (peaceful men?) arrive. Maybe they're a band? They have gear of some sort to set up. But if so, given that they're just arriving, they're not the source of the music in S1, it seems to me. And they arrive after the judge's intervention. Perhaps, as angels, they bring peace to the mayhem of a crowd? Or perhaps the Chesters are the hairy acolytes? Or the possible crowd in S1 and/or the "we" (or both) are the acolytes of the band (or The Band)?

I think the poem could do a little more to make things clearer -- just in terms of what's actually going on here and how the parts relate, not in terms of what it means or signifies.

best,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 01-23-2020 at 12:53 PM.
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  #4  
Unread 01-25-2020, 07:37 AM
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Rick Mullin Rick Mullin is offline
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Thanks Nemo,

Yes, my intent here is more or less flagged in the opening line--a populated landscape that conveys visually what can't be expressed as objective narrative but, rather, as embroidered narrative. Seductive opacity, I'll take ~,:^)

Thanks Matt,

I'm hoping that there is, in the mayhem, an organizing mythos. Brueghel's populated landscapes are intriguing to viewers unfamiliar with the mythos, but those familiar pick up, or picked up in his day, on vignettes that said things like "a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush" or "haste makes waste". You have identified the marks of a central mythic reference here, J. Robbie Robertson's "The Weight," a song recorded by The Band in the 1960s, used in the sound track to the film Easy Rider and populated with "mythic" archetypes like Crazy Chester. I'd add that Camden, NJ, is associated with a very famous bearded, shambling American. The judge in the sky is a nod to the Flemish painter.

But mythos/pithos. I realize this kind of poem flies in the face of the core Eratosphere ethos. ~,:^) I beg a rather heavy indulgence with a poem like this and I appreciate the two of you taking it seriously.

Rick

Last edited by Rick Mullin; 01-25-2020 at 07:39 AM.
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  #5  
Unread 01-25-2020, 08:33 AM
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Andrew Mandelbaum Andrew Mandelbaum is offline
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Hey Rick. Been waiting to hear from you on this. So, your supplied address of the poem here is what I had hoped. I wanted to read it like this but, and I can't explain this, felt like something in the piece resisted me and suggested that there was a riddle to be decoded before entering the gates. I wonder if it the very specific locations suggest an insiders take or something? Is there a way to place it more clearly in the multiverse, unhinge it from any suggestion of real world puzzle in a sense? I don't know exactly what I am saying but I am saying it anyway. Ha!

The point is, I like this and the sounds are great as well as the images. But something keeps me out and it is not any core ethos. I don't think anyway. Well...maybe...
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  #6  
Unread 01-25-2020, 10:41 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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Hi Rick,

I don't think deviance from the core Eratosphere ethos is what my issue is here. Though you'd have to tell me what that ethos was for me to know for sure.

Looking at this again, I think the issue for me is the first stanza. It opens with a sentence fragment that's abstract, and gives no real clue as to how that fragment connects to the sentence that follows it. Is the convergence of harmony and rhyme the mythos of Brueghelian mayhem? Is the mythos of Brueghelian mayhem something that we are observing (in some unreferenced scene -- perhaps what follows in S2&3)? The second sentence seems largely context-less, and despite a couple of images, is more abstract as a result. There are actions, perhaps, but no actors; an urge, but not sense of whose. (Perhaps the actors are those introduced in S2, but perhaps not). So, neither sentence in S1 gives me any sense of location or scene or actors or event. Consequently, in S1 there's nothing I can really hang an image on. It doesn't really form a picture for me.

The second and third stanza -- irrespective of whether I understand the cultural references and/or subtext -- make some sort of surface sense. There's imagery and action, a sense of progression/unfolding. I can string the parts the together and paint a picture in my head and enjoy the show -- and I do. But not so with the first stanza.

That make any sense?

-Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 01-25-2020 at 10:49 AM.
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  #7  
Unread 01-25-2020, 01:22 PM
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Quick note: by Eratosphere ethos I was referring to the precepts of something like New Formalism that preclude non-objective narrative and willful obscurity. But the “ethos” is now far more diverse here. So, mainly I was looking a rhyme for “pithos”

Last edited by Rick Mullin; 01-25-2020 at 08:16 PM.
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  #8  
Unread 01-25-2020, 01:25 PM
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Switching the first and second stanzas might provide a clearer POV for the poem--day-hiking in urban Camden. As it now stands, the abstract/allusive first stanza doesn't provide much of an entrance into the poem, which I rather like. The title isn't much help either. Waste Landish rather than Whitmanesque on the hoi polloi, who are one rap of the gavel away from ruin.

Last edited by R. S. Gwynn; 01-25-2020 at 01:28 PM.
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  #9  
Unread 01-25-2020, 02:22 PM
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R. Nemo Hill R. Nemo Hill is online now
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I don't know, I think the opening is the correct way to go, that first sentence/fragment seems crucial to the sort of surrender the poem demands:

The organizing mythos of Brueghelian mayhem.

Referring to the first stanza, Matt, you say: "Consequently, in S1 there's nothing I can really hang an image on. It doesn't really form a picture for me." I'd posit rather that it is all picture, all image, but minus the conventions of narrative. I like that the first stanza pulls the rug out from under those expectations before introducing the now foot-loosed elements of them. It's as if we can't walk the familiar paces, we have to swim through them. But the result is that the images seem more pictorial to me, not less so; the picture is foregrounded, while the connections in time and space, the actors and their motivations, are subsumed by the landscape they occur within. It's primarily picture, rather than story. It's painted, rather than told.

For me, at least.

Nemo
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  #10  
Unread 01-26-2020, 08:55 PM
A. Sterling A. Sterling is offline
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Hi Rick,

I too found this rather puzzling at first, and it made me wonder if there was something important I was missing. Now, knowing that there’s not from your comment above, I don’t mind sitting back and enjoying it. It is very evocative, and I do sense it getting at something it would be harder to express in a more direct narrative.

I feel, though, as if the “we” in the second stanza offers a false hope that a narrator is going to come in and shed some light on what’s happening in the first stanza, introduce some characters in some definite relation with it – and then, when this doesn’t happen in the second, then maybe it's all going to come together in the third. And then it doesn't. How would it be with “A day-hike” instead of “we day-hike”? I like that, with the judge being the first definite figure to emerge (not counting the title).
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