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Old 09-18-2018, 11:04 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is online now
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Default Angel wing

Revision 3

Angel Wings


I come to Elizabeth Park to see him feed
from a bent lady’s palm—a Canada goose
whose outward-angled wings (from too much bread),
like deadwood twigs, are of no earthly use.

He’d watched his flock take to the sky, and heard
their honks grow fainter, fainter . . . this wild bird
now nibbling oats and corn from a trembling hand
which got him through last winter on the pond.

Their common bond is clear as cloudless days,
solid as the crystal-covered oaks:
this longing for lost friends. No one will praise
her nurturing. Some night, a coon or fox
may catch him, or the elements may get him.
Yet watch him sidestep when she tries to pet him.


L2: "a bent lady's" for "a frail lady's" for "an old lady's"


Revision 2

The Goose With the Crooked Wings

I come to the city park to see him fed
by an old lady’s hand, a Canada goose
whose wings of twisted twigs are of no use
(malformed from feasting on chips and moldy bread).

He’d watched his flock take to the sky, and heard
their honks grow fainter, fainter, this wild bird
now nibbling oats and corn from a trembling hand
which got him through last winter on the pond.

Their bond is clear as the glaze across the water,
solid as the icicles on the oaks.
They long for their lost friends. None will applaud her
for looking after him. A coon or fox
may catch him, or the elements may get him.
Yet watch him sidestep when she tries to pet him.




Revision

The Goose With the Crooked Wings


I come to the city park to see him fed
by an old lady’s hand, a Canada goose
whose wings of twisted twigs are of no use
(on account of growing up on too much bread).

He’d watched his flock take to the sky, and heard
their honks grow fainter, fainter, this wild bird
now nibbling oats and corn from a trembling hand
which got him through last winter on the pond.

Their bond is clear as the glaze across the water,
solid as the icicles on the spruce.
They long for their lost friends. None will applaud her
for caring. Famished foxes on the loose
may catch him, or the elements may get him.
Yet watch him sidestep when she tries to pet him.



Lines 3-4 were tentatively

whose wings, like sickly straws, are of no use
(twisted from growing up on too much bread).




Daniel Kemper’s poem about a flock of geese and people got me thinking about this poem about a solitary goose.


The Goose With the Crooked Wing

I come to the city park and see him fed
by an old lady’s hand, a crippled goose,
a gander, whose great wings are of no use
(twisted from growing up on too much bread).

He’d watched his flock take to the sky, and heard
their honks grow fainter, fainter, this wild bird
now nibbling oats and seed from a trembling hand
which got him through last winter on the pond.

Their bond is clear as the glaze across the water,
solid as the icicles on the spruce.
They long for their lost friends. None will applaud her
for caring. Famished foxes on the loose
may catch him, or the elements may get him.
Yet watch him sidestep when she tries to pet him.


L1 and 2 were

I come to the city park and see him feed
from an old lady’s hand, this crippled goose,

Removed parentheses from L8.

Last line was

Yet look how he sidesteps when she tries to pet him.

L4 was: "(When young, he gorged on far too much stale bread.)"

Last edited by Martin Elster; 09-29-2018 at 07:44 PM.
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Old 09-19-2018, 05:30 AM
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Daniel Kemper Daniel Kemper is offline
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Hi Martin!

Is this your own, pulled from some time in the past or one that you came across and saved? I enjoy the moment that it expresses and have some objections, but most of those I think I should leave aside as gustatorum, if I've abbreviated the Latin appropriately.

It gets at loneliness and longing pretty effectively. The parallels of goose and lady, the mutual struggles against the winter. The shared loneliness of being the only apparent living beings in a vast and very cold landscape. The objective correlative of winter with age. There's a pretty good amount to taste and savor in the moment reflected on here.

One matter that I think is not of taste is that when the poem comes to make a point, it's unproductively conflicted. For example, we have every right to think the goose can't fly because of age- the parallel with the old lady, implied length of time she's fed him, and direct mention of 'crippled', but the poem literally puts it down to him being too fat: having gorged on too much bread. I mean, the addition/diversion doesn't point up anything with its contrast; the point is just diluted. Perhaps at length one can connect the fact that he's fact to the idea that over time he didn't have to use his wings so they're atrophied, but that's really problematic. The ending is similarly diluted when we expect a conclusion, but get a tangent: that is, not a final word on bonding, but an aside about dodging foxes.

For all that bit of harrumphing, the poem still manages to convey the bond, the loneliness, and the foreboding pretty well.
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Old 09-19-2018, 10:02 AM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is online now
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Hi Daniel,

Many thanks for reading and commenting. I’m glad the loneliness, bonding, and winter bleakness are coming across.

This is about a crippled Canada goose I often saw last summer at the pond of my local park. There were actually 2 women that fed this bird, which could not fly. One lady fed him in the morning and the other in the afternoon. They gave him nutritious bird food, not white bread with its empty calories. They told me that some days the snow was too deep for them to walk to the pond, so on those days he probably didn’t eat anything. The first time I saw him was the summer of 2017.

I was amazed at the fact that he had survived without his flock for two winters. Among the many geese and other waterfowl at the park this summer, I have not seen him. But I did see a young goose with the same condition, but the deformity was in the left wing instead of the right (as in the older bird).

So I’m grateful that you mentioned the bread in L4. That tells me that the image was not clear enough. I was not implying that the goose is at all fat, but alluding to the condition called angel wing (also called crooked wing, as well as other names).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Angel_wing

Quote:
The theorized causes of angel wing are genetics, the excessive intake of carbohydrates and proteins, together with insufficient intake of vitamin E, low dietary calcium and manganese deficiency. Angel wing is occasionally observed in waterfowl residing near humans, (including domestic fowl), and the disease can sometimes be observed in areas where geese or ducks are excessively fed bread. Duck seed is an alternative for duck feeders.
So I made a tweak to L4 to make it clear that the wing (or wings) are crippled.

I get what you are saying about the last couplet going off on a bit of a tangent. That’s the main thing in the poem I was concerned with. I like it for implying that even with their close bond, the goose is still a wild bird, and can never be entirely tamed. But perhaps the last line is a little too waggish. I’ll wait to see what others feel before deciding what to do about the ending.

Thanks again, Daniel.

Martin

PS - I forgot to answer your first question. I wrote this last December (2017).

Last edited by Martin Elster; 09-20-2018 at 10:30 AM.
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Old 09-20-2018, 07:28 AM
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Jan Iwaszkiewicz Jan Iwaszkiewicz is offline
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I like this Martin,

the concluding lines are delightful in construct and content.

So many on watching this scene would adopt an anthropomorphic view and point out the ingratitude of the goose.

Jan
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Old 09-20-2018, 08:20 AM
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Daniel Kemper Daniel Kemper is offline
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What a belly flop I've done! Not knowing 'angel wing' certainly took a huge chunk out of the poem and really reversed meaning in key places.

Sidebar: I'd put my money on bread/grain being the issue. I've been around waterfowl most of my life-- but most has been backwoods or areas where not-feeding is enforced. I've never seen angel-wing.

Perhaps if the title within the post were:

The Goose with "Angel-wing".

It might give enough of a hint that a specific condition is referenced. Anyway, that's my best excuse and I'm sticking to it!
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Old 09-20-2018, 01:42 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is online now
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Thanks, Jan. Geese like that don’t live too long, since they can’t fly with the flock to find other sources of food. Some geese are residents, and don’t migrate south, but even so, they must at least fly to various locations in the region.

I’m glad the ending works for you. That’s good to hear. I definitely did not want to anthropomorphize the goose.

Daniel, thanks for coming back. I changed that line about the bread (L4). I hope it’s better. There is always a danger of wrecking an already good line for clarity’s sake.

Regarding the title: “The Goose with Angel Wing” could work. There are several others terms in use: airplane wing, slipped wing, crooked wing, and drooped wing. I chose “crooked wing” because it sounds like a disability, so thought the reader would catch on. But “angel wing” is perhaps the more common description. Or maybe I should include an epigraph or a footnote, but I’d rather not have to resort to one.

Speculating on the reasons birds get this syndrome, you may be right. I think bread is a big factor. I haven’t seen that particular Canada goose lately, as it’s probably dead. It survived for about 2 years I think. Now I’ve been seeing a young one which has the syndrome. All spring and part of the summer, someone had been putting piles of white bread on the grass beside the pond for the waterfowl. And now there is this young goose with a bad wing, so I think there is a possible correlation. Bread is really not a suitable food for geese and ducks, though they seem to enjoy it.

Here is a great little article I found about what to feed and what not to feed ducks and geese at the park.

http://power959.com/tips-for-feeding...e-at-the-park/
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Old 09-20-2018, 02:36 PM
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Rick Mullin Rick Mullin is offline
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Hi Martin,

I like this, but I don't like the "this" in lines two and six. "a" would be better. Or "the". When you use "this" or "that" it begs the question "which?" Full disclosure: It rolled with a "That" in my most recent, because sometimes it works.

feed/bread is a lot better than hand/pond as far as slants go. Though it is interesting how you find the internal rhyme for "pond," which seems the most stranded, in the next line with "bond" as you turn the voltaic corner.

I like the relationship you build between the woman and the bird, the volta is strong, and the end lends a nice visible twist.

RM
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Old 09-20-2018, 06:48 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Martin, I like the poem. You could get a perfect rhyme into line 1 if you wrote "I come to the city park and see him fed / by an old lady’s hand." I think the last line's rhythms are fine, but if you want to make them more regular, you could try something like "Yet watch him sidestep when she tries to pet him." I would advise against an exclamation mark at the end. I think understatement does the job equally well and doesn't seem to be nudging the reader insistently.

Susan
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Old 09-20-2018, 06:57 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is online now
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Thanks, Rick. I’m pleased you like the way I depicted the connection between the woman and the bird, the volta, and the ending. It’s good to know its working the way I had hoped.

Thanks also for mentioning the slant rhymes. I’m not sure why you think “heard/bird” sounds better than “hand/pond.” But I appreciate your pointing out the internal rhyme of “pond/bond” which links the octave to the sestet.

Regarding “a” or “the” versus “this” goose. I’m thinking maybe I’ll go with “a” for the first instance (L2) and keep “this” for L6, since we already know which goose it is. I have no doubt you know the rhetorical thing I was using in both those sentences. It’s called prolepsis. Just like what Larkin, Stevie Smith, Auden, and Wordsworth did in these sentences:

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.

Nobody heard him, the dead man,
But still he lay moaning;

About suffering they were never wrong,
The old masters: how well they understood ...


Earth has not anything to show more fair ...
and then mentions “This City.”

So most of these examples don’t use “this” except for the Wordsworth, who does. Is your poem with the word “that” posted here? If so, I’m curious how you used it.

Thanks again,
Martin
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Old 09-20-2018, 08:48 PM
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Rick Mullin Rick Mullin is offline
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heard/bird is obviously pretty good. It's feed/bread that I like better than hand/pond.
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