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  #1  
Unread 01-26-2021, 05:07 PM
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RCL RCL is offline
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Default Vital Heat

Vital Heat

A hearth’s a house’s heart.
Four walls, a second skin,
hold vital heat within
as flesh does for our heart.

Linking hearth and sun:

A chimney, like our mouth,
vents heat, the house’s breath—
its fuel, distilled as ash,
lights as a phoenix flash,

recycling heat of heart and hearth.



Last Line was: flue heating heart and hearth.
Last Line: heating for fires
S1L4: "does for" replaces "protects"
Another last line
Last Line: lights for ignites
Last two lines were:
fuel residue in a flash
are scoriae, phoenix ash.
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Last edited by RCL; 02-02-2021 at 01:19 PM. Reason: moved last line to between Stanza; omitted anus; added single line (restored); sky for heaven; L4 fix of identity rhyme
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Unread 01-26-2021, 05:47 PM
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Daniel Kemper Daniel Kemper is offline
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I really like the tight, Dickensonian (sp?) structure and control of the first stanza.

And the mischievous ending. O no you dit-ent!

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Unread 01-27-2021, 10:06 PM
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Default Eggs are Everything

Thanks, Daniel.

Somewhere, Emerson says nature is Godís scoriae. Iím pretty sure itís in his Journals and Notebooks, but my copies are in storage.

Little by little an egg gains its legs! As a long-retired scholar of Emersonís proverbial rhetoric, I love the proverb you translated.
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Unread 01-28-2021, 04:19 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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Hi Ralph,

I'm not entirely getting this. A house is being likened to a body: the hearth is the heart, the walls hold in the heart, the chimney is the mouth. I'm with you so far. But what the anus maps onto, I don't know. It seems like it should be something connected to hearth and chimney. Maybe I'm just being a bit dense here.

Other than that, I wondered if there was a way to avoid the identity rhyme in S1?

best,

Matt
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Unread 01-28-2021, 10:45 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Ralph, this is fun.

Vital Heat

A hearthís a houseís heart.
The walls, a second skin,
hold vital heat within
as skin does for our heart.

A chimney, like our mouth,
vents heat, the houseís breath--
as anus in a flash
vents scoriae, phoenix ash.

Hmn. I am uncomfortable with "within" being used absolutely. Maybe rhyme "hide" and "inside"?

Whoa, that ending--the chimney is a cloaca.
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Unread 01-28-2021, 01:22 PM
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Matt, sorry for the flow interruptus! Humans are like annelids and cloacas (as Aaron notes) in the sense that it’s food fuel in (mouth), residue out (anus). In a hearth, fuel creates smoke as in us food sustains breath. Something like that. So for the analogy an anus seemed apt. Thanks for alerting me that it’s unclear.

Aaron, I appreciate your suggestions. With a hide/inside rhyme the heart analogy could be missed. “Anus” might be too distracting. I may let “scoriae” carry that weight.
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Last edited by RCL; 01-28-2021 at 04:23 PM.
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Unread 01-28-2021, 03:19 PM
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Jane Crowson Jane Crowson is online now
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Hello RCL,

I like your revision. I did find anus distracting - I kept looking for scatalogical jokes. And I thought mainly of Cloaca.

Now anus is gone, the poem is more interesting and, for me, more contemporary and exciting. We’re in complete lockdown in the UK, so the home-as-dwelling and dwelling-as-poetry and poetry-as-maker-of-space is getting interesting & wholly relevant.

The sounds and rhythm in S1 work beautifully, although I'm not expert enough to totally unpick how. It’s iambic trimeter (I think?). But within this you’ve got some very subtle assonance and alliterations which build the sensory image of a closed, safe, human space. I also read how the regularity of the iambs echo a heartbeat.

I read S1 as a complete poem, to be honest (that probably isn’t very helpful).

S2 works, but is more word-play, more self-consciously clever, in my reading. For me, it holds less of a sense of the personal and safe, and instead takes the central metaphor and pushes this forwards, perhaps at the expense of a certain human connection with house-as-human in S1.

Having said that, the way you move the patterns and sounds forward to echo the movement of the chimney works beautifully. I also love the ending on ‘phoenix ash’, and the ashy sounds of ‘scoriae’ (another new word - thank-you).

I guess I wonder what it means - S2. Metaphorically, what is it saying about the safe space. That it is dust, ready to be expelled? That we’re all in a giant cloaca machine? That our safe spaces are transient, ready to be lost in smoke? I think the last reading would cohere, but it doesn’t work with ‘phoenix’, so I’m left wondering (which might be your intention).

So, I suspect I’m saying that I really, really, really like S1 for a whole range of reasons that I can articulate, and I like S2, but I’m not sure how well the reading of the two bring me to a sense of metaphorical understanding.

Sarah-Jane
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Unread 01-28-2021, 03:39 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is online now
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Hi Ralph,

What I like most about this poem is the alliteration, which thereís plenty of in such a short poem. What Iím not entirely sure about is what the overall gist of it is. I guess itís S2 that is the one thatís the slightly cryptic stanza.

By the way, 
Sarah-Jane, I was flabbergasted when I saw your link to the Cloaca art piece. And he also has done art featuring real live pigs! I thought they looked very cute, though tattooing must of been painful for them.

Martin
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Unread 01-28-2021, 03:43 PM
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S.R. Little Stone S.R. Little Stone is offline
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Hey RCL,

This is an interesting little poem. To me, it feels like a riddle that's wearing its answer on its sleeve. I really like the perception that is shown in S1L2-5, "The walls, a second skin, / hold vital heat within / as skin does for our heart." In some ways, it doesn't feel totally accurate though, as the skin might be more analogous to the siding on a house, where the muscle/flesh may be more like the walls of a house.

I prefer this poem with the omission of the "anus" image. I still have a little trouble with the last two lines though. To me it seems like "scoriae" would be more of a byproduct, whereas the "fuel in a flash" is a process. It would make more sense to me as "the refuse of its flash" or something like that.

Don't know if you've written riddles before, but they can be a lot of fun to write and in some ways easier to write than solve, since you start with the answer and work backwards from there. Here's an example of one of my favorite riddles (written in medieval times, I believe):


In marble walls as white as milk,
Lined with a skin as soft as silk,
Within a fountain crystal clear,
A golden apple doth appear;
No doors there are to this stronghold,
Yet thieves break in and steal the gold.

-Anonymous
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Unread 01-28-2021, 04:32 PM
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Thanks for the close attention, Jane. I’m leaning toward S1 as a stand-alone, but I’d like to tinker more to link the two S’s better than they are. Yes, as you suggest, a constant cycle of breath-death-renewal of our “bone house” From bān (“bone”) + hūs (“house”) in Old English. Later: and thanks for that amazing link.

Martin, good ear! Almost too much alliterating, perhaps, toned down a bit by subbing flesh for skin. Yes, S2 is a touch cryptic (helps darken “light” versifying!).

Little Stone, thanks for reading. I went back and forth with flesh/skin and probably liked the skin echo; but I now think “flesh” is better. Fuel in a flash is meant to suggest that when fuel is completely burned it instantly becomes ash, which begins a new life cycle (like the phoenix, falling, dying, resurrecting?). As with our repetitive breathing? Pause it long enough and we’re dead!

Fascinating riddle for which I have no solution at the moment.
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Last edited by RCL; 01-28-2021 at 04:37 PM.
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