Eratosphere Forums - Metrical Poetry, Free Verse, Fiction, Art, Critique, Discussions Able Muse - a review of poetry, prose and art

Forum Left Top

Notices

Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Unread 01-27-2021, 04:50 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
Member
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: England, UK
Posts: 3,910
Default swum

Swimming, not-swimming

Surfing in the shallows of the mind-stream,
I’m taken further out by an undertow
to where there’s a brownish tinge to the water

and beneath me I feel that sort of seaweed
with long frilly tendrils that likes to slime up
around your legs. The air is trying on the accent

of something that has decayed anaerobically,
and that floppiness brushing my shoulder
is at best a dead jellyfish, but is more likely

a condom. To my right, a plastic bottle pops up
to the surface, then to my left, another,
and they keep on popping, all these bottles,

one after another, as all the while I recall
how they choke the marine life and refuse
to biodegrade and then just hang around

in the sea for eternity. But it’s OK, I think,
there’ll be a wave along any minute to ride back
to the beach to where my sunbed and my towel

are waiting for me. But the sea is flat and listless,
and the shore is nowhere, and fog is rolling in,
and the world is a shabby place and always will be.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Unread 01-27-2021, 05:02 PM
Andrew Mandelbaum's Avatar
Andrew Mandelbaum Andrew Mandelbaum is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Portland Maine
Posts: 3,609
Default

That line about the air trying on the accent of something that decayed anaerobically is quite good as is a fir amount of the writing in general. This is prolly way out of line but I see stuff like this from time to time and I never "know" the poet well enought ask. What is this sort of despair without caveat doing for you as a poet? Does it release the charge of the sadness to go with it without resistance like this? Maybe it is my mistake that thinks of poems like spells that causes we to object to this sort of thing but I think you are a smart, articulate, and generally good fellow so I thought you might help me see what work this can do besides dampen the spirit. With respect.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Unread 01-27-2021, 10:23 PM
RCL's Avatar
RCL RCL is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 5,751
Default

Good writing throughout, as usual, but I too would like to feel some pressure, anger or other conflict that's implicit but then undercut by the final statement. I do agree generally with the terrible mess you describe.
__________________
Ralph
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Unread 01-28-2021, 06:19 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
Member
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: England, UK
Posts: 3,910
Default

Andrew and Ralph,

Thanks for commenting. I'd be very interested to know how you are reading this poem. It could be that it's not coming across as I intend.

Thanks,

Matt
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Unread 01-28-2021, 06:58 AM
Andrew Mandelbaum's Avatar
Andrew Mandelbaum Andrew Mandelbaum is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
Location: Portland Maine
Posts: 3,609
Default

I read as a painting a picture of the narrator's stream (tide) of consciousness as being like a sea overrun with pullutions of various sorts. I suppose it captures depression along with depression's claim to ultimate staying power.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Unread 01-30-2021, 09:06 AM
Jane Crowson's Avatar
Jane Crowson Jane Crowson is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: UK
Posts: 204
Default

Hi Matt,

This is well-written, and I really like the central idea of the narrator floating/suspended/marooned. I read the poem as an exploration of helplessness (personal and social). I think, though, that it shares a landscape that is so irredeemably miserable and so narrator-centric that it might need a bit more work to fulfil its potential.

Where it works best for me is the hint of wry humour in the jellyfish/condom, and the descriptions - the description of the seaweed is visual and tactile, the sonics echoing the tangled sliminess. I enjoy the ‘slime up.

The end, too, which sums up the world not even as heroically grim or unpleasant in some way but the more prosaic ‘shabby’ (with its dual meanings) works well, although the poem does read to me as not-quite finished.

I guess I would consider thinking about what else you might bring in to explore the point of the shabby world a little more.

I’m not suggesting you should bring a lighthouse into this, but if you did, the addition to the landscape might add a sense of possible redemption - the lighthouse as a one-time beacon of hope/preservation - that you could then gently puncture - the lighthouse that is now a hotel, reserved for rich bottle-throwers, or something. The addition would add a bit of drama/story/tension for a reader and then offer a reason for the shabby world (capitalism, neoliberalism etc).

That’s just an example though. At the moment, for me, it is a little one-dimensional - a very well written exploration of personal misery. It is sad because it is sad. There is no hope or reception for landscape or narrator - that is part of the misery.

I’m aware that I’m echoing some of the thoughts from another critique of a different poem of yours (on a different board). But I thought those thoughts were very apt, and can equally be applied here, to this poem. Having now read the thread here too, I think I'm also agreeing with RCL and Andrew, just with more words.

Even the introduction of a tiny bit of phosphorescence or a water-beetle (I don’t think that they live in the ocean though) would just add another dimension to this. That may not be your intention (you quite possibly want to just evoke a feeling of hopeless misery) but it might make the poem a stronger poem.

Sarah-Jane
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Unread 01-30-2021, 10:48 AM
Bill Carpenter Bill Carpenter is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Minneapolis
Posts: 2,350
Default

I will follow on after Andrew. This is witty, well-executed, and poignant, acting like a Homeric simile in bringing to life the comparison to the point that it overshadows the thing it is being compared to. The poem partakes of the miraculous, the miracles of thought, self-consciousness, language, the art of verse, the ocean, decomposing sea life, the spectacle of human profligacy, and yet in the end "the world is a shabby place and always will be." Is that just a bad joke? A paradox akin to Mallarmé's "hilarité et horreur"? A muffled justification for continuing in a line of work that has almost completely burned you out? Pardon me for being ignorantly provocative, but with Andrew I would like to hear what you are doing with this.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Unread 01-30-2021, 11:15 AM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: New York
Posts: 15,233
Default

I think this is very good. It strikes me as a dream of sorts and doesn't require (for me) an explanation or a more explicit subtext to explain the emotion. Haven't we all sometimes felt this way?
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Unread 01-30-2021, 11:27 AM
Bill Carpenter Bill Carpenter is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Minneapolis
Posts: 2,350
Default

Good enough, Roger.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Unread 01-31-2021, 08:17 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
Member
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: England, UK
Posts: 3,910
Default

Thanks Andrew, Ralph, Sarah, Bill and Roger

Since you're all largely addressing the same issues, I thought it'd be easier to reply collectively.

I guess I intend the poem largely as Andrew read it, though I don't know if depression necessarily needs to be involved here -- but perhaps it does.

I'm trying to capture a process whereby one's thoughts/memories drift into darker waters, followed by the recognition that this is happening (before you fully buy into them, and with the belief/hope that everything is still OK, that it will soon pass and that you can get back to lighter thoughts), and then the moment of when one fully believes one's negative thoughts, arriving at a view of the world, oneself, one's situation that seems permanent and true, even though it's a state that passes.

I don't intend the reader to believe the last line in the way the N does, or to see it as a permanent state for the N, even though the N temporarily does. I had imagined the reader reading this with an element of recognition, and with the knowledge that it passes: pretty much as Roger read it.

Still, I can see that it's not working for everyone as is.

Should I add hope to the poem? I'm resistant to the idea: I'm writing about despair -- the absence of hope. It's not obvious to me how to add in hope and still be writing about despair. I don't think the poem works if the N has some hope.

Maybe there's a way to add hope to the poem so that the reader sees it and still show the narrator not having any? That seems challenging though; he'd have to be narrating it without realising what it was. For example, if I add in something like phosphoresce, as Sarah suggests, the N will have to have a reason for mentioning it without realising what that it signifies a glimmering of light in the darkness.

Or maybe there's a way to show that it will pass, somehow? Perhaps showing that it's happened before would do that? A sort of "here I am again" vibe?

Thanks again everyone

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 01-31-2021 at 08:55 AM.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



Forum Right Top
Forum Left Bottom Forum Right Bottom
 
Right Left
Member Login
Forgot password?
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Statistics:
Forum Members: 8,140
Total Threads: 20,315
Total Posts: 258,104
There are 178 users
currently browsing forums.
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Sponsor:
Donate & Support Able Muse / Eratosphere
Forum LeftForum Right
Right Right
Right Bottom Left Right Bottom Right

Hosted by ApplauZ Online