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  #1  
Unread 04-12-2024, 06:36 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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My life among the trash


Once, among the mountains

or at least among such mountains as there were

in the seaside town I had stitched together

from a clustering of chalk hills

and Victorian houses and the amusement arcades

that swathed themselves in the mist that crept in from the sea

I transformed into a fox



at this time I had already taken on

several of the characteristics of a fox

becoming active only when the light began to fade

from the sky that whispered to itself above my burrow

and emerging to forage among the dustbins

of the internet and also this long red tail

that I had cultivated



and by mountains I mean the towering backs

of the houses that obscured the view

of the sky my window might otherwise

have yielded as I peered out

at the peeling roofs of the garages

where foxes sometimes sunned themselves

in the last rays of dusk and the first rays of dawn

.

Last edited by Matt Q; 04-20-2024 at 01:54 PM. Reason: Fixed typo. Thanks Jim!
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  #2  
Unread 04-13-2024, 08:00 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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The entirety of the poem lies ensconced in a metaphor I should be familiar with and am to a degree ó but you always find ways of re-inventing it. The view I've come to recognize is there of the closely tucked-in buildings that take on the guise of mountains, and nature takes shape from the inanimate objects that inhabit the N's view from a high window. The view is crowded with strangeness. It all feels like a revisitation to me, which is a wonderful thing about your poetry. It has its own world. There is no punctuation to hold my hand (except for a lone comma that slows me one syllable in) as I traverse the landscape. There are no humans present to mar it ó save the part-fox N who speaks the poem.

Should "chalks" be "chalk"?

I mistakenly thought the sea mist that swathed the town had actually swirled itself into a ghostly fox. I think that my misreading it like that is an amazing result of both the line breaks and the absence of punctuation. It allowed me to see something more. My imagination at work, not yours : )

I like the sonics of a whispering sky but wonder what exactly that sounds like and also what it whispers to itself. It's the only sound I hear in the poem.

I thought maybe it might be more cohesive as a solid block of lines, but have found that the spacing (double-spaced?) and the separation into stanzas helps to convey the N's shifting focus.

As I almost always derive from your poems, there is an almost-peacefulness to the voice that is speaking and an honesty to it that gives me strange consolation. There is always something left unsaid but some things are better left that way. It feels good to be back in this town by the sea. Where are the gulls, I wonder?

The centrality of the fox(es) in the poem is what gives it such lift. The N sees himself as a fox, living a nocturnal life, solitary, stealthy, wary, living on the edges of dusk and dawn. I equated the "long red tail" with the N's long hair. I don't know why, but it works for me. I like how effortlessly you twine reality and surreality.

The last two lines bring things to a drifting, beautiful close that doesn't so much end as it feels like a trailing off of a vision in progress, as if to imply "to be continued", which works for me. For some reason I see the last stanza as being present tense even though you don't make that shift. I think of it as being:


and by mountains I mean the towering backs

of the houses that obscure the view

of the sky my window might otherwise

yield as I peer out

at the peeling roofs of the garages

where foxes sometimes sun themselves

in the last rays of dusk and the first rays of dawn



I don't know why except to say that it adds mystique.


.
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  #3  
Unread 04-13-2024, 11:59 AM
David Callin David Callin is offline
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I like it a lot, Matt. The red tail is a bit of a head-scratcher. I'm not sure Jim's interpretation of it is right. I'm expecting it to be something more specific to your life and circumstances, but I may be wrong.

The phrasing is great, and I like the pace of it too.

Happily looking forward to realising I've read it in completely the wrong way.

Cheers

David
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  #4  
Unread 04-13-2024, 02:32 PM
Carl Copeland Carl Copeland is online now
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Leave it to Jim to say everything Iíd have said if I were as eloquent and as familiar as he is with the poetís work. I like the spell of the poemís alternative universe, and the absence of punctuation gives it a flow I like enough that Iím frustrated by the invisible full stop at the end of S1. Would you consider starting S2 with something like ďby which timeĒ to make the whole poem a single run-on sentence? I guess I know what the lone comma is doing, but itís a little like Markerís blinking eye.
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  #5  
Unread 04-13-2024, 07:28 PM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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Matt, I've used the fox, and wildcats, in my poems, maybe too much. What I like about a fox is how it brings mysteriousness, coyness, and night. You've used those traits so well here. Moving on, when the reader realizes it's a fantasy built by a guy who spends too much time online, or is he playing a game,? the fox becomes more sly. Who doesn't love a sly fox?

At the end, when the mountains become the backs of towering houses and the foxes are sunning themselves on the top of "the peeling roofs of the garages" the poem is both funny and sad. I like the humor but am sad for the narrator who has the humor. To over-extend my metaphor, you have slyly slipped in a moving poem about loneliness.

I know my reading may not be what you intended but it doesn't matter. If it can create more readings that means it's even better.

One tiny quiver--at the beginning of S2 why not

"by this time I had already taken on" instead of "at this time?" "By this time" indicates continuity, an ongoing process.

Great one, Matt. Congrats.
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  #6  
Unread 04-14-2024, 10:40 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Riley View Post
At the end, when the mountains become the backs of towering houses and the foxes are sunning themselves on the top of "the peeling roofs of the garages" the poem is both funny and sad. I like the humor but am sad for the narrator who has the humor. To over-extend my metaphor, you have slyly slipped in a moving poem about loneliness.
Yes I see that, too. Nothing melodramatic. Both humor and sadness/loneliness naturally bleed together but do not overtake the poem's well-painted metaphor. In the end, it's a tale (maybe a long red one? Ha~!)

.
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  #7  
Unread 04-20-2024, 04:15 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Jim, David, Carl and John,

Many thanks for your thoughts on this. I'm pleased you liked the poem.

Jim,

Yes, this is theme I've visited before, quite a few times, in different guises. You flag up a couple of things I'd also thought about and had played with. Should the sky be doing something other than whispering? I dunno. I guess I was thinking in part of the wind (there's a fair bit of that by the sea), and that the sky was whispering to itself and not to him, in line with his aloneness. And should the last stanza in present tense? I had tried the present, but somehow I'm happier with the past. I like that you think of him still there, though, despite the past tense -- this narrator may not be wholly reliable. So, I've left both as they are for now, though I may yet change my mind.

Carl

I hadn't thought of making the poem a single sentence. For me, there's something of a finality to "I transformed into a fox" that seems to want the sentence to stop there. I had actually envisioned each stanza as self-contained, as a separate sentence -- maybe that would be clearer if punctuated, at least to the extent of giving each stanza a capital letter and full stop at the end. Or I could lose the initial "And" from S3, I guess. I've tried to thinking a good way to connect S1 to S2 to make the poem a single sentence, but have yet to find one I like, though you've given me something to ponder.

David

Sometimes a long red tail is just a long red tail

John,

Thanks for your reading of this. I'm pleased with what's come across.BANNED POSTI do see what you mean about "by that time", though I don't know if I necessarily want to clearly imply a progression or a causal connection between taking on several characteristics and transforming, or to spell it out (though I guess maybe the poem does that anyway). I'll keep thinking on it, though. I'm often slow to recognise a good edit.


Thanks again, all.


Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 04-20-2024 at 04:18 PM.
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