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Old 11-14-2018, 03:38 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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Default Still on one foot

R1

What’s left of summer slinks away; the cold
drags in on two left feet. It’s autumn again,
a year now since you left – unpaired me like
a shoe that’s left to kick against who was right

and who was left. It’s way past time to put
one foot before the other. But the left one
won’t budge: no bow, no exit-stage-left, just chafing
in place, its Gordian knot of gnawed laces left

uncut, its sole worn thin. Where’s left to limp
but dawn-trudged dreams in which you never left
that I cobble from scraps of summer’s leftover leather,
or waking to stumble one-footed through falling leaves.


S3L3: pacing -> chafing; hyphenated "exit stage left"
S4L1-4, repunctuated into a single sentence.
S4L4 shuffle one-footed -> "stumble one-footed"

----------------------

original

What’s left of summer slinks away; the cold
drags in on two left feet. It’s autumn again,
a year now since you left – unpaired me like
a shoe that’s left to kick against who was right

and who was left. It’s way past time to put
one foot before the other. But the left one
won’t budge: no bow, no exit stage left, just pacing
in place, its Gordian knot of gnawed laces left

uncut, its sole worn thin. Where’s left to limp?
These dawn-trudged dreams in which you never left
that I cobble from scraps of summer’s leftover leather?
Or waking to shuffle one-footed through falling leaves?

Last edited by Matt Q; 11-20-2018 at 07:00 PM.
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  #2  
Old 11-15-2018, 12:28 PM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Hey, Matt!

I like the overall idea of this, with the wordplay on shoes and right and left, but am not sure I understand what's actually going on. Which makes it hard to suggest anything specific.

There are a lot of foot and leg expressions that could be incorporated into this--so many, in fact, that I suspect you have a reason for not doing so, and instead staying focused on shoes. "Without a leg to stand on," "one foot in the grave," "knocked on my heels," "caught flat-footed," etc. I do realize that including too many of these would connote a levity that you clearly don't want, though.

I feel as if I'm missing something important in the current title. Perhaps it's a play on an expression that's unfamiliar to me. "Widdershins" might be an option suitable for the right/left/anatomical theme and the unsettled mood.

I hope my ramblings give you some helpful ideas.
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  #3  
Old 11-15-2018, 01:21 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Matt, I too find it hard to wrap my mind around the image of one foot pacing or shuffling. Surely, all it literally could do would be to hop. I could picture someone trying to drag the useless leg along or limping, but I think you are implying that the foot doesn't really want to go anywhere and is resisting forward movement. I like the patterns of "left" and "right" that you use throughout (I was also reminded of the British term "wrong-footed" as I read this). And of course you are playing on "being left behind" but also "left" has connotations of being sinister (Latin) or wrong. I liked the image of the Gordian knot that can't be untied but can be cut through (or chewed, in this case, which implies a desperate desire to get away).

Susan
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Old 11-15-2018, 01:56 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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x
Some thoughts:
  • The N is the “left” one.
  • It’s a babushka doll of a poem; a multi-headed metaphor; an abundance of cunning punning; until the shoe drops at the end and it all comes through. Almost (see below).
  • I wonder if “slinks” is the right word in L1. I thought maybe “limp” could be a better word and replace “limp” in L9 with “hobble" (it would work well with “cobble").
  • Such great word play throughout: "sole worn thin", "cobble", "no bow", "who was right and who was left".
  • "Pacing in place" is an odd image -- especially given that it's being done on one leg. I don’t know that it works. It feels like there is a pun hidden in there I haven’t found yet : )
  • Your descent into the final stanza is near-perfect but still feels like it can be said more clearly. think the N is speculating as to where to go from here, but the answers to the question are questions and they don’t make complete sense to me -- But I think you are very close to making a profound impression with those questions.
In my mind this is clearly about a relationship that has lost its footing. It’s beautifully metaphorically represented as two feet. It masks it’s sorrow in coy word play but it is evident from the first line that this is an aching poem. The final stanza, if you get it right, could be a tour de force of an ending.

Another keeper.
x

Last edited by Jim Moonan; 11-15-2018 at 06:43 PM.
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Old 11-15-2018, 08:12 PM
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Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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Breaking up is often hard to do, and is usually hardest on the breakee. It can be very hard there, especially if the breaker is nearby to monitor what’s happening. No fun either way. I like this poem. One of its major problems for me would solved by using “crutch” as a verb in place of “shuffle” at the end.

Last edited by Allen Tice; 11-15-2018 at 08:15 PM.
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Old 11-16-2018, 12:40 AM
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R. S. Gwynn R. S. Gwynn is offline
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I'll be blunt: using autumn leaves as a reminder and thus a symbol of a dead relationship is not very fresh. The use of the shoes as a metaphor has some possibility, but this is like a poem directed by Douglas Sirk.

https://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/fran...umnleaves.html
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Old 11-16-2018, 11:05 AM
Cara Valle Cara Valle is offline
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Matt,

I love this. It's both sincere and clever, yet not annoyingly so.

I have a few metrical issues in places. Some lines, especially S2L4, seem to to have 6 feet, others just a few too many syllables to make it through without re-reading for meter. Here are a few suggestions for smoothing out some of them:

Whatís left of summer slinks away; the cold
drags in on two left feet. Itís autumn again,
a year now since you left Ė unpaired me like
a shoe thatís left to kick at who was right

and who was left. Itís way past time to put
one foot before the other. But the left one
wonít budge: no bow, no exit stage left, stumped
in place, its gnawed Gordian laces laces left

uncut, its sole worn thin. Whereís left to limp?
These dawn-trudged dreams in which you never left
that I cobble from scraps of summerís leftover leather?
Or waking to crutch one-footed through dead leaves?

Hope some of these help,

Cara
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Old 11-16-2018, 02:24 PM
Erik Olson Erik Olson is offline
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Matt,

As true wit* generally consists in the resemblance and congruity of ideas, artificial wit has long been regarded as consisting in the resemblance of words, sometimes of single letters, as in anagrams, lipograms, and acrostics, sometimes of syllables, as in echoes and doggerel rhymes, and, of course, the inglorious pun. I am not as opposed to puns as Ambrose Bierce, who called them the ‘form of wit to which wise men stoop and fools aspire.’ But I do reckon that wit consisting in the similitude of words tend to fare best and better fit playful and lighthearted compositions to more serious ones; of course, exceptions may be found to every rule, yet I fear disembodied shoes prove hard to take too seriously. Further, the expressions with shoes, however cleverly assembled, afforded no sense of distinct personalities or circumstances, no vivifying details; on the contrary, they connoted some vague notions relating to a faceless couple and their break up in the abstract: the phenomenon of one leaving behind the other. Because left. And, if I had to guess, maybe something appertaining to an argument. Because right. As such, for my part, this one succeeds most as diverting and clever wordplay, which is nothing if not amusing.

For some specific things: Of course, I understand ‘put one foot before the other’ but I am not sure I fully do ‘a shoe that’s left to kick against who was right /and who was left.’ So one half of this former couple was correct (right), but how, in what respect? I take it the other half was left behind (ba dum tsht). I am at a loss as to why the shoe should rather than exit the stage be ‘in place, its Gordian knot of gnawed laces left.’ This is a weird metaphor. I cannot envision what in the real world, what with the actual persons, could correspond to a shoe disembodied floating in abstraction. It was playful and fun to read the puns but I did not feel that they well captured the devastation.


Best,

Erik

* The definition of wit which I have subsumed here would be the best I have encountered given by John Locke, from where he accounts the difference between wit and judgment. To explain why both are not always found in the same person, he says:
And hence perhaps may be given some reason of that common observation—that men who have a great deal of wit, and prompt memories, have not always the clearest judgment or deepest reason. For wit lying most in the assemblage of ideas, and putting those together with quickness and variety, wherein can be found any resemblance or congruity, thereby to make up pleasant pictures and agreeable visions in the fancy; judgment, on the contrary, lies quite on the other side, in separating carefully, one from another, ideas wherein can be found the least difference, thereby to avoid being misled by similitude, and by affinity to take one thing for another. This is a way of proceeding quite contrary to metaphor and allusion; wherein for the most part lies that entertainment and pleasantry of wit, which strikes so lively on the fancy, and therefore is so acceptable to all people. (An Essay Concerning Human Understanding)

Last edited by Erik Olson; 11-16-2018 at 06:37 PM.
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Old 11-16-2018, 03:30 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is online now
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Matt, this is indeed clever. I think, in revision, you might more vividly depict the movements of the lone left shoe. "pacing" and "limp" troubled me, and "shuffle" has troubled me and others.

Maybe, "hopping" "or "hop" for "pacing" or "limp"

no bow, no exit stage left, just hopping
in place, its Gordian knot of gnawed laces left

uncut, its sole worn thin.

Or

Whereís left to hop?

Best,

Aaron
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Old 11-17-2018, 09:10 AM
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Daniel Kemper Daniel Kemper is offline
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Hello! Nice conceit!

Here are some random suggestions for a very good piece of work.
For L2/L3 consider. ...Autumn again./A year now since you left. (No 'it's.)
For L4 consider "kick at" instead of "kick against" --takes out an extraneous half-foot.
**I love "the who was right/and who was left" ten different ways. **
For L6 consider "the next" instead of "the other"
For L7, do I hear Snaglepuss? "Exit, stage left..."
For L7, I'm not sure "exit stage left" can be rescued into iambs, and it's critical in an unrhymed piece, imo, to maintain as much precision as is possible. Perhaps insert "or even" -? ("just pacing" isn't a critical phrasing).
For L7, consider, "won't budge: no bow and no exit stage left"
For L8, consider, "Just a Gordian knot" (drop the in place).
The imagery in the last two lines is great. The meter-- the jury's out.
Not scanning the whole line. I like how the last line shuffles, slides, limps. I might violate the meter even more to accentuate.

that I cobble from scraps of summerís leftover leather?
Or waking to shuffle [ONE-FOOTed THROUGH FALLing] leaves?

Food for thought (obviously a little bit "filler-ish", but just to illustrate:
--> Or STILL WAKing, HARD-SHUFFling ONE-FOOTed THROUGH FALLing BROWN LEAVES.

Hope something here is catalytic if not instructive. Despite the length of comment this one is really, really nice. Great conceits are hard to come by, any of the rest you want to massage is just a matter of time.
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