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Old 09-14-2018, 04:45 PM
Daniel Kemper's Avatar
Daniel Kemper Daniel Kemper is offline
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Default [Plaintive]

The geese are gathering themselves and calling out.
How all their plaintive honking duplicates
my mind! These afternoon thoughts flail, lift, call, pause, doubt.
And all time stops, although the sound abates.
Perhaps all time is only stopping, not yet stopped.
The trail around the lake is speckled now
with walkers, all who for the moment merely opt
to stand. The geese call out again but now
the walkers turn, their shadows stretched and straining toward
one end, their eyesight stretched and straining for
the geese, the sun perhaps. It is a different now,
a dying sound; and then with one accord,
confused, they strain for one another once they're sure
the cries are gone. Then time restarts, but how?
The night accepts the shadows of those holy birds
I have no more words.



Edit: clipped out a blundered extra syllable in L2.
Edit: didn't realize word processor made substitutes that killed my parallelism: stretched and straining.

Last edited by Daniel Kemper; Yesterday at 04:54 PM. Reason: Replace: "How every plaintive notion duplicates/their sound" with "How all their plaintive honking duplicates / my mind."
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Old 09-15-2018, 02:21 AM
Curtis Gale Weeks Curtis Gale Weeks is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Daniel Kemper View Post
The geese are gathering themselves and calling out.
How every plaintive notion duplicates
their sound! These afternoon thoughts flail, lift, call, turn, pause, doubt.
And all time stops, although the sound abates.
Perhaps all time is only stopping, not yet stopped.
The trail around the lake is speckled now
with walkers, all who for the moment merely opt
to stand. The geese call out again but now
the walkers turn, their shadows stretched and stretching toward
one end, their eyesight strained and straining for
the geese, the sun perhaps. It is a different now,
a dying sound; and then with one accord,
confused, they strain for one another once they're sure
the cries are gone. Then time restarts, but how?
The night accepts the shadows of those holy birds
I have no more words.
I'm sorry, for me this is very tortured.

L1: fine, I think

How every plaintive notion duplicates/their sound!

I really can't parse this. I can understand how their cries may duplicate some abstract plaintive notions, maybe, but not how every plaintive notion is somehow duplicating their sound. On first read, I could write this confusion off for a bit just to see if what is coming later will send my mind into a direction I'd never expected to go—but that doesn't happen.

These afternoon thoughts flail, lift, call, turn, pause, doubt.

At this point, I'm wondering whether the N. is referencing his own thoughts—were those notions in L2 his?—or does afternoon thoughts stand in for the sounds (and notions??) the geese are making?

And all time stops, although the sound abates.

This seems to presuppose a prior introduction of the ability of that sound to have stopped time, although no such thing was introduced, or...Argh. Don't know. It's straining.

Perhaps all time is only stopping, not yet stopped.

The prior line didn't make much good sense, so this contradiction in the thought doesn't carry much weight and sticks out as some ad hoc, unnecessary thing meant to introduce doubt in the N. In any case, it seems to break the flow of whatever is being said: an interjection that isn't needed.

The trail around the lake is speckled now/with walkers, all who for the moment merely opt/to stand.

I'm not fond of the passive voice of "is speckled now/with walkers." But worse, the N. now is suddenly omniscient and able to see into the minds of those walkers well enough to know that they "opt" to stand. Merely.

For a long stretch, beginning with this and through L14, I'm wondering if those walkers are meant to be other geese who haven't yet taken to the sky. Time has stopped/is stopping...so, maybe? But my initial impulse was to read "walkers" as human walkers. It's a bit ambiguous, as if the geese in flight in that moment are geese and those on the ground are still walkers. L1's "gathering themselves" adds to this image. Although, I think you meant human walkers who are straining to see the origin of those sounds.

Basically, the picture isn't being painted clearly, the moment isn't being evoked well, in the syntax.

the sun perhaps

The "perhaps" is equivocating, which also sticks a knife in the heart of whatever image the N. is trying to communicate.

Then time restarts, but how?

I thought it was only stopping, not stopped, heh. Of course, I know what is meant, but still...

The night accepts the shadows of those holy birds

A leap in time. And the holiness hasn't been earned; it's the N. writing large over the whole thing.

I have no more words.

Something to reinforce that N.'s use of "holy," but not really meaningful for me.

___________

A couple nut-shell issues:

I think that perhaps the demands of form, meter and rhyme, led to this tortured delivery. I don't know; this is a suspicion I have.

I think there's some confusion about what the focus should be. Is it those geese, and the significance of those geese? Is it the N's internal experience of things, the N's feelings and awe?

In the case of the former, the image of what's happening is far too confused.

In the case of the latter—well, that, too, hasn't been earned. What's the significance of those geese for the N.? There is some heavy-handed work in the final two lines, and too much equivocation (and confused syntax) elsewhere.

Last edited by Curtis Gale Weeks; 09-15-2018 at 02:51 AM.
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Old 09-15-2018, 09:43 PM
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Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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Curtis, I’m usually easy to please. This isn’t so bad. Its shirt-tails are hanging out, and maybe one belt loop is missed, but for me that’s possibly some of its charm. I admit that a much more powerful and sleeker poem could be written. There are images that make me pause and puzzle, such as the walkers’ goggle-eyed straining. That needs cleaning up. On the whole, I still like its shambling wobble.
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Old 09-16-2018, 08:53 AM
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Daniel Kemper Daniel Kemper is offline
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Curtis, thank you for all the effort in tackling this and detailing your thoughts. It's not a small amount of time and energy you spent. I hope to clear a couple things up and fix a thing or two that I think derails the whole thing-- and with that fixing, the rest of what I'm doing should come clear really strongly, I think.

Allen, always a pleasure... btw, I might PM you a black hole preview...
***
Poetic form is ababcdcdefgefghh and hexameter alternated with pentameter. Line two is the culprit I believe because it seems to derail the whole train.

The cry of geese flying toward sunset produces a feeling in one's thoughts. The thoughts are duplicates of the cries of the geese. The syntax makes that almost read backwards {if you're not the one that wrote it }. I'll fix it. It should read something like "How every plaintive [call -] duplicates / my thoughts." Otherwise, this is a fairly simple poem.

The speaker is watching/hearing geese fly away and their calls sound as plaintive to him as his own feelings. Experiencing the moment, he feels like time has stopped, but it can't perfectly be stopped because the calls are fading. (Change is happening and if time were stopped the sounds would be also.) So maybe time is just slowing down, i.e. stopping. This = the moment coming into focus.

The parallel of time stopping with other final stops undergirds the poem as much as the final departure of the geese.

Other people walking around the lake have stopped walking and, in an solidarity/synchronicity with the speaker, stare and stop to take in that feeling of these crying geese vanishing into The Night. Their shadows stretch one way-- to melt into the darkness while their eyes stretch the other, straining for hope, even as the geese fade away, even as the sun itself disappears.

The birds disappear into The Night. The sun disappears into the night. The people's realize how they momentarily straddle that position between d/Day and n/Night.

Oh yeah, remember time itself... almost stopped...

*When two or more people watch an object as it disappears, the moment it disappears, they look toward each other. It's unconscious. It's profoundly strong.* It's for solace and hope...

-and suddenly everyone looks at each other. And time starts again. Get it?

The penultimate line leans toward solace, but not hope.

Cutting the final line off half-way, having it talk about the end, having it actually end at that point, and having the poem itself end at that point should stand by itself.
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Old 09-16-2018, 09:35 AM
Jason Ringler Jason Ringler is offline
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The mood is mournful, dying, yet continuing to live on, slowly "stretching" and "straining". Images of the geese and the park and the people walking on a trail circling a lake are well pictured. The current within this poem
I like but am confused with the line "And all time stops, although the sound abates". I know its leading into the next line. I get stuck on parts towards the end as well. I like the line "The night accepts..." without the "holy" part. If I can find anything else I'll send it your way.
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Old Yesterday, 11:11 AM
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Daniel Kemper Daniel Kemper is offline
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Hi Jason, welcome! Thanks for stopping by. As far as "holy", is it the common contemporary resistance to religious terminology? And/or perhaps would using the word "sacred" be an improvement? I'm trying to get at something superspecial about the moment.

["And all time stops, although the sound abates".] If time were stopped, sound couldn't happen. It's definitely an 'augmented reality' kind of p.o.v. if you will, or at least a romanticized one.
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Old Yesterday, 02:21 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
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Hi Daniel,

I took the liberty of tinkering with your poem. I hope you don’t mind. What I did (besides using synonyms for some of your words) was rewrite all the hex lines to make them pent. Also, I put rhymes in the last 8 lines to correspond with your initial ABAB rhyme scheme, and reformatted the whole into quatrains. Feel free to use whatever you want or disregard it entirely. Or it may spark other ideas in your mind.

The geese are congregating, calling out.
How all their plaintive honking duplicates
my mind, whose thoughts flail, lift, call, pause, and doubt.
And all time stops, although the sound abates.

Perhaps time’s only stopping, not yet stopped.
Now walkers, speckling the lake-side track,
all for the moment halt as they adopt
a pose that seems to say, “Come back, come back!”

They hear the geese again, their shadows stretched
toward one end, eyes straining for that flock
receding toward the sinking sun, wings etched
across the blue, until the faintest squawk

is gone. They strain for one another, fazed.
Then time restarts, but how? Those holy birds,
whose shadows wither with the night, have blazed
a moment, and have vanished with their words.
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Old Yesterday, 03:33 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hi Daniel,

It's moments like this that poetry is made for: consciousness and the external world of phenomena seeming to blur; time stops; things hover in a liminal space. I've read this several times wanting to like it, for it to suddenly click, but for me, this doesn't get to that place. Instead it spends too much time 'stretching and straining' its language to fit the length of the lines and the rhymes, and doesn't say very much. It's a haiku-moment stretched to 16 lines, with any crystalline clarity of vision lost amid verbiage.

'Duplicates / my mind' seems an oddly cold, almost sci-fi way to suggest the noise of the geese reflecting the N thoughts. It seems rhyme-driven (with 'abates'). As does 'opt' to rhyme with 'stopped'. In fact these lines

The trail around the lake is speckled now
with walkers, all who for the moment merely opt
to stand.


seem symptomatic of why the poem isn't working for me. You take twelve beats, two and a bit lines, to say 'the walkers by the lake are standing now'.

And the poetic questioning, the philosophising ('Perhaps all time is only stopping, not yet stopped.' 'Then time restarts, but how?') I find deathly dull. Not that I don't like a bit of this sort of thing, but here I feel no investment in the questioning because what should be a poem that brings the reader to that place, that bright moment of wonder, feels confused and muddy to me.

Edited in: I agree with Erik, below, that you have done better than this recently.

Last edited by Mark McDonnell; Today at 01:51 AM.
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Old Yesterday, 06:47 PM
Curtis Gale Weeks Curtis Gale Weeks is online now
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This is a somewhat clearer version, although many of my other early criticisms remain, and I agree with Mark re: the rhyming strain and verbiage.

I think with time I've been able to suss out the intent of the poem, and I believe a worthy nugget lies behind the verbiage and strain. So I'd suggest that you explore different potential rhymes and focus on each statement you are making to find the heart of what you are saying—and maybe concern yourself with the image you are presenting more so than the abstractions. I've spent an hour or so "revising" it along these lines, and it was a fun exploration. My revision doesn't belong in this thread, but I'll PM you a copy that might elucidate my own vision for what I think is the heart of your poem.
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Old Yesterday, 09:52 PM
Erik Olson Erik Olson is offline
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Daniel,

I confess that, though I fancy the diction well enough, this one has not won me over; I indeed took to your last two poems quite a bit more. Surely we have more than a few places with unnecessary words. For instance, one could easily say in three feet what took the first line six.
The geese are gathering themselves and calling out.
The gathering geese call out
How all their plaintive honking duplicates
my mind! These afternoon thoughts flail, lift, call, pause, doubt.
And all time stops, although the sound abates.
How their honking ‘duplicates’ your ‘mind’ is a bit odd and less than clear. There may indeed be potential in this connection of your mind and the sound of the geese, but it is simply stated without indicating how could this be. The how so of an analogy would need to be delved into more, if not more inherently intuitive, or otherwise made clearer before it would be convincing or more than nebulous to me.
Perhaps all time is only stopping, not yet stopped.
The trail around the lake is speckled now
with walkers, all who for the moment merely opt
Without a doubt, you could not convince me that one would opt to use ‘opt’ to convey the sense this does unless he were driven by rhyme. Nay, this could be easily mistaken for a textbook example of how not to rhyme.
to stand. The geese call out again but now
the walkers turn, their shadows stretched and straining toward
one end, their eyesight stretched and straining for
the geese, the sun perhaps. It is a different now,
The defect of the above passage is likewise elementary: Rather than tell us that the sound is now of a different nature, let as much be implicit in the new sound given directly itself with a new verb. Consider, for illustration: It trilled before, but now it sounds different compared to It trilled before, but now it hums.
a dying sound; and then with one accord,
confused, they strain for one another once they're sure
the cries are gone. Then time restarts, but how?
The night accepts the shadows of those holy birds
I have no more words.
What makes the birds ‘holy’ of a sudden? I am at a bit of a loss what to make of the ‘straining sight’ portion. I wish I could be more positive about this, but the truth is, for me at least, it fell flat. The first thing I would do is shorten the meter to help enforce the much-needed concision. That would be my suggestion, then.

Cheers,

Erik

Last edited by Erik Olson; Today at 12:46 AM.
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