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  #11  
Unread 09-06-2019, 06:46 AM
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Rick Mullin Rick Mullin is offline
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Hi Mark,

I would agree that this is largely, if not essentially, calisthenics.

I suppose (re intent) it's about a personal fall mirroring, or as part of, a broader societal collapse. It's a poem in which intent emerged as I cycled through the lines over a few drafts. It think it came out light on the objective side of the balance.

Thanks,

Rick

Last edited by Rick Mullin; 09-06-2019 at 06:50 AM.
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  #12  
Unread 09-06-2019, 07:38 AM
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R. Nemo Hill R. Nemo Hill is offline
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"a personal fall mirroring, or as part of, a broader societal collapse."

Yes, that is what I came away from the poem with.

Nemo
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  #13  
Unread 09-07-2019, 01:10 AM
Erik Olson Erik Olson is offline
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Rick,

This is a very rewarding read I find. The following are observations I made at first blush, for what they are worth.
Titanic war paint never felt so grand
or crackled at the speed of spinning plates.
The first line opens with an appropriately broad gesture like a grand Overture in a Baroque French suite. At the speed of spinning plates is witty and conveys a lot with great economy of expression.
Kabuki bloodlust rattles my command
performance on Italian roller skates.
I navigate the fire like a clown.
I reckon the propriety of the above passage is its impropriety in that the motley assortment of allusions, from Kabuki to Italian roller skates of all things, mirrors the clown and the mishmash of colors and acts that is the circus in general. The final stanzas bring the poem full circle as they at once close and demystify the circus for all its pomp and show. What began in line one as a grand edifice is unceremoniously taken down as if it were really nothing all along. Very much enjoyed.

Best,

Erik

P.S. Here is a circus of an overture for the road, since, I admit, the other one was not so circusy. And by that, I mean not at all. Bach does not clown around. On another note, yes, I too pick up on the circus here being a metaphor for the political zeitgeist, however by a rather vague sense of correspondence. Not necessarily a problem, but there you have it.

Disclaimer: Does it not sound quite melodramatic to say what is now happening? Today my housemate’s parents will donate all that is left abandoned by his fate—chairs, posters, drinkware... But meanwhile, I find this poem takes sad truckloads from my mind.

Last edited by Erik Olson; 09-08-2019 at 03:34 AM.
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  #14  
Unread 09-07-2019, 03:51 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Hi Rick,

I really like this one. I see the circus as a political circus, and the general tenor of the current (bread and circuses minus the bread) political world. Trump, also Johnson over here, and doubtless a few more. As a result of which the big top shrinks, sags. Before you know it the brown-shirted pugilists come and remove it altogether. The general message seems clear, but the poem is fresh and playful avoids the clunkiness of spelling things out, or resorting to cliches or slogans. There are lots of great lines here. I really liked the ambiguity of:

The trick will be remembering my name,
and in the lion’s cage, remembering to sing.

in that it's left open who will need to remember the N's name and who will be in the lion's cage (us or the N). And the lion's cage fits in nicely with the Roman circuses as a distraction for the populace. I love the image of the trombonists stiffing the elephants, which I imagine as killing them, though the defrauding reading is there too.

The lines took some puzzling for me were:

On closing night, the audience leaves town
delighted by the act they came to miss.

"On closing night" seems to presages the end of democracy (the big top shrinks and is then taken down). I can see that the "came to miss" can be read at least two ways. They came in order to not see the act, and they've come to long for it in its absence. Now, if it were "delighted by the act they'll come to miss", I'd read it as the audience are delighted by the spectacle, but will come to miss it once it (democracy) is gone. So my guess is that's the sense you're after here: delighted by the act they (later) came to miss" But I wonder if the tense is off as it stands?

best,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 09-07-2019 at 03:59 AM.
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  #15  
Unread 09-07-2019, 05:18 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hey again Rick,

I made similar leaps to some of those made by Matt: the misdirection and and razzmatazz of the circus/politics metaphor, the possibly fascistic 'pugilists' left to bring the whole thing down. And there are, as he says, great lines and sparkling language. I suppose where he says "the poem is fresh and playful avoids the clunkiness of spelling things out, or resorting to cliches or slogans" I found it maybe a little too playful, if that makes sense. Too reliant on the craziness of the images and lacking a real sense of fear or darkness. Something. There's a hint of that in the last line, but overall I found myself skimming over the flash of the surface.

Probably just me. It is well done.
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  #16  
Unread 09-07-2019, 08:04 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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x
The underpinning metaphor, for me, is the image of the circus being taken down. The image of an exposed mirage. The deflation; the aftermath of a scene intentionally meant to simultaneously entertain and deceive --all for the price of admission.

But I agree with Mark that the poem doesn't quite take us there. I got there, mind you, but I'm not sure if I'm seeing as much as I could had you taken me closer.
x
x
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  #17  
Unread 09-07-2019, 11:06 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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I thought that the sense of a sinking ship was there from the first word

I guess for me, that I got 'there' (or somewhere) somewhat under my own steam was part of what I enjoyed about the poem. It doesn't quite nail things down, and likely it's open to more than one reading (though I'm guessing most of us ended up in roughly the same ball-park), and as such it warranted rereading a number of times, and was more engaging for it.
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  #18  
Unread 09-07-2019, 12:25 PM
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R. Nemo Hill R. Nemo Hill is offline
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Yes, it has the sonic landscape typical of a Mullin poem, that playful texture in the ear that draws one back to savor often opaquely seductive images—until, after repeated readings, the more rational delights take hold almost without one's realizing it. I can't tell you how many times on reading a new poem of yours, Rick, I've thought, "Oh, there he goes, spinning his wheels again..." And then later, returning (for those fabulous spinning wheels always spin me back in) I think, "Well, this is clear as a bell!" I'm never sure exactly where or when the line is crossed between sensual abandon and interpretation. But I end up with both. It's almost as if I have to let the lexical river rush through me, keeping faith that it will eventually deposit me somewhere on its banks with a splendid view of its entire course.

Nemo
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  #19  
Unread 09-07-2019, 12:42 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Yeah. To be clear Rick, though I'm sure you know, most of the time I'm in complete agreement with Nemo here regarding your poems. I'm sure it's just me. Maybe I'm just in a funny mood.
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  #20  
Unread 09-09-2019, 09:06 AM
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Rick Mullin Rick Mullin is offline
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Thanks folks,

Well, this sat responseless for quite a long time. I was wondering whether this time I'd gone too far!~ I'm glad for the flourish of crits indicating that it is actually getting across as much as I hoped it would.


I have come to terms with the realization that there is an acquired taste thing going with a lot of the poetry I write. Thanks for the time spent on this folks.

RM
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