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  #1  
Unread 10-19-2019, 05:24 PM
Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is online now
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Default Indianan Ode

wheat text

Going

Stay gone! At night, above the Wabash,
....spiders string themselves between
........railing and streetlight, all abdomen,
............slinging the silent

geometry of hunger, daring
....the wind to undo their tethers.
........The wind strains, and fails, and stills,
............and is transfixed.

A butterfly lies dead at my feet,
....a ship careened. I hold it over
........the silent river, let it drop
............to its vessel's home.

You suspect... but incorrectly:
....featherlight, freely and easily
........I twist down the still air
............to mirrordark water.


Lafayette (original plus revisions)

Three months have passed, and still you are
....uncertain to me, indefinite,
........hesitant to receive the name
............I'm bursting to give you,

Lafayette, your sidewalks caked
....with cicadas' corpses, your stunted trains
........singing to spite your absent mountains,
............your flat affect.

Stay gone! At night, above the Wabash,
....spiders string themselves between
........railing and streetlight, all abdomen,
............slinging the silent

geometry of hunger, daring
....the wind to undo their tethers.
........The wind strains, and fails, and stills,
............and is transfixed.

A butterfly lies dead at my feet,
....a ship careened. I hold it over
........the silent river, let it drop
............to its vessel's home.

You suspect... but incorrectly:
....featherlight, freely and easily
........I twist down the still air
............to mirrordark water.


EDITS:

S1L1: Not long have I known you --> Three months now --> Three months have passed

S2L2: the living singing --> your stunted trains
S2L3: to spite the absent mountains, to spite this --> singing to spite your absent mountains
S2L4: Muse-barren place --> your flat affect

Last edited by Aaron Novick; 10-22-2019 at 08:15 AM.
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  #2  
Unread 10-19-2019, 08:06 PM
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Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is offline
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Start the poem with Stay gone!
!!!!!
I really like S3-6. Wowzer!
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  #3  
Unread 10-19-2019, 08:56 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Aaron,

I like "Muse-barren place," but Mary's suggestion is hard for me to argue with. Also - a splendid ending!

Cheers,
John
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  #4  
Unread 10-19-2019, 10:10 PM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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I like this a lot too, Aaron, and agree that things really take off with “Stay gone!” But I think the opening two stanzas have potential for setting a scene and particularizing Lafayette. Great idea of combining the ode tradition with Lafayette itself.

A thought: Since one of the appeals of this poem is its echoing of the Romantic-era ode, the tongue-in-cheek of that, I wonder if the opening could play up the humorous aspect a little more, the ironic contrast between form and content. You have this already with “sidewalks caked / with cicadas’ corpses,” but the earnestness of “living singing / to spite the absent mountains” (much as I sympathize with the feeling) undercuts it. And “Muse-barren place” sounds too much like Coleridge when he’d run out of opium.

Going in this direction might not appeal to you or be what you have in mind, but a bit more irony in the opening could set up “Stay gone!” nicely.

If you open where Mary suggests, I think it would be better to drop that phrase and start with “At night, above the Wabash,” which does draw me right in.

One other thought this time around: in the last line of the penultimate stanza, “vessel’s home” might be “vessel, home,” which to me gives the rhythm a bit of a jerking motion, like the butterfly making contact with the water.

I’ll enjoy following this thread and will probably pipe in again. I really like concept, imagery, and voice of the poem.

Andrew
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  #5  
Unread 10-19-2019, 10:26 PM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
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Aaron,

Mary's right that stanzas 3-6 are the best parts of the poem, but I don't think you want to excise 1-2.

The first half of line one is a bit precious: I go back and forth on whether I think you pull it off.

What if S2 moved between where S4 and S5 are? I think you want to get to S3 earlier but don't want you to lose what works in S2.
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  #6  
Unread 10-20-2019, 07:24 AM
Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is online now
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Thank you Mary, John, Andrew F., and Andrew S.

Collectively, you've convinced me that S1 and S2 needed work. For now, I agree with the Andrews that they should stay in some form. I think Andrew F. nicely captured what they were doing (as well as what was weak about S2), so I've made revisions to S2 along lines he suggested. And I've revised the opening phrase in S1 to something less precious, per Andrew F.'s suggestion.
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  #7  
Unread 10-20-2019, 07:28 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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Much better. What would you think of putting "mountainlessness" instead of "absent mountains," to break up the string of adj.-n line endings?
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  #8  
Unread 10-20-2019, 08:29 AM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
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What about opening it "Three months have passed." I like the rhythm of it, and its echos of Wordsworth I think are fruitful and particularly enrich the first stanza.
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  #9  
Unread 10-20-2019, 10:24 AM
Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is online now
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Andrews F. and S., thanks for returning.

Andrew F., thanks for the suggestion of "mountainlessness". I see the appeal. It is a bit of a rhythmically awkward word—I'm letting it roll around the mouth for a while to see if I think it works in that location.

Andrew S., I like that, and I've adopted it, thanks.
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  #10  
Unread 10-20-2019, 10:38 AM
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R. Nemo Hill R. Nemo Hill is offline
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Aaron, I have to vote for Mary's more drastic suggestion for revision. I'd keep just stanzas 3-6. The rest seems fore and aft throat clearing, real-world scaffolding that should be kicked away so that the poem can be what it wants to be in pure space without co-ordinates. The place could merely be a footnote at the end. Let the poem dream itself, and even dream you, its author—rather than you dreaming it. Untether it from your hand, set it free, and fall into it. "Let it drop to its vessel's home."

Nemo
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