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Old 12-07-2017, 11:37 AM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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Default Tenure

Revision Two

Tenure

Before the professor died last Sunday
he had worked to settle his ghost in a home.
He felt satisfied with his success before he began
slipping toward death. After his sight was gone,
and his hand no longer reached his forehead,
he realized he could not remember on his life
from which of his books he chose the place
to house his ghost. . . or be sure it was a book . . . .
He specialized in Icelandic folk tales, after all,
and his ghost was more suited to warmer climes.
He could recall if only his mind would stop
wandering back to his family, which had been
quite diligent and encouraged him as a boy
to begin searching out a home for his ghost.
You may need one when you least expect
they said as one, and it was imperative
he should get an early start.

***


Tenure

Before the professor died last Sunday
he had worked to settle his ghost in a home.
He felt satisfied with his success before he began
slipping toward death. After his sight was gone,
and his hand no longer reached his forehead,
he realized he could not remember on his life
which of his books he chose . . . or be sure it was a book . . . .
He specialized in Icelandic folk tales, after all,
and his ghost was more suited to warmer climes.
He could recall it if only his mind would stop
wandering back to his family, which had been
quite diligent and encouraged him as a boy
to begin searching out a home for his ghost.
You may need it when you least expect it
they said as one, and it was imperative
he should get an early start.

Last edited by John Riley; 12-09-2017 at 09:23 AM. Reason: add ending period and change to last line. Thanks, Jim.
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Old 12-07-2017, 01:08 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is online now
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Just quickly:

I think this line could be re-punctuated:

which of his books he chose . . . or be sure it was a book . . . .

like this:

which of his books he chose -- or be sure it was a book.

Tary, too, caught my eye as being off.

No period to end?

I will re-read for more substantial thoughts later today.
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Old 12-07-2017, 02:10 PM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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he could not for his life remember, on my first couple of reads, would work better for me. Not sure about imperative, maybe just too in character, or too imperative. Seems an opportunity missed. First impressions-- but do like it.

JB
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Old 12-07-2017, 08:32 PM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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I've made a couple of changes, fixed an error. The words changed are in bold.

My thinking on the use of the ellipsis is that he isn't in control of the language. A stronger structure, as suggested, would not be in concert with what is being said. That's my thinking for now anyway.

Thanks for the notes.

John
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Old 12-08-2017, 01:00 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi John,

I like it. The poem does contain quite a few its, and sometimes I lose track of them. I wonder what book he's looking for as well. For some reason it reminds me of Elias Canetti's Auto da Fe - a very depressing book.

Cheers,
John
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Old 12-08-2017, 04:28 AM
David Callin David Callin is offline
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I think this is really good, John. It's a vivid portrait of someone of whom I (of course) have no prior knowledge, but now feel I know really quite well. That's good going, I think.

It is self-contained, I assume? I hope there is no grand metaphor lurking here. I like it as it is.

It's not my area of expertise, but Tenure seems to me an excellent title.

I particularly like "and his hand no longer reached his forehead". A telling, and touching, detail.

Cheers

David
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Old 12-09-2017, 05:50 AM
Jan Iwaszkiewicz's Avatar
Jan Iwaszkiewicz Jan Iwaszkiewicz is offline
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It is a tad prosaic John but it has its moments the hand no longer reaching is one.

Regards

Jan
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Old 12-09-2017, 09:33 AM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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Revision posted

John, David, and Jan,

Thanks for reading and commenting.

John, the revision fixed the preponderance of "its" at the end. It's a bad habit of mine and thanks for reminding me.

David, I'm glad you like it. There is no grand metaphor here. I had this quirky idea a while back and eventually decided it was worthy of a poem. Now that it's complete and posted I see why I had the idea, why it came to me, but there has been no attempt to impress that on the reader.

Jan, thanks for reading. Sometimes I write non-met poems that one can call prosaic if one chooses. I'm happy you like that line. It's something I remember from my mom's deathbed.

Thanks again.
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Old Yesterday, 10:49 AM
johanna donovan johanna donovan is offline
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Hello John,

I wonder if you could tell me why you use "on his life"
instead of "in"? Is it because of the expression, "Not on
your life"? Just curious.

Johanna
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Old Yesterday, 11:13 AM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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Yes, Johanna. That was the thinking.
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