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  #1  
Unread 08-10-2019, 01:01 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Default Savannah (Full)

Savannah

You, Zach Berzinski, spy, assassin, bad
mother, for all of your testosterone,
have cut out killing and become a dad.
That’s right: all day you have been home alone
with your insatiate baby girl Savannah.
You have fed her bottle after bottle
and read the warning signs—the squirm, the glottal
spasm—and felt the spit-up warm the pad.
Yes, you have even tried to serve up Gerber
Carrot Sweet Potato Pea Banana
and wiped her face and washed a plastic bib.
It’s time at last to put the li’l’ disturber
of other people’s slumber in her crib.
Nite-nite.
Nite-nite. The controversial Dr. Ferber
says you should leave her in the nursery,
though she is bellowing like mad, for three
whole minutes, so that she can ‘cry it out’
and learn to sleep without you. Here you go:
you shut the door behind you.
you shut the door behind you. O the slow
hand on your watch-face! O paternal doubt!
When her displeasure rises to a shriek,
you break and rush to soothe her. (You are weak.)

. . . . .

You start from sleep hours later—there are keys
jingling at the door. A TV screen
is all the light left in the living room.
You hear what must be Doc Li-ling Levine
approaching, high heels emanating doom.
Entering like a fresh, Siberian breeze,
she finds you lying, drool-soaked, on the couch,
Savannah in your arms.
Savannah in your arms. The Met Museum
has put your wife in charge of a Chinese
handscroll exhibit in the Asian Wing.
Even before this burden, she could be, um,
touchy, but she has been an all-out grouch
for weeks now, finding fault with everything
you do and say.
you do and say. What can you say? You told her
you would start to Ferberize the baby,
and here’s the baby sleeping on your shoulder.
Flushed with unsuccess, you mutter,
Flushed with unsuccess, you mutter, “Maybe
our girl is too young yet? Her little throat
gets all choked up. I mean, it feels like violence,
torture, to leave her screaming.”
torture, to leave her screaming.” “What it is
is necessary.”
is necessary.” Since you don’t agree,
you turn the volume up with the remote
and kill what would have been an awkward silence.

New York One is showing images
of something monstrous, something out of myth
dragged from the water at the Battery.
A blond and airbrushed-looking talking head
reports this lifeless squid was pregnant with
hundreds of darling larvae, each one dead.
A story titled “Jailbreak from the Zoo!”
comes next—a pair of chubby panda bears
voguing for photos on a set of stairs;
leopards at large on Bronxwood Avenue.

The awkwardness between the two of you
relaxing, Li-ling says,
relaxing, Li-ling says, “It’s strange, you know,
the way things go. At work today I hung
a cataclysmic fragment by Xi Tung,
The Vision of Destruction, for the show.
I gave the text in English word for word:

First will emerge a vast, dead sea-beast, ‘fecund’
(he specifies) ‘with putrefaction.’ Second,
‘wild things will run amok’ through an immense
metropolis. (By some coincidence
these two events, it seems, have happened.) Third
should be some sort of ‘metal carrion bird’
hitting the earth—but then the text is ripped.
To learn the last four of the seven signs,
we’d need that bit of missing manuscript
but. . .
but. . .kismet, curses, nemesis, life-lines,
what nonsense! Nothing--what a mind 'divines'
is nothing. All we do is stitch together
likelihoods out of has-been happenings.
Accidents can’t be forecast like the weather.
Sorry, but there’s no ‘plan’ that rules the things
we humans try to do.”
we humans try to do.” With that, Savannah
(a chick in that most masculine of nests
atop your pecs) starts crying for the manna
Li-ling has pumped out of her swollen breasts.

. . . . .
Penultimate stanza was:
but. . .nothing, that is what a sage 'divines.'
The best that we can do is stitch together
likelihoods out of has-been happenings.
Accidents can’t be forecast like the weather.
Sorry, but there’s no ‘plan’ that rules the things
we humans try to do.”

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 08-17-2019 at 06:40 AM.
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  #2  
Unread 08-10-2019, 01:41 PM
Allen Tice's Avatar
Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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I especially like the pandas "voguing". That ought to puzzle future readers.
I don't think that I (in your place) could get away with the last two lines.
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  #3  
Unread 08-10-2019, 03:20 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Thank you, Allen.

Li-ling has pumped and stored her breast milk, a not uncommon practice. Are you uncomfortable with the way I have chosen to express that fact? Are you uncomfortable with lactation?

Sincerely,

Aaron
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  #4  
Unread 08-10-2019, 05:45 PM
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Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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I am well acquainted with the specifics of human lactation that you mention. Itís only the manner: the lactation locution. Iím not myself uncomfortable with the actuality or your wording in any way. Itís just not the way my paintbrush wants to sign a masterpiece. These days, of course, itís hard to know whatís going to fly in every circle when it comes to words about a womanís body. Is it Jeff Koons, Pre-Raphaelite, Petrarch, fratchat, Shoebox Greeting Card jokes about owls, or Veronaís Secret Nursing Bras? Maybe you have said it just right. Is it ribcage vs bosom? Maybe itís Johannaís manna. Duh.
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  #5  
Unread 08-10-2019, 06:35 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Well, tarnation!
What's the solution
for this "lactation
locution"?

Johanner's manner?

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 08-10-2019 at 06:37 PM.
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  #6  
Unread 08-10-2019, 08:56 PM
Allen Tice's Avatar
Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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Cut the last four lines, and continue?

FIDO: Forget It, Drive On.
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  #7  
Unread 08-10-2019, 11:57 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Aaron,

Sprightly and alive as ever. Two small stumbles for me: the controversial Dr. Ferber seems there for the rhyme, and these lines feel a bit heavy-handed to me:

The best that we can do is stitch together
likelihoods out of has-been happenings.
Accidents canít be forecast like the weather.
Sorry, but thereís no Ďplaní that rules the things
we humans try to do

Cheers,
John
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  #8  
Unread 08-11-2019, 06:55 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Hello, Allen. I want those last four lines. I like the contrast between pec and breasts. Also, the scene needs a coda. I am open to any improving suggestion.

John, thank you. Dr. Richard Ferber is a real dude: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Ferber . There is a whole "Ferberization" theme in the novel: the baby will fall asleep on its own at a climactic moment.

I have revised the lines you found heavy-handed.

Thank you,

Aaron
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  #9  
Unread 08-11-2019, 09:25 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Aaron,

Thanks for the info! I also prefer this version.

Cheers,
John
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  #10  
Unread 08-11-2019, 04:33 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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x
Really absorbing, Aaron. Lyric storytelling full of zest and zeitgeist. (I'm wondering how you'll roll it all out... I like it in spoonfuls. The entirety of it would break nicely into installments, I think).
Despite the doom that lurks, I recognize something of a signature of yours: a subtle joie de vive between the lines (I sound trite but still...).

I'm not certain what is the correct grammar is, but "pec" sounds odd vs. "pecs" to my ear. The imagery of the L and R pectoral muscles being a nest for the baby seems to want a plural version. (A single pec would be a baby chick’s perch?) Is "pec" collective? There's probably a reason and it’s probably accuracy : )
x
x

Last edited by Jim Moonan; 08-12-2019 at 06:00 AM.
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