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  #1  
Unread 09-13-2023, 09:57 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Default A Frozen Moment

.
DRAFT 3
Sea


I stood on the rocks and watched
from a distance
her sitting on the slope of sand,
where sea and land meet
silhouetted in weak light
leaning back on her elbows, knees bent,
toes dug in, white shirt unbuttoned,
legs spread apart like gull wings
as the sea slid in and out at her feet.

and I saw the shadows fading,
saw the ceaseless motion of one thing
and another, saw sea and sitter touching
saw the essential emergence of birth
giving birth to birth within
and without us all.


EDITS

S1L2: "silhouetted in the dying light" was "backdropped in the slant light"

L4,5 was:
"white shirt unbuttoned, legs glistening,
spread apart like gull wings as the sea"


Last 3 lines were:
saw the two melding in the moment of being,
felt my two eyes see as one the beauty
of birth always giving birth in me.


...and other changes...



-----
DRAFT TWO
Tryst


I stood on the rocks and watched her from a distance
sitting on the slope of sand,
back-dropped in slant light
leaning back on her elbows,
knees bent, toes dug in,
white shirt unbuttoned,
legs glistening, spread apart like gull wings
while the sea slid in and slid out at her feet
and I saw the honied light pouring down, saw
the tide foam and hiss at its crease, saw
things cease to be one thing or another, saw
them meld, like two eyes become one and see.


EDITS
multiple changes to lineation, stanza breaks, and phrasing


.

---
DRAFT ONE
A Frozen Moment


I stood at a distance on the rocks and watched her.
She was alone, sitting on the slope of wet sand
where the sea exhales before drawing
back to the womb.

She wore a white unbuttoned top and a bikini bottom
She leaned back on her elbows,
her knees bent and her heels dug in,
her legs spread apart like gull wings,

and two births came over me:
one from a distance in the sand
and the other born in my head,
and the world made mother-sense.

.
.
.
.

Last edited by Jim Moonan; 10-19-2023 at 06:38 PM.
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  #2  
Unread 09-13-2023, 06:10 PM
Cally Conan-Davies Cally Conan-Davies is offline
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Jim,

I am fascinated by this poem because it strongly evokes the Greek god Pan for me. Pan's presence and association with the nymphs, his connection to nature, to 'panic', to 'all'—is a rich area for exploration, and deeply complex one.

And I admire a great deal of what you've done with this so far. The language is restrained and clear. I think you could still work on the description of the woman's posture. What you have is accurate—I can see it. I wonder if there is still a more elegant way to describe it? Something like "she leaned back on her elbows"?

Tiny thing—no apostrophe in 'it's' Line 3. Actually, you might not need "its last breath". "The sea exhales", or "the sea loses its breath" would be enough?

I am so sorry to say I don't have time to say more right now, but you can be sure I'll come back.

As it shows from my comments, no doubt, I'd say line by line edits is what I'd be doing now if this were mine, pressing on each phrase, each word to test its elegance and whether it deserves its place in the line. It's clear what you're hoping to achieve with the birth mother/earth mother imagery, so maybe you could hold back on the more explicit words, such as "womb".

Ohh, I have to stop! Again, your poem fascinates me. I'm still pondering its effect on me...

Anon!

Cally
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  #3  
Unread 09-14-2023, 04:14 AM
Michael Tyldesley's Avatar
Michael Tyldesley Michael Tyldesley is offline
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Jim, this had me thinking of mythology too but more sirens initially because of the reference to bird wing and by the end of it I was thinking more along the lines Pele the Hawaiian Mother Earth goddess, Te Fiti in Disney's Moana, but the title is Frozen so you stump me a bit there.

I read it as N finding enlightenment and connection to nature in observing the opposite sex from afar.

ChatGPT refuses to interpret the poem due to content violation. Presumably, it reads the poem as too raunchy. I think AI is wrong.

I wasn't sure about 'heels' because I'm thinking of Barbie style stilletos partly because of the bikini description. Sirens have claws and heels are not good beach footwear so maybe I'm wrong to make the siren connection in S2. She's probably not wearing anything on her feet.

Mother sense could relate to childbirth in a literal sense or anything creative I suppose. I'm not sure if I'm really grasping it but I found the poem very teasing in an engaging way.
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Unread 09-14-2023, 06:44 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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.
Revision posted.

Thank you Cally and Michael. I am breathing a tenuous sigh of relieve that it was read with the same reverence that I wrote it. I know it is vulnerable to various slings and arrows given the content. Writing and sharing here is as learning experience for me. I will come out of it for the better.


Cally, thank you for pointing out the visuals in S2. With your prompt I made some changes to make it less graphic and more symbolic. I think your reading is very much what I was feeling. In the end, it's all about experiencing beauty, whether it be in another person or an ocean wave or a tree or even something invisible to the naked eye. In this case it is a woman revealing her power to birth and my imagined extension of that.

I can see your association with Pan but I didn't give that any thought. I rarely allude to anything other than my own personal experiences. I know Pan's place in Greek mythology but would not feel confident enough to intentionally draw it into my poem. This is a poem about me sitting on rocks watching a solitary woman stop and sit in the sand (she was at a distance but had passed by me so I was aware of her attire, etc.) and momentarily feel a clear understanding of our place in nature and, in particular, a woman's powe to bring life into the world. It was. a momentary revelation that passed, but this poem was meant to capture it in the memory.

Michael, I've changed the title to get rid of "Frozen". I had no intention of bringing in any formal references to Moana (Although I think it is a beautifully told story.)
I've made some changes to stanza two and taken out "heels" even though the thought that it would be high heels is absurd. Now you've got me thinking of a lampoon poem of Barbie at the beach : )

I'm glad you see birth in both a mother-sense and a creative sense. We all are giving birth to our own lives every day, aren't we? Life could be seen as a long birth, I think.

Ha! AI is prudish?!? (There's another poem waiting to be written.) I wonder with the changes I've made if AI would now find this palatable — Don't do it! Now that you've tempted me I'll do it myself — Ha! Or not.

.
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  #5  
Unread 09-14-2023, 07:58 AM
W T Clark W T Clark is offline
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Jim, firstly, I think you need to lose "mother-sense", or at least make it "a mother's sense": it sounds comically like a brand of children's wear, or maybe an advertising slogan. I also think that within the poem you are leaning on the phrase as a crutch: a kind of short-hand for a certain revelatory experience. Evocation seems to me at the heart of your problem here, you have a fine enough, if unspecial, physical description, but then you launch into a kind of spiritual crisis or revelation. I wonder if the unspecialness of the description hampers you; the reader remarks, ah, that's interesting, her legs like gulls, while the narrator starts crying loudly about the realisation of two births. For me, you have not yet done the work in language that would connect the two experiences; and, in the revelatory experience, you don't have the language yet to evoke that revelation. This:
and the other born in my head,
of myself opening my eyes
to see my place in nature,
and the world made mother-sense.
is simply all abstraction: what place in nature? Big concepts, but with little words with none of the energy or imagery of the concepts.
You have the plan of a poem here; but I think you have yet to bring the thing itself into language.

Hope this helps.

Last edited by W T Clark; 09-14-2023 at 11:21 AM.
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  #6  
Unread 09-14-2023, 09:46 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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.
Thanks for the medicine, Cameron. I’ll take it. You could have sugar coated it, but I’m fine holding my nose and swallowing. (Btw, I prefer my medicine straight : ))

For the time being I’ve changed “mother-sense” to “sense”. After you associated it with a brand of children’s wear I can’t unsee that.

What you hear as being plain/ordinary descriptive language, Cally seems to hear as understated. In fact, the experience I’m describing was ordinary — until her legs became gull wings in my imagination and tipped for a moment into the extraordinary, I want the experience to be expressed in ordinary language coming from an ordinary person who is experiencing something ordinary that has momentarily catalyzed to become extraordinary. Your poem of the same experience would be different. You are a schooled poet. I am not. But I take your comments like medicine because I hear what you’re saying and I want it to rub off on me. But not everyone writes poetry like you. If I sound defensive I don’t mean to be.

I do agree that the last stanza fails to say what it wants to say. I think if I can unlock the words to express that stanza in a less abstract, more catalytic way it might turn the poem around, so thank you for that!


Putting aside my skill level, is it possible that my style isn’t your cup of tea? Do I need to learn to speak in a more “fluent” poetic style? Who are some of your favorite poets who write/wrote in a style you would not call compatible with your own but that you admire?

I’ve also changed the title again to move away from explicit mention of birth. Though as I said in my previous comments, the revelation was in large part a sense that all of life is an act of birth, both in a singular sense and in an infinite sense, coming in every breath, every act of kindness, every expression of love, every song, poem, painting is an act of giving birth. (Hatred and war are not acts of birth.) But I think it will serve the poem better if I not explicitly mention birth and find ways to demonstrate it.

Thanks again. And again.

.

Last edited by Jim Moonan; 09-14-2023 at 11:57 AM.
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  #7  
Unread 09-14-2023, 10:09 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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.
I’ve gotten rid of the edits to the original, and instead have come up with version two that incorporates all the edits I had made.


.
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  #8  
Unread 09-14-2023, 11:47 AM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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Whoa, this is moving fast. I like your original a lot, Jim. And, yes, you and Cameron have different styles. I'm also generally in favor of putting a lot of pressure on language in my own work. It's what allows me to get to the next note (borrowing from Liszt, I think). To reference another artist, today, as I often do the first week of intro to literature, I have my students read "Majority" by Dana Gioia. It's a devastating poem. Brilliant, imo. I use it partly because the language is simple (I teach international classes where the English ability varies greatly, and it's the first day....). No particular pressure on language here, no acrobatics. The poem is plainly expressed, as if, quite appropriately, the speaker were speaking to a child. Pressure comes from another place- a situation not yet located, a moment found. I perhaps see something like that in this poem. So, my biggest suggestion would be to reexamine "see my place in nature." I think that is where you lose grip on that possible (personal?) moment. As much as I like the poem, the original, that feels like an opportunity lost.
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  #9  
Unread 09-14-2023, 11:50 AM
W T Clark W T Clark is offline
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Jim,
Cally does not particularly write like me, yet I am typically praiseful of her work; Yves S. L.'s villanelle that I praised is not much like my style; I don't think this argument that since we write differently I am simply asking you to write like me is valid. Anyway, that's not really interesting to me: my aim is to tell you that the moment of "extraordinariness" is not coming across to me because your later language feels vague and loaded with abstraction. First, the woman's legs looks like "gull wings"; then, the narrator feels two births and understands his place in reality: for me the poem fails to produce in the language the leap upward into the narrator's epiphany. As I said: put into the language the thing itself.

Hope this helps.
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  #10  
Unread 09-14-2023, 01:03 PM
Christine P'legion Christine P'legion is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by James Brancheau View Post
I have my students read "Majority" by Dana Gioia. It's a devastating poem.
I wasn't expecting to be crying at lunch today. Thanks for this poem, James.
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