Eratosphere Forums - Metrical Poetry, Free Verse, Fiction, Art, Critique, Discussions Able Muse - a review of poetry, prose and art

Forum Left Top

Notices

Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Unread 03-02-2020, 01:30 PM
Quincy Lehr's Avatar
Quincy Lehr Quincy Lehr is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Posts: 5,395
Default The Place I Used to Live Forever

THE PLACE I USED TO LIVE FOREVER [revision]

I used to find it funny, chelsea boots,
crushed velvet, leather pants,
and one more payment always due—
the false extravagance
of day-job bohemia. I wore it well;
I wore it with panache.
I hoarded it like old LP’s
or a stoner’s secret stash.

As tactics went, it wasn’t quite Sun Tzu—
the archers faced the sun
in a crazed assault on common sense
I think I nearly won,
but “nearly” doesn’t work in love or rent,
the constant sacrifice
of money to that walk-up flat,
to hope this might suffice

until the barricades went up again
and Comrade Brummell rose
to rid us of the landlord class
and lineated prose.
Art was life and life was art (and shit).
I said it with a smirk.
I stayed up, smoked my cigarettes,
and made it into work.

In memory’s Indian Summer, it was cool,
the sun in counterpoise
to cold fronts massed in Canada.
A constant, human noise
suffused the air from brownstones on the streets
as half-heard notes of pride
tickled my ears in neighborhoods
still lightly gentrified.

I’m never moving back. It fucking sucked,
romantic as it was,
the heartbreak turning into lines,
each hangover a clause
in the epic I was sure I had to write
and did. And it was done,
The words flowed down the fire escape,
not reaching anyone.



THE PLACE I USED TO LIVE FOREVER [original]

I used to find it funny, chelsea boots,
crushed velvet, leather pants,
and one more payment always due—
the false extravagance
of day-job bohemia. I wore it well;
I wore it with panache.
I hoarded it like old LP’s
or a stoner’s secret stash.

As tactics went, it wasn’t quite Sun Tzu—
the archers faced the sun
in a frontal assault on common sense
I think I nearly won,
but “nearly” doesn’t work in love or rent,
the constant sacrifice
of bank account to keep it up,
to hope this might suffice

until the barricades went up again
and Comrade Brummell rose
to rid us of the landlord class
and lineated prose.
Art was life and life was art and shit.
I cynically believed,
and if it never quite worked out,
was mildly self-deceived.

I’m never moving back. It fucking sucked,
romantic as it was,
the heartbreak turning into lines,
each hangover a clause
in the epic I was sure I had to write
and did. It did no good—
a dream of stressed utopias
of concrete, steel, and wood.

Last edited by Quincy Lehr; 03-04-2020 at 03:03 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Unread 03-02-2020, 03:43 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Staffordshire, England
Posts: 3,350
Default

I like it a lot, Quincy. In fact I'd happily roll along with it for at least another stanza. It would seem in keeping, for me, with the tone of rueful reminiscence to ruefully reminisce for a bit longer. Maybe an extra stanza between the current 3 and 4.

Couple of questions/thoughts about these lines:

Art was life and life was art and shit.

I'm not sure whether to read "life was art and shit" as 'and stuff' (art and shit) or as in 'life was art and (it was also) shitty' or even 'shit' as a generalised noun for 'shitty stuff'. I think the former? It would be clear enough in performance, I imagine, and the ambiguity probably works anyway.

I cynically believed,
and if it never quite worked out,
was mildly self-deceived.


I read this as the speaker saying he was simultaneously both a cynic and a (romantic) 'believer'. So if things didn't work out then his cynical side wasn't surprised, and that sort of cushioned the blow for the 'self-deceiving' idealist. It's a nice idea and quite a complex one for 3 short lines and I'm not sure it quite gets there (if my reading is close enough). I almost want the word 'only' before 'mildly' somehow. Or 'so when' instead of 'and if'. Or an extra comma. Something.

I cynically believed,
so, when it never quite worked out,
was only mildly self-deceived.

But that messes your metrical pattern. And probably sounds bad. It maybe doesn't matter.

Finally, the last line. 'Concrete and steel' is familiar shorthand for the 'big city', but then 'wood' seems maybe a little tagged on for the rhyme and a little underwhelming as a finish. Maybe something more specific or resonant like 'brushed steel and barstool wood'. Or maybe not.

Anyway. Thoroughly enjoyed it and look forward to its progress.

Edit: One more. I wonder if 'frontal' makes the tet rhythm of S2L3 a bit of a mouthful, as it already starts with an anapest. Maybe 'crazed' or similar? 'Crazed assault/common sense' sounds nice!

Last edited by Mark McDonnell; 03-02-2020 at 05:21 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Unread 03-02-2020, 05:25 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: New York
Posts: 14,697
Default

This is fun and well written, but perhaps there's not enough of an explanation of why the speaker used to think it all was great fun but now realizes that it fucking sucked. What about it fucking sucked? Why did it appeal in the first place, and what changed? I don't suppose the poem needs to answer these questions, but I think it could be better if it began, however indirectly, to hint at more of the subtext. I think sometimes you attribute more expressive power to intensifiers like "fucking" than they carry for most of us. It sound like a way of speaking from the old, discredited days of hipness.

I also wonder why the speaker is letting himself off the hook with "mildly." If that's a fair qualifier, then I'm wondering why. Most of the poem makes it sound a bit more intense than mild.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Unread 03-02-2020, 06:39 PM
Aaron Novick's Avatar
Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Lafayette, Indiana
Posts: 2,030
Default

I like this a lot, Quincy. I don't share Roger's worries about it not being clear why "it fucking sucked" (I think S2 and S3 make that apparent), nor about "fucking". It sounds appropriate in context to me, and I rarely find that fucking improves a poem.

I find "sacrifice / of bank account" pretty limp. And in S2L8, "the" seems like it flows better, grammatically, than "to".

I feel compelled to point out that, properly speaking, "Sun Tzu" has its emphasis on "Sun", but I suppose I believe your narrator would mispronounce it, since it's basically standard in English to do so. (One more reason to boot Wade-Giles romanization into the sun.)
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Unread 03-02-2020, 08:11 PM
Martin Rocek's Avatar
Martin Rocek Martin Rocek is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: NY, USA
Posts: 4,463
Default

Quincy,
I like this a lot; I particularly enjoyed the lines:
I hoarded it like old LP’s
or a stoner’s secret stash.

as well as
to rid us of the landlord class
and lineated prose.


I did have the same reaction as Bob to "mildly"; it's funny, but rings a bit false; then again, maybe that's the point.

I also reacted to the last line--of concrete, steel, and wood is a bit odd. What are those "stressed Utopias"? Maybe a clearer image of them would help.

Thanks for the read,
Martin
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Unread 03-02-2020, 09:08 PM
Tim McGrath Tim McGrath is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Chicago
Posts: 95
Default

I agree with Roger Slater that the language is too loose for it to fit well in what began as a tightly written poem. It's lazy writing. What's more, it's unoriginal and devoid of creativity. Your job is to write something beautiful, not something vulgar, which anyone can do.

Last edited by Tim McGrath; 03-03-2020 at 01:02 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Unread 03-03-2020, 12:51 AM
Quincy Lehr's Avatar
Quincy Lehr Quincy Lehr is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Posts: 5,395
Default

Thanks all so far.

In roughly reverse order....

Tim—sorry you didn’t like it. With no guarantees that I’ll take your suggestions, a bit more as to why you think it sucks in somewhat less holistic terms might help, whether or not you find the final form satisfactory.

Aaron/Rogerbob/Mark/Martin—

I want to spend a bit more time with your comments, but a few things should be noted:

1. The meter probably needs revisiting in a couple of places, though I tend to be loosish with it.
2. I suspect the last line isn’t that great, and “deceived” and really that whole rhyme need a rethink.
3. Mark’s point about adding a stanza and Rogerbob’s about earning the last one—I tend to agree with Aaron that the reasons the narrator might think the years in question “fucking sucked” are reasonably well-established, I think a bit more exposition might help, well, the balance of the thing.

I’ll get a revision up soonishly.

Thanks, all!

Quincy
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Unread 03-03-2020, 01:58 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Staffordshire, England
Posts: 3,350
Default

Quote:
Your job is to write something beautiful, not something vulgar, which anyone can do.
This seems a bit prescriptive and, well, prudish tbh Tim, all these years after Whitman, Ginsberg, Sexton, Larkin etc, all of whom were called 'vulgar'. The poem is in a vernacular voice and contains two profanities, used for emphasis rather than for anything strikingly obscene. Not that that would be a problem either if it were right for the poem. Equally, anyone can pick up a thesaurus and find a 'beautiful' sounding word.

Having said all this, I do wonder, Quincy, if 'It fucking sucked' is a bit strong as a sentiment. Not because it's a 'vulgar' word, but because it's so unequivocal. There's some affectionate nostalgia in the poem that feels suddenly shut down by that phrase, unless you're going for the sense that the speaker is trying to convince himself in order to feel better about the passing of this bohemia. But I don't get that from the phrase, I just get decisiveness. Maybe 'It mostly sucked'...some sense of ambivalence.

Last edited by Mark McDonnell; 03-03-2020 at 02:46 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Unread 03-03-2020, 03:25 PM
Quincy Lehr's Avatar
Quincy Lehr Quincy Lehr is online now
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2005
Location: Los Angeles, CA, USA
Posts: 5,395
Default

Revision posted. Hope it improved things.

A couple of things.

Yeah, stress on "Tzu"--it's probably bad Chinese but passable American.

Per Mark, yeah, it "fucking sucked." I'm not saying the narrator entirely believes it, more that the narrator wants to believe it a bit more than he does.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Unread 03-04-2020, 12:23 AM
Tim McGrath Tim McGrath is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2014
Location: Chicago
Posts: 95
Default

Since modernism has tried to murder poetry before, we should against the murderer shut the door, not bear the knife ourselves.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



Forum Right Top
Forum Left Bottom Forum Right Bottom
 
Right Left
Member Login
Forgot password?
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Statistics:
Forum Members: 8,053
Total Threads: 19,933
Total Posts: 253,683
There are 285 users
currently browsing forums.
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Sponsor:
Donate & Support Able Muse / Eratosphere
Forum LeftForum Right
Right Right
Right Bottom Left Right Bottom Right

Hosted by ApplauZ Online