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  #1  
Unread 08-17-2019, 06:55 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Default The Last True Incorruptible, Out of Retirement

The Last True Incorruptible

Strolling through Bryant Park at 4am,
eying the homeless in their hooded coats,
you think, “Oh yeah, I used to live like them—
in hopeless freedom, dangerous and wild.”
Why are you out here? Not for sowing oats:
you love your home, your wife, your chubby child.
It’s just, the feral part of you, undead,
is restless, and you are a young man yet.

A shriek erupts and passes overhead,
its pitch increasing, and a private jet
swoops down and rams the Library’s Main Branch
over your shoulder.
over your shoulder. Not that gorgeous building. . .
You fell asleep once looking at the gilding
set in the ceiling of The Reading Room. . .
Once on a field trip. . .

Once on a field trip. . . While you are in shock,
the back wall crumbles, and an avalanche
of brick and marble hits the gravel walk.
Dust from the cave-in mixes with the plume
of black smoke twisting toward you.
of black smoke twisting toward you. When that odd
‘aloof’ sensation leaves you, and you come
around again, you see, close by, a bum
that looks a lot like Michelangelo’s God
but dirty and with even wilder hair.
Gigantic in a yellow bathrobe, he
keeps brandishing a golf club in his hand
and chanting:
and chanting: “First the creature from the sea
emerged; then others came to town by land;
third, now, the iron bird has found the air
hostile and crashed at last. I can recall
what is to come; I have foreseen it all.”

Firetrucks are pulling up, and first responders
jumping down and running here and there.

“Are you alright?”

“Are you alright?” Cough, cough. You’re fine. Cough, cough.

Then come the cops, just after local news.

After the crash site has been cordoned off,
the wacko in the filthy bathrobe wanders
through the growing crowd of looky-loos,
intoning, like a priest, “I can recall
what is to come; I have foreseen it all.”

When morning dusk comes seeping over Queens,
mixing a hint of slate into the dark,
you see some guys in black tac-gear and jeans
move in as one. They grab the crazy man
and muscle him away across the park.
The guy, big, drags his heels as best he can,
while muttering in a prophetic tone:
“All goes according to the Final Plan.”

Whatever fight this is, it isn’t yours,
but you just can’t butt out. Your basso roars,
“Hey there, you bastards, leave that guy alone!”

. . . . .

Out of Retirement

On the Great Lawn, a gridiron .....game begins.
Two from their team..... turn and rush you,
aspiring sackers...... Spoil-sport, you,
rather than running,..... ready yourself,
then greet, with your foot,..... the first one’s groin.
Kicked where it counts,..... he, coughing, falls.
Your knuckles welcome..... the next one’s nose.
Blond, he gushes..... blood on bluegrass—
rhinoplasty..... has ruined him.

Closing, now,..... on the crowd of kidnappers,
you roar, dead-pan,..... in a heroic voice:
“Unhand that man!”..... The amoeboid mass
discharges two more..... chumps as challengers.

It goes like this:..... while goon number one
runs up to fight you..... face to face,
the sly second one..... sneaks round behind you
and hugs you hard...... But who needs hands?
Held up, you bring..... both feet to bear
on the lead attacker’s..... tender patellae.
On his knees now,..... he is nothing much.
To beat the prick..... pinning your arms,
you butt his face..... with the blunt back
of your concrete cranium...... Cast loose, you swivel
and bury him..... in body-blows.

Wild, then, you bellow,..... “Which of you wimps
is next to be maimed?”..... The remaining mooks
fear you and flee..... toward 41st Street,
abandoning the big,..... bathrobe-wearing
kook they had kidnapped.

kook they had kidnapped. ..... You inquire, panting,
“What was the deal?..... Why’d they want you?”
Each eye infinite ..... as outer space,
he answers your question: ..... “Because what’s coming
flickers like flashbacks ..... in my frazzled brain.
I saw the squid, ..... the escaped animals
years before yesterday, ..... and you way back
and this very evening, ..... when the vulture of iron
met the wall. ..... I remember it all:
Six certain signs, ..... and the seventh is I,
Orin, oracle ..... of Armageddon.”

Your tart retort ..... to his tangled babble
is “That sounds brainy. ..... Bud, you’d better
come home with me ..... and meet my wife.
You can throw weird words ..... at one another.”

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 08-22-2019 at 11:15 AM.
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  #2  
Unread 08-18-2019, 03:29 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is online now
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Hi Aaron,

Yup, more fine work. The seamless web of incident sustains the page-turning pace; you've a good combination of suspense and surprise; and of course rhyme and meter keep your reader in an ideal world adjacent to, but separate from, our own. People will enjoy reading this book.
I have four niggles. One: "and Jim Morrison with his floating hair." How about "or like"? I prefer that scansion and syntax. Two: "cough, cough ... cough, cough" feels meter-driven to me; can you edit the four coughs at all? Three: in this line - "you roar, dead-pan,..... in a heroic voice" - I'd lose the indefinite article, I think it will scan better and be tighter. And four: I am not your ideal reader, since I've spent decades reading variants on the seven plots that they say exist, hundreds of pages at a time. But this reader does grow a bit weary of the constant chain of coincidence and meaning surrounding your protagonist. After all, this is what you get in picaresque novels, but he is unable to step outside for a walk without meaning descending screaming from the sky at him. This reader might enjoy a brief interlude, a walk he took where nothing much happened. It could be that this is antithetical to your goals. But I think it may be worth knowing that despite the surface brilliance of plot and poetry, at least one reader finds the relentless plotting fatiguing in the end. Mind you: I am a guy who has trouble watching movies all the way through. I get bored. I've seen the plot before. So I don't think I will be typical.

Cheers,
John
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  #3  
Unread 08-18-2019, 10:19 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Thank you, John. I will see what I can do about "Michelangelo's God. . .hair."

The coughing on either side of the "You ok?" is supposed to be both performative and funny. We'll see what others have to say about it.

I prefer "roar in a heroic" to "roar in heroic" because I want to avoid the anapest. One has to watch out for too many dactyls and anapests in alliterative verse.

I don't understand your fourth concern--this is a thriller. Thrillers should be tightly plotted. Every section advances the plot. Are you saying that I should include a section that doesn't advance the story? If you prefer idle, directionless narratives, we really do have different tastes. I feel my verse narrative succeeds, when so many others fail, because it always keeps moving forward.

Also, coincidence/fate is a theme in this episode, so there will be serendipitous/predestined events.

Thank you very much for commenting,

Aaron

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 08-18-2019 at 10:27 AM.
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  #4  
Unread 08-18-2019, 10:48 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is online now
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Hi Aaron,

Glad my first point may give you ideas. By all means, wait for more feedback on my other random niggles; meanwhile, your metrical argument about heroic voice sounds well thought through to me.
Thrillers do tend to the breathless, I agree. Our tastes do differ, in that they're not my favorite genre - I find the relentless plotting gets tiresome. As I say, I suspect I am unusual in that. But it is common enough in tightly plotted prose narratives to have interludes in which breath may be caught, and I find such interludes effective as art. As for coincidence as a structuring principle, I remember when I first read Great Expectations in my teens, and charted the coincidences around which Dickens built his story. It bugged me at the time, though I've come to feel it's a perfectly good way to structure art. I agree with Coleridge that art depends on a willing suspension of disbelief. I just feel you may find readers other than myself who develop the feeling that your protagonist is uniquely and serendipitously present at each event dropping into reality from left field, as if reality in fact revolved around him. It certainly provides structure for your plot, and you are right, it makes things breathless. All I can do is give you feedback on its cumulative effect on me.

Cheers,
John
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  #5  
Unread 08-18-2019, 11:49 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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I understand, John. You are like my father (the philosopher) who had trouble suspending disbelief during action movies. I loved him for it.

I understand also that you are talking about what I call "pacing"--the action seems relentless, I think you are saying. There will be a slower, lighter, expository section next.

I hope in this episode to make the coincidences seem predestined.

Or at least to play with that possibility.

Best, best,

Aaron

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 08-18-2019 at 11:54 AM.
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  #6  
Unread 08-18-2019, 05:17 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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I have address John's concern with the description of the prophet Orin by revising to:

. . . that looks a lot like Michelangelo's God
with squalor in this beard and floating hair.

Best,

Aaron
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Unread 08-18-2019, 08:50 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is online now
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Thank you, Aaron, that is very kindly put. I am flattered to be compared in any way to your father in my thinking! I like your explanation of how the pace may change in a forthcoming installment, and how coincidence is indeed a structuring principle in these passages.
Your revision to the Michelangelo passage also seems apt to me.

Cheers,
John
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  #8  
Unread 08-22-2019, 09:44 AM
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Daniel Kemper Daniel Kemper is offline
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Aaron,

Overall, and in widespread detail I love this. It's major flaw is impatience: Mine. When will the book come out?

Misc stuff below to try to add or return some value.

Daniel

NOTE: I love that rhymes are never left; however, there's a maximum distance for listener-detectable auditory effect. Five lines is a bit far--but all in all totally fine if an ear can't keep enough lines in echoic memory to feel those individual rhymes: all the others plus the rock-steady iambics is more than good enough.

"third, now, the iron bird has found the air
hostile and crashed at last. I can recall
what is to come; I have foreseen it all.
"
Is someone channeling Tiresias?

Random twit (a tiny idea, no flaw):
"Then come the cop-cars, then the local news."
Might be a little funny if you can have the local news arrive first.
Maybe: "Then come the cops, just after local news."

mini-nit:
"you see some guys in black tac-gear and jeans
moving as one"
Maybe: "...move in as one" ?
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Unread 08-22-2019, 11:14 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Daniel, thank you very much.

My limit for rhymes is four-lines between. My ear can hold the memory that far but no farther. I space the rhymes out when I want to go prosier and bunch them up when I want to be sententious, generally.

I love both of your suggestion. I will used them both.

Thanks again,

Aaron
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