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  #1  
Unread 11-13-2019, 10:27 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Default Rusty

Rusty

I remember I had trapped a nerve
and lay there, codeine high and idle.
I found a box of tools and built
a crowded boat from balsa wood,
launched it out to a lakeside moon
and soon there was a fleet, and soon
the still and glassy lake looked tidal.

I worry it may list and founder —
nurtured, just to sink and shatter.
I tell my prize to hush its chatter
(mixing metaphors like drinks),
to close its crazy pinwheel eyes
and show its tongue. An exercise
in trusting taste. A child’s surprise.

But still it frets, folds napkins the size
of sails, unfolds them — seven times —
a crayon drawing of a watercolour
of bonfire smoke from a waking dream.
A rusty anchor. A builder's brick.
I drop it, lob it, hope to hit
a treasure chest, a jeweller's window.



cut much of S3 and merged 3 and 4
various other small changes.




Rusty

It caught me quite off guard, the start.
I remember I had trapped a nerve
and lay there, codeine high and idle.
I found a box of tools and built
a boat from words and balsa wood,
launched it out to a lakeside moon
and soon there was a fleet, and soon
the still and glassy lake looked tidal.

And if it goes for good, what then?
Nurtured all these months for nothing,
to plummet to the floor and shatter.
I tell my prize to hush its chatter,
close its crazy pinwheel eyes
and show its tongue. An exercise
in trust and taste. A child’s surprise.

But still it frets, folds napkins the size
of football fields, seven times in
then out again and here we are —
a dirty mouth and an empty page —
a crayon drawing of a photograph
of bonfire smoke from a waking dream.
The solidity of family, flesh,
the grip of work, all sculpted once
by blades now dull and oxidised.

A blunted instrument. A brick.
I mix these metaphors like drinks,
down them and lob it out in hope.
I might just hit a jeweller's window.
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  #2  
Unread 11-14-2019, 05:08 PM
Mary Meriam's Avatar
Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is offline
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This one might be too self-referential to reach the reader enough. Poems about writing poems are tricky. Poems complaining about writing poems usually tank. I wish you could somehow rescue all the wonderful parts of this poem and give them a new metaphorical home. Like instead of saying "words" here, say something else, and let the ars poetica be less obvious: a boat from words and balsa wood
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  #3  
Unread 11-14-2019, 06:19 PM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is online now
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Mark,

I'm with Mary here. As usual, the sonics work well here, but I'm not seeing it come together in a satisfying way.

Smaller chunks work really well:

close its crazy pinwheel eyes
and show its tongue.

a crayon drawing of a photograph
of bonfire smoke from a waking dream.

I mix these metaphors like drinks,
down them and lob it out in hope.

As is often the case, I think Mary is right about how to proceed.
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  #4  
Unread 11-16-2019, 06:19 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hi Mary,

Yes, your point is well taken. I do think most good poems are written ultimately for the poet rather than the reader, and that sense of necessity and sincerity is what makes them work for the reader. But there are degrees within that process, obviously, and this one was perhaps a bit too much of a private exercise. I've tried to make the poetry analogy less obvious, and hopefully give it less of a sense of 'complaint'. Nobody likes a whinger haha.

Hi Andrew,

Thanks for saying there are bits that you do like. Whether it coheres any better now, I'm not sure. It is quite scattered in its imagery. Perhaps a bit less so now. The 'mixing metaphors' line tries to self-referentially address this I suppose, but that may come across as a bit of a cheat. Hmm. It was one of those poems where I really didn't know where it was going when I started and for good or bad that probably shows.

Well, a tentative rewrite. I've cut about 8 lines, evened up the stanza length, and changed some stuff.

Cheers.
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  #5  
Unread 11-16-2019, 07:27 AM
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Rick Mullin Rick Mullin is online now
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Hi Mark,

The revision is quite effective. It amps up the mystery behind the metaphors. And the predominant metaphor of the boat comes more into focus.

I would consider going with "it" instead of "we" in line one of stanza 2.


Rick
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  #6  
Unread 11-16-2019, 07:54 AM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is online now
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Mark,

I think the revision has taken the parts I liked and effectively re-arranged them. Further, I think you did a nice job of using Mary's suggestion without fundamentally altering your ultimate vision.
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  #7  
Unread 11-17-2019, 05:53 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Thanks you two. I'm glad the revision seems to have rescued something from the babble. Rick, I took your suggestion of 'it' for 'we'. Cheers.
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  #8  
Unread 11-17-2019, 09:07 AM
Mary Meriam's Avatar
Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is offline
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Hi Mark, I don't think your revision works as well as the original. May I suggest the lines I'd delete from your original? It's interesting to try and imagine the underlying metaphor if it isn't writing poems. Mid-life crisis? I think the trapped nerve part is too self-referential, though I know you feel it's important. I like this L1 though.

Rusty

It caught me quite off guard, the start.
I remember I had trapped a nerve
and lay there, codeine high and idle.

I found a box of tools and built
a boat from words and balsa wood,
launched it out to a lakeside moon
and soon there was a fleet, and soon
the still and glassy lake looked tidal.

And if it goes for good, what then?
Nurtured all these months for nothing,
Nurtured, just to sink and shatter. <----(good line from revision)
I tell my prize to hush its chatter,
close its crazy pinwheel eyes
and show its tongue. An exercise
in trust and taste. A child’s surprise.


But still it frets, folds napkins the size
of football fields, seven times in
then out again and here we are —
a dirty mouth and an empty page —
a crayon drawing of a photograph
of bonfire smoke from a waking dream.
The solidity of family, flesh,
the grip of work, all sculpted once
by blades now dull and oxidised.

A blunted instrument. A brick.
I mix these metaphors like drinks,
down them and lob it out in hope.
I might just hit a jeweller's window.
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  #9  
Unread 11-17-2019, 09:08 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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x
I do think that the stronger you make the central metaphor of a boat made and set to sail the more engaging this will become.

Take this with a grain of salt, but I don't think you need to even try to bring this to some culminating grand conclusion. Leave it sailing in a to-be-continued kind of way.

Metaphors are our friends : )

x
x
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  #10  
Unread 11-17-2019, 09:11 AM
Mary Meriam's Avatar
Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is offline
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Yeah, Jim, I love the boat part too. I like your to-be-continued idea. Could also be just "rusty."
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