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  #1  
Old 05-02-2018, 02:45 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Default At Godís House

[Version IV] God’s House

At God's house
every
window is shuttered
and the floors are littered with hubcaps.
On the walls are His favorite angels;
and the children are sliding
down the stairs
in their parents’ brown suitcases.
There are 3 dogs: Twinkle, Bessie, and Standalone Sam.
There is a fish tank where reality is visible.

At God’s house
everyone is in the back yard
but there is no meat for the barbeque.
It’s the best joke.
In the refrigerator
God has stored everything you loved as a child
and now it’s good for you.
There is a swimming pool in the back yard –
full of barracudas.

At God’s house
there’s a party in the cellar
thrown by the pure in heart,
and they are dancing to ragtime and the blues.
Mom has laid out the sleeping bags,
since tonight is a sleepover.
It’s time for bed.


[Versions I & III] At God’s House

every window is shuttered
and the floors are littered with hubcaps.
On the walls are His favorite angels,
and the children are sliding
down the stairs
in their parents’ brown suitcases.
There are 3 dogs: Twinkle, Bessie, and Standalone Sam.
There is a fishtank where reality is visible.

At God’s house
everyone is in the back yard
but there is no meat for the barbeque.
It’s the best joke.
In the refrigerator
God has stored everything you loved as a child
and now it’s good for you.
There is a swimming pool in the back yard –
full of barracudas.

At God’s house
there’s a wild
party in the cellar
thrown by the pure in heart,
and they are dancing to bluegrass and the blues.
Mom has laid out the sleeping bags,
since tonight is a sleepover, it’s time for bed.



Version II: At God’s House

every window
is shuttered
and the floors
are strewn with hubcaps.
On the walls
are His favorite angels;
children slide
down the stairs
in their parents’ brown suitcases.
There are 3 dogs:
Twinkle, Bessie, and Standalone Sam.
There’s a fish tank where reality is visible.

At God’s house
everyone
is in the back yard
but there’s no meat for the barbeque.
It’s the best joke.
In the refrigerator
God’s stored everything
you loved as a child
and now it’s good for you.
There is a swimming pool in the back yard –
full of barracudas.

At God’s house
there’s a wild
party in the cellar
thrown by the pure in heart,
and they
are dancing
to bluegrass and the blues.
Mom has laid out
the sleeping bags, since tonight's
a sleepover.
It’s time for bed.

Last edited by John Isbell; 05-06-2018 at 01:56 PM.
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  #2  
Old 05-02-2018, 10:54 AM
Mary Meriam's Avatar
Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is offline
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Hi John, may I suggest some poets and poems you may not have read. Your poem first reminded me of this one by Sam Gwynn. Also, Maryann Corbett, Timothy Murphy, and Rhina Espaillat write poems you might enjoy about religious subjects. Two terrific books I highly recommend: Fireworks in the Graveyard by Joy Ladin, and God With Us by Amy Lauren.

I like where you're going with this poem, but it isn't a wow yet.
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Old 05-02-2018, 04:01 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Mary,

Thank you for your visit, and for sharing that very nice poem by Sam Gwynn, new to me (the poem) as are the two collections you mention. In my year or so of visiting the Sphere, I've come to know Maryann's and Rhina's names, but have yet to see their work; I've seen some of Timothy's, though, and thought highly of it.
This poem is a bit of an outlier for me; I wrote it some time ago, and don't anticipate writing much more in this vein (though I do have a whole religion MS.). I find it a bit hermetic, but maybe I can find a way in and then tinker with it in hope of finding a wow.

Thanks again, and I'm glad you like the premise,
John
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Old 05-03-2018, 12:03 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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Godís house is a great idea for a poem, John. Itís pretty hard to comment on rough draft like this, at least for me, since the youíre the only one who knows how youíd want to develop or work on this material. But stick with the conceptóitís a good one: Godís house as the down-home community center. I like it.
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Old 05-03-2018, 03:01 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Andrew,

And thanks for the visit. I'm glad the basic idea appeals to you - it is a bit of a community center, isn't it? God does not seem to be intervening much here, though he's set a tone and likely laid in supplies (and hubcaps and barracudas). This came out just the way it is, as free verse, but if folks would like to prod me to regularize it a bit, I've no a priori objection.
Any thoughts?

Thanks,
John
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Old 05-03-2018, 05:37 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Isbell View Post
This came out just the way it is, as free verse, but if folks would like to prod me to regularize it a bit, I've no a priori objection.
Any thoughts?
There’s no straightforward way to answer that, John. It’s a matter of aesthetics and what one thinks poetry is or should do. I don't think "regularize it" per se is what's needed.

You’ve read a lot of poetry, so probably you just feel differently about these things than I do. I feel that lots of American free verse is sloppy, without much artistry, breaking lines merely by syntactical units or randomly. I’ve done it myself, and I think your piece here does it.

The masters of American free verse—e.g., W.C. Williams and his protťgťs especially, like Denise Levertov or Robert Creeley—structured verses like polished lenses focusing on the different facets of their subjects. They pared things down, polished and made their verses lean. Their poetry has a crystalline quality; it sings and has a tonality or texture different from most prose.

In terms of technique, that, to me, is what’s lacking here. You might start by being more artful in your use of enjambments, punctuation, parts of speech, use of articles, verb forms, etc.. E.g., at the end of this poem:

At God’s house
there’s a wild party
in the cellar, thrown
by the pure of
heart, who dance
to bluegrass and blues.

Get the bopping feel of the place in the writing itself. The writing you have here now reads like a journal entry jotted down, not like a poem.
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Old 05-03-2018, 06:59 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Good morning Andrew,

And thanks for explaining what you're looking for and not finding here yet. Like you, I'm not a big fan of free verse, and my favorite William Carlos Williams poem was written by Kenneth Koch. In any case, I've chopped some lines up, surgically I hope. It won't be the breath that wrote the piece, but it does I think have a certain new music. Let's see what people think.

Cheers,
John
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Old 05-03-2018, 01:35 PM
David Callin David Callin is offline
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I wouldn't regularise it, John. I like it as it is. It has a freewheeling sense of joy and excitement that I find very appealing.

Thereís a fish tank where reality is visible.

That's a great line, but Van the Man came to mind too: There's a dream where the contents are visible

It's where the poetic champions compose!

Cheers

David
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Old 05-03-2018, 03:48 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi David,

I think you mean you prefer the original. I do too, and have put it back at top (fractionally revised). I don't know if it wows, but people seem broadly to like the idea.
Yes, Van the Man.

If I ventured in the slipstream
Between the viaducts of your dream
Could you find me
Would you
Kiss my eyes?

Tremendous music. :-)

Cheers,
John
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Old 05-04-2018, 03:52 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Hi John,

I liked this a lot, even though I don't wholly "get" it, I don't really mind. God's house seems to be, overall, quite a nice place, but not uniformly so. On the one hand the fridge is full of our favourite childhood foods which are now, miraculously good for us (a kind of heaven) on the other hand the swimming pool is full of barracudas (hell -- for us anyway, it might be barracuda heaven I guess) and the windows are shuttered, and then those hubcaps. Everyone is in the backyard but there is no meat for the barbecue and this is "the best joke", but for whom? -- Is God is tricking people because everyone was expecting (figuratively speaking) meat, a barbecue, in heaven? And is God the only one laughing, or does everyone find it funny? I don't know, but I enjoy the uncertainty, the idea that God's house is mostly nice, but there are some less nice bits. Oh, and I love the fish-tank where reality is visible.

OK, so I'm going to comment on 'version I&III'. I don't think the short lines are working for you in version II.

I find it a little odd that the title runs into the poem, but subsequent stanzas start with "At God's house". It seems a little unbalanced. I'd say have all the stanzas start with "At God's house", even if that means repeating the the title (maybe call it "God's house").

On the walls are His favorite angels,
and the children are sliding
down the stairs

"the children" rather begs the question, what children? If we know nothing about the children, might losing the definite article be worth considering, as you did in VII? Maybe "and there are children sliding" or "and children are sliding"?

You might also consider separating this into two sentences (or using a semicolon as you did in Version II). The angels on the walls. The children on the stairs. They don't seem that connected -- or maybe it's reversal of subject and object in the children clause that makes me think separate sentences would work better: "the windows are", "the floor is", "the walls are", but then we switch, and it's not "the stairs are", but "the children are".

At God’s house
there’s a wild
party in the cellar

I'm not a fan of the enjambment on "wild" here, and it's not in keeping with the rest of the poem. Everywhere you only break at standard syntactic junctures. Here you separate an adjective from a noun. I'm guessing the intention is to emphasise the word 'wild'. I might just go with "there's a wild party / in the cellar" or "there's a wild party in the cellar".

and they are dancing to bluegrass and the blues.

In terms of sounds, I'm not a fan of the repetition of 'blue'.

Mom has laid out the sleeping bags,
since tonight is a sleepover, it’s time for bed.


There's a comma-splice happening here. Is it: "Mom has laid out the sleeping bags, since tonight is a sleepover. It’s time for bed." or "Mom has laid out the sleeping bags. Since tonight is a sleepover, it’s time for bed."?

Anyway, very nicely done. I think this may be my favourite of yours that I've seen.

best,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 05-04-2018 at 03:54 PM.
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