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  #1  
Unread 08-18-2019, 02:36 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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Default Moving on up

Farewell Mariana

I scaled only the heights
a fish scales, but started

very deep. My Sherpas
had the sad flat eyes

of flatfish, their battered
fingers stumped

by knots. Leaving behind
my small garden

of xenophyphores, I pressed on,
unimpressed by the terrible

pressures of depth
and all that blackness

lacks. Approaching the lip
of the trench, we made camp

with the lamphreys
and elephant eels; I planted

flag irises that floated
iridescent with the fire

of small victory.
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  #2  
Unread 08-18-2019, 07:43 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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x
Hi Matt,
Just catching this before heading off to sleep. Glad I did and wanted to give my reflections on it, quickly.
This is strange and wonderful (the two words I most often think of when I read your work). The connection to Mariana (I take her to be the woman who has fueled your most recent poems) is as esoteric and exotic as the landscape you map out in the poem -- but the connection is unmistakable, deep, strong and full of fire. Still, there is a sinking, heavy feeling of isolation that underscores everything. That, to me, is why the poem is a farewell poem. Starkly beautiful -- and surprisingly painful.

As I often don't take the time to truly crit a poem, I have made a point of putting aside what I like about this and have gone back a few times to scour for parts that might be improved. Nothing. All I can come up with are:
  • The couplets are an interesting way to layer this deep dive. You could experiment further with form, but I like the way the images roll out, so no.
  • There is a great mix of near/off rhymes, word play, and so on...
  • I came up with different spellings for xenophyphores (Xenophyophores?) and lamphreys (lampreys?). But I understand their place in the deepest parts of the ocean
That's it. Going up for air, but Iíll come back to stare some more at the wonderful, strange garden youíve inhabited here.
x
x
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  #3  
Unread 08-18-2019, 09:34 PM
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Woody Long Woody Long is offline
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Matt —

The imagery is clear & evocative.

I follow the general drift of the trope, but am somewhat disoriented. I think that maybe there are some puns here and there, including some that I don't see.

Title - I get echoes of So Long Marianne & also Farewell Angelina, along with the Mariana Trench.

S1L2 - scales: I feel the double meaning (verb or noun?) is distracting.

S2 & S3 - I take it that the Sherpas likely are flatfish.

The general mood I get is down, relieved somewhat by the flag irises waving victory at the neat & effective ending.

— Woody

Last edited by Woody Long; 08-18-2019 at 09:40 PM.
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  #4  
Unread 08-19-2019, 02:44 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Matt,

I agree, this is weird and nice. I think I'd drop three things: the title, which I feel is a bit cute and not in keeping with the mystery you're creating (I don't need a Dylan/Cohen reference there); the pun on scales in L 2, also cute and distracting in the pull between noun and verb; and the word lacks later - all that blackness is unimpressive, I think, in itself, and the enjambment just distracts and muddles this reader instead of enlightening him. Them's my votes. What remains is to my mind really good. I wondered about the Sherpas and am much happier now I see them as literal flatfish.

Cheers,
John
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  #5  
Unread 08-19-2019, 06:36 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hi Matt,

The songs I thought of were Pixies' 'Wave of Mutilation', with its reference to the Mariana trench, and also 'Where is my Mind?'. Both have a similar metaphorical relationship to the undersea world and its related flora and fauna. This is a nice addition to your poetic mythology and a wry, downbeat take on the idea of 'coming out of the depths' ó of trauma, depression, life, what have you.

I'm ok with the verb/noun ambiguity of scales, I quite like it. 'Fish' and 'fingers' so close together made me think of fishfingers. I don't know how deliberate this was but it kind of works for me. I imagine its the kind of thing the N, in his non metaphorical world, might eat.
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  #6  
Unread 08-19-2019, 08:44 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Yes of course Mariana Trench. But I still connect it to a woman gone.
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  #7  
Unread 08-20-2019, 05:20 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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Matt,
This is an effective piece about surfacing from depression. One of the things that makes it hard to write about depression is that the depressed perspective is so nonverbal and flat. But here, the buoyancy of the short couplets and the playful imagery and naming of the sea creatures gives a palpable sense of coming out of a dark and oppressive mood. I like it.
One nit: for line 4 “sad flat eyes” misses an opporunity by using “flat,” which is redundant since it’s used just below, and “sad,” which is tell-y. Would “Picasso” or “cubist” eyes work? Or something else that emphasizes the distorted appearance of having both eyes pushed to the same side, rather than the flatness or sadness.
Andrew
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  #8  
Unread 08-20-2019, 04:31 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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Jim, Woody, John, Mark, Andrew,

Many thanks for your comments on this.

As this poem is heavy with word and sound-play, I can see how that might be obscuring what's going on. The premise is that the N starts at the bottom of the Mariana Trench, the deepest place on earth. He mounts an expedition to climb the wall of the trench. Arriving at the top of it, he plants his flag (irises). It's a small victory because he's now on the ocean floor, still a very long way from the surface. I'd be interested to know how much of that came across, and if it's too obscure, I'll need to think about what to do to make it clearer.

Jim, I'm very pleased you found it strange and wonderful. I'd not intended it to be about leaving a woman, but I can see how you got there from the the title.

Woody, I hadn't actually thought of the song titles. Not sure how I missed that. Maybe I could even call it "So long, Mariana", with a possible play on "so long" to indicate that he'd been there a long time -- long enough to have a garden anyway. And yes, there's a lot of punning, I can see how that might be disorienting.

John, thanks for letting me know what doesn't work for you, and what does. Regarding 'lacks', I quite like that the line reads one way before enjambment and another after -- and that both meanings seem to work for the poem. That said it will wrong-foot the reader, at least on the first reading, because it requires the reader to reparse. I'd wondered whether to move 'lacks' up to previous line. I don't really want to lose it; I quite like the rhyme with 'blackness', and the sense of blackness as lack.

Mark, I didn't know that Pixies song, I'm listening to it now. And yes, fish fingers, indeed. And in batter

Andrew, thanks. I'll give "the sad, flat" some thought. I don't think 'flat' is redundant since in the first occurrence it refers to the eyes, and in the second to the fish (and it echoes the repetition of "scaled"/"scales". 'Flat eyes' on its own might imply sad, I guess, in that sense of "flat". Fish eyes, especially on dead fish on fish counters, often strike me as melancholy. And yes, maybe I can do something with the fact that its eyes are both on the same side of its head. I'll think on it.

Thanks again all.

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 08-20-2019 at 06:51 PM.
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  #9  
Unread 08-26-2019, 03:22 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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x
Matt: I'd not intended it to be about leaving a woman, but I can see how you got there from the the title.

Yes, there's that -- but I also took the whole thing as psychedelic metaphor took what was being said on the surface as one big metaphor of one person's bottomless sorrow and his journey back to light and air. From blackness to iridescence.

Quite often, for good reasons, poems call to mind songs, as this one did for different readers. For me I see a similarity to the way Lennon's Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds can be viewed as an innocent ekphrastic of a little girl'd school drawing (which is what Lennon said it was) to a surreal accounting of an LSD trip... And now it occurs to me that there is an echo of Leonard Cohen's title "So Long Marianne" that might have tipped me toward thinking that there was a reference to a woman.

I was aware, at some point, of the obvious references to the deepest point of the sea (Mariana Trench) but chose to ignore that obvious reality and form one of my own: the depth of sorrow that is lost love. Just my imagination at play... I personally would not want you to deter me from my interpretation by making things any clearer. I'm happy with the image : )
x
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  #10  
Unread 08-26-2019, 11:33 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
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Jim,

Thanks for coming back, and for the feedback. "one person's bottomless sorrow and his journey back to light and air" will do for me. I guess I was wondering if the it came across that it was a small victory, because the N was still at the bottom of the ocean, which I could conceivably make clearer, or more directly refer to, somehow.

best,

Matt
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