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 03-15-2019, 03:02 PM
Woody Long's Avatar
Woody Long Woody Long is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Arlington, Virginia
Posts: 1,388
Default Insomnia

Rooming House (Revision 1)

Now all the shades are drawn,
All of the people gone
Into their beds asleep.

Endlessly counting sheep,
Only I lie awake,
Rolling about the bed,
Turning to heave a sigh,
Praying for pity's sake
Give this poor boy a break,
Wishing that I could die.
Wishing that I were dead.

What are those sounds I hear,
Pattering far and near,
Clattering on and on,
Galloping into dawn?

What is that jumpty-jump?
What is that bumpty-bump?
What is that tappity-tat?
What is that bappity-bat?

Is that
The cat?

Rooming House (Original)

Now all the shades are drawn,
All of the people gone
Into their beds asleep.

Only I lie awake.
Into my sheets I weep,
Weep for the pity's sake,
Rolling about the bed,
Turning to heave a sigh,
Wishing that I could die.
Wishing that I were dead.

What are those sounds I hear,
Pattering far and near,
Clattering on and on,
Galloping into dawn?

What is that jumpty-jump?
What is that bumpty-bump?
What is that tappity-tat?
What is that bappity-bat?

Is that
The cat?


-----------
Revisions (in chronological order)
• the title was Insomnia
• Revision 1. Revised only S2.

Last edited by Woody Long; 03-17-2019 at 07:56 PM. Reason: changed the title from "Insomnia" to "Rooming House"
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Unread 03-16-2019, 09:18 PM
Max Goodman Max Goodman is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
Posts: 1,432
Default

Hi, Woody,

I get the feeling that the poem is about something that's outside the poem. The speaker may be weeping for something other than his insomnia. He seems to have a guess at what he's hearing, and he doesn't think it's the cat. I don't know what he's weeping for or what he thinks he might be hearing and the mystery isn't intriguing me.

I might be more moved by the absences in the poem if they contrasted more strongly with the things in the poem, but those feel equally withheld. None of the lines about insomnia is closely enough shown to impact me; I need more detail. If I could feel the speaker's wish to die, for instance, that would move me. But the words that are there don't help me feel it; I'm not even sure whether I'm right to take them literally or whether they are the common colloquial overstatement.

Sorry not to have a more positive reaction.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Unread 03-17-2019, 03:30 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
Distinguished Guest
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 4,065
Default

Woody,

I like the opening of this poem a fair but you lose me when the syntactic inversion and weeping show up.

Maybe, for the first half of the poem:


Now the shades are drawn,
All of the people gone
Into their beds to sleep.

Only I lie awake,
Rolling about the bed,
Turning to heave a sigh,
Wishing that I could die.
Wishing that I were dead.

. . . . .

That's pretty good.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Unread 03-17-2019, 07:45 PM
Woody Long's Avatar
Woody Long Woody Long is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Arlington, Virginia
Posts: 1,388
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Max Goodman View Post
I get the feeling that the poem is about something that's outside the poem.
Thanks for your comments, Max. I can see how this interpretation is plausible. Maybe what I thought was just hyperbole in S2 is too much OTT. So I've tried to tone it down some. At least the weeping is gone.

I think that whatever else may or may not be going on, the cat is, little doubt, the immediate trigger of the N's sleeplessness.

----------
Aaron

Spurred by your remarks, I've ditched the weeping along with the inversion. I do want the rhymes so I've also made other revisions in S2. Not easy.

----------
Revision 1 posted.

— Woody

Last edited by Woody Long; 03-17-2019 at 08:09 PM. Reason: added comment about the cat as the trigger of the N's sleeplessness.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Unread Yesterday, 08:19 AM
Max Goodman Max Goodman is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
Posts: 1,432
Default

Hi, Woody,

Forgive me if I'm unhelpfully repeating myself.

I think your comment tells me that the wish to die is hyperbole.

I still don't know whether the prayer is hyperbole. If it's a literal prayer, it would be helpful for me to hear it (and maybe see the speaker praying). I don't know whether the sheep counting is literal.

The only thing that I'm certain is literal (now that your comment has told me) is the cat.

Just for the hell of it, you might try a draft--maybe even in prose--that starts with "Is that the cat?" From there, stick to what the speaker literally feels, sees, experiences, thinks. (If he's thinking in hyperbole, you might be careful with that.) You might discover details the poem will find useful.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Unread Yesterday, 08:26 AM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: New York
Posts: 14,286
Default

I'd omit the first five lines, especially the counting sheep cliche.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Unread Yesterday, 10:28 AM
Simon Hunt Simon Hunt is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: Monterey, CA USA
Posts: 1,955
Default

I'm missing something here, Woody, because others are finding things of interest here but I just see a tonally incoherent pile of cliches about insomnia (a subject I, alas, know very well). And then it ends as childish doggerel. Sorry, but I thought it might be useful to know that at least one reader finds this a non-starter. I've been wrong before--often--and may well be wrong here...
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Unread Yesterday, 11:00 AM
Woody Long's Avatar
Woody Long Woody Long is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Arlington, Virginia
Posts: 1,388
Default

Roger

Thanks for the suggestion, which aims at concision I guess. I want the brief exposition and the sound.

----------
Max

I think there are no metaphorical devices in the poem, just straightforward statements. Some of the actions described are perhaps more than would be expected, e.g. the original S2L2, Into my sheets I weep. That was what I meant by hyperbole.

----------
Simon

Your reaction is probably typical. The poem maybe does a bit better read aloud.

Woody
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Unread Yesterday, 11:56 AM
Julie Steiner's Avatar
Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: San Diego, CA, USA
Posts: 5,611
Default

Woody, if you want the rest of the poem to be taken seriously, as it seems you do, you can't mention a deathwish (twice), hint at the galloping of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, and then follow with humorous, juvenile-sounding onomatopoeia and a kitty-cat.

You just can't.

Sorry.

And I don't think reading it aloud would change that apparently-unintended comedic effect.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Unread Yesterday, 12:27 PM
RCL's Avatar
RCL RCL is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 5,241
Default

Woody, I'd drop S3-4 and end with the cat question. That way it feels more sinister to me (a nonlover of cats). Yours reminds me of this one by member Rose Kelleher, on the back cover of Native Species:

Something is hungry, something I've forgotten.
I hear it scratching at my kitchen door,
waiting for me to let it in. It's hidden.
I search, but don't know what I'm searching for.

Cheers,
__________________
Ralph
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: 7,958
Total Threads: 19,404
Total Posts: 248,430
There are 123 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