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  #1  
Unread 11-05-2019, 05:48 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Default A Thing or Two about Love

A Thing or Two about Love

for my wife

All love is love for God, is Dante’s theory
in his Commedia. His other works
say sometimes this, and sometimes not. Our teacher
asks who believes in true love? Every hand
goes up. And then he says the troubadours
came up with that one. It is better to
have loved and lost
, they also say. For all
the chitchat, still the heart has wings. Upon
Queen Mary’s heart was the word Calais, since
she lost that town, I’ve said this. The café
I write in has its ebb and flow; a glance
is traded, a word spoken. This is how
we live our lives, and it is love. If God
observes our world, I’d bet He is content
to see the handshake and the smile, to hear
the cat purr on the lap. “A Thing or Two
about Love” could contain those things, they’re not
uninteresting. All the way from youth
the proffered hand comes; the heart breaks. This is
the air we breathe. A thing or two I’ve lost
will not outweigh my green heart. It will lift
to see you in the doorway, my beloved;
to hear your voice. And this is hardly new,
but it bears telling. If the love for God
is just this feeling, then I’m glad of it.

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  #2  
Unread 11-05-2019, 07:56 AM
Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
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As I read this poem, you are striving to detail a quiet love in a quiet life. You have got the quiet; you still need the love and the life.

More specifics would help: you have "a glance" and "a word" and "a thing or two I've lost", which leave your love private. They're clichés without personal force. Perhaps your wife will see through to their secret meaning; I cannot.

The opening stumbles over itself. You need that opening idea, since you develop that theme as it goes, but what purpose is served by letting us know that Dante's theory in the Commedia is not his theory elsewhere. You're overexplaining external and seemingly irrelevant details at the expense of showing the love that sparked this poem.
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  #3  
Unread 11-05-2019, 09:53 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Aaron,

You are quite right, my wife likes this poem just fine, and she is of course the primary audience. The poem is designed to amble along. Glances and words are indeed the stuff of human interaction; it's been said before, which to the poem is not news. As for Dante, maybe some of that will come out eventually. But I like to show that we all of us have short attention spans, we think of this and that at this and that moment, as the title may suggest. Still the heart has wings.

Cheers,
John
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  #4  
Unread 11-05-2019, 06:46 PM
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Allen Tice Allen Tice is online now
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Aaron Novick: he's said that. This is, to me, I fear, very flat; very matte; very well-fed cat; very bases are empty, I'm going to walk this one here who's at bat; and that's that.

Often enough, even intellectually I feel like a teenager and ready to champion from the sunrise and sweep her up and away on mine whinnying charger; other times there's mellow hello I'm a quiet fellow and thou know'st it well. Though the latter is welcome, 'tisn't dramatic: no soul clap hands and zing. Add zest, add salt, add pepper, add zing; stir until that wife she say, ooowow.
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Unread 11-05-2019, 07:19 PM
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Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is online now
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What Aaron and Allen said. No one gives two hoots about a thing or two and a bunch of clichés. The poem wheezes and grinds like a car with four flat tires. It's frustrating, because there are good things in your poems, if you'd only have some respect for the reader. Here's what I found in this one:


All love is love for God. Who believes in true love?
Upon Queen Mary’s heart was the word Calais.
The café has its ebb and flow. God is content
to see the handshake and the smile, to hear
the cat purr on the lap. All the way from youth
the proffered hand comes. This is the air we breathe.
A thing or two I’ve lost will not outweigh my green heart.
It will lift to see you in the doorway, to hear your voice.
If the love for God is just this feeling, then I’m glad of it.
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  #6  
Unread 11-06-2019, 02:09 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Allen, hi Mary,

Thanks for the visit. Sorry you don't seem to have enjoyed this poem much.
Allen, while you're here, your last comment on Aaron P's poem has the word polyphanic. You might want to spell that word polyphonic. I see you'd like my poem to make my wife say wow. Thanks for your concern. It's already done just that, though, so don't worry yourself unduly.
Mary, I appreciate the time you've spent constructing an alternate take on this piece. Thank you! As for me, the original has a pacing I quite like which I'm afraid I don't find in your rewrite. You are concerned that the original contains "a bunch of cliches" no one gives two hoots about. You don't indicate what those might be, but maybe you are referring to the word and the glance Aaron N pointed to? I don't find either choice any more cliched than wind in leaves, for my own part - a phrase you do seem quite happy with. So color me confused here.
You can watch an hour of wind in leaves on Youtube: https://www.google.com/search?sxsrf=...4dUDCAs&uact=5

Cheers,
John
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  #7  
Unread 11-06-2019, 09:36 AM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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Hey, John!

The poem starts with, as you've put it, a short-attention-span approach, but it's about others' reported experience of love--sometimes actually two people away (a historical person's experience filtered through a teacher). That feels theoretical and cerebral and remote to me.

Which is not necessarily a flaw, if you can offset it with something more physical and immediate. Perhaps you could apply the same short-attention-span approach to concrete details of the narrator's experience of his wife. I'm missing the unsettling intensity of my own firsthand relationships with humans and with God.

Currently, she's as hard to believe in as God is, for many people. I.e., mainly theoretical. It's hard to find evidence in the poem that she's real.

How is the way the narrator's heart lifts at seeing her different from the way his heart might lift on seeing that his parking meter ran out and he wasn't ticketed? There's a sort of mild pleasantness to the poem that is nice, but marriage is about more than just pleasant inertia, isn't it?

Last edited by Julie Steiner; 11-06-2019 at 09:44 AM.
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  #8  
Unread 11-06-2019, 10:46 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Julie,

Thank you for your interesting comment. I think I've put in my useful stint on the Eratosphere and I'm off now. Folks are welcome to comment on this poem if they'd like to, I don't think I'll be responding, or reading it.

Cheers,
John
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  #9  
Unread 11-06-2019, 12:24 PM
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Allen Tice Allen Tice is online now
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Polyphanic.
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  #10  
Unread 11-07-2019, 08:07 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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John,

First, I have no idea if you're reading this, obviously. You and I have butted heads over some of my crits of your poems, but here's some honest advice if you want it. Why not just take a break? And if you do come back, try to think more carefully about why people are giving you the crits that they are, rather than immediately going on the defensive after each comment. Or, in the case of your response to Mary's crit (and the others, to some degree), the fairly obnoxious, petty attack.

Mark
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