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Unread 06-01-2020, 05:57 PM
Cally Conan-Davies Cally Conan-Davies is offline
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Australia
Posts: 4,095
Default Air

Exhibits at the Museum of the Air

birds of the whole earth, clouds of blowing hair, in the east
wing a windsock, in the west willy-willies, reports of war, in
the north, halls, long tunnels of arias, bubbles from Japanese
fishing floats, an open leather bag tagged Aeolus to Odysseus,
a ghost's net, petrichor, bolts of heaven's cloths, in the south,
bluish fumes of Gondwanaland, Love's open hand, contrails
like unravelling scars, trailings off . . . or nothing, depending
on how close you've sailed to the sharp winds blowing the want
& weight out of the heart lifting & dying under enormous
pressures, the truly useful part of cups, fragments of stars
& the gasp of a boy who just might have fallen through it ~

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Unread 06-01-2020, 09:19 PM
Orwn Acra's Avatar
Orwn Acra Orwn Acra is offline
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: NYC
Posts: 2,055

So much to like and think about. An album I listen to a lot is Toshiya Tsunoda's Pieces of Air, which is field recordings of air: blown through a pipe, shifting on a hillside, carrying the azaan in Turkey, etc. So I like this, too, particularly the more abstract ones: "an open leather bag tagged Aeolus to Odysseus" for instance. I wonder if you can modulate the air flow by replacing some of the commas with semicolons.

It is of course a topical poem, but not obviously one.
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Unread 06-02-2020, 04:04 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
Join Date: May 2013
Location: England, UK
Posts: 3,687

Hi Cally,

This is a wonderful idea for a list poem, and I really enjoyed it. Among other delights, I love that Gondwanaland is there.

I wasn't sure if, after the the trailing off, we stayed in the south or returned to the museum in general. I suspect the latter, since otherwise the south gets most of the poem, and the idea of the museum as a whole containing nothing seems to make more sense in terms of what follows, but maybe there's a reason for focusing on the south, and the possibility of there being nothing in that wing, that I'm missing. If it is a return to the general case, it might help to break the line after the ellipsis (which would emphasise the trailing off too) and carry on a line below, i.e.

like unravelling scars, trailings off . . .
like unravelling scars, trailings off . . . or nothing, depending
on how close you've sailed to the sharp winds blowing the want

Although 'petrichor' is normally articleless, I wondered about "a petrichor", which makes it sounds a bit like a bird.


Last edited by Matt Q; 06-02-2020 at 06:35 AM. Reason: still learning to spell ...
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Unread 06-02-2020, 04:28 AM
Clive Watkins Clive Watkins is offline
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Yorkshire, UK
Posts: 2,407

Dear Cally

This is just delightful, if – to me – slightly baffling. (But delightfully baffling!)

It may well be “a topical poem”, but I have no idea. Perhaps what hints in this direction is the phrase “east / wing” as it might be the East Wing of the White House; but this building, as I understand it, has only an East Wing and a West Wing. Your “construction” has a wing for each of the four wind-directions. As you know I am not an American. (One of my sons had a university friend who grew up in a house with “wings” – a large country house here in the north of England.)

The reference to Aeolus and Odysseus, with other details, suggested to me that the important clue was the title. This is an airy jeu d’esprit invoking and playing with a wide range of “airy” images. It’s a “list poem”, and we can make of the list what we will. At the moment, I just want to enjoy it. Here are some bits I found particularly pleasing: “clouds of blowing hair”, “long tunnels of arias” (lovely pun), “bolts of heaven's cloths”, “contrails / like unravelling scars, trailings off”, “depending / on how close you've sailed to the sharp winds blowing the want / & weight out of the heart lifting & dying under enormous / pressures”, “the gasp of a boy who just might have fallen through it”. I like the way it just trails off, an instance of its own earlier phrase.

I have no idea how to regard its metre – or why it is posted here and not at Non-Metrical. But that is largely beside the point. I did notice that the title and the first nine words make a rhyming, loosely five-beat couplet: “Exhibits at the Museum of the Air / birds of the whole earth, clouds of blowing hair”. This was rhythmically pleasing, and I wondered if the poem was going to continue with cunningly concealed metrical units – but apparently not.

Advice? Stay away from semicolons here. (Sorry, Orwn.) Beware of fiddling with your fine confection.

(Now someone is going to tell me what it really means!)

Thanks, Cally!

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Unread 06-02-2020, 06:04 AM
Rob Wright Rob Wright is offline
Join Date: Sep 2007
Location: Philadelphia PA, U.S.A.
Posts: 849


Let me second (and third) the other commenters. This is just lovely. The lift of the words as well as their music just rings, like a bell swinging from strike to strike. "in the west, willie-willies" is pure Calley. And like Clive, I loved the line an open leather bag tagged Aeolus to Odysseus, . And Gondwanaland is a nice touch as you are, after all, a daughter of that lost world. No nits – I'd feel churlish doing so, feeble as I feel at the moment – I can only offer praise. I'll come back if I need to offer any suggestions. I am, however, with Clive in not thinking that semicolons are going to contribute anything but to slow the pace – and don't do that.
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Unread 06-02-2020, 07:17 AM
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Daniel Kemper Daniel Kemper is offline
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: California
Posts: 839

This style isn't really my cup of tea, so critique might be impacted by taste. Certainly there are a great number of images in it and I do like the theme of air that ties it all together, but I wonder if it's misplaced on the boards. It doesn't seem very metrical to me. Sometimes I just miss the obvious though.
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Unread 06-02-2020, 08:00 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Lazio, Italy
Posts: 5,129

I think this is just fantastic, Cally. Exhilirating. Such a rush to read it. It’s airy and concrete in its particulars, so while I can feel the air on my face I am also seeing it turned over in multiple ways. The steady stream of imagery, the surprising whiplash of enjambments, the lovely strings of open vowels, and the over-the-top alliteration e.g. wing-windsock-west-willy-willies-war—wow! Petrichor is a new word for me, and it’s wonderful. What a handy little lexical nugget—we experienced it just the other day, after our draught of a spring. Likewise Gondwanaland, like a name out of an early 20th-century anthropologist’s notebook.

And the title is a delight as well, it totally piqued my interest.

Every rift loaded with ore, as someone said.

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Unread 06-02-2020, 09:20 AM
Ron Greening Ron Greening is offline
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: Rural Manitoba
Posts: 83

If this is a silk knot that I can't fully untie, the colour and texture of the all the threads is enough reward. I think topicality can be found in blowing the want & weight out of the heart lifting and dying under enormous pressures, in its echo of the death of a black man by a callous crushing that has ignited American cities and beyond. And the famous hair. Im not sure that this connection is at the core of the poem. Oh, and maybe the blueish fumes from the burning Australian bush.

But sense of sense of the poem is not topical. For me it is wistful and airy and full of a sadness that slips though my fingers.
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Unread 06-02-2020, 09:24 AM
Kurt Rasmussen Kurt Rasmussen is offline
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Join Date: May 2020
Location: Las Vegas, NV
Posts: 23

I liked the voice in my head immediately on this, but I did have to consult the google three times in the first half of the poem. That may be a good or a bad thing to you, or your audience may simply be those better educated than I in those respects. I'm just mentioning.

Starting with "contrails like unraveling scars" (which is an awesome image) the poem started grabbing me.

L9 & L10 could cause me to interpret this poem as topical, but readers in a year will not make that connection.

The last line is terrific, a very effective ending.

I enjoyed it a lot, thanks.
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Unread 06-02-2020, 09:32 AM
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R. Nemo Hill R. Nemo Hill is offline
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Location: Halcott, New York
Posts: 9,115

It manages to support every exquisite detail (known and unknown) with the invisible skeleton of whoosh.

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