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 07-28-2019, 04:08 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
Distinguished Guest
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 4,293
Default Birdstrike, Earthquake, Fire on the Water

The Third Omen: Birdstrike

The night is calm and cloudless, and the hour,
very late. The setting: Teterboro
Airport in Jersey. Timothy McGower
has pulled his new G6 out of a hanger.
(He has received approval from the Tower.)
He doesn’t want to be around tomorrow
and have to hide from his investors’ anger
when they discover their accounts are drained.
Six months ago he secretly obtained
his pilot’s license in anticipation
of this covert escape, and, look, the weather
could not be better.
could not be better. What’s his destination?
Cuba, which has no extradition treaty
with the United States. His teenaged sweetie
Krystal Dijon (the choicest of his blondes)
is waiting there already. A chamois leather
tote containing sheaves of bearer-bonds
totaling 15 billion, all together,
is safe (he checks) beside his pilot’s chair.

As Timothy accelerates toward take off,
he thinks, I’m really going to do it—make off
with all my clients’ money and be free
to party. All I had to do was dare.


(O Timothy, hubristic billionaire,
don’t be too hasty in your ecstasy:
there is an echelon of geese, revenge, in
the clear night air.)
the clear night air.) They strike the starboard engine
first, then the port, and he will certainly
be crashing. He can see, Oh God, Times Square
(Madame Tussauds, those giant TV screens),
then he can see what must be Bryant Park
(Gingkos and maples, various lamplit greens),
then everything goes permanently dark.

. . . . .

S1L7 was "and have to deal with his investors' anger"
S4L3 was "because there is a V of geese, revenge, in"
S5L2-3 were "and most assuredly
he will be crashing. He can see Times Square"

. . . . .

The Fourth Omen: Earthquake

At 6:13 pm a seismographic
scrawl of considerable amplitude
pronounces, Woe to Highbridge, Bronx! The chthonic
throes only escalate. Earth comes unglued.
Land breakers shattering the blacktop, traffic
from Harlem River Drive to the Taconic
honks, swerves and piles up ugly. The tectonic
convulsions spread out, echoing, downtown.
New York, your day of reckoning has come.

The epicenter, Yankee Stadium,
is dust. All fifty-six exclusive suites
have crumpled, and the most expensive seats
(the ones behind home plate) have tumbled down
into the dugouts. (Seems there was a curse.)

The waves themselves are bad enough but worse
what they deposit in their wake: the soil
pitching and lurching under ranks on ranks
of poles, the power lines rip loose and spark;
then the entire metropolis goes dark.

But what may prove the worst is: storage tanks
containing flammable transformer oil
rupture and flood the East and Hudson Rivers.
Con Ed, the corporation that delivers
the light of life to Lady Liberty
and everything, had better make a quick
recovery and skim that rainbow slick,
or else, or else. . .we’ll have to wait and see.

. . . . .

S1L8 was "convulsions echo on through Lowertown"
. . . . .

The Fifth Omen: Fire on the Water

Claire Custer, born and bred in Rocky Ridge,
Utah, has ridden her beglittered bike
through Chinatown and up the Brooklyn Bridge.
Once at the top, she lights a Lucky Strike
(A British friend has given her the pack.)
and leans her forearms on the iron railing.

Why is she blissful, why at peace, in spite
of shattered freeways and the power failing?
Because the vast night sky, at last, is back.
(It’s easy to forget how very black
the cosmos is when one is in the gaudy
excitement of Manhattan every night.)

She squints awhile, and scattered points of light
gather themselves, for her, into Orion,
the skewed head and interminable body
of Draco, either Bear, the Swan, the Lyre,
even the Dolphin and the Lesser Lion.

When her cigarette is almost done,
she drops the still-lit butt (a smidge of fire)
over the railing. Time to go to bed.
But holy. . . something raucous has begun
beneath her. There is rumbling on the water,
and orange there. An exhalation hotter
than any earthly breeze has scorched the air.
Just look at that! The liquid blaze has spread
so far already up and down the river.
Already flames have found the bars and stores
that line the South Street Seaport.
that line the South Street Seaport. Claire, O Claire,
you new Prometheus, you shy fire-giver,
why have you up and pedaled off instead
of staying to admire this work of yours?

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 07-29-2019 at 03:40 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Unread 07-28-2019, 05:40 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 4,698
Default

Hi Aaron,

There's a lot of apparent ease to this writing, which I guess reflects the reader's ease in moving through the narrative. It's also lively and fairly limpid.
There were a couple of small stumbles for me. In "and most assuredly / he will be crashing," that tense seemed odd to my ear. Why not, "he'll soon be crashing," or some such?
After "Land breakers shattering the blacktop," I think I'd have a period - the tense changes. "Lowertown" seems to me less compelling than convenient, unless people do say it. For Con Ed, "and everything" seemed a bit too New York for me. For "smidge," I might have smudge.
Finally, and globally, would you like your language to challenge the reader more? The price of ease is I think transparency, and readers may digest your creation without the labor of the brain that induces trance. This seems to me to contain the virtues of great prose, more than anything vatic. I guess it all depends what you are looking for. It is certainly an achievement, and certainly art.

Cheers,
John
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Unread 07-28-2019, 06:20 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
Distinguished Guest
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 4,293
Default

John, thank you. I am glad to hear that these sections come off as effortless--they weren't but that's what I'm after. I hope my narrative work challenges the reader as much as Homer's "Odyssey" does for those who know Greek, and as much as Byron's "Don Juan" does for those who know English. I fear that too much emphasis on "strangeness" and "complexity" has cost poetry a lot of readers. Poetry can be many things, and "strange" and "complex" and "challenging" are only three of them.

You are right about "Lowertown"--people more often say "Lower Manhattan" or simply "downtown." I have revised that line.

The "everything" is a colloquialism but this is an American epic, and the narrator speaks the way that I hear Americans speaking--it's all about living language.

I'm not sure I understand how the tense is off in "most assuredly/he will be crashing."

The "soil . . . poles" is an absolute condition--a floating modifier: "Under the condition of the soil . . ."

"smidge" is meant to emphasize how small the cherry of the cigarette is, in contrast to the conflagration which it sparks.

Thank you for your suggestions,

Aaron

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 07-28-2019 at 06:29 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Unread 07-28-2019, 07:16 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 4,698
Default

Hi Aaron,

Yes, ease does not come easy. But this does give the appearance of ease. As you say, strangeness and complexity are just two possible virtues of a poem, and they have their limits. I simply found your limpidity here, if you will, worth pointing out. The text appears to go down easy, which can mean quickly.
I think this line - "most assuredly/he will be crashing" - would seem less odd to me if it concluded "... driving for the next five hours."
I see what you mean about the floating modifier. Smidge I think I just don't much like, as a word - it's always felt coy to me. Smudge, not so.

Cheers,
John
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Unread 07-29-2019, 07:21 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
Distinguished Guest
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 4,293
Default

Thank you, John. I confess that I am on a bit of a crusade. When one looks back at the world poetry tradition, one sees so many possibilities. Contemporary English-language poets, focusing on lyric and not even all the possibilities of lyric, strike me as tapping into only maybe 10 percent of that potential. I want poetry to do for us all the things it did for the Ancient Greeks.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Unread 07-29-2019, 07:53 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 4,698
Default

Sounds good to me!
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Unread 07-29-2019, 08:44 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
Distinguished Guest
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 4,293
Default

I have revised:

They strike the starboard engine
first, then the port, and most assuredly
he will be crashing. He can see Times Square
(Madame Tussauds, those giant TV screens),
then he can see what must be Bryant Park
(Gingkos and maples, various lamplit greens),
then everything goes permanently dark.

to

They strike the starboard engine
first, then the port, and he will certainly
be crashing. He can see, Oh God, Times Square
(Madame Tussauds, those giant TV screens),
then he can see what must be Bryant Park
(Gingkos and maples, various lamplit greens),
then everything goes permanently dark.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Unread 07-29-2019, 11:08 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
Member
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: England, UK
Posts: 3,333
Default

Hi Aaron,

I'm just looking at the first of these for now, and struggling to find nits. I did find one though, so I'll try to make the most of it.

He doesn’t want to be around tomorrow
and have to deal with his investors’ anger
when they discover their accounts are drained.


The second line here feels padded and somewhat weak or bland (possibly as a consequence of seeming padded). I say 'padded' because "to have to deal with" replaces the expected and briefer "to face". And I'm not sure how he could end the day with that "dealt with". Maybe he'd end it in custody though.

Also is 'anger' a full rhyme with 'hanger' in the US? The internet suggests not (in some parts of Northern England, it would be, but not in RP). Maybe 'rage' would be a better/stronger end-word than 'anger', given what he's done? Or even something like "to face the rage of those that he has burned" (conned, fooled).

If I get time I'll come back at look more closely at the rest of them. I enjoyed all three though, and I'm looking forward to the next instalment ...

best,

Matt
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Unread 07-29-2019, 03:35 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
Member
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: England, UK
Posts: 3,333
Default

Hi Aaron,

I'm back with a couple of thoughts/suggestions on #2 ("The Third Omen")

scrawl of considerable amplitude B

"considerable" seems like it could be stronger. Something descriptive, more suggestive of an image?


Land breakers shattering the blacktop, traffic

How about:

Land breakers shatter shaking blacktop, traffic

to give you internal rhyme, more image, and an active verb?

best,

Matt
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Unread 07-29-2019, 03:39 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
Distinguished Guest
 
Join Date: May 2007
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 4,293
Default

Matt, thank you for your thorough critiques. I will respond first to your first comments. Yes, "hanger" and "anger" are a true rhyme for me.

you are right about "have to deal with" sucking.

I have revised that line to

"and have to hide from his investors' anger"

Thank you very much,

Aaron
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: 7,999
Total Threads: 19,784
Total Posts: 253,077
There are 154 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