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  #1  
Unread 02-21-2020, 06:39 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is online now
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Default Nothings

Nothings (Rev)

An itch, then from his back they sprout —
some shadow life, the things not done.
Today's plain sky, so hard to hate
or love, drinks up the milky sun.

He birthed no lambs, he shook no dust,
got flyspeck now to smear on walls.
He perches, dips, his black wings beating,
beating, faster as he falls.


changes to L2,3,4,7 (and pronouns changed from 2nd to 3rd person)



Nothings

An itch, then from your back they sprout —
the things not done, some shadow life.
Today's plain sky is hard to hate
but harder still to eulogise.

You birthed no lambs, you shook no dust,
got flyspeck now to smear on walls.
You perch at the lip, your black wings beating,
beating, faster as you fall.
X
X
X

Last edited by Mark McDonnell; 03-03-2020 at 02:45 PM.
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  #2  
Unread 02-21-2020, 08:46 AM
Rick Mullin's Avatar
Rick Mullin Rick Mullin is offline
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Hi Mark,


This remains, after several readings, not entirely penetrable. But the overarching image of a fledgling committing to first flight from a nest, and the biological derivation of metaphorical wings (uh, at least that's what I'm getting) is unmistakable. Or am I mistaken?

It's interesting, and compelling the re-reads, which will continue.

Rick
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  #3  
Unread 02-21-2020, 10:11 AM
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Catherine Chandler Catherine Chandler is offline
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Mark,
My first reaction, and it hasn't changed after reading the poem a dozen times, was that of a person who is disillusioned, despairing, perhaps suicidal, at not having contributed anything worthwhile during his lifetime. Just flyspeck (great image!). Even the perfect day cannot dissipate the feeling. On a personal note, my 32-year-old nephew threw himself off a building in Reading, PA, last November, and your poem, though short, is very powerful. I have no nits.
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Unread 02-21-2020, 11:44 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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This poem is pretty opaque to me. I hypothesized a possible suicide and a sense of despair. I wondered if you ought to have a comma at the end of S2L3. The black wings seemed appropriate for a fallen angel, but the point seems to be more about things not done than about the wrong things done.

Susan
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Unread 02-21-2020, 01:14 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is online now
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Thanks, you three. An interesting response of two people finding this a bit impenetrable and one getting exactly what I was going for. Hmm.

Rick - Ahh, no, it’s not really about birds or nests. I can see where you had trouble. I’m glad it’s interesting enough to merit re-reading at least. Thanks.

Susan - That comma has been in and out and moved around several times. I’ll think about it.* I see how ‘black wings’ gave you a Lucifer/fallen angel image. I was more trying (though not consciously) for a variation/improvement on the ‘black dog’ metaphor for despair or depression, I suppose. Always behind you, in your peripheral vision, controlling you. The ‘lip’ is not necessarily a literal suicide jump, though it could be. It could equally be the ‘edge of despair’ as it were.

Catherine - That’s all pretty much exactly what I had in mind. I’m very glad you find this powerful and I’m truly sorry to hear that news. My condolences.

* I put it back in.

Last edited by Mark McDonnell; 02-21-2020 at 02:08 PM.
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Unread 02-21-2020, 02:34 PM
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Rick Mullin Rick Mullin is offline
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Hi Mark,

I was indeed referring to use of metaphor in the fledgling's flight to refer to something darker and speaking to a human condition. As happens, I was busy looking at the pictures ~,:^)
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Unread 02-21-2020, 02:41 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is online now
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Yeah, I get that you didnít just think it was literally about baby birds leaving nests. My response was unworthy of your thoughtful comment, when I look back. Sorry, Rick.
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Unread 02-21-2020, 02:56 PM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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I like the poem, Mark. This somehow reminds me of suicide survivors who jumped off a bridge. I'm quite sure I'm alone in that. But I do think it needs a little more context.

*I didn't read much of the other comments before I posted, and maybe I'm not so far off, for once. I worked on a poem for awhile that unfortunately never came together, something like this, maybe, and titled it Flight.

Last edited by James Brancheau; 02-21-2020 at 03:58 PM.
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Unread 02-21-2020, 09:10 PM
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Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is offline
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Yes, powerful, Mark. I love how it can't be pinned down. I think of Charlotte Mew's poem "Smile, Death." A real nightmare vision. My only question is about the use of second person instead of first or third person.
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Unread 02-22-2020, 05:26 PM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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I read this almost as a scream. It is hard to penetrate. Screams are always hard to penetrate. Meaning flys away. I think this makes that experience happen and that is an achievement. I don't much like "eulogize." It's not from inside the experience. It's a word of observation, not revelation. I hope that makes sense. I've think you're onto something with this one. It's different from your recent poems. You've gone inside.

Best
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