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  #1  
Unread 02-12-2019, 01:52 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Default Some of the Things We Lost

Some of the Things We Lost: Version II

The intact original drinking cup we chanced
on
in a thrift store, and the ticking clock
that really goes. And the odd lots, like Volume
One of somebody’s Collected Works.

The minuet that played when we were out.
The three-course meal we never ate. The day
from Heaven falling, and the rising tide
at the flat shore. The breeze that lifts the corn.

The book of poems. The slow orbit we
performed around each other. And the valve
in our red hearts. The fingers’ dance. The bright
city of reason, with its city lights.

Cut: light
that we / found
that pulls



Some of the Things We Lost: Version I

The intact original drinking cup, that we
found in a thrift store, and the ticking clock
that really goes. The matching tie and socks.
The bottled water. The odd lots, like Volume
One of the Collected Works. The old
coat hanger. Things you wouldn't register.

The covered bridge in spring. The three-course meal
we never ate. The moment in the sun;
the minuet that played when we were out;
some things we lost. The pulling of the tide
at the flat shore. The breeze that blows. The light
that falls from Heaven. The taste of a peach.

The book of poems. The slow orbit we
performed around each other. The unseen
truth of the stars. The whole world, with its sharp
entanglement
. The working of the valve
in our red hearts. The fingers’ dance. The bright
city of reason, with its city lights.

Cut: These are some things that we lost.
These are some / things that we lost.

Last edited by John Isbell; 02-13-2019 at 02:07 PM.
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  #2  
Unread 02-12-2019, 09:12 AM
Aaron Novick's Avatar
Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
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The challenge of the list poem is to make the listed items tell a story without spelling out their connections. The items in this poem aren't doing that for me, at least not yet, but since I always have difficulty with these poems, I'm going to let it sink in a bit more.

But I do have an issue with how the poem is structured that I think will persist no matter how the list itself comes to affect me. I'm referring to the repetition of "some of the things we lost". It's already in the title, so if you're going to put it in the poem (and three times!), it really needs to be adding something. I hated the the first instance, at the end of S1, since it seemed purely redundant with the title. The one in the middle of S2 redeemed it somewhat, if only for the variation, but then when you went back to the full statement in S3, the variation in S2 retrospectively felt meter-driven. If there's conscious intent behind the placement and variations of these three instances, I can't figure out what it is. I think you need to think more about what they're doing and whether they're necessary.
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  #3  
Unread 02-12-2019, 09:36 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Thank you, Aaron - I do tend to repeat myself! I'll look at cutting those repetitions. You're right, the title already does that work.
It is indeed a list poem. I'm not sure how well it coheres, but I do think it has some narrative development. That was on my mind as I wrote it.

Cheers,
John

Update: revision posted. Otiose repetition gone.

Last edited by John Isbell; 02-12-2019 at 09:50 AM.
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  #4  
Unread 02-12-2019, 12:02 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Hey, John, I see so much potential in this piece. The first stanza is very strong, but I lose excitement a bit in the second and third stanzas. I say condense, twist and condense. Maybe something like:

The Lost Things

The intact original drinking cup, that we
found in a thrift store, and the ticking clock
that really goes. The matching tie and socks.
The bottled water. Volume One
of the Collected Works. The old coat hanger.

The covered bridge in spring. The three-course meal
we never ate. That moment in the sun;
the minuet that played when we were out;
the pulling of the tide
at the flat shore. The breeze that blows. The light
truth of the stars. The whole world, with its sharp
entanglement. The working of the valve
in our red hearts. The fingers’ dance.

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 02-12-2019 at 12:13 PM.
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  #5  
Unread 02-12-2019, 12:52 PM
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Martin Rocek Martin Rocek is offline
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Hi John,
I agree with Aaron P. Cut much more.

Martin
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  #6  
Unread 02-12-2019, 03:19 PM
Erik Olson Erik Olson is offline
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John,

I reckon this shows promise, and I fancy the conceit. I venture that it could improve from some further concision in certain places. Take, for instance:
The intact original drinking cup, that we
found in a thrift store...
Surely it is better if we do not linger needlessly on connective tissue as ‘that’ and ‘we’ when we can end on ‘found’ or ‘intact.’ Options:
The intact original drinking cup we found
in a thrift store...

The original drinking cup we found intact
in a thrift store...
Forgive me, what is a cup for if not for ‘drinking’?

I fancy this part in especial:
The covered bridge in spring. The three-course meal
we never ate. The moment in the sun;
the minuet that played when we were out;
some things we lost.
I might prefer a slight adjustment:
The covered bridge in spring, the three-course meal
we never tried, the moment in the sun,
the minuet that played when we were out,
these things we lost.
To state only ‘the breeze that blows’ is a bit of an unexcitingly tired thing to say about the breeze. No? Besides, what else would a breeze do?

I am not for ending the line on relatively weak words, as here;
The book of poems. The slow orbit we
performed around each other.
I have seen worse, mind you, but what about:
The book of poems, the slow orbiting
around each other.
I hope this may help.

Cheers,

Erik

Last edited by Erik Olson; 02-13-2019 at 01:35 AM.
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  #7  
Unread 02-13-2019, 01:51 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Aaron P., Martin, and Erik,

OK, I'm trying a fairly radical rewrite, mostly involving cutting from three six-line stanzas to three four-line stanzas. Aaron P. and Martin, I'm thinking this may largely answer your concerns. Do please let me know if you feel anything essential has gone, or indeed any other reactions you have to Version II. Erik, I think Iv'e ended up answering some of your concerns but not other ones. I appreciate your detailed critique. Probably the key place we differ is on me ending twice now on "we;" I've tinkered, and tried your suggestions, but ending line one "we found" is exactly the positivity - found - which the poem is at work to undercut, since it's all about loss. There's a certain fragility to ending on "we" which I value, especially given the slow orbit we encounter later. Is the couple still intact? That's not apparent.
I agree, what else are cups for if not drinking? But I believe it's a standard phrase I can make use of here. I'm afraid the covered bridge is gone - cutting - and I've kept the breeze that blows, which to me sounds a bit folk-songy or biblical. I value that, like the light falling from Heaven.
Yes, the slow orbit. I like the weightiness of "performed;" it's a sort of dance, like the minuet that played, with set steps and movements, much as relationships can be. This one seems to have gone south, which as much as anything is key to this poem in my mind.
Anyway, this is my attempt to explain to you what my gut is telling me, in particular after I tried out your suggestions and went with different choices in the end. You made my work here more conscious, and I value that. Do let me know your thoughts.

Thank you all,
John

Update: it's late. I see I changed "the breeze that blows;" Erik, i also restored the minuet partly at your prompting, it had been cut. Can I get away with "the light from Heaven falling"? I'm not sure. What do folks think of Version II?
Update II: Erik, I found a fix for line one. Thank you. Rereading, this is a love poem after all, maybe for Valentine's Day.

Last edited by John Isbell; 02-13-2019 at 06:05 AM.
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  #8  
Unread 02-13-2019, 01:07 PM
R. S. Gwynn's Avatar
R. S. Gwynn R. S. Gwynn is offline
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The revision works pretty well for me, and the untold story seems to get told. The poem contains three -ite rhymes, one pair of which is a repetition. I'd suggest ending with "streetlamps" to dampen this. -ite rhymes are easy, and they stand out too much in a poem that doesn't use much rhyme.
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Unread 02-13-2019, 02:09 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Thank you, Sam, I'd somehow missed that I ended two lines on "light." That's gone now, although I went in the end for changing the first instance - "the day / from Heaven falling" - because I quite like the "bright / city lights" off-rhyme to close. It's the only rhyme I'd intended.

Cheers,
John
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  #10  
Unread 02-13-2019, 02:55 PM
Erik Olson Erik Olson is offline
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John,

I commend your revision. Now it reads without any impression of extra or inessential words; it gets straight to the essence of the thing and is much tighter. I think 'chanced on' improves on 'found.' The latest version works well for me. Much enjoyed.

Cheers,
Erik

P.S. Point taken about drinking cup. It also affords an image of drinking. (The inbuilt redundancy of the received phrase struck me as kind of funny is all; but that is rather the proper term than your coined epithet, so no problem. As you were.)

Last edited by Erik Olson; 02-13-2019 at 03:16 PM.
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