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  #1  
Unread 02-13-2019, 04:10 PM
Max Goodman Max Goodman is offline
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Default in bed

[Given the format of workshop threads, it might be helpful to point out:

This is a poem in three sections.]

These Corridors

1.
I cling to dreams each morning
grabbing, greedy for the stories, the details:
rooming with Albert Einstein
who had a crush on my second-grade teacher, rhymed logic
as when a bearded authority figure
said of my friend's brain injury
he couldn't be poured out of the same
tube of toothpaste anymore.
I peer as far down each corridor
as my beam will reach
searching, craving.
This is where I live.
I slide my fingers beneath my wife's blouse
chew a forkful of lasagna
brake at a red light
from here. From these corners
from these corners only
can I experience life.

2.
Most mornings, nothing of my dreams lingers
when I materialize in bed
but if I keep eyes closed and let breathing stay sleep-deep
often—not always—some scrap floats up
and if I grab before it scoots away
an adjacency adheres and soon
a string of events dreamcausally connected
and maybe another string linked to the first
only in procession
and with enough leisure
at the right frequency
odd connections accumulate until
before standing in the outside world
I wander symphonies of strangeness
peeking behind scenery
soaking in awe.

It's not the stories,
eccentricity banalled by randomness,
or even, quite, the details:
the seventeen-digit locker combination
whose 16th digit I kept getting wrong, curved logic
as when the teacher/doctor said of my friend's brain injury
he couldn't be poured out of the same tube of toothpaste
anymore—it's not these things
that make me peer
as far down each corridor as my beam will reach.
This is where I live.
I slide my fingers beneath my wife's blouse
chew lasagna
brake at a red light
from here. From these obscure corners
from these corners only
can I experience.


3.
When I materialize in bed
nothing lingers
but if I keep eyes closed and breath sleep-deep
some scrap floats up and,
let prodding not frighten them away,
adjacencies adhere
a string dreamcausally connected
and maybe another linked to the first
only in procession
and at the right frequency (interest
slack enough and correctly angled)
odd connections accumulate
so before standing in the outside world
I wander gardens—wildernesses—of strangeness.

Not seeking stories,
eccentricity banalled by randomness,
or even, quite, details:
the neighbor I'd forgotten I remembered
Papa alive, logic curled and curved
as when the professor/surgeon said of my friend's brain injury
he couldn't be squeezed from the same tube of toothpaste
anymore—it's not these for which I peer
as far down each corridor as my beam will reach.
The motion of the car
the sauce's tang
the feel of my wife's skin
exist
only
in these obscure rooms and doorways.
These corridors are me.

***
[The sections above are all part of the current draft. Below are earlier posted drafts.]

previous draft:

These Corridors

When I materialize in bed
nothing lingers
but if I keep eyes closed and breath sleep-deep
some scrap floats up and,
let prodding not frighten them away,
adjacencies adhere
a string dreamcausally connected
and maybe another linked to the first
only in procession
and
at the right frequency, interest
slack enough and correctly angled,
odd connections accumulate
so before standing in the outside world
I wander gardens—wildernesses—of strangeness.

Not seeking stories,
eccentricity banalled by randomness,
or even, quite, details:
the neighbor I'd forgotten I remembered
Papa alive, logic curled and curved
as when the professor/surgeon said of my friend's brain injury
he couldn't be squeezed from the same tube of toothpaste
anymore—it's not these
that make me peer
as far down each corridor as my beam will reach.
This is where I live.
I slide my fingers beneath my wife's sleeve
chew lasagna
brake at a red light
from here.

No, that's not it.
It's more. Much.
The motion of the car
the sauce's tang
the feel of my wife's skin
exist
only
in these obscure rooms and doorways.
These corridors are me.

*

wordier version:

Most mornings, when I materialize in bed
nothing of my dreams lingers
but if I keep eyes closed and breath sleep-deep
often—not always—some scrap floats up
and maybe, if I can prod without frightening them away,
adjacencies adhere and soon
a string of events dreamcausally connected
and maybe another string linked to the first
only in procession
and
with enough leisure
at the right frequency (interest slack enough
and correctly angled) odd connections accumulate and
before standing in the outside world
I wander through symphonies of strangeness
observing night emotion
peeking behind scenery
soaking in awe.

It's not the stories,
eccentricity banalled by randomness,
or even, quite, the details:
the neighbor I'd forgotten I remembered
Papa alive, logic curled and curved
as when the teacher/doctor said of my friend's brain injury
he couldn't be squeezed from the same tube of toothpaste
anymore—it's not these things
that make me peer
as far down each corridor as my beam will reach.
This is where I live.
I slide my fingers beneath my wife's sleeve
chew a forkful of lasagna
brake at a red light
from here. From these corners
from these corners only
can I experience.

No, that's not it.
It's much, much more.
The motion of the car
the sauce's tang
the feel of my wife's skin
exist
only
in these obscure rooms and doorways.
These corridors are me.

*

in L3, "breath" was "breathing"

Last edited by Max Goodman; Yesterday at 12:51 PM.
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  #2  
Unread 02-14-2019, 07:58 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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x
x

Sometimes I'd rather not read any crits (are there any? I haven't looked) before responding myself in a pure way to the poem's first impression.

This is extraordinarily, uncannily accurate description of the elusiveness of dreams while at the same time managing to pin the logic and nature of them to a board like a butterfly. My first impression.
I regret to say I don't like the last line. It needs to be as full of illogic and logic as the rest of the poem.

Thanks for articulating this, Max.


------
Now I see I'm the first...

Btw, The thread title reminds me of a game we play whenever we get Chinese food and it comes with fortune cookies. Whatever the fortune says we add the words "in bed". It's pretty funny.
x
x

Last edited by Jim Moonan; 02-14-2019 at 08:06 AM.
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  #3  
Unread 02-15-2019, 10:08 AM
Max Goodman Max Goodman is offline
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Thanks for the response, Jim, and the suggestion about the ending. I don't want to say much before others respond, but I do want to say thanks.
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  #4  
Unread 02-15-2019, 02:52 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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I like this, Max, the way it unfolds and is structured, and because what it's saying leaves me thinking.

He seeks to reengage with his dreams, because this dream place is where he experiences the waking world from, is him. "interest slack enough / and correctly angled" seems exactly right. Among other things, I also like your coinage of "dreamcasually".

I have a couple of thoughts.

S1L2 would seem to work as simply "nothing lingers", and for me, would benefit from the concision. We'd understand that it was dreams being referred to from that alone, I think, and besides, what follows makes it perfectly clear.

The last four lines of S1 aren't really working for me. A string of abstractions, some of which seem rather obvious or easy reaches (a "symphony" of anything). It all seems like a rather non-descriptive (because no images) description of the wandering. Besides which, I think we know what's in our dream world: the emotions, the trivial, the awe-inspiring. If you think we need to be reminded, I'd say it's better shown that told. However, I wonder if you need to say any of this. So you might consider just cutting those last four lines. You could tweak what's left, maybe something like:

and correctly angled) odd connections accumulate
before I stand before the outside world.

And end the stanza there. It works for me anyway.

best,

Matt
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  #5  
Unread 02-15-2019, 05:23 PM
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Martin Rocek Martin Rocek is offline
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Hi Max,
I seem to be the odd man out here, but to me this seems mostly like casual musings, particularly S1; I think it could do with a severe trimming. I haven't tried a rewrite, but here is a list of the phrases that seemed to have more of an impact; if I were writing the poem, I would find ways of fitting them together with a minimum of mortar:

These Corridors

when I materialize in bed
if I can prod without frightening them away,
adjacencies adhere
dreamcausally connected
I wander through symphonies of strangeness
soaking in awe.

It's not
eccentricity banalled by randomness,
the neighbor I'd forgotten I remembered
Papa alive, logic curled and curved
as when the teacher/doctor said of my friend's brain injury
he couldn't be squeezed from the same tube of toothpaste
anymore—it's not these things
that make me peer
as far down each corridor as my beam will reach.
This is where I live.
I slide my fingers beneath my wife's sleeve
chew a forkful of lasagna
brake at a red light
from these corners only
can I experience.

It's much more.
The motion of the car
the sauce's tang
the feel of my wife's skin
exist
only
in these obscure rooms and doorways.
These corridors are me.
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  #6  
Unread 02-15-2019, 06:31 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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On first read I found S1 overlong. Maybe there is some scope for tightening, but rereading it seemed to me that the way S1 slowly unfolds works well to mirror its content -- of drifting at leisure along pathways of thought into a dream. For me, tight and lean doesn't seem to do that.

-Matt
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  #7  
Unread 02-15-2019, 08:22 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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The opening line sets the stage starkly for the tightrope the N walks in trying to make sense of dreams:

Most mornings, when I materialize in bed

The N's "materialization" each morning serves as a kind of ball and chain to his ability to understand the unconscious experiences he has each night: The conscious state is anchored to the material, sequential, blinkered existence. But there is the other, less accessible state of unconsciousness that we slip into every day that is unmoored, multidimensional.

I can see and agree with Matt about the last four lines of S1. The first stanza is indeed frustratingly slow, but appropriately so. It painstaking mirrors in detail the amorphous nature of dreams and the tantalizing cat-and mouse game played on the edge of consciousness and its opposite. But the last four lines could go without losing anything, I think.

But I sense the N is struggling to go beyond the mere decoding of something dimly remembered and digging at something more primal in nature. Something instinctual. Something intuitive. The unconscious state. He tries but he can't quite do it. We never can. It would be tantamount to having all our questions answered.

S1 presents the dilemma of unlocking the dream state.
S2 begins to digress/gravitate towards something he feels but cannot identify. Something he intuits but can't explain.
S3 reaches to come up with an answer and does. But it's not genuine. I don't know if that is intentional on your part or that it comes off that way because it tries too hard to force an answer. That's why I'm on the fence about the last line.
x
x
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Unread 02-15-2019, 08:34 PM
Max Goodman Max Goodman is offline
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Thanks, Matt and Martin, for suggesting I cut. I hope the revision is more consistently engaging without losing the pathways-of-thought feel.

Many thanks.

**

Jim,

(I was writing to Matt and Martin when I saw your new post.) Thanks for your detailed, insightful analysis. I hope, if the revised S1 is less frustrating for you, you don't feel that as a loss.
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  #9  
Unread Yesterday, 12:52 PM
Max Goodman Max Goodman is offline
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I've posted a version that takes a new approach. Possibly a very bad approach.
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  #10  
Unread Yesterday, 04:28 PM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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Hey Max, for sure I need to take more looks at this, but generally I like the first version best, without "in bed" and "obscure." Which I think are examples of where you are not so much wordy, as superfluous. I think the voice and flow the first time around are attractive. There's a real spark in the first version, and, at the very least, I'd keep referring to that.
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