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  
Old 09-21-2018, 02:50 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 1,696
Default Quartet

x
x
From My Backyard I Watched v.6

From my backyard I watched
transfixed, unbelieving,
a wall of rain rush towards me
from a distant point across the field.
I turned and ran but it caught me
halfway up the hill in its downpour.
I spun and ran back
to the place I came from
where the sun was out
and everything shimmering,
everything smiling,
and the hill beyond still
steeped in darkness...

Back then I sang all the time
to myself in the mirror,
feeling famous, as crooners
echoed hit after hit against
frosted glass and terracotta tile.
My lips synched to the record player
that blared in the background.
The voices warbled through me,
released into the ceramic air:
moments when my fame flickered
in an oyster universe
slowly getting smaller
and emptied of its pearls...

My mother would corner me naked
after a sibling bath and take my arm under hers
to hold it steady while she clipped:
Snip, snip, snip, snip, snip, snip —[/i]
I tensed and winced and prayed out loud
she wouldn’t miss and cut to the quick
like she always did...

When all I knew to be true
was what I was told,
goodness was grace gained
through acts of obedience:
chores, homework, metallic kisses
given before meals to the Miraculous Mary
hung forever around my neck.
Mornings before school
I’d scrounge for nickels and dimes
to fill the envelope the nuns said would save
a baby from being pagan and poor, naked and starving.
Grace and goodness gained and banked...

All these things
filled me with holy wonder.
They stayed and I went.
It is from such narrow spaces we emerge...


--------------------
x
x
Emergence v.5

From my backyard I watched
xtransfixed, unbelieving,
xxa wall of rain rush towards me
xxxfrom a distant point across the field,
xxxxand turned to outrun it but it caught me
xxxxxhalfway up the hill in its downpour.
xxxxxxI spun again and backtracked
xxxxxxxarriving at the place I had run from
xxxxxxxxwhere the sun was out
xxxxxxxxxand everything shimmering,
xxxxxxxxxxeverything smiling,
xxxxxxxxxxxand the hill ahead of me still
xxxxxxxxxxxxsteeped in darkness.

xxxxxxxxxxxxBack then I sang all the time
xxxxxxxxxxxxto myself in the mirror,
xxxxxxxxxxxfeeling famous, as crooners
xxxxxxxxxxechoed hit after hit against
xxxxxxxxxfrosted glass and terracotta tile.
xxxxxxxxMy lips synched to the record player
xxxxxxxthat blared in the background.
xxxxxxThe voices warbled through me,
xxxxxreleased into the ceramic air:
xxxxmoments when my fame flickered
xxxin an oyster universe
xxslowly getting smaller
xand emptied of its pearls.

My mother would corner me naked
xafter a sibling bath and take my arm under hers
xxto hold it steady while she clipped:
xxxSnip, snip, snip, snip, snip, snip —
xxxxI tensed and winced and prayed out loud
xxxxxshe wouldn’t miss and cut to the quick
xxxxxxlike she always did.

xxxxxxWhen all I knew to be true
xxxxxwas what I was told,
xxxxgoodness was grace gained
xxxthrough acts of obedience
xxto what I was told to do:
xchores, homework, metallic kisses
given before meals to the Miraculous Mary
hung forever around my neck.
xMornings before school
xxI’d scrounge for nickels and dimes
xxxto fill the envelope the nuns said would save
xxxxa baby from being pagan and poor, naked and starving.
xxxxxGrace and goodness gained and banked.

All these things
filled me with holy wonder.
They stayed and I went.
It is from such narrow spaces we emerge.



-------------------
x
Untitledxxv.4

From my backyard I watched
transfixed, unbelieving,
a wall of rain race towards me
from a distant point across the field.
I turned and ran but it caught me
halfway up the hill in its downpour.
I spun and ran back
to the place I came from
where the sun was out
and everything shimmering,
everything smiling,
and the hill beyond still
steeped in darkness.
Back then I sang all the time
looking at myself in the mirror,
feeling famous, as crooners
echoed hit after hit against
frosted glass and terracotta tile.
My lips moved as the record player
blared in the background,
their voices warbling through me,
easing into the ceramic air:
moments when my fame flickered
in an oyster universe
slowly getting smaller
and emptied of its pearls.
My mother would corner me naked
after a sibling bath and take my arm
under hers to hold it steady while she clipped:
Snip, snip, snip, snip, snip, snip —
I tensed and winced and prayed out loud
she wouldn’t miss and cut to the quick
like she always did.
When all I knew to be true
was what I was told,
goodness was grace gained
through acts of obedience
to what I was told to do:
chores, homework, metallic kisses
given before meals to the Miraculous Mary
hung forever around my neck.
Mornings before school
I’d scrounge for nickels and dimes
to fill the envelope the nuns said would save
a baby from being pagan and poor, naked and starving.
Grace and goodness gained and banked.
All these things filled me
with holy wonder.
They stayed and I went.
It is from such narrow spaces we emerge.


-----------------------------

Spacesxxv.3

From my backyard I watched
a wall of rain race towards me
from a distant point across the field.
Drenched, I stood in sunlight
as everything shimmered,
everything smiled, every scent
awakened in the breeze of its wake.

xxxxxBack then I sung all the time
xxxxxlooking at myself in the mirror,
xxxxxfeeling famous as crooners
xxxxxechoed hit after hit against
xxxxxfrosted glass and terracotta tile.
xxxxxMy lips moved as the record player
xxxxxblared in the background,
xxxxxtheir voices warbling through me,
xxxxxeasing into the ceramic air:
xxxxxmoments when my fame flickered
xxxxxin an oyster universe
xxxxxslowly getting smaller
xxxxxand emptied of its pearls.

My mother would corner me naked
after a bath and take my arm
under hers to hold it steady while she clipped:
Snip, snip, snip, snip, snip, snip --
I tensed and winced and prayed out loud
she wouldn’t miss and cut to the quick
like she always did.

xxxxxWhen all I knew to be true
xxxxxwas what I was told,
xxxxxgoodness was grace gained
xxxxxthrough acts of obedience
xxxxxto what I was told to do:
xxxxxchores, homework, metallic kisses
xxxxxgiven before meals to the Miraculous Mary
xxxxxhung forever around my neck.
xxxxxMornings before school
xxxxxI’d scrounge for nickels and dimes
xxxxxto fill the envelope the nuns said would save
xxxxxa baby from being pagan and poor, naked and starving.
xxxxxGrace and goodness gained and banked.

All these things filled me
with holy wonder.
They stayed and I went.
From such narrow spaces we emerge.



---------------------------
x
x
Time Gone v.2

I.

From my backyard I watched
transfixed, unbelieving,
a wall of rain race towards me in an instant
from a distant point across the field,
washing over me on its way, leaving
me standing drenched, in sunlight,
and everything shimmered,
everything smiled,
every scent awakened
in the breeze of the wake of the rain.

II.

Back then I sang all the time
looking at myself in the mirror
pouring my heart out
as crooners echoed hit after hit
against frosted glass and terracotta tile.

My lips moved as the record player
blared in the background,
their voices flying through me,
shattering in the ceramic air:
moments when my flame flickered
in an oyster universe
slowly getting smaller
and emptied of its pearls.

III.

My mother would corner me naked
after a sibling bath and take my arm
under hers to hold it steady while she clipped:
Snip, snip, snip, snip, snip, snip --
I tensed and winced and prayed out loud
she wouldn’t miss and cut to the quick
like she always did.

IV.

When all I knew to be true
was what I was told,
goodness was grace gained
by acts of obedience and rituals
like metallic kisses before meals
of Miraculous Mary hung around my neck.

Mornings before school
I’d scrounge for nickels and dimes
that the Sisters and Brothers said would save
a baby from being pagan and poor,
naked and starving.
Grace and goodness gained.

All these things filled me
with holy wonder.
It stayed and I went.
It is from such narrow spaces we emerge.
x
x

------------------------------
x
x
Quartet


I. Sunshower

From my backyard I watched
transfixed, unbelieving,
a wall of rain race towards me
from a distant point across the field.
I turned and ran but it caught me
halfway up the hill in its downpour.
I spun and ran back
to the place I came from
where the sun was out
and everything shimmering,
everything smiling,
and the hill beyond still
steeped in darkness.


II. Singing In the Mirror

Back then I sung all the time
with my eyes wide open
looking at myself in the mirror
singing into a comb
pouring my heart out
as crooners echoed hit after hit
against frosted glass and terracotta tile.

My lips moved as the record player
blared in the background:
Jolson, Durante, Goulet…
Four Tops, Everly Brothers, Beatles...
Their voices flew through me
scattering in the ceramic air.
My fame flickered
in an oyster universe
slowly getting smaller
and emptied of its pearls.


III. Nail Clipping Time

My mother would corner me naked
after a sibling bath and take my arm
under hers to hold it steady
while she clipped my nails.
Snip, snip, snip, snip, snip, snip --
I tensed and winced and prayed out loud
she wouldn’t miss and cut to the quick
like she always did.


IV. Pagan Dreams

When I was holy
goodness was grace gained
by cleaning your room and going
to sleep on time; the metallic kiss
before meals of Miraculous Mary
hung around my neck.

Mornings before school
I’d scrounge for nickels and dimes
to fill the envelope that the Sisters
said would save a baby from being
pagan and poor, naked and starving.
Grace.

All these things filled me
with holy wonder.
It stayed and I went.
It is from such narrow spaces we emerge.
x
x


Edits
I. Sunshower: S1L10, 11, deleted "was" from each line
Changed title to "Quartet: Time Gone"
x
x

Last edited by Jim Moonan; 10-19-2018 at 01:54 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 09-23-2018, 02:28 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: England
Posts: 2,346
Default

Hi Jim,

I'm not sure I would want such a nod to Eliot in the title. At least that's what I see here (Four Quartets: 'Time present and time past Are both perhaps present in time future...')

Some of the individual titles perhaps give away what's coming a bit too bluntly: like

II. Singing In the Mirror

'Back then I sung all the time
with my eyes wide open
looking at myself in the mirror'

makes me tempted to say 'Yes, you've told me already...' Similarly with 'Nail Clipping Time'. I wonder if something a little more allusive could be found, or perhaps just numbers?

On the whole I did enjoy this. I like the idea of the poem being a series of 'spaces' - physical, psychological - the N remembers occupying. It's sometimes a little too cliched perhaps in its choice of details: singing with a comb in the mirror, the naive god-fearing childhood (I'm sure you could accuse me of pot/kettle criticism here -- I have a poem about the St Vincent de Paul society I keep tinkering with). This could be ok, but I'm not sure if the language does enough to make the cliches new; it's kind of wide-eyed breathless reminiscence which is appealing but seems to skim the surface. For all this, Jim, I do like it.

I'm interested to see what others think. As I'm sure are you!

Last edited by Mark McDonnell; 09-23-2018 at 03:50 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 09-23-2018, 03:49 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 1,696
Default

Thanks Mark. The title was something of a holder. (Original working title was “Time Gone”). They are connected in that they represent four things that shaped my early world: outdoors/nature (Sunshower), music/imagination (Singing in the Mirror), parents/adults (Nail Clipping Time), religion (Pagan Dreams). I did give passing thought to Eliot but didn’t think using the word “quartet” would necessarily be a negative : ) Mine are four reminiscences.

As for the telly titles, I tend to give names to poems like one might title a painting. Not sure that translates well to writing poetry, but my hope is the title is simple and memorable.
I was (and am) somewhat of a cliched person : ). But I definitely get what you’re saying and know it could be said differently to avoid overused expression. But I definitely did sing into a comb for nearly two years of my life, so…
I would argue all dogmatic religion is, in a sense, cliched. So pagan babies, holy medals, grace and all that are icons in my memory. What I had hoped for was (is) that the final stanza would elevate the collection and put things in a light I thought might be insightful.

I don’t know that this is going to go anywhere in generating any interest, but thanks for always giving me your honest thoughts. They always change my thinking.
x

Last edited by Jim Moonan; 09-23-2018 at 05:00 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 09-24-2018, 08:46 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 1,696
Default

x
Revision posted.
Iím hoping Iíve chiseled away some of the cliches and changed the narrative somewhat. Iíve also eliminated section titles and did away with the original title.

I donít know if this makes a difference for anyone who might have read and dismissed this in its original version.
x
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 09-24-2018, 10:53 AM
Ann Drysdale's Avatar
Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Old South Wales (UK)
Posts: 4,414
Default

I like your revisions but the last four lines make me feel somehow cheated. It's like putting a cloth over a parrot's cage while I am still enchanted by what it was saying. And I was. Am.

I like to think you could eventually tuck them separately, like the missing pearls, among other poems, so that their common title crops up as a repetition in the notional "index".

Perhaps there could be more than four.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 09-24-2018, 12:46 PM
David Callin David Callin is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Ellan Vannin
Posts: 2,009
Default

I like them too, Jim. Good idea to take Mark's advice and drop the section titles.

I rather like the last four lines but, insofar as Ann is saying there could be more of these little treats, I agree with her.

If you think of your poems - or some of them - as being, potentially, little memory boxes of you for your children when you're gone - as I do (morbidly!) to an extent - I think that the contents of those boxes will enchant them. They'll be pleased to have so much of you. So I surmise, anyway.

Cheers

David
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 09-24-2018, 04:20 PM
Mary Meriam's Avatar
Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: usa
Posts: 7,121
Default

I really like v2, Jim. Now remove the numbers. It's fine as one long poem. Think of a better title. In part II, I think "sung" should be "sang." I thought at first you might not need the last four lines, but no, you do need them. They're like a weight holding down the poem at the end, and I mean weight in a good way, like a slightly obscure meditation.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 09-24-2018, 05:33 PM
Michael F's Avatar
Michael F Michael F is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: a foothill of the Catskills
Posts: 897
Default

I like the poem, with its vivid recollection and quiet rumination -- but Mary is right IMO about the getting rid of the numbers. It does work as a longer poem.

ďIt stayed and I wentĒ is a wonderful line. I like the inscrutable (to me) ending, yet the poem leaves me with a doleful feeling -- not that thatís bad. But it does feel conflicted to me. Or willful, maybe? Dunno.

I think you need a better title.

M
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 09-25-2018, 07:06 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: England, UK
Posts: 2,750
Default

Hi Jim,

At some point recently your writing seems to have moved up a notch (or I've just not been paying enough attention). I find a lot to like here. The images, and the way the whole thing seems to be held together by a thread of childhood religious (in the broadest sense) experience -- the baptism/renewal by rain, the prayer against getting cut, music and the N's flickering flame, and the rituals of organised religion.

I think Mary's suggestion of losing the numbers is well worth considering, especially as the end of IV, "All these things filled me / with holy wonder" seems to apply to all four sections and not just the fourth.

Some individual nits.

From my backyard I watched
transfixed, unbelieving,
a wall of rain race towards me in an instant
from a distant point across the field,
washing over me on its way, leaving
me standing drenched, in sunlight,
and everything shimmered,
everything smiled,
every scent awakened
in the breeze of the wake of the rain.

The beginning of this sentence (first six lines) seems a little over-packed with modifying clauses. I wonder about "transfixed" and especially "unbelieving" as being a touch telly. Do you need them?

Can the rain "race towards [you] in an instant"? It can race towards you for an instant. It can reach you in an instant. But a unit of time without a distance doesn't convey speed. Also, if it's racing towards you, does it wash over you on its way. It has to reach you first.

"washing over me" is implied by getting drenched, and "on its way (past)" by that fact that by the end of sentence he stands in sunlight. "drenched, in sunlight," is a little close to "drenched in sunlight", so maybe "in sunlight" could move? Or if that's what you mean, lose the commas. Do you need to repeat "rain"? "in its wake" would work.

Here's a thought, not saying its great, but it might suggest how you might be able to say the same with less:

From my backyard I watched
a wall of rain race towards me
from a distant point across the field.
Drenched, I stood in sunlight,
as everything shimmered,
everything smiled,
every scent awakened
in the breeze of its wake.


In II, "pouring my heart out" is a cliche that I think would benefit from freshening. I guess "pour" might be playing off the rain/water motif (but that's not present in every stanza anyway, so I don't think so), but even then I think there might be a different word that "pour" to play on. "emptying my heart". Contra Mary, I believe "sang" is correct --simple past is "[i] sang", past participle "[I have] sung" -- though maybe it's different in (parts of) the U.S.

I wonder at the voices "shattering in the ceramic air" after they've and "flown through" the N and "hit against frosted glass and terracotta tile". For some reason, the mechanics of all this bother me. Do you need the shattering?

In IV, do you mean to say, "meals of Miraculous Mary hung around my neck". Also are the rituals like metallic kisses, are metallic kisses examples of such rituals? Aha, I think you're saying he kisses a metal pendant of Mary hung around his neck before meals (and hence these are the metallic kisses of Mary) but I don't think that's quite what the sentence says, and it took me a bit of puzzling.

best,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 09-25-2018 at 01:21 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 09-25-2018, 10:05 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: England
Posts: 2,346
Default

Hi Jim,

This is an improvement, definitely. Getting rid of the individual crooners' names, which seemed like overkill, was a good idea. I also think the poem could lose the numbers too.

I think Matt has some very good ideas about S1, though I'm not sure about 'Drenched, I stood in sunlight,' as opening with the adjective there seems to halt the rush of memory. I like the repetition of ideas, but don't think you need 'in the breeze'. How about

From my backyard I watched
a wall of rain race towards me
from a distant point across the field,
washing over me, leaving me
standing drenched in sunlight,
and everything shimmered,
everything smiled,
every scent awakened
in the wake of the rain.


In IV I find 'acts of obedience and rituals' a bit flat. Maybe you could go straight to the 'metallic kisses' (or 'kiss' and specify it to one moment?). Also, do you need 'hung'? :

When all I knew to be true
was what I was told,
goodness was grace gained
by the metallic kiss before meals
of Miraculous Mary around my neck.


I miss the detail of the envelope that the 'nickels and dimes' go into. And I don't think you need 'Brothers'.

All these crits/suggestions are very taste-subjective. Ultimately, you know what sounds right in your own voice.

Y'know, I think my comments about the cliched nature of the reminiscences was as much me projecting my own insecurities about the narrow range of my own poetry. Your poems are flowing right now, and I'd hate to be even a tiny bit responsible for impeding that.

But yes, new title. Maybe 'Spaces' ?
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: 7,933
Total Threads: 19,587
Total Posts: 253,082
There are 217 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