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  #1  
Unread 08-13-2019, 09:29 AM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
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Default Kayaking

Revision 3

Kayaking at Midnight, I Pause to Rest

The liquid-slate undulates just like the ground
..........sped to the end of time.

The stars stretch on dissolving knolls.
..........Shade revels in its prime.

In quiet, all is speed—the presence
..........of the Absentee

hisses at a neuron’s fringe
..........and melts between the trees.

I search the land and lake and sky
..........and find only the earth.

The paddle cleaving into dark
..........is like both death and birth.

***

Woke up this morning with what became stanza 3 (before I broke it into couplets).

Revision 2

Kayaking at Midnight, I Pause to Rest

In quiet, all is speed—the rhythm
..........of the Absentee
hisses at a neuron’s fringe
..........and melts between the trees.

The liquid-slate undulates just like the ground
..........sped to the end of time.
The stars stretch on dissolving peaks.
..........Shade revels in its prime.



Revision

Kayaking at Midnight, I Pause to Rest

The liquid-slate undulates just like Earth’s crust
..........sped up a billion times.
The stars stretch out on melting peaks.
..........Shadows revel in their primes.

In quiet, all is speed—I hear
..........the gear-grind of the great
Absentee whose unreal hands
..........perform a sleight of bait.

Original
Kayaking at Midnight, I Pause to Rest

The liquid-slate undulates just like the earth
..........sped up a billion times.
The stars stretch out on melting peaks.
..........Shadows salute their primes.

In quiet, all is speed—I sense
..........the wheels of some great
Absentee whose imaginary
..........hands draw me on like bait.

Last edited by Andrew Szilvasy; 09-14-2019 at 07:17 AM.
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  #2  
Unread 08-13-2019, 02:50 PM
Erik Olson Erik Olson is offline
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Andrew,

I fancy this elegant piece a good deal. The imagery proved compelling from the first. ‘Liquid-slate,’ for instance, is fresh and apt. At first blush, I experienced no moment of reservation, except for over the end-rhyme of ‘prime.’ What would be meant by the prime of shadows was not at once obvious to me in any way, at least in any way not forced; on the contrary, it made me struggle to think how that particular word-choice could be otherwise than out of expedience for the rhyme or rhyme driven. Not so the rest. The concluding metaphor is resonant, latent with possible connotations and charged with attendant images. In short, an ending that rather exceeds than disappoints expectations with its final essay upon the poem’s central conceit! All I have so far. Much appreciated.

Best,
Erik

Last edited by Erik Olson; 08-13-2019 at 04:22 PM.
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  #3  
Unread 08-13-2019, 05:27 PM
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Julie Steiner Julie Steiner is offline
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This is serenely beautiful.

Since the pattern seems to be four beats in the odd-numbered lines and three beats in the even-numbered ones, I'm troubled by the fact that I can only come up with two beats in S2L2.
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  #4  
Unread 08-13-2019, 10:43 PM
Jake Sheff Jake Sheff is offline
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Andrew,

I really appreciate the lulling slant internal rhymes of S1: liquid-slate undulates, echoed later by salute. I like L3 and L4 in S1, find them pithy anthropomorphisms.

S1's opening strikes me as implausible-impossible, rather than plausible-impossible. I disagree with Erik about the inventiveness of liquid-slate; it's easy to imagine the mirror-like surface of a body of water as liquid-slate, or too easy (a gray flat surface) and readily grasped. But L2 is the problem. I think it's because in the simile both objects are material (quanta) and so my mind can too easily see this is implausible -- earth sped up a billion times is insane, but undulating is slow and rhythmic. It is more like saying "the black is dark as white" rather than "the black is dark as hate;" the two material ideas are not alike, whereas if it were a material idea and a metaphysical idea, it'd be plausible because, who can falsify it? Or more like "2+2=5" rather than "2+love=red." It's falsifiable. I think traditionally (in English) the poetic "a lot" is more like a "a thousand thousand." "A billion" sounds like a bit more humorous or like a child.

I can't tell if the aphoristic opening in S2 is effective. I think by itself it's a bit flat, but I might be wrong at this point, I'm not sure.

I don't know if poetry is the right place for atheism, because it (poetry) depends so much on personification; poetry is where the gods are born and flourish, where they change and grow. But I suppose to say absentee acknowledges a being and abandonment, which is tragic. I wonder about a mixed metaphor with the absentee possessing wheels and hands...? Of course, the wheels could be external to the absentee, like a steering wheel, but the "wheels of" makes me think they are internal, part of the absentee and not outside of it. So I imagine the absentee as part wheeled object and part person.

The theme is actually effective bait, in my opinion. It invites so much possibility, more in terms of contemplation/meditation, a sort of vision could open up in this setting.

I'm not sure if the "bait" simile is so fresh either.

I guess I'm less enthusiastic about the piece than the previous two commenters. Probably the chief problems for my reading were the "sped up a billion times" line and the second stanza's relative weakness (compared to the first stanza, particularly the final 2 lines).

I love the final two lines of S1, especially "salute their prime." And I think it's unfair to say "rhyme-driven" in a negative sense, when the much-celebrated AE Stallings (aka Alicia) has said "rhyme is often the ladder I climb to find what I mean to say." (I say this according to what Susan says in the thread on her "Green.")

I believe I see the conceit here of fast is slow/slow is fast, but the poem itself has some issues, to my reading.

I hope this is helpful.

Best,
Jake
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  #5  
Unread 08-14-2019, 07:30 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Andrew,

This is pretty. Prime is an interesting and multivalent word - not sure which meaning you have in mind here, but then, I’m a tad unsure of your meaning throughout. All very musical - well done!

Cheers,
John
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  #6  
Unread 08-14-2019, 12:53 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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x
I, too, feel the transcendent state that the N reveals with rhythm of the meter, the sereneness of the imagery and locking rhymes.

So here we are in New England. As Van said in lyric, "These are the days of the endless summer ..."

I'm curious as to what shadows... There's no mention of moonlight and the impression I get is of a starry, moonless night at midnight. What shadows do you see?

I wonder why you need to add "I Stop to Rest" to the title. If anything, it feels more as if you've stopped to gaze. But I don't think you need anything more than "Kayaking At Midnight".

Lovely, dream-like, peaceable.
x
x
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  #7  
Unread 08-14-2019, 06:37 PM
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R. Nemo Hill R. Nemo Hill is offline
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Andrew,

I agree with Julie about S2L2. I don't count feet when I read, but somehow I kept coming up short there and falling out of the rhythm of the poem. It isn't helped by the fact that the line, taken in isolation, is rather bland--ending as it does on the words some great.... I am also not helped by the somewhat awkward scansion of the line that follows which seems to shoe-horn the mouthful of whose imaginary into too small a metrical space. In combination, those two lines kind of deflate the mood for me.

The finale doesn't help me recover. Self-identifying as bait seems a really odd way to react to the whole scenario. I didn't really get anything from the tone of what precedes it that seemed quite as ominous as that. Maybe I am missing the point of your using that image, but the poem fell absolutely flat for me at the closing moment.

As for Jim's point about using "stopped to rest" in the title, I think it is crucial to the poem as I read it.
Isn't it really all about the restfulness of motion and the motion latent in rest? The one bit that absolutely moved me was . . .

In quiet, all is speed

...and I do love that theme.
But unlike most others here, the words chosen never quite take me there.
I suspect it may be a matter of temperament.

Nemo
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  #8  
Unread 08-14-2019, 08:24 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Nemo: "As for Jim's point about using "stopped to rest" in the title, I think it is crucial to the poem as I read it. Isn't it really all about the restfulness of motion and the motion latent in rest? "

My point was that "Kayaking At Midnight" is a beautiful image all by itself. I had gotten the restfulness of the motion and the motion in the resting from the poem and didn't feel it needed to be spelled out in the title. I had also gotten a sense of the N truly gazing at the panorama of the scene, almost wide-eyed. Contemplative. Oddly, it has a hint of the atmospherics in Frost's, "Stopping By The Woods On A Snowy Evening" (though the two are wholly different -- Andrew's is imagist, to my ear.)

You do point out, Nemo, other aspects that I hadn't picked up on. My thinking now bends towards yours in feeling the end falls flat. You've helped me to focus closer and for that I (always) thank you. Perhaps Andrew is indicating he feels a distracting tug away from the sereneness of the moment -- It seems to allude to an amorphous being who is pulling him onward. Just taking a stab...

In S2L1 the hyphen interrupts the stillness/motion to my ear (I almost always don't like them in poems). An ellipsis between "speed" and "I sense" might allow for some motion to continue to flow.
x
x
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  #9  
Unread 08-14-2019, 10:08 PM
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R. Nemo Hill R. Nemo Hill is offline
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And not just pulling him onward, but pulling him as something to be devoured.

Nemo
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  #10  
Unread 08-15-2019, 03:32 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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Andrew,

I basically like this poem but some of it feels forced or incongruent.

For one thing, I don’t see how the earth undulates if it’s sped up a billion times—wouldn’t it shatter/scatter in the centifuge? If you substitute “the earth” with “terrain,” it might be more immediate and plausible. I also think that “liquid-slate is billowing like terrain” could be better, if only to drop “just” (which seems fillerish).

And shadows saluting their primes, which I take it refers to them facing the trees that cast them onto the surface of the water, might be made easier to picture and therefore less gratuitous by adding a reference to trees (if I’m right about what you’re getting at there).

In S2, I don’t find it credible that the skeptical/postmodern N would be sensing cosmological/invisible spheres/wheels.

And I’m with those who find “bait” at the end to feel off the mark. Would “fate” be a good substitute?

Happy kayaking,

Andrew
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