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  
Unread 08-01-2019, 03:48 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Staffordshire, England
Posts: 3,143
Default Drinking

Drinking (Rev)

Fifteen. First time drunk
and the sky the colour
of a bruise. My cousin's wedding
I think. I had my eye
on an older girl, sullen
and smoking in a puffball skirt.
I staggered but she smiled.
I kissed her and she laughed
between drags of her Silk Cut.
Peach scent, ash, and the pulsing
night charged. Indulgent.
Champagne rewired circuits
and soothed a static hiss
I never knew I had.
What elixir! Bubbles popped
through sleepy kisses, through
Motown, warm blood and
the air was Christmas magic.
This, I thought, was for me —
the heavy self dissolved
in a liquid world.
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxYears later
maybe every drink seeks
lost connection to that first.
The lips. The smoke.
The bruised and magic sky.



small changes/additions.



Drinking

Fifteen. First time drunk
and the sky the colour
of a bruise. My cousin's wedding
I think. I had my eye
on an older girl, sullen
and smoking in a puffball skirt.
I staggered but she smiled.
I kissed her and she laughed
between drags of her Silk Cut.
The night was charged. Indulgent.
Champagne rewired circuits
and filled some void
I didn't know I had.
What elixir! Bubbles popped
through sleepy kisses and
the air was Christmas magic.
This, I thought, was for me —
the heavy self dissolved
in a liquid world.
Years later, maybe every drink
seeks connection to that first.
The lips. The smoke.
The bruised and magic sky.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Unread 08-01-2019, 04:35 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 4,952
Default

Hi Mark,

Yeah, I like it. I’ll be back.
Adding, fairly quickly, that the bruise reminds me a bit of the famous first sentence of Neuromancer, by William Gibson: “The sky above the port was the color of television, tuned to a dead channel.”
I like the bruise more here the second time around. I do also think there’s room for more on what drinking meant post-age 15.
Cheers,
John

Last edited by John Isbell; 08-01-2019 at 04:42 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Unread 08-01-2019, 05:30 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
Member
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: England, UK
Posts: 3,443
Default

Hi Mark,

The N drinks to fills a void, a void he never knew he had (until that first drink). And he drinks to recapture that first experience, that first high. For me this poem hits a few cliches both in phrasing/word choice and thematically, and is a little overly telly and general in its descriptions.

The sky being a bruise is one. I guess bruise sets the right tone here and does some metaphorical work, suggesting damage done, so maybe you get away with it. Some will say yes, some no, I guess. I can make predictions on who will be in which camp based on what happened when I used "bruise-black sky" for similar reasons in a poem I posted here a couple of years back. I shall seal my predictions in an envelope. So, a case can be made for it. Nonetheless, it's a bit of an easy reach and maybe you could find better -- or do more to develop it.

More problematically, I think, there's, "filling a void", both because it's a cliche and because it's frequently use in the context of addiction/dependency and substance misuse in general. Plus there's no obvious redemption of the cliche via word-play or unexpected figurative intent that I can see. The void being one he never knew existed is a pretty common/familiar variation on this theme. The idea of every subsequent drink (drug use) being an attempt to recapture that first high is another common story too, which decreases its impact as a straight-forwardly-stated revelation.

The night being described as 'charged' strikes me as another easy reach. I guess maybe being charged plays off the night being like bruise, suggesting an imminent storm, in which case possibly more could be done to develop this in the poem. But maybe a pre-storm atmosphere would be more oppressive than indulgent?

I quite like the use of Christmas a descriptor, it seems appropriately connected to childhood. (Though again, "it was like Christmas" -- or "like Christmas come early" -- is a relatively familiar analogy). I like the Silk Cut detail (And I remember the days when Silk Cut seemed to be the common choice of young, female smokers). I like the young, inexperienced, drunken kiss scenario with a slightly older girl/woman (I remember that too!), though I think the poem could maybe be doing more to capture that.

Since the reader will already be familiar with the tropes of unfilled voids and attempts to recapture the first hit or drunken joy, I'd say that you don't need to directly state / name / spell these things out in the poem. Less-direct allusions to this will be understood, I think. I also think that, to the extent that the story you're telling is a familiar one given these tropes, it might be worth focusing more on what makes this one individual and unique in its details. So, maybe the poem could give more specific descriptive detail and less gloss and generalisation/abstraction. How was the kiss, say? Can you say more about the girl? The party? Being outside at night? I'm assuming this took place outside (and the party was inside), given the reference to the sky. Can you communicate the charge that was there without simply naming it, likewise the sense of indulgence. Can you maybe take a particular concrete, specific detail and turn it into a motif, maybe even have it do figurative work? Something along those lines, maybe?

best,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 08-01-2019 at 05:50 AM. Reason: typos ...
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Unread 08-01-2019, 05:57 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
Moderator
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Staffordshire, England
Posts: 3,143
Default

Thanks John - ah yes. I never read it. The cool kids read it, as I recall, while I stuck with Douglas Adams and Robert Louis Stevenson haha.

Hey Matt - I really didn't know I'd hit so many cliche buttons ha! I suppose I was going for something deliberately small in scale with a recognisable simplicity in the phrasing and that the lack of detail fits the idea that this is a distant memory of something that happened 30 years ago. But I'll have a think and return. Cheers.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Unread 08-01-2019, 06:25 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
Member
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: England, UK
Posts: 3,443
Default

Hi Mark,

I'm back with an idea and quite possibly not a good one. What if you start in the present with the N with a pint of beer / glass of whatever in front of him. Have the beer trigger the memory. I don't know, maybe the beer is cloudy, say, which segues to the night sky of his memory. Or maybe the setting is trigger, maybe something about the pub, a woman he sees there, or he's at another wedding though now much older say. Maybe there's even a way to have the memory unfold inside the beer (through a glass, darkly, your "liquid world") -- as if he sees it there before him. Then come back from the memory to the present and the glass of beer, and find some of showing that this present-day beer doesn't doesn't recapture this (it's 'diluted' maybe, or something about 'aftertaste'). Basically, I'm suggesting trying the standard three-stage "descriptive-meditative" structure as a less straightforward presentation.

best,

Matt
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Unread 08-01-2019, 10:46 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 4,952
Default

Hi Mark,

If you go with Matt’s idea I suggest your new opening line be “longtemps je me suis couché de bonne heure.”

Cheers,
John

Last edited by John Isbell; 08-01-2019 at 10:53 AM. Reason: Banned post - hit button twice
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Unread 08-01-2019, 01:51 PM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 1,787
Default

Mark,

I want to like this more than I do. The memory is itself can work, but I don't think the piece comes together. Too much of the language is gathered around familiar phrasings. Though I'm not in love with the "bruised sky" (I wonder if Matt predicted that), I think you can get away with it once, perhaps if it weren't the first and last image.

The telling doesn't work for me in a free verse piece like this. I would consider a radical cutting and rearranging, personally. Something, perhaps, like this with a more descriptive title:
Champagne rewired circuits.
I kissed her and she laughed
between drags of her Silk Cut.
This, I thought, was for me —
the lips, the smoke,
the bruised and magic sky,
the heavy self dissolved
in a liquid world.
Perhaps one more item in the list if you want to get to that idea of "chasing" the first time.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Unread 08-01-2019, 07:10 PM
R. Nemo Hill's Avatar
R. Nemo Hill R. Nemo Hill is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: Halcott, New York
Posts: 8,990
Default

This, I thought, was for me —
the heavy self dissolved
in a liquid world.


What a damned great three lines, Mark.

Goodness, there is so much talk of clichés on the boards of late. There is a humility of expression that is not about always finding novelty of expression, isn't there? I like this poem. Maybe reviewing what others consider clichés will lead to some more 'charged' moments, but I hope the poem won't lose its familiar-tone-of-voice-at-my-ear as a result.

And I like the double use of bruise/bruised. The second time, a bruised and magic sky, elevates the word far past over-familiarity. It refines the cliché (if it is one) masterfully.

Nemo
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Unread 08-01-2019, 08:57 PM
Mary Meriam's Avatar
Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: usa
Posts: 7,284
Default

I'm with Nemo. I don't see cliché here, only a fine poem. This is wonderfully mushroomy: and smoking in a puffball skirt. I love the last line.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Unread 08-02-2019, 01:58 AM
Max Goodman Max Goodman is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
Posts: 1,584
Default

Strong.

I agree that in places ("charged," "void") you might look for fresher language.

FWIW, "heavy" for this reader in this context, carries the connotation of heavy liquor, which might help some readers but feels to me as though it's on the wrong side of the equation (a liquor word describing the sober self).
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: 8,016
Total Threads: 19,917
Total Posts: 254,956
There are 187 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