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Unread 07-01-2019, 09:01 AM
Jake Sheff Jake Sheff is offline
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 265
Default The Farmers Market Contemplates my Skull (Warning: Language)

The Farmers Market Contemplates my Skull

“It is a vestibule introducing one into the presence of the Good. Vestibule? Yes, and vestige, too, the trace in the multiple of the Good which itself remains in absolute unity.” Plotinus, The Intelligence, The Ideas, And Being

Not whole, but wholly striving, this Somali sambusa
my taste buds. The way its lentil skates
toward higher stakes with kombucha

dominates the echoes and mirrors
of the Radiohead
cover band’s striving. Running for cover, we head
into the nearest tent; whatever echoes and mirrors

the rain is handmade
or not for sale in here. The scent of a baker’s
cake comes in and offers me its handsaw when my Baker’s
cyst elicits memory’s handmaid.

Fliers for performances of The Comedy
of Errors
the eye with glitter
redivivus, cupbearers and community.

For the essence of spiritual CBD
oil – if the expression is permissible –
Corri’s turquoise Hamsa charm fits the bill
to a t.

They call this pinot
“Moonlight in a Nightie.”
Running for cover with impunity,
blue jays point –

by the grace of God – to hardy fuchsias.
A sobering and drunken wind’s companion
break this Saturday into a million cluster fucks.

But for all that, the Elf King’s roastery
clouds the thousand eyes of death, whose motley crew
of semi-arbitrary forces in J. Crew
will have a pretty good story

after today. Sitting tight, last year’s regatta
queen considers last year’s gold rush,
crying in her lap with thrush,
and sips a microbrew until last year’s forgotten.

“Beauty must forget itself to be itself”; a misbegotten
thought, which thinking, thinks, “Your rage agrees
with you, and rages.” By the grace
of this harissa’s miniature toccata

on my tongue,
gap-toothed memory gets around,
brings out the best bratwurst in the lost and found.
Angry it isn’t ideal, a scaredy-cat’s got my tongue.

Last edited by Jake Sheff; 07-01-2019 at 09:04 AM.
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Unread 07-01-2019, 02:11 PM
Jason Ringler Jason Ringler is offline
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Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: United States of America
Posts: 95

I like how you break off images, words, and let them pick up wherever. This seems like stream of conscious writing or free writing, and it’s pretty cool to me. Enjoyed the strange fluid of it.
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Unread 07-02-2019, 12:58 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Lazio, Italy
Posts: 4,971

Hi Jake, this is similar to your recent poem over in Metrical: It strains to sound unrestrained. Stream of consciousness is great when it hits an imaginative vein, but this is more a superficial, forced mockup of the unconscious. A flurry of frenetic random sense impressions riffed on with a few free associations, an equally random mix of levels of diction, a few hifalutin quotes or allusions thrown in, shake it all up, and voilà, a poem. Sorry, I’m not convinced.

Last edited by Andrew Frisardi; 07-02-2019 at 01:04 AM.
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Unread 07-02-2019, 03:10 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 4,952

Hi Jake,

Hmm. Well, everyone's different. I didn't like your last Met poem, much for the reasons Andrew mentions, but I do like this one. Go figure. I'd drop your language warning: we all know the word fuck.

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Unread 07-02-2019, 03:37 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Staffordshire, England
Posts: 3,188

Hi Jake,

It does have similarities to your last one: similar clever-clever rhymes (I do like 'pinot' and 'point' — sort of an anagram rhyme), same sense of family chaos (we had Maddie and Sia, now Corri — daughters?). You're at a vaguely bohemian but kitschy street market here and it's pouring with rain, sometimes with hints of acid in it. There's food, cheap wine, cover bands, tacky cannabis-inspired hippy paraphernalia. I like some bits more than others and it maybe drags a little. I like the Comedy of Errors stanza and the regatta queen. I get maybe 75% of what's going on this time haha. I really didn't get the ending, or couldn't connect the images — the anger, the bratwurst, the 'cat got your tongue' pun — so it leaves me flat because I'm traditional enough to wish I did. To click the box shut, as it were. Good fun though, I thought.
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Unread 07-03-2019, 11:17 PM
Jake Sheff Jake Sheff is offline
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 265

Thanks for the feedback so far! Will keep in mind with future revisions and poem attempts.

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Unread 07-07-2019, 04:07 PM
Lee Meadow Lee Meadow is offline
Join Date: Jun 2019
Location: South Africa
Posts: 27

I have got to say that I love unravelling the puzzle of your poems, Jake. The clue is always in the quote you start with and this one is all about searching for a higher concept of beauty. Old Plotinus there - talks about rejecting the beauty of the body and talks about Intellect / Intelligence as being the ultimate source of a spiritual / higher type of beauty.

So the market searches your skull in a kind of circumstantial philosophical attempt to find this elevated beauty, or at least describes the striving for this elevation, this search for The Intelligence, The Good, or is that God? Or is it the New Age notion that makes gods of all men? Even if their rebirth is as fake as glitter. Or impermanent as the coffee caffeine clouded judgement. No charm, or trappings of wealth, or prestige (the regatta queen's trophies) really work, leaving you with only the red hot rush / flush of anger.

The only nitpicks I have is your enjambment with 'anions'. It feels very abrupt and perhaps a little forced. And the last line falters in its cadence which is strong through the rest of the poem so it really jars.

I have to wonder what you'd come up with if, instead of frustration and anger, the same scene evoked a sense of wonder and induced a peak experience as per Maslow?
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Unread 07-08-2019, 08:12 AM
Jake Sheff Jake Sheff is offline
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Portland, OR
Posts: 265

Hi Lee,

I appreciate the close read and commentary! You picked up quite a bit I'd hoped a reader would find and connect

Mark had mentioned how the ending does kind of break off rather than click the box shut (a reference to Yeats, I think). I couldn't really find a satisfying way to end the poem which stayed true to the situation, but felt this line resonated. It was one of those times where the poem knows what's best for itself rather than the poet (trying to force their preconceived notion of what's right in), or at least seemed that way -- I'll reconsider when I begin revising.

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Unread 07-08-2019, 10:52 AM
Lee Meadow Lee Meadow is offline
Join Date: Jun 2019
Location: South Africa
Posts: 27

Hi Jake, it's not the content of the line but the poetry of it - the rhythm / meter / cadence. It just doesn't go ba boom ba boom nicely.
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Unread 07-19-2019, 10:48 AM
Adam Palumbo Adam Palumbo is offline
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Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: Durham, NC
Posts: 4


I'm digging the overall conceit of the poem--a menagerie of characters at the farmer's market, each searching for or making their ideal of beauty.

I do agree with others though (and not to pile on) that the poem suffers from the wildly scattered rhythm. I am thinking in particular of the one-word line "confiscates" in the opening stanza; until I continued reading it felt like a formatting mistake.
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