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  #1  
Unread 01-29-2019, 10:11 PM
Aaron Novick's Avatar
Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
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Default poem about noodle soup

Wheat text


On the bottom, in blue, a painted fish (rev. 1)

From the bowl rise moths of steam to curl
around the desk lamp’s bulb, the broth

shimmering as, livid over
nothing, I watch my anger swirl

in patternless patterns behind my clenched-
shut eyes. Digging through noodles, bok choy,

I seek out silken shards of doufu,
their plainness hidden out of mind.


On the bottom, in blue, a painted fish (original)

From the bowl rise moths of steam to curl
around the desk lamp's bulb, the broth

shimmering below as, livid
over nothing, I watch my anger

swirl in patternless patterns behind
my clenched-shut eyes. Digging through noodles,

bok choy, I seek out shards of doufu,
their plainness hidden out of mind.

Last edited by Aaron Novick; 02-03-2019 at 09:17 AM.
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  #2  
Unread 01-29-2019, 10:58 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
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Hi Aaron,

I like the quirkiness of this. I don’t know why the N is angry. I take it that the blue fish is painted on the bottom of the bowl. Some great phrases, like moths of steam and patternless patterns. It sounds as if the N is eating alone, perhaps because his friend or lover suddenly left the room or house after a quarrel. “Doufu” is another word for “tofu.” (I’ve stopped eating tofu. I only eat tempeh now, since it’s a traditionally fermented Indonesian soybean food, whereas tofu is not fermented.)

I’m wondering if the N cooked the bok choy-tofu-noodle bowl himself or whether it was takeout. But that is irrelevant. Shards of tofu suggests the aftermath of a fight with things broken, including feelings.

Best,
Martin
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  #3  
Unread 01-29-2019, 11:45 PM
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Jan Iwaszkiewicz Jan Iwaszkiewicz is offline
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It is quirky Aaron.

How do you cook doufa brittle enough to break into shards? I see and hear the possibility of metaphor but cannot get the image.

Jan
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  #4  
Unread 01-30-2019, 01:43 AM
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Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is offline
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Yes, I was bothered about the shards. It's a word that is particularly denigrated this side of the Atlantic after a flurry of pearlclutching among the poetry folk at certain words that "should be banned from poetry". Shards was one (myriad another) so it does have an impact (over here) disproportionate to its size, like the pea under the princess's mattress. I recall eliminating it from one of my own poems workshopped here, substituting "splinters" with a feeling of having righted a wrong.

Jan's observation, though, makes me feel that the word must be important to this poem, like the understood "not" at the end of the thread title. I need to give this more thought. The textures of the ingredients matter.

Meanwhile, moments before the pruning will lose it forever, I went back for another look at one of Daniel's poems that has stayed with me since it appeared. On first reading this, I had actually thought for a moment "poor, angry Aaron. Someone should bring him miso soup. And marigolds."

I may well return. I hope you soon see your way clear to the blue perpetual fish.
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  #5  
Unread 01-30-2019, 08:30 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is online now
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Hi Aaron,

Much as I like the painted fish, I prefer the title "poem about noodle soup." I quite like the poem too.

Cheers,
John
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  #6  
Unread 01-30-2019, 09:31 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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While I agree this seems to loose steam after the first line or two (punny me), the first line is a waftingly beautiful one. Sometimes that's all I want from a poem. From now on I can eat soup and see the puff of wings you see.

I think the word "effervescence" needs to be in this. That is the shimmering you see, right? But shimmering is two-dimensional and effervescent is three-dimensional. The look of it is three-dimensional.

Keep going with this. As I think Ann alludes to doing, concentrate on the fish at the bottom of the bowl. That's where the poem waits.
x
x

Last edited by Jim Moonan; 01-31-2019 at 06:55 AM.
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  #7  
Unread 01-31-2019, 08:22 PM
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Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
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Martin, Jan, Ann, John, Jim—thanks all for your helpful comments.

Shards— hmmm... Earlier, in the anger (likened to steam), there are patternless patterns: the patterns are there, but the N cannot perceive them. It seems random. So too the shards, or so I had hoped. The tofu of course is soft, not in shards, but to the N they seem shardlike: sharp fragments of some broken whole. Doesn't seem to be coming through, so I need to think more about it.

John, I'm actually very fond of this title, so I'm going to stick with it. It does matter that there's a fish at the bottom of the bowl, hidden even further out of mind than the tofu.

Ann, if we push past the poem (which is of course a fiction) to the actual bowl of soup that lies at its origin, the broth was in fact made with miso paste. (Martin, I cooked it. I'm not sure that's essential to the poem, but perhaps it can be inferred from the combination of the painted bowl and the desk lamp.)

Jim, I could swap in "effervescing" for "shimmering"—need to think more on that one. "Shimmering" seems right for now (the surface of the broth is two-dimensional or almost so), but I'm glad you've called it to my attention as a place to look it. I do see your point.
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  #8  
Unread 01-31-2019, 09:16 PM
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Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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Aaron, this seems to be a possibly common tableau, very, very much like a poem I may not publish lest at this time it will be misunderstood. Careful how you go, now. Or am I reading too much into this. Good luck. Careful. Nice poem.
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  #9  
Unread 01-31-2019, 10:07 PM
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Jan Iwaszkiewicz Jan Iwaszkiewicz is offline
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Aaron since you have patternless patterns why not havesoft shards?
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  #10  
Unread 01-31-2019, 10:12 PM
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Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
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Thanks, Jan. I've been toying with "silken shards"—right now it's requiring messing with the line breaks in ways I'm uncertain about. But it is something I'm toying with. (Edit: trying a revision to just that line. Also thought about "silken shards of doufu", but I think this way sounds better.)

Allen, thanks. I'm honestly not sure what you're reading into the poem, but I'm glad you like it, regardless.

Last edited by Aaron Novick; 01-31-2019 at 10:29 PM.
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