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  #1  
Unread 03-03-2021, 10:12 AM
Joe Crocker Joe Crocker is offline
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Default Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse now

Revision 1

He loves the smell of napalm in the morning.
The Valkyries ride with him. Our blades beat
the rush of victory and horror, dawning

on faces turned to see what shock-and-awe bring.
The human barbecue, the still raw meat.
The hell that none escape from in the morning

makes bonfires of our vanity and draws in
a wind to fan profanity. I greet
its rush and lick the squealing horror, warming

like spice upon my lips. Like agent orange.
Their otherness offends us. Gooks may bleat
or bellow. We, love napalm in the morning.

An incense heart of darkness always calling
It sucks me in. A torch song on repeat.
I love the smell of napalm in the morning
And victory, and horror, horror yawning.


Original

I love the smell of napalm in the morning.
The Valkyries ride with us. Our blades beat
the rush of victory and horror, dawning

on faces turned to see what shock-and-awe bring.
The glorious inferno, the raw heat.
The hell that none escape from in the morning

makes bonfires of our vanity and draws in
a wind to fan profanity. I greet
its rush and lick the smack of horror, warming

like spice upon my lips. It blisters, scorning.
Their otherness offends us. Let them bleat
tomorrow. We, love napalm in the morning.

A flame-filled heart of darkness always calling.
It drags me deep. A torch song on repeat.
I love the smell of napalm in the morning
And victory, and horror, horror yawning.

Last edited by Joe Crocker; 03-04-2021 at 09:39 AM. Reason: changes are in red
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  #2  
Unread 03-03-2021, 11:45 AM
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RCL RCL is offline
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Great movie, fine poem. How about this to perfect the rhyme scheme?

makes bonfires of our vanity, and drawing
wind it fans profanity. I greet
its rush and lick the smack of horror, warming
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  #3  
Unread 03-03-2021, 01:17 PM
Yves S L Yves S L is offline
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Hello Joe Cocker,

My main feeling is that Wilfred Owen closed the book on this kind of technique:

"Bent double, like old beggars under sacks,
Knock-kneed, coughing like hags, we cursed through sludge,
Till on the haunting flares we turned our backs,
And towards our distant rest began to trudge.
Men marched asleep. Many had lost their boots,
But limped on, blood-shod. All went lame; all blind;
Drunk with fatigue; deaf even to the hoots
Of gas-shells dropping softly behind."

In comparision, your effort seems to be merely playing with well known gestures. The verse is not alive for me, and feels recycled many times over.

It suffices.
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  #4  
Unread 03-03-2021, 04:47 PM
Coleman Glenn Coleman Glenn is offline
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Hi Joe, this is clever and interesting, but I want a little more from it. I’ll start off admitting that it’s been a long time since I’ve watched Apocalypse Now or read Heart of Darkness so I’m probably missing some references, but even with that I’m impressed at how many references you’ve managed to include here. I like the way “horror” is woven through to culminate in “horror, horror,” and I’m intrigued by the decision to hold onto that word rather than the final word of the line for the villanelle form. I expect the rhyme scheme with its combination of perfect and slant rhyme will draw mixed responses, but I like it.

My biggest complaint is that I don’t think the poem does much to deepen the narrator. I get the sense of a caricature painted from the outside rather than living in his head. I want to be able to identify with him enough that I recoil at my own ability to relate, and he’s not there for me.

Stanza 4 in particular isn’t working for me. “Scorning” feels forced, and “their otherness offends me” feels like commentary on the narrator, not the narrator’s own voice. I’m not sure who is “bleating” tomorrow since the emphasis seems to be on total destruction. I do like the “spice upon my lips,” and leaning more into that visceral, tangible pleasure in inflicting pain could take the poem to a more uncomfortable place that I think would work better for it.

Last edited by Coleman Glenn; 03-04-2021 at 07:27 AM.
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  #5  
Unread 03-03-2021, 05:55 PM
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I'm hearing it more as a satire of the slogan and its speaker (I think also parodied in the film) rather than an attempt at first-hand felt experience, as in Owen's poems. That whole sequence of them partying and surfing can be seen as hilarious operatic parody of surfing-warrior culture. A former colleague's studies concluded that the final words were "the whore, the whore!" Hmmm
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  #6  
Unread 03-04-2021, 05:27 AM
W T Clark W T Clark is offline
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Hello,
Yes, I think its rehearsing rather than innovating. I don't get anything new, or truly interesting out of it. The voice, though, has some promise. It does not hold the pity of world-war-I poetry as much as joyous abandon, vaguely like Pound's sestina. The voice loses that tone a little in over-describing and reverts to just a long iambic buzz of violence. If the details were made more vague, the voice stronger, the language a little more experimental, then I think this might hold more interest.

Hope this helps.
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  #7  
Unread 03-04-2021, 06:21 AM
Joe Crocker Joe Crocker is offline
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Thanks Ralph. Yes your suggestion would tighten up the rhyme nicely. The rhymes in general are not 100% -- morning, dawning, awe bring, draws in, warming, scorning, calling, yawning. Undecided whether to try to tighten them up or not. I actually rather like half-rhymes as they feel less forced and give you more options.

Yves. The piece from Owen Is masterful. And I am clearly not Owen, so I’ll take your comparison as flattering. The poem I guess is an ekphrastic piece about a film rather than a description of real experience (as RCL notes). There is some distance between me and the film and the substrate.

Coleman. Yes I think your critique is to the point. The poem arose out of seeing “Apocalypse now” on TV the other night, for the first time in many years. And I felt it had to start with the line we all remember “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” That fixes the rhyme scheme and would seem to introduce a narrator. It is said by Kilgore the gung ho Lieutenant. But the film itself focuses on the damaged Captain Willard and his mission to find and kill the renegade, possibly insane, Colonel Kurtz. The “I” in the poem moves between these three characters. So that does make it confusing. I did, at one point have all pronouns as “we” as being more inclusive. Third person “They” is always the Vietnamese, enemy or bystanders. It may be help if “I” is always Willard. But then I’d need to change the first line to “He loves the smell of Napalm in the morning”. Hmm

In the film, it is clear that Willard is becoming fascinated by his target Kurtz, and I have tried to capture that in the final stanza where the heart of darkness is drawing him in, with its torch song. This may come across better if it is clear who the “I” is from the start.

And yes I agree that the poem could be stronger if it were more visceral. Much of the description is from a grandstand view of a firework display (and that is also true of the more memorable scenes in the film).

Ralph again. As above to Yves, yes I’m trying to capture the film and its particular take on Vietnam, the mindset of war and madness.

The whores. The whores! Ha. But that’s what you get when you use American actors.

And Cameron. Just read your post as I’m posting this one. Will get back to you.
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  #8  
Unread 03-04-2021, 09:29 AM
Joe Crocker Joe Crocker is offline
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I've had a go at revising. This version has, I hope, clearer use of pronouns, with Narrator more obviously associated with Captain Willard. It begins with "He" (Kilgore), moving to "we" (all inclusive army) to "I" (Willard and perhaps Kurtz).

It's also more visceral. I was being pulled in opposite directions by Coleman and Cameron. I think I get what you are saying Cameron but I'm not sure how I would do it, so have gone for more gory detail rather than less.

And Ralph, I'm trying out more slanty rhymes rather than less.
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  #9  
Unread 03-04-2021, 02:22 PM
conny conny is offline
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line 5 goes way too far imo. as does a lot of the rest.

............squealing horror, warming
like spice upon my lips..

sounds more like a bad vampire movie than apocalypse now.

i like the idea, ish, but turning a movie into a poem is always
just going to be like pushing a giant rock up a very steep hill.
the quote about napalm is so famous it just overwhelms the
other lines.

also,
L.4 ..if my memory serves me, shock and awe was the
gulf war not vietnam.

and bonfire of the vanities is a good book, the title based on an
event in the middle ages, but again neither has much to do with
the movie.







Quote:
Originally Posted by Joe Crocker View Post
Apocalypse now

Revision 1

He loves the smell of napalm in the morning.
The Valkyries ride with him. Our blades beat
the rush of victory and horror, dawning

on faces turned to see what shock-and-awe bring.
The human barbecue, the still raw meat.
The hell that none escape from in the morning

makes bonfires of our vanity and draws in
a wind to fan profanity. I greet
its rush and lick the squealing horror, warming

like spice upon my lips. Like agent orange.
Their otherness offends us. Gooks may bleat
or bellow. We, love napalm in the morning.

An incense heart of darkness always calling
It sucks me in. A torch song on repeat.
I love the smell of napalm in the morning
And victory, and horror, horror yawning.


Original

I love the smell of napalm in the morning.
The Valkyries ride with us. Our blades beat
the rush of victory and horror, dawning

on faces turned to see what shock-and-awe bring.
The glorious inferno, the raw heat.
The hell that none escape from in the morning

makes bonfires of our vanity and draws in
a wind to fan profanity. I greet
its rush and lick the smack of horror, warming

like spice upon my lips. It blisters, scorning.
Their otherness offends us. Let them bleat
tomorrow. We, love napalm in the morning.

A flame-filled heart of darkness always calling.
It drags me deep. A torch song on repeat.
I love the smell of napalm in the morning
And victory, and horror, horror yawning.
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  #10  
Unread 03-04-2021, 03:34 PM
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R. Nemo Hill R. Nemo Hill is offline
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Yeah, I agree with Conny. There are so many familiar quotes that the poem hardly has a chance to do any work on its own, it's weighted down by them, and sinks to a mere re-hash for me. I am not sure what you are trying to accomplish here, for if anything is evoked it will, at most, only send me back to watch the film again—making the poem seem unnecessary. Heart of Darkness has already been written and Apocalypse Now has already been filmed. If they inspire something in you, it has to be expressed in a entirely new way, not just by familiar citations.

I don't think this can be saved by minor revisions.
I think it needs to be entirely re-visioned.
Embrace the mood, and let it take you somewhere completely different.

Nemo
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