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  #1  
Unread 01-16-2019, 11:40 AM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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Default Trick Pony

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Trick Pony

The trick rider arches off the horse's back
in a perfect arc that lights his feet
on the dirt without raising much dust
this rider is the real floating prince
think the young men gathered around the barrel fire
and it was not a miracle they each had the same thought
for they all were fond of saying this
while pointing out quietly the threads
of the rider's uncommon authenticity
the young men think comes from
the rider's exceptional skills
although the wisest could have shouldered
into the center of the group and reminded them
they each had ridden the same small horse
and spun the same twists and trailed the same dust
and made manifest to the small crowd of watchers
that he was the most authentic rider of all.



***




Trick Pony

The trick rider arches off the horse's back
in a perfect arc that lights his feet
on the dirt without raising much dust,
yes, this rider is the real floating prince
thought the young men gathered around the barrel fire
and it was not a miracle they each had the same thought
for they all were fond of saying this
while pointing out quietly the threads
of the rider's uncommon authenticity
the young men think comes from the rider's exception
although the wisest could have shouldered
into the center of the group and reminded them
they each had ridden the same small horse
and spun the same twists and trailed the same dust
and made manifest to the small crowd of watchers
that he was the most authentic rider of all.

Last edited by John Riley; 01-20-2019 at 09:20 PM. Reason: Deleted two commas and “yes”
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  #2  
Unread 01-16-2019, 01:32 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Hi John,

I like where this ends up. I wasn't sure of it until I got to the turn, but it's nicely turned.

The trick rider arches off the horse's back
in a perfect arc that lights his feet


I wonder about arches/arc echo. Perhaps it's too strong a sonic effect against the relatively flat sonics of the rest of it -- kind of calls attention to itself to no obvious purpose. Could just be me though.

on the dirt without raising much dust,

I didn't like this line my first reading, it's a somewhat vague/imprecise image, and I wondered if there was a way to make it more concrete/specific. Rereading I can see that it serves to undermine what follows: saying his move is quite good, but not not amazing.

I think the sentence ends at "dust" though. Currently you have two sentences spliced with a comma.

yes, this rider is the real floating prince
thought the young men gathered around the barrel fire
and it was not a miracle they each had the same thought
for they all were fond of saying this
while pointing out quietly the threads
of the rider's uncommon authenticity


There's a tense change here. The rider "arches", the young men "thought"; shouldn't it be "think"? I wonder if you need the explanation of why they think they same, or even if we need to be told their thoughts (which makes the narrator omniscient). For example, it could be something like:

yes, this rider is the real floating prince
say the young men gathered around the barrel fire.
They all were fond of saying this
while pointing out quietly the threads
of the rider's uncommon authenticity

the young men think comes from the rider's exception

The rider's exception to what? I think this is intended to mean the rider's exceptional nature/qualities, but I'm not sure if it does. You need a comma at the end of this line.

although the wisest could have shouldered
into the center of the group and reminded them
they each had ridden the same small horse
and spun the same twists and trailed the same dust
and made manifest to the small crowd of watchers
that he was the most authentic rider of all.



best,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 01-16-2019 at 01:50 PM.
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  #3  
Unread 01-17-2019, 03:13 PM
Aaron Novick's Avatar
Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
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Regarding the tense shift, you might consider putting this all into the present tense, but I think it needs to remain one sentence. I am not sure I mind the tense shift: it makes some kind of sense, with the way that rider and watcher lose their distinct identities. It is not just that they all have a claim to be the most authentic rider, but that each can be identified with the rider at the start of the poem. And I think the tense shift allows that reading, if that makes sense.

I like the way this poem plays with authenticity in light of the "trick rider" and "trick pony": the authentic trickster. Zhuangzi would like this poem. The language is strong, and the rhythm is well-sounded. Some of the punctuation choices you might revisit to make sure they're exactly right, but again this poem needs to be one sentence, one "perfect arc"—a trick ride in its own right.

I like it a lot. The one possible change that occurs to me right now is "round" for "around" in L5, for rhythmic reasons. The anapest there is a bit of a hitch.
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  #4  
Unread 01-18-2019, 02:34 AM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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I posted a slight revision. I will be back to comment on the suggestions I've received when I have more time.
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  #5  
Unread 01-18-2019, 03:54 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Can you make the line lengths more equal? If, as Aaron observes, the one sentence structure is intentionally echoing the perfect arc, then it would stand to reason that the look of the poem on the page would also provide an echo of the perfect arc.
I wonder if you need any punctuation at all. As it stands now the only punctuation is the comma in L4. Let the lines do the work. Just a thought...

Like much of your work, this seems inspired by a vintage visual stimulant of some sort (a movie, a photo, a newspaper, etc.) that acts as a “subject” you observe, study and “paint” your own version.
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Unread 01-18-2019, 01:30 PM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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I like this, John, but I wonder about particular word choices. Maybe that's part of what you're aiming for, but, for example, manifest jumps out at me, esp considering the context. It almost seems important, in that sense. It shouldn't as there's a kind of outsider, intellectual diction sprinkled here and there throughout the poem. Makes me want to title this The Poet at the Rodeo. Which I'm not joking about. Interesting work.

JB
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Unread 01-18-2019, 02:47 PM
David Callin David Callin is offline
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I like it too. Somehow it reminds me of Kafka's "A Hunger Artist" - that must be the circus-like trappings. And also, somehow, of Rilke. These are heavy duty associations.

Anyway, I like the headlong rush of it.

I am just wondering about "threads".

So it's the pony, not the rider?

Cheers

David
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  #8  
Unread 01-19-2019, 03:11 PM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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First, the turn in this poem came to me as I was writing. I had the image and language of the trick pony rider but didn't know where it would go.

Matt, thank you for the thoughtful critique. I've changed from "thought" to "think." I was playing with the time because we do have to get a view of the past just not there. I know it's a run on sentence. I think the idea to remove all punctuation may be the best one. I've taken care of "exception."

Aaron, I think I've addressed your suggestions by the revisions and comments to Matt. I agree it needs to be a single sentence. Glad you like it.

Jim, I'll think more about the line lengths. It isn't something that bothers me much but as I grow used to it maybe it'll mean more. I like what you say about punctuation but I'm afraid the notion of an image giving rise to this poem isn't accurate. I just had a line and image in my head of a trick pony ride and went from there. Simple.

James, I'll look at those word choices as the poem cools down.

David, what you say about Kafka is great praise indeed. I wouldn't mind any work of mine having a Kafka touch. I'm not sure about your conclusion. I guess that could be one idea.

Thanks to all again who have read and commented.

John
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  #9  
Unread 01-19-2019, 05:30 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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John: ...I'm afraid the notion of an image giving rise to this poem isn't accurate. I just had a line and image in my head of a trick pony ride and went from there...

That's essentially what I was guessing -- though when I provided possible stimuli such as photographs, movies, newspapers, etc. what I should have tagged to each was photographs in your head or movies in your head or newspaper in your head

(It reminds me of a game we play when we get Chinese take-out and it comes with fortune cookies. When we read aloud the message cracked from the cookie we add the words, "in bed". So for example, if my fortune read, "You will always need a friend to help you through the bad times" I would add "in bed").

If you don't dispose of the two commas I would suggest replacing the first in L3 with a period. I might also consider deleting "yes" to start L4.
x
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  #10  
Unread 01-20-2019, 09:23 PM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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Thanks, Jim. You’re probably right about it’s source.

I removed the two commas and “yes” while lying here on my emergency room bed. Seemed an obvious change from here.
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