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  #1  
Unread 06-26-2019, 03:45 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Default Outside of Killdeer, ND

Outside of Killdeer, ND

How long has Sam been in the zone
on this Dakota autobahn?
Since late (and it is nearly dawn).
His driving hand, automaton,
is driving on its own.

The pickup’s fifth-gear monotone
is monotone. The music on
the radio is woebegone.
Oblivious, he has withdrawn
from resonant steel and bone

to eight hours ago when everything
came down to a bended knee
and his upturned hand presenting a ring
as he said, Um. . . marry me?

And she, his future children’s mother,
fulfillment's beginning and end,
replied: I think of you as a brother
and cherish you as a friend
.

How far will he, rejected, go?
Beyond beyond the hinterland
where all roads turn to gullies and
reception on the AM band
dissipates into snow?

He thinks, as daytime starts to grow
vibrant, and wheatfield scenes expand,
how hard she is to understand.
He comes back to his driving hand
to swerve.
to swerve.gg There was a doe.

. . . . .

S3 L1-2 were:
And she, his predestined children’s mother,
his future’s beginning and end,

S3L4 was "Umn, marry me?"
S6L5 was: to swerve. (There was a doe.)

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 07-01-2019 at 08:16 AM.
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  #2  
Unread 06-26-2019, 06:10 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Aaron,

Yup, that works. I like the monotonous opening. For this line - "to eight hours ago when everything" - how would you feel about "eight hours past"?

Cheers,
John
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  #3  
Unread 06-26-2019, 07:26 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hi Aaron,

I like this. I like how the chugging metre of the five line stanzas shifts to a lighter, more anapaestic ballad metre in the quatrains of S3 and 4, appropriately as those stanzas flash back to Sam's last moments of potential happiness. And I really like, if that's the right word, the sinister ambiguity at the end: whether Sam swerves to miss or to hit the deer. At least that's how I read it, and it seems borne out by the choice of location in the title (and by the reader's inference of Sam's emotional and psychological state, of course).

Couple of nits: I can't see a reason to call a road in North Dakota an 'autobahn' other than for the rhyme. Maybe there is one, and my Brit knowledge is unaware of it.

'How far will he, rejected, go?': I wonder if you need 'rejected' which seems a bit telly and self-evident really, given the previous stanza. Could you use those beats for something else?
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  #4  
Unread 06-26-2019, 07:41 AM
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Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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I defend “autobahn”.
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  #5  
Unread 06-26-2019, 07:48 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Well, 'Dakota autobahn' does sound nice. I'm not going to push for its removal.
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Unread 06-26-2019, 02:34 PM
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Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is offline
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If she is his predestined children's mother, then it's all going to come out right in the end, even if he doesn't know it. That's comforting.

Umn is odd. Is it a name? If it's just a clumsy murmuring, should the 'n' be there?

I am put in mind of another "deer" poem workshopped here, wherein a hitchhiker left a car in the pouring rain to coax one to safety and I wonder whether Sam's car has blood on the bonnet.
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Unread 06-26-2019, 02:35 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Thank you, gentlemen.

I am glad that, on the whole, this piece has gone over well.
John, it is the first in which, within a single sentence, the poem switches forms. Here I tried going from a rigidly duple-rhythm five-line stanza to, as Mark points out, a ballad meter that permits triple rhythms. Then the poem goes back to the rigid duple-rhythm five-line stanzas. I hope the switch conveys the different settings, the on-the-road setting, and the remembered setting of the marriage proposal.

Mark, thank you for commenting. I understand your hesitancy about “Dakota autobahn.” There is an irony, a kind of joke, that may be distinctly American in it—the contrast of a New-world frontier province with an Old-world European highway. Also, there is no highway in ND as big as the autobahn.

Allen, I think, would defend “autobahn” for those reasons. And, yes, Mark, as you point out, it sounds good.
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Unread 06-26-2019, 02:51 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Ann, we cross-posted.

I intend for the "predestined children's mother" stuff (the first two lines of that stanza) to be subjective to Sam--he believes she is fated to be his wife but she, in reality, doesn't want to marry him.

I find "Umn" more aptly expressive here than "Um." Is it a confusing coinage?

Yes, the ending: is it too ambiguous? One really can't tell whether he hits the deer or not.
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  #9  
Unread 06-26-2019, 02:59 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Quote:
I am put in mind of another "deer" poem workshopped here, wherein a hitchhiker left a car in the pouring rain to coax one to safety
Oh, that was mine Annie! Glad you remember it.

Aaron, any thoughts on my thoughts about 'rejected'?
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  #10  
Unread 06-26-2019, 05:12 PM
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Jayne Osborn Jayne Osborn is offline
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Quote:
I find "Umn" more aptly expressive here than "Um." Is it a confusing coinage?
Hi Aaron,
"Umn, marry me?" is confusing, especially when the phrase is written that way. It really does look as if it's her name. (Um... no one says "Umn".)

If you must use that strange word, how about either writing it thus: "Umn... marry me?'' -- or else actually give her a one-syllable name, like Jill or Sue or Jean, or something? After all, you've named the guy Sam! (Personally, I'd much prefer to see Umn go!)

I like the poem, but I'm not keen on the brackets in the last line. As Sam has to swerve, what about creating a kind of ''visual'' swerve with some white space, like this:

He comes back to his driving hand
to swerve.
XXXXXXXXXXThere was a doe.

Jayne
PS. I think you should keep ''rejected" (sorry, Mark ) or possibly even make it ''dejected'', so as not to be so telly, as Mark pointed out.
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