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Old 09-15-2018, 08:11 PM
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R. S. Gwynn R. S. Gwynn is offline
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Default Harbingers

Harbingers

The turn-lane that you choose,
Your daily pick of shoes,
The money that you lose

May come to be a curse
Or bend the universe
To stuff an empty purse.

To dodge or take the slap
Of what one labeled Hap
May help you beat the rap

Or land you in a cell
Or in a slough in hell
Or do you very well.

You have to make the choice
In action or in voice
That makes the crowd rejoice

Though harbingers of doom
Sit in your living room
In retrograde costume.

Consider now this fly
Which has no wish to die,
The same as you and I;

But when he flits in view
And preens himself on you,
Murder him you do.

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


Harbingers

The turn-lane that you choose,
Your daily pick of shoes,
The money that you lose

May come to be a curse
Or bend the universe
To stuff your empty purse.

To dodge or take the slap
Of what one labeled Hap
May help you beat the rap

Or land you in a cell
Or in a slough in hell
Or do you very well.

You have to make the choice
In action or in voice
That makes the crowd rejoice

Though harbingers of doom
Sit in your living room
In retrograde costume.

The fly that flits in view
Loves life as much as you,
Yet murder him you do.

Last edited by R. S. Gwynn; 09-16-2018 at 12:31 PM. Reason: Penultimate stanza added
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  #2  
Old 09-15-2018, 10:31 PM
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Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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I like this very, very, very much. Overthinking about this topic has wasted hours; thinking about it has been fairly profitable. You can’t explain choice, philosophy, or ethics very well even to a very alert frog or preverbal ape, and without writing your explanation down, whatever is explained even to a preliterate genius will be 99% lost in a generation or two. I especially like “retrograde” and its context. Flies (ahem) may “love” life, but I doubt that they know they do. Very fine, from my perspective. More like this please, every once in a while.
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Old 09-16-2018, 08:40 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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x
I hazard to say I like it more than Allen. For all the same reasons.
x
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Old 09-16-2018, 10:41 AM
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Daniel Kemper Daniel Kemper is offline
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I vote nay this time.

I can dismiss as personal taste the disinclination toward the slap, slap, slap rhymes, though I do know it's deceptive. Writing ANYTHING in trimeter is damned difficult. And without using latin-endings to 'cheat'!

[The turn-lane that you choose, your daily pick of shoes, the money that you lose may come to be a curse or bend the universe to stuff your empty purse.]
Not bad, not bad actually. Consumerism, arbitrariness, emptiness.


[To dodge or take the slap of what one labeled Hap may help you beat the rap or land you in a cell or in a slough in hell or do you very well.]

Though cognitive consistency barely hangs on, it hits me as "clang phenomenon" especially the "Hap" part.

[You have to make the choice in action or in voice that makes the crowd rejoice]
Slipping further, the demands of the form are wearing on the piece. Preachy, unrealistic. --Make a crowd rejoice? Stretching...

[Though harbingers of doom sit in your living room in retrograde costume, the fly that flits in view loves life as much as you, yet murder him you do. ]
Though I really do enjoy the turn of the phrase "in retrograde costume", the whole stanza doesn't... quite... actually fit the rest. I do like the reducto ad absurdum. Reminds me of a bit I read decades ago that scaled up the worries of people, humanity, countries, natural disasters, cosmic events and ended with... "and worst of all, I think I'm catching a cold." The harbingers of doom is imprecise enough to be non sequitur, as is the actual application of the phrase whose turn I like so much. Nonetheless, there's a sort of John Donne feel to this that I can't quite put a finger on. But in the end, not my cup of tea.
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Old 09-16-2018, 12:45 PM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is online now
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Sam, in the line "In REtrograde COStume" I hear only two beats. As a noun, the word "costume" has to be stressed on the first syllable. However, I also don't see why harbingers of doom need to look old-fashioned. If there is anything that makes me feel doomed, it is people looking absolutely cutting edge in their attire.

Susan
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Old 09-17-2018, 10:16 PM
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R. S. Gwynn R. S. Gwynn is offline
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Susan, the dictionary waffles a bit on "costume." It's clearly not in the same costume as "custom" as a natural trochee, though both share an etymology. Two-syllable words that are French cognates usually sound about equally stressed to me. As for "retrograde" I wouldn't hesitate to rhyme it with "paid."

His bills, all retrograde,
Remained untouched, unpaid.

For me, the poem is all about retrograde and whatever its opposite is.

Last edited by R. S. Gwynn; 09-17-2018 at 10:21 PM.
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Old 09-21-2018, 12:34 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hi Sam,

I think this is a strong and unusual poem. I love the fly at the end, with its echoes of Blake and King Lear. But the last line made me think of Yoda from Star Wars. We have Tontoism as a poetry crime. Yodaism?
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Old 09-23-2018, 02:01 AM
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R. S. Gwynn R. S. Gwynn is offline
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We Knights of the Jedi conquer we must, for, as Yoda said, our cause it is just.
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Old 09-23-2018, 06:17 PM
Erik Olson Erik Olson is offline
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Sam,

I fancy Harbingers. I venture trimeter couplets are not the easiest, yet you make what is difficult seem easy, as you should, and I appreciate this a good deal. The rhymes are deft, witty, and elegant.
The turn-lane that you choose,
Your daily pick of shoes,
The money that you lose

May come to be a curse
Or bend the universe
To stuff an empty purse.
I fancy the surprising contrast of the seemingly mundane—‘pick of shoes’—and the profound—’bend the universe.’
Or land you in a cell
Or in a slough in hell
Or do you very well.
The short meter contributes to the speed with which we oscillate among polarities from ‘cell’ to ‘hell’ to doing ‘well.’ I enjoy the ride like I do a rollercoaster for its unpredictable turns and loops.
Consider now this fly
Which has no wish to die,
The same as you and I;
I find this couplet quite humorous, not to mention true. Much enjoyed.

Cheers,

Erik

Last edited by Erik Olson; 09-23-2018 at 06:29 PM.
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Old 09-23-2018, 06:30 PM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
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Posted the same comments below.

Last edited by Martin Elster; 09-24-2018 at 01:57 PM.
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