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Unread 10-14-2019, 09:57 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
Join Date: May 2007
Location: New York, NY
Posts: 4,326
Default Nox Irae

Nox Irae

A hush like held breath. . . . . holds a moment
then, whoa, what’s that?. . . . . A wild whoosh
suffuses everything,. . . . . as of a gas-stove’s
burner igniting.. . . . . Boards combust;
the wood warehouse. . . . . is wearing flames.
The inferno seems. . . . . something summoned
by brutish magic,. . . . . your brain’s own brimstone
unleashed at last.
unleashed at last. . . . . . The unlucky goons
on the outside catch,. . . . . and the recruits crowded
between them panic,. . . . . push toward exits.
In the dense tumult,. . . . . troops, trampled,
are left lying . . . . .like living logs.
You see a hundred . . . . .horrors happen
all at the same time: . . . . .some, set alight,
dash through weak . . . . .walls toward water
but find the Hudson . . . . .hellish as well;
some, bodies strung . . . . .with bullet-belts,
are immolated, . . . . .ammo exploding;
some, in a scrum, . . . . .scramble screaming
desperately toward . . . . .the dockside door.

Focus, man, focus. . . . . .Finding finally,
in the orange aura, . . . . .Orin again,
you run toward him . . . . .from rafter to rafter,
drop down barefoot . . . . .and, dancing, shout,
“Move it, moron; . . . . .make for the door!”
Blasé about . . . . .being rescued,
your friend just shrugs, . . . . .like, “show me the way.”
So you begin, . . . . .soles simmering,
to pilot the prophet . . . . .through a pandemonium
of fluid flames . . . . .and flailing arms.
When you are almost . . . . .out the exit
that goddamn guy, though, . . . . .the graybeard, grabs
Orin’s waist . . . . .and won’t let go.
Roaring, your raise . . . . .the rifle-butt
and thunk the bastard’s . . . . .thick head hard.
He falls back, lies there . . . . .as fire-fodder.
Nite-nite, annoyance.

Nite-nite, annoyance. . . . . . Newborn at last
from a warehouse . . . . .like a womb of flame,
you and the seer, . . . . .sit, soot-stained,
on the riverbank. . . . . .The roof collapses.
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Unread 10-14-2019, 10:39 PM
Allen Tice's Avatar
Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Brooklyn, NY USA
Posts: 4,493

Will study this more closely tomorrow or the next day when at apogee. Gotta dive into bed now. I do like the format better, and think it focuses this reader’s attention well.

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Unread 10-15-2019, 05:45 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 4,952

Good morning, Aaron,

This reads simultaneously to me as something modern and something very old. It has to me the feel of epic, whether that be Virgil or Beowulf, and it's not just the formatting. Fire-fodder is maybe my favorite moment in the passage.
Anyway, yes, the plot continues apace.

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Unread 10-15-2019, 09:24 AM
Max Goodman Max Goodman is offline
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Sunnyvale, CA
Posts: 1,582

Engaging as always.

My quibble may grow from not knowing enough about the fifth sign (either because I missed things in the earlier sections I haven't read, or because the poem hasn't shared the information yet). I'd like to feel that the fire results from someone's action, the graybeard's if not the hero's. I suspect that the sign is somehow protecting Orin, but I don't feel that yet.

Re: navigating the fire, the confrontation with the graybeard is the strongest part because it requires the most agency. The rest feels (like the fire itself) deus ex machina. I'd like more reason that our hero is so much more successful amid this chaos than any of his antagonists are. Is his different vantage point somehow an advantage?

Orin's lack of interest in escape is another highlight. (Now that I think of it, maybe that's our team's advantage.)

I look forward to tonight's Rattle reading.

Last edited by Max Goodman; 10-15-2019 at 09:54 AM.
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Unread 10-19-2019, 11:07 AM
Allen Tice's Avatar
Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
Join Date: Nov 2006
Location: Brooklyn, NY USA
Posts: 4,493

Aaron, as promised, I’m back, hi (with, for various subjective reasons, a kind of Platonic problem here for me, and I’m no fan of Plato). That is, this is so Dionysiac that I’m unsure how to praise the striking phrases. My bent is to soothe and not ignite. I can watch “Apocalypse Now” once, but I wouldn’t want to film it or, I think, write it. This wasn’t always quite so true, because I have a long poem I’m not ready to discard about a volcano doing volcanic things. But brimstone and whacking people etc. etc. is fundamental to your entire effort. It needs all the bad news to exist as a poem. Just the same, let me see if I can do a little here.

Line five (5), second half is striking.
Line 12 both halves is also a vivid picture.
The line “you run toward him — rafter to rafter” is particularly good.
Ditto for the complete later line about “flailing arms”.
The entire last 3.5 lines are a cool waft of fresh air.

Hope this helps.
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