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Unread 08-21-2019, 02:08 PM
Rick Mullin's Avatar
Rick Mullin Rick Mullin is offline
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Northern New Jersey
Posts: 7,885
Default Sapphics

Here and Gone

Summer intern, doctoral thesis pending,
you arrive so wise at the scientific
magazine of cannabis entertainment,
knowing exactly.

Still we keep you ever-so-out-of-focus,
passing down the elegant marginalia.
Keep you busy dodging our valid questions.
Over the transom,

orchid rinds and boxes of Chinese flashcards
make their way to Stephanie’s corner office.
You demur. Coincidence rules the darkroom.

graphic novels slip into burning pockets,
begging ontological metric readings.
Savage ink, a tear in the moral fabric
cues the finale.

On that fateful Monday in waning August,
Fibonacci Sequins by Stunning Numbers
hits the charts at numero uno, spilling
artichoke flowers.

S2 “valid” was “ pointless” (ha!)
S3 “orchid rinds” was Merck cocaine”
S4 "Savage ink" was "Ink and pop"

Last edited by Rick Mullin; 08-23-2019 at 11:39 PM.
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Unread 08-21-2019, 05:49 PM
Catherine Chandler's Avatar
Catherine Chandler Catherine Chandler is offline
Join Date: Oct 2004
Location: Canada and Uruguay
Posts: 5,755
Blog Entries: 33

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Unread 08-21-2019, 07:08 PM
Siham Karami Siham Karami is offline
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Florida, USA
Posts: 3,221

Yeah exactly. It is a total joy, Rick, from beginning to end. Glad you changed the previous to “orchid rinds” which is universally accessible. But one of He joys in your work is not knowing some of the references. That sounds odd of course, but you stretch my boundaries and that is similar to the pleasure of stumbling into a medieval courtyard in the middle of the subway. Or vice versa.

“Knowing exactly” - I’ve been wanting this for a long time but never knew.
“Boxes of Chinese flashcards” - yes and just because
“Begging ontological metric readings” - don’t let go of this ever
“Fibonacci Sequins by Stunning Numbers” - please tell me this is real

Did I say a total joy.
Bears repeating.

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Unread 08-21-2019, 07:09 PM
Siham Karami Siham Karami is offline
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: Florida, USA
Posts: 3,221

And if it isn’t real (Fibonacci etc...) then YOU must be “the chosen one.” All Chinese problems: solved.
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Unread 08-22-2019, 10:57 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Lazio, Italy
Posts: 4,966

Exquisite craft, Rick. I'll need to read this some more to let it soak in content-wise, but in the meantime I wonder about two things:

Add a comma after "Still" at the start of S2?

And "Surrealistic" for me doesn't get the "Strawberry pancakes" meter of the fourth Sapphics line. Do you pronounce that with 5 syllables? For me it's SUR-real-IST-ic.
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Unread 08-22-2019, 03:25 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Staffordshire, England
Posts: 3,140

Nice Rick. Weird ha. That we might not know what's going on seems appropriate to the mood, because then the reader becomes the intern. It has a 'Ballad of a Thin Man' vibe to it, in that sense, in its glee at messing with the reader/intern's comfort zones. Didn't we have a conversation about made up band/album names once?

A thought, possibly not a good one: In S1 could 'the scientific' be 'this scientific' or even 'our scientific' to better establish the speaker as being a part of said magazine?

Andrew may have a point about 'surrealistic'. Phantasmagoric?
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Unread 08-22-2019, 04:36 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
Join Date: Mar 2017
Location: TX
Posts: 4,952

Hi Rick,

I think this is great. I might drop the hyphen between so and out.

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Unread 08-23-2019, 09:21 AM
Rick Mullin's Avatar
Rick Mullin Rick Mullin is offline
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Northern New Jersey
Posts: 7,885

Thank you Catherine.

Thanks Siham. Finding the reference can be a joy of writing, I guess.~,:^) Stunning Numbers is a non-existent band in my imagination. You will remember their debut album, Fibonacci Sequins. I’m really glad you enjoyed this.

Thanks Andrew. I think Merriam-Webster is backing my five count, but tentatively, with a short dash in the “re-al”. I definitely pronounce it as five syllables. But there needs to be potent strawberry pancake in an adonic, and I’m not sure the metrical strength is there in “surrealistic”. Still, it strikes me as the right word. I will give it further thought.

Thanks Mark. I do want to maintain a suggestive opacity, and I’m happy for a Ballad of a Thin Man comparison! It limits my set of possible readers, I suppose, especially in the formalist pool. Which has never bothered me. This is an example of something that started with a line—the one about the made-up band that we have, indeed, discussed online somewhere. I had no narrative in mind as I got started, and grabbed a summer intern from an interoffice social media post. Etc. For me, a narrative is in that ever-so-out-of-focus space. The biggest mistake would be to try to focus at this point.

I see your point about switching from “the” to something like “our”. But I think one does refer to what their group does as “the”—“Welcome to the home of technical difficulties.” I just like the sharpness (unburdened by association or reference) of ”the” at that moment.
Hi John. There are two hyphenated phrases being turned into sort of one unit held together by a hyphen there. It may be confusing. I will consider further. Glad you like it.

Thanks all,
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Unread 08-24-2019, 05:10 PM
Orwn Acra's Avatar
Orwn Acra Orwn Acra is offline
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: NYC
Posts: 1,985

Well done but this one is not for me. I guess I don't find the succession of images to be evocative of anything....
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Unread 08-25-2019, 08:11 AM
Daniel Kemper's Avatar
Daniel Kemper Daniel Kemper is offline
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: California
Posts: 781

Unconsciously I want to end it with, "and drank rapidly a glass of water". Heh. E.e. Cummings in a Sapphic. That's probably as odd a reaction as you'll get. It's just for the rapid shift of imagery, which is lush, on a meter that is fault-free to me, but content I can't otherwise penetrate except as a bit of similar fun poked at a puffy colleague.
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