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  #1  
Unread 09-25-2019, 06:09 PM
Martin Rocek's Avatar
Martin Rocek Martin Rocek is offline
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Default Plea

Entreaty

Leave me, blank insomnia!
You wilted crimson zinnia,
yellow-eyed ulcer gnawing
my ankle angrily till morning
when cursing crows come cawing
zealous maledictions scorning
the rising of the seeling sun,
the endless day that’s just begun.

Possible revision for L4:
my hippocampus until morning
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  #2  
Unread 09-26-2019, 10:19 AM
Simon Hunt Simon Hunt is offline
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Hi Martin--

I've been there. I like the second half quite well, but the first seems a bit metaphor-heavy to me. Maybe it's just me, but I don't get the zinnia one. And for me the ulcer is at mind, heart, and soul--not ankle. Either way, it seems pretty densely freighted there; would exploring one image in that space be more effective--the way I think it is as the lines below build the image of cawing crows, rather than replacing that image with something else. Just my first take...
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  #3  
Unread 09-28-2019, 07:47 AM
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Rick Mullin Rick Mullin is offline
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Hi Martin,

I like this, but it seems it is an actual malady of the ankle that is keeping you awake, which is different from insomnia, as I understand it... a sleep disorder rather than an inability to sleep caused by another disorder.

The poem is very good, and I, too, like the end. If I'm reading the ankle ulcer correctly, I'd say write that out of the poem and and just go for the inability to sleep without giving a cause. But maybe keep "wilted crimson zinnia." Maybe even keep "yellow eyed ulcer," but make them metaphors for insomnia.

Rick
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  #4  
Unread 09-28-2019, 09:27 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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x
I read all of the imagery as metaphorical and think it all depicts insomnia as it is: phantasmagoric. I especially like the wilted crimson zinnia. Zinnias, even in their best days, are somewhat menacing to me. I don't know why, exactly.

I like the malady of it all. It depicts a creeping sense of doom that is spectral.

I think the opening declaration feels a bit dated in its diction. I do like the force of it, but wonder if it could be less bookish, more personal in your desperation.
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Unread 09-28-2019, 09:38 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Hi Martin,

I'd read the ulcer as metaphor. Insomnia is an ulcer that gnaws at one's ankle the way a dog might, perhaps even pulling one back from the brink of sleep by the ankle.

I didn't know what a zinnia was. I see that it's very bright flower. I can see the N like a once-bright now-wilted flower as a result of lack of sleep. I guess that metaphor can apply to insomnia itself, as well as to its effect on the sufferer.

I did wonder about the closeness of rhymes in L3-6. I think it's AABCBCDD, but reading it, given that the AA rhyme is slant (unless i'm mispronouncing 'zinnia'), I'd then seen 'gnawing' and 'morning' as another paired rhyme. Then I wasn't sure if actually L3-6 are all a single rhyme (AABBBBCC). For me, I'd like more clearly distinguishable rhymes in L3-6.

I also like the close: the endless day of someone who cannot sleep.

best,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 09-28-2019 at 10:50 AM.
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  #6  
Unread 09-28-2019, 07:57 PM
Martin Rocek's Avatar
Martin Rocek Martin Rocek is offline
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Simon,
Thank you for reading and commenting. An ulcer can look not unlike a wilted zinnia—I can post an unappetizing photo if you wish. I am reconsidering the ankle—see my comments below.
Rick,
Thank you as well! You are right, this was inspired by actual neuropathy from an actual ulcer on my ankle that kept me awake for several nights. However, I hoped that it could work metaphorically, as indeed it did for Jim and Matt; but, except for literally, I am not attached to the ankle, and am thinking of alternatives. One thing that I’ve been contemplating for a few days—should “anxiously” replace “angrily”? It is probably a more insomniac emotion.
Jim,
Thank you too! Even though the imagery was inspired by physical experience, it was indeed meant to be read metaphorically. Zinnias look a bit unnatural to me.
I struggled with the first line for a long time. The key word here is “blank”; I find the worst kind of insomnia the kind when you are so exhausted you that are too flat to read or write or do anything at all.
Matt,
Thank you for reading and commenting. I did indeed think of a metaphorical dog, even though the image was inspired by physical experience.
I believe that zinnia and insomnia are true rhymes—google pronounces them as such:
zinnia
insomnia
I see your point about the closeness of gnawing/cawing and morning/scorning, but it was not accidental, and I am somewhat attached to it.

Thanks again to all of you; does anyone have an opinion about “anxiously” vs. “angrily” while I think about ankle alternatives?

Martin

p.s. I just came up with an alternative to the ankle--what do you folks think?
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Unread 09-29-2019, 06:11 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Hi Martin,

I think 'hippocampus' loses the dog image so the image is more like that of an ulcer on/in the brain. I wonder if there's a way to strengthen the dog image instead, if the concern is that it doesn't come across? Maybe there's an alternative to 'angrily' that's more specifically doglike? 'doggedly' I guess, or maybe "gnawing / my ankle, hounding me till morning", but neither do much soundwise. I do also wonder how well 'blank' and 'angry' go together. 'blank' fits my experience of insomnia well: impassive, faceless. Whereas, though it's easy enough to get frustrated at insomnia, I'm not sure I see insomnia itself as angry. That could just be me, of course.

With 'zinnia', I'd called it a slant rhyme because the main stresses of the words aren't assonant: inSOMnia, ZINnia. I guess I don't think of one being a full rhyme for the other, but quite possibly I misunderstand the terminology. I guess the last two syllables rhyme, but that seems like an identity rhyme: they both end with 'nee-ah'. I don't know, something about it as a rhyme seems less than 'full' to me, but that could just be me.

-Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 10-02-2019 at 05:27 AM.
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  #8  
Unread 09-30-2019, 09:35 PM
A. Sterling A. Sterling is offline
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Hi Martin,

There’s some very striking imagery in this – weird, striking imagery, but the subject matter is a very good reason for it to go a bit weird.

Reading it over, I don’t really find it captures my own experience of insomnia – the poem seems more focused than that, more like when you know you’re already past the point when sleep is possible and are annoyed in retrospect. I think I also get that impression because the poem is so short, and the experience itself, while not always a long one, always feels like it. For something closer to the general after-the-fact experience, I think I’d prefer that it begin with an appropriate malediction rather than an entreaty. Of course, that’s inasmuch as there is a general experience – I personally wouldn’t call it ‘blank’ either, but I can see it being experienced that way.

Last edited by A. Sterling; 09-30-2019 at 09:38 PM. Reason: clarity
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  #9  
Unread 10-01-2019, 06:37 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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x
I like "my hippocampus until morning" for three reasons:
  • Insomnia is less a gnawing on the ankle and more a hounding of the mind, IMHO.
  • It allows the crows to stand out. (this evening on my way home I saw a murder of crows gathered above the road in the trees, on the wires, on the fences, waiting).
  • I like the more regular rhythm of it better than the rhythm of the original line.

But what I like is not always (or even usually) what's best for the poem.... I'd be inclined to listen to Matt.
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  #10  
Unread 10-01-2019, 10:00 PM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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I prefer ankle to hippocampus. First, it’s a more gut-level word, which goes with the irritated mood of insomnia. Second, it’s more immediate as an image.

Also, I agree with others that “blank” doesn’t ring any bells for my experience of insomnia. It’s hard even to know what it means here. And the modifiers that follow--crimson, yellow-eyed, angrily, cursing, zealous, seeling--all seem to contradict it. You could substitute it with a modifier that anticipates the ankle being gnawed by an ulcer: “raw”?
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