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  #1  
Unread 10-09-2019, 06:03 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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Default Dislocated

Invisible

Today I’m taking off my face—
my mouth, my ears, my brows, my nose—
retaining nothing but my eyes.
Because I’m in a distant place
where nobody who knows me goes,
I’m silent as the butterflies.
I have no history to erase.
My outer margin ebbs and flows.
I’m no one that I recognize.

Today I’m taking off my name.
I’m blank. I could be anyone.
In unfamiliar light, I fade
like watercolors in a frame.
I turn transparent in the sun,
but coalesce again in shade—
exposed, unraveled, not the same,
uncertain, now I’ve come undone,
that I can ever be remade.
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  #2  
Unread 10-09-2019, 06:22 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Susan,

The whole piece feels very well-crafted, and some lines are especially nicely turned. The only jarring note for me is the violence of the opening image - I don't see that violence throughout the poem - and so, given the parallelism between S1 and S2, and the neatness of S2 as a unit, i wonder whether you in fact need S1 at this point. How would S2 look on its own?

Cheers,
John
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  #3  
Unread 10-09-2019, 06:52 AM
Susan McLean Susan McLean is offline
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John, sometimes a jarringly unexpected first note is exactly the thing to keep someone reading. There is something so bizarre about the idea of removing one's face that the idea was what generated the poem. I will wait to see how it affects others. Being off balance is one of the things the poem is about.

Susan
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  #4  
Unread 10-09-2019, 07:21 AM
R. Nemo Hill's Avatar
R. Nemo Hill R. Nemo Hill is offline
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Yes, I agree, Susan, that the first line is a good kick to propel the reader forward.
The poem also ends with a somewhat radically chilling notion, the uncertainty that "I can ever be remade."
So it seems adroitly and dramatically bookended.

I quite like this one.

Nemo
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Unread 10-09-2019, 07:24 AM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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I like this a lot. No nits. My favorite of yours in recent memory.
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Unread 10-09-2019, 07:30 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Susan,

Well, not so unexpected as all that. It is, for instance, the central conceit of the movie Face-Off, with Nicholas Cage and John Travolta. But obviously this is your poem and you should do what you want with it. And the whole thing remains crisp and well-executed to my mind, as i said upthread.

Cheers,
John
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Unread 10-09-2019, 07:55 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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I too like this a lot. The opening is quite realistic, since we really are all eyes in a new place. I'm not so sure taking them off is the action that describes it though. It feels less voluntary than that.
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Unread 10-09-2019, 08:07 AM
Clive Watkins Clive Watkins is offline
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Persuasively unsettling, Susan! A strong poem from first to last.

Clive
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  #9  
Unread 10-09-2019, 08:12 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hmm. Susan, FWIW, there's also an anthologized modern English-language poem where the N undresses layer by layer ending with them as skeleton draping their flesh over a chair. I'd thought it was called "Striptease" but I'm afraid I can't turn it up. The image certainly stuck with me.

Cheers,
John
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Unread 10-09-2019, 08:59 AM
Mark Stone Mark Stone is offline
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Susan, Hi.

1. This is a very interesting poem. I like it.

2. There is language in several lines that indicates the narrator is still visible to some extent. So I wonder if “Invisible” is the best title. Possible alternatives that come to mind are: “Deconstruction,” “Melting Away,” “Deliquescence” and “Undone.”

3. I learned on this website that a poem should begin with a line that is arresting and makes one want to read more. I think your L1 is precisely that.

4. L5 reads:

where nobody who knows me goes,

I trip on the meter, since “nobody” is a dactyl in its pronunciation. As a result, I read the line as having three stresses:

where NObody who KNOWS me GOES,

Here is a possible alternative:

where no one I know ever goes,

5. L10 reads:

Today I’m taking off my name.

If you changed “taking off” to “peeling off,” it would create a stronger visual, i.e., an image of someone actually pulling the name tag off of their shirt and throwing it away.

6. L17 made me think of the 1969 song by The Guess Who entitled “Undun.” After I read your poem, my wife and I watched a YouTube video of this group performing this song. It brought back fond memories. Thank you.

Best wishes,

Mark
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