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  #1  
Unread 06-14-2020, 02:02 PM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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Default Bluebirds

Revision II

Bluebirds

The sky born between
a bluebird's green hops
is not the bluebird's sky—
bluer than blood irises,
that sky does not exist.

The sun, not the bluebird,
spins to watch the planets spin
the way an eagle, stately,
sweeps his eye across the wing
of his soft prey flying by.

***

Revision

Bluebirds

The sky born between
a bluebird's green hops
is not the bluebird's sky
bluer than blood irises.
That sky does not exist.

The sun, not the bluebird,
spins to watch the planets spin
the way an eagle, stately,
sweeps his eye across the wing
of his soft prey flying by.


***


Bluebirds

The sky born between
a bluebird's green hops
is not the bluebird's sky
bluer than blood irises.
The sky does not exist.

The sun, not the bluebird,
spins to watch the planets spin
the way an eagle, stately,
lays his eyes across the wings
of his soft prey flying by.

***

I've posted earlier versions of this. I took on the discipline of making it exactly fifty words, excluding the title. I think it helped?

Last edited by John Riley; 06-30-2020 at 01:32 PM.
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  #2  
Unread 06-14-2020, 05:09 PM
Cally Conan-Davies Cally Conan-Davies is offline
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John, this is so strange and impressionistic and wonderful!

I haven't seen earlier versions, but I can sense skilful editing. Your technique of containment has served you well!

The whole garden is evoked between the bluebird and the iris. What colour, if this were indeed an impressionist painting. I didn't know that those deep purple irises were called blood irises! That's great. Blue as blood. The blue bloods hints at the stateliness of the eagle. And I love the statement of fact: "the sky does not exist".

And then you give us the cosmos in the eye of an eagle. What a sweep. Pure observation. I love it.

It sings. So musical. It's metrical (not that it matters). I just had one thought -- to ease the sibilance in the final two lines, you might consider "lays his eye across the wing" -- a singular eye. That single focus, like the eye of the sun.

This poem is so beautiful to look at. And listen to.

Wonderful work, John!

Cally
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  #3  
Unread 06-14-2020, 05:37 PM
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Andrew Mandelbaum Andrew Mandelbaum is offline
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I agree with Cally on the look and feel of this. As well as the suggestion to make wings singular. And follow that with the same for planets. Wing and planet just feels better.

The one line I balk at is L5. You have allowed the sky to exist already by evocation. How about

That sky does not exist.
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  #4  
Unread 06-15-2020, 09:44 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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Very nice, John. It is tight as a drum and like an echo chamber of image-associations. In addition to what the others said about going singular with those words, perhaps consider changing “the” before “planets” to “a.” Also, since there’s a parallel set up between sun and eagle (which medieval bestiaries do as well), I wonder if “spins” is the ideal verb. Since the planet or planets spin, perhaps something contrasting for the sun would be good, a stately motion like the eagle’s.
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  #5  
Unread 06-15-2020, 03:42 PM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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Cally, Andrew, and Andrew, thanks for reading and commenting. I'm really pleased that this one works for you guys. I have had the image of the morning bluebird in my head for a long time. I'm fascinated by it for some reason and perhaps writing poem after poem with the image was me trying to find out why.

I have reduced the sibilance in the second stanza and have changed "The" to "That" on L5. I understand what Andrew F. is saying about the contrast of the eagle to the sun. I will need to stare at that a while.

Thanks again. Much appreciated.

Best
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  #6  
Unread 06-15-2020, 03:47 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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[cross-posted with John]

Hi John,

I can't make much sense of this one, but that isn't stopping me enjoying it. In fact, I think that's part of its appeal. It does make it harder to critique though.

I'm wondering if "The" in L5 could be "That". Not sure I can justify why I think that's better, but thought I'd throw it out there anyway.

I'm wondering about the comparison between the spinning sun and the stately eagle laying his eyes across his prey. I imagine the eagle spinning, or at least his eyes, and I find that hard to reconcile with 'stately'.

Since you're punctuating elsewhere in the poem, I think there should be a comma after "bluebird's sky" if the sense is that bluebird's sky is bluer than blood irises, which is how I'm reading this.

best,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 06-15-2020 at 03:56 PM.
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  #7  
Unread 06-15-2020, 04:04 PM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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Thanks, Matt. We must have cross-posted. I can see how it may be puzzling. I'm hoping readers will look at it. That would be great.

I changed "lays" in L9 to "sweeps." The eagle's eye is moving. I hope that is a good change.

I'm certainly open to comments.

Best
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  #8  
Unread 06-15-2020, 05:48 PM
Cally Conan-Davies Cally Conan-Davies is offline
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Good changes, John. "That" sky, excellent. In this short form, accuracy is everything.

Power of nature. I saw a mountain bluebird in Colorado -- only once. Unforgettable.

Cally
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  #9  
Unread 06-18-2020, 11:47 AM
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Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is offline
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Yes, it's a wonderfully chilling poem, John. I live with bluebirds and eagles in the trees nearby, though I've never seen them here at the same time. Hawks are here all year, but the eagles show up on the most bitter winter days. The bluebirds like late spring. Who knows where they came from and where they go. But predator-prey never disappears.
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  #10  
Unread 06-20-2020, 03:51 AM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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Thanks, Cally and Mary for helping me with this little poem.
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