Eratosphere Forums - Metrical Poetry, Free Verse, Fiction, Art, Critique, Discussions Able Muse - a review of poetry, prose and art

Forum Left Top

Notices

Reply
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #1  
Unread 01-11-2021, 04:25 PM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 2,022
Default Written a while ago

Third draft

Climbing a Brontosaurus

I had so many dreams of doing this
and once—at five—I tried to crawl beneath
the Peabody's tall railing. Though stopped, I kept
thinking: with others I could stick my feet
through vertebrae and sit upon its head.

Even as an adult it still entices:
to lord from high, see ancient artifacts
as if from space, divorced from people gawking,
to build my thoughts on bones and surety.

I would have broken pieces in my climb—
though these are merely plaster and the fossils
hidden, never meant for eyes like mine—
and the thunder lizard’s existence flickers
like a sense of justice and a founding myth.


Climbing a Brontosaurus’ Neck

I had so many dreams of doing this
and once—at five—I tried to crawl beneath
the Peabody's tall railing. Though stopped, I kept
on thinking: with others
I could stick my feet
its vertebrae and sit upon its head.

Even as an adult it still entices:
to lord from high, see ancient artifacts
as if from space, divorced from people gawking,
to build my thoughts on bones and surety.

I would have broken pieces in my climb—
though these are merely plaster and the fossils
hidden, never meant for eyes like mine—
and the thunder lizard’s existence flickers
like a sense of justice and a founding myth.

***
L3-4 was: I knew it then:
with more friends I could stick my feet between
L7: "sit on" --> "lord from"
Deleted original L10: "Yet who can tell if this deserved my thoughts?"

Original
Climbing a Brontosaurus’ Neck

I had so many dreams of doing this
and once—at five—I tried to crawl beneath
the Peabody's rail. My mother grabbed me, shocked
and certainly embarrassed, though she knew
that no one saw me. I sensed then that with
more friends that I could stick my feet between
its vertebrae sit upon its head.
And even as an adult it still entices:
to sit on high, see ancient artifacts
as if from space, divorced from people gawking,
to build my thoughts on bones and surety.
But who can tell if this deserved my thought?
I would have broken pieces in my climb—
though these are merely plaster and the fossils
hidden, never meant for eyes like mine,
and the thunder lizard’s existence flickers like
a sense of justice and a founding myth.

Last edited by Andrew Szilvasy; 01-18-2021 at 01:25 PM.
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Unread 01-11-2021, 09:21 PM
Aaron Novick's Avatar
Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Seattle
Posts: 2,606
Default

Andrew, I like the frame of this but have a few issues.

First, there appears to be a grammar issue (or a few) here:
I sensed then that with
more friends that I could stick my feet between
its vertebrae sit upon its head.
At the very least, I cannot parse this. Also, "with" is a bad end word there. And, though it scans, I find the rhythm of that first line somewhat strained.

In the penultimate line, "like" is another rough enjambment: (a) it keeps you from ending the line on the stronger "flickers", and (b) it separates "like" from the rest of the thought that follows. But it's easily fixable: with loose meter like this, you can easily get away with just moving "like" down to the last line.

I think the opening is a bit lax: good first line, and it's important to give the details of the scene, but are the details of the mother's embarrassment and the fact that no one saw you serving the poem? They seem a distraction from the thought that animates it.

You use "and" and "but" as sentence-opening connectives in the poem; I wonder if you really need them. At the very least, I think line 8 would work better as a stark transition ("Even as an adult..."), and maybe line 12 as well ("Who can tell...").

The last sentence is also a bit grammatically awkward, moving between two tenses, from conditional past to simple present. This might work for some poems, but I'm not sure this one pulls it off. (But it might be worth making it one that can pull it off, rather than simply getting rid of it.)

I'm of two minds about "thunder lizard". It's so naturally poetic—like "murder of crows" or "murmuration"—that it's hard to know how to actually get it into a poem. It sounds good when I don't think about it, but when I do start thinking about how you've just translated the Latin name, I get a bit uncomfortable. But "flickers" picks up on it, and it resonates also with the latent "flash of insight" metaphor, so maybe it's ok. Worth thinking about it.

You've got a lot of the pieces here, but I don't yet think they're fitting together the way they need to.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Unread 01-11-2021, 10:27 PM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 2,022
Default

Aaron,

Thank you. Your feedback—as usual—was incredibly helpful.

I cut the mother part. It was unnecessary. I also clarified the grammar and made some adjustments to the endwords to improve enjambements.

I'm torn on whether it should be in stanzas or straight blank verse. I've moved to 3 quintets at the moment, but I'm not married to that.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Unread 01-11-2021, 10:57 PM
Aaron Novick's Avatar
Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2016
Location: Seattle
Posts: 2,606
Default

Much improved. A few stray thoughts:

"I knew it then" feels like metrical filler. The opening is closer to where it needs to be but still not there.

Are you missing an "and" in S1L5?

You've got "sit" in S1L5 and S2L2. I don't think the repetition serves you.

I don't like S2L5. It was bothering me a bit in the original; now that the rest is cleaned up, it sticks out even more. It's lax compared to the palpable bones of S2L4 and S3L1. Consider cutting it. (Now it's a blank verse sonnet.)

Your revisions to the final stanza work across the board, I think.

I'll leave off here for a while and let others get a word in.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Unread 01-12-2021, 10:55 AM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 2,022
Default

Thanks Aaron,

I've considered the changes and taken most. I'll still sit with "I knew it then" and see if that's something I might imporve.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Unread 01-16-2021, 09:53 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Staffordshire, England
Posts: 3,929
Default

Hi Andrew,

I love the idea of this because I had exactly the same obsession as a small boy — that magical dinosaur skeleton awe. I even wrote to a make-your-wish-come-true children's TV programme called "Jim'll Fix It", requesting to sit on the Brontosaurus at the Natural History Museum in London. (It didn't happen and the host of the show turned out to be Britain's most prolific paedophile sex offender, but that's another story).

I don't quite get "with more friends I could stick my feet between / its vertebrae and sit upon its head". I think you mean that the friends would be able to help you climb up the thing, to give you a boost, but the meaning doesn't come across to me. It feels like clarity has been sacrificed to fit the thought into the space of the line.

Overall I find it a bit flat and I wish there was more of the child's wonder at the idea, and that the poem were more playful somehow. It reaches the "Even as an adult" musings before I feel I've got a sense of the appeal of the thing to the child. The final couplet is impressive sounding, but I find myself slightly disappointed that the whole poem seems to have been leading up to a metaphor (I think) about the State Of America and that I'm then obliged to reread the poem with this overarching analogy in mind. Perhaps I'm just imagining the poem I want it to be and I just want more "a boy and his dinosaur".
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Unread 01-16-2021, 11:59 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 2,835
Default

.
Mark: I love the idea of this because I had exactly the same obsession as a small boy — that magical dinosaur skeleton awe. I even wrote to a make-your-wish-come-true children's TV programme called "Jim'll Fix It", requesting to sit on the Brontosaurus at the Natural History Museum in London. (It didn't happen and the host of the show turned out to be Britain's most prolific paedophile sex offender, but that's another story).

Here in the States there was a popular radio segment by Paul Harvey entitled, “The Rest of the Story”. They were always uplifting/enlightening. I can imagine your "rest of the story" (above) could be a kind of perverse opposite podcast where seemingly good stories have a dark side. You're welcome.


Andrew, I can’t track down some notes I made on this so I’ll reconstruct as best I can.
I agree with Mark that there should be more childlike ruminations in this. I like that you span/connect your childhood memories with your adult fantasies.

I had begun to respond to this, partly on the basis of knowing the Peabody Museum of Natural History in New Haven, CY so well — I run a children’s program for Yale Reunions that includes a visit to the museum. There are always a few kids that are chastised for touching the bones or pushing the boundaries… The space itself is dinosaur-sized full of interesting acoustics and the loud whispering voices of hundreds of kids all exhaling at once.
The same thing with the Museum of Science in Boston/Cambridge. Endless hours of fascinating exhibits — all capped with a fantastic museum gift shop.

Thoughts on how you might re-frame this...
  • Growing up, I loved Peter, Paul & Mary’s “Puff the Magic Dragon” and it was one of the first songs I learned to play on the guitar in my teens. By then, my naive interpretation had taken on the more adult interpretation of the metaphor (drugs), which, ironically, mimicked my original childlike understanding of losing one's innocence as you grow. It’s still one of my favorite children’s songs. It spans time just as your poem does.
  • Especially given the fact that this is a poem you wrote a while back and therefore ripe for re-writing, I think you might do well to ponder “Puff the Magic Dragon”.
  • Another favorite song of mine that offers the two contrasting viewpoints (child and adult) and written using two different voices is Yusuf Islam’s (formerly Cat Stevens) “Father and Son”. The song, along with a few others of his, made a big impression on me growing up. (To a degree, he is England’s version of our Richie Havens — another icon of my teenage years). If you want to radically revamp this you might consider two separate voices in conversation with each other. Just a thought.
  • I think you’re headed in the right direction with the stanza breaks. The span of time needs that. If you are to go with two separate/contrasting or complimenting voices you might balance things a bit by giving each two stanza – Either togl=gling back and forth as Yusuf Islam does in Father and Son” or tweo stanzas from the child’s perspective followed by two stanzas of the adult the child has become’s perspective. Innocence and Experience.

I didn’t read “with more friends” as Mark did. I read it as being “along with other friends”. But I did stumble a bit and then decided to go with “along with”. Perhaps that needs clarification.

It sounds/feels a bit prosaic in places (Even as an adult it still entices… I would have broken pieces in my climb—) Further crystallization of thought might help that.

Hope all is well…
.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Unread 01-16-2021, 10:33 PM
Katie Hoerth's Avatar
Katie Hoerth Katie Hoerth is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2011
Location: Beaumont, Texas
Posts: 589
Default

Hi Andrew,
I love this! What a fun poem (though with deep implications of innocence lost). I particularly like the powerful ending.
Do you need the first line, really? Why not start the poem straight away with the five year old's dream, then volta into the adult mindscape.
Secondly, I think line 5 still reads awkwardly. Does it need a preposition at the beginning of the line?
Just a few minor thoughts.
K.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Unread 01-17-2021, 12:36 AM
Martin Elster Martin Elster is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Connecticut, USA
Posts: 6,840
Default

Hi Andrew,

I like the descriptions of the fossil replicas and the actions and emotions of the N as a child and then as an adult. I agree with Katie about starting the poem with L2, which gets right into it.

I think a couple of lines could be improved metrically and/or grammatically.

S1L5: I suggest replacing “its” with “through” and “upon” with “atop.”

...with others I could stick my feet
through vertebrae and sit atop its head.


S3L4: The meter seems off. Perhaps you could transpose the wording a bit and leave out the “and,” like this, for example:

the existence of the thunder lizard flickers (beginning the line win an anapest, but then continuing with all iambs, which is what you’ve done in the last line, so they would be parallel)

Or, if you wanted to start with an iamb:

the being of the thunder lizard flickers

But if you feel the “and” is important (at the start of the line), perhaps you could come up with something else. I can’t at the moment think of anything, but you might after some experimenting.

In S1, lines 3 and 4 both have anapests within the lines. They made the reading for me a bit bumpy at those places. It’s not a really big deal, but you may be able to smooth those spots out by using synonyms or playing with the wording.

Other than these small nits, it’s a very enjoyable poem. It reminded me of when I, as a little kid, visited the Peabody Museum of Natural History on a field trip with my classmates. I don't remember much of it anymore, however, except the feeling of awe and excitement at seeing such remarkable specimens.

Martin

Last edited by Martin Elster; 01-17-2021 at 12:39 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Unread 01-18-2021, 01:24 PM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
Member
 
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 2,022
Default

Hi everyone,

Thanks for your thoughts!

Mark: I'm sorry it's a little flat for you. I do want those two lines to be a revision of the whole image, though, because it feels like form matching meaning. I've tried to adjust the image of the friends, but I may need to do more. I'm going to keep considering that part. Thanks!

Jim: I appreciate your concerns here; though I don't know that it needs more childlike wonder, it's worth considering if what is there hits the mark.

Katie: I'm glad you like it. I'm going to give your suggestion re: the first line. I think you may be right. I think you're definitely right about the opening of L5 so I'm adjusting it accordingly. Thanks again.

Martin: I'm glad you liked it. I've taken some of your suggestions and am contemplating a few others, especially in the penultimate line.

Thanks again. I think it's probably fine to let this slide down.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump



Forum Right Top
Forum Left Bottom Forum Right Bottom
 
Right Left
Member Login
Forgot password?
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Statistics:
Forum Members: 8,140
Total Threads: 20,315
Total Posts: 258,114
There are 163 users
currently browsing forums.
Forum LeftForum Right


Forum Sponsor:
Donate & Support Able Muse / Eratosphere
Forum LeftForum Right
Right Right
Right Bottom Left Right Bottom Right

Hosted by ApplauZ Online