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Old 05-23-2018, 03:04 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Default The Candidates

The Candidate

Get up, Fernando. We must try again.
I know, I know, this is the age of shrill
abhorrence, but we are American—
the future is a family picnic still.

It’s bad we two have dozed through early summer
here on the peeling stoop of unsuccess
while truth got slaughtered, and the numb got number
to slurs, massacres, treason and the press,

so go put on a suit and running shoes.
We’ll knock like missionaries. If they spit,
whip out their Colts and sputter toxic nonsense,

we can at least yield with an easy conscience,
at least have done our best to do a bit
of good, Fernando, when we hugely lose.

. . . . .

Title was "The Candidates"
L4 "dozed" for "boozed"
L8 "slurs" for "wrath"
L11 "whip out their Colts" for "wave weaponry" for "whip out their gats"

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 07-22-2018 at 08:45 PM.
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Old 05-23-2018, 03:06 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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I have posted this poem at The Deep End because it is "not an early draft" and because I am comfortable "with close attention and emphasis on craft."
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Old 05-23-2018, 08:48 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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I'll bump this up just to let people know it's here.

Best,

Aaron
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Old 05-23-2018, 10:41 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Aaron,

I think this is lovely. It's passionate and well-executed, with tremendous moments - "The peeling stoop of unsuccess." At times, I'm unsure of the plot, but the gist comes through without effort. My one remark: I feel that folks don't have gats these days, which suggest speakeasies and Capone to me. They have, I guess, AR 15s or handguns?

Cheers,
John
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Old 05-24-2018, 12:04 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Thank you, John. I will revise the "gat" line to "wave weaponry".

Do you have any questions about the "plot"?

Best,

Aaron
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Old 05-24-2018, 12:34 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Aaron,

I like the revision. For the plot, I'll do as Matt usefully does and review my understanding. Two potential political candidates are speaking: they've wasted at least the early summer, but canvassing and running remain worthwhile. I had I guess two questions at first blush: first, in "It’s bad we two have boozed …. so go put on your suit;" I don't see how the one follows from the other as yet. Second, in "we can at least yield with an easy conscience," my reading says we're still at someone's door; but yield, I am going to assume, refers to a concession speech on the day. Hence my lack of clarity.

The passion and the verve here carry me past those questions, but they do slow me down, and you ask!

Cheers,
John
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Old 05-24-2018, 01:15 AM
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Martin Rocek Martin Rocek is offline
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Aaron,
I really like this, but I am gnawed by curiosity: Who is Reynaldo? I am sure those with a better education know, but the question is distracting.

One really far-fetched nit, which says more about me than about the poem, I was distracted by the proximity of "still" and "boozed", which suggested a bad pun, I guess because of the slight awkwardness of S1L4 (we expect "the future is still a family picnic"). Perhaps replace "boozed" with "slept"?

Thanks for the read!

Martin
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Old 05-24-2018, 02:53 AM
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Edward Zuk Edward Zuk is offline
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Hi Aaron,

I like how this tries to apprach the current political situation in a quiet, roundabout way. It’s more effective than the usual hysterics, I think. I imagine that the optimism and breeziness of line 4 might upset some people, but it’s a delightful line.

I assume that Reynaldo is either a name that’s meant to be a little mysterious (a la Stevens’s Ramon Fernandez) or personal. That's all good, of course.

Here are a few observations and suggestions (I’m rusty on giving Deep End critiques, but here goes):

Title: Are these candidates or canvassers? If they’re both candidates, would they be going door to door together?

Lines 2-3: Is shrill / abhorrence the best description for the current state? It does not quite harmonize with numb and number (which is a fun play on dumb and dumber).

Line 7: You don’t need the comma.

Line 8: I’d like to see a full stop at the end of the line.

Line 11: “Gats” didn’t work for me either, but you could do something with “piece” or “stick” in place of the vague “wave weaponry.”

Line 13: I’m not fond of the two uses of “do,” and I want a repetition of “we” or “we’ve” to make the syntax clearer.

Line 14: Of course, I want “bigly” or “big league” instead of hugely, even as I realize how silly that would sound. (Please don’t take this suggestion—I’m kidding.)
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Old 05-24-2018, 04:07 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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No problem following the plot. The name Reynaldo might be Brazilian (the famous soccer player), and I’m not sure of its significance here. Maybe an allusion to white supremacist U.S.?

“wrath” in line 8 seems a little vague compared to the others in that list. Would “slurs” be better?

I’m with others on feeling that “wave weaponry” is off-register.

I enjoyed the poem very much—is it part of a series? It almost seems excerpted from a wider context, though I do think it stands fine on its own.
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Old 05-24-2018, 06:26 AM
E. Shaun Russell E. Shaun Russell is offline
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First of all, I like this a great deal. I couldn't help but think of Housman's "Terence, this is stupid stuff" when reading the first line.

Incidentally, I read the poem a few times before reading the previous comments, and my interpretation of the plot is completely different. It might be utterly incorrect, but I imagined Reynaldo and his friend as two Mexicans trying to get into the U.S. -- on the "stoop of unsuccess," as it were, on the outside looking in to a country that has backslid but is still somehow ideal. Mexicans are still "Americans," broadly speaking, so that could be something of a pun. I imagine the "knock like missionaries" as being a proverbial knocking on the door (or wall, ahem) to the U.S., which would also underscore the suit and running shoes image -- the running shoes to get across, and the suit to get a job once in... The "candidates" of the title, therefore, could mean either tongue-in-cheek "candidates" for entry, or just job candidates.*

Again, this may be way off base from Aaron's intentions, but there's something to be said for how the poem can be read in at least two distinct ways.

I do think that regardless of Aaron's intention, a name like "Reynaldo" is essential for showcasing the central figures as not the traditional image of white Americans -- people conceptualized as foreigners, whether they are American citizens (or North American citizens) or not. My only minor nit is with "hugely" in the last line -- it sticks out, and as Edward says, it's redolent of "bigly," which might be a bit too comic for its position in the poem.

Overall, though, whatever the actual context of the plot, I think this is a strong poem.




*The more I think about it, the more I realize that the entire poem could fit two non-white American citizens trying to find jobs in this country as well...
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