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Old 06-25-2018, 03:29 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is online now
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Default The Wishing Well

A Conscience

Hey you slinking from the hand-job parlor,
come grok stuff fit for ministers and psalms:
that blind guy rattling a cup for alms
and, look, his pair of eyes, a guardian snarler,
half-wolf and panting at his godly feet.
For all the sunlight in this slum of palms,
each of them seems the only warmth that calms
the other. Envy them. They are complete,

while you, a residue, Contentment’s ex,
have living squinters ever looking for
one-sided stand-ins for the real rapport.
(That’s why you prowl down here and pay for sex.)
Here is your wishing well: this man, this dog,
so chuck some change in. Sure, that liquor store
would sell you blur awhile, but pray for more—
say, blending love,
say, blending love, the ending of
say, blending love, the ending of the monologue.

. . . . .

Title was "The Wishing Well"
L1 was "Hey sucker slinking from the hand-job parlor,"
L4 "stump-tailed" for "guardian"
L7 "seems" for "is"
L9 "Contentment's" for "Fulfillment's"
L10 "peepers" for "pupils"
L15 "blur awhile" for "hours of out"

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 06-30-2018 at 11:08 AM.
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Old 06-25-2018, 05:36 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Aaron,

A short note to say the language is sparkly as ever, and the theme is tight, but this one doesn't quite take off for me. I'm not sure why. I think I might change the word sucker at the start; the guy is maybe more of a punter than a sucker? He's not fallen for a flim flam job that I can see.

Cheers,
John
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Old 06-25-2018, 06:54 PM
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Jayne Osborn Jayne Osborn is offline
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Hi Aaron.
Well, I've learned a new word today: grok. I've never come across it before, so thanks for increasing my vocabulary!

I must say that I really can't take to ''snarler'' here, in the context of a blind man's guide dog. (I'm unconvinced by ''half-wolf") - so it seems ''snarler'' is there purely to force a rhyme with ''parlour".

I don't understand what ''hours of out'' means, but it's probably because I'm a Brit.

Sorry I can't be more positive about this one at the moment, but I'm interested to see where you go with it when you've got some more responses.

Jayne
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Old 06-25-2018, 07:15 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is online now
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John, I have revised the first line to something, I hope, even more arresting. I was unable to find a noun there that did not sound British (“punter”)!? or wrong. The line is now:

Hey you slinking from the hand-job parlor,

I hope that, on repeated readings, the poem grows on you. I would like to think there is a richness in the contrast of the lone addressee and the man-dog couple and in the act of alms-giving being a wish for a fulfilling relationship.

I have encountered a fair number of wolfdogs in my day: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolfdog They’re not uncommon.

Jayne, thank you. I’m think I might be wedded to “parlor”/”snarler,” though I would be willing to fiddle with what goes before and after them. I will think about “hours of out”—it is not an American idiom but my own coinage. I am glad that you enjoyed “grok”—yes, it entered our language in 1960s, I believe, through a science-fiction novel. Good night, good night.

Best,

Aaron
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Old 06-25-2018, 07:22 PM
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Jan Iwaszkiewicz Jan Iwaszkiewicz is offline
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'grok' is Heinlein Aaron, but why is it here?

Does it have some other currency?
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Old 06-25-2018, 07:25 PM
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Jayne Osborn Jayne Osborn is offline
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Hi again Aaron,
This is a quickie on my phone, as it's past midnight and I'm sitting on my bed...
What I meant about "unconvinced by half-wolf" was not doubting their existence, but the blind man having one as a guide dog.

I'll look in again tomorrow. Goodnight, goodnight ☺
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Old 06-25-2018, 07:36 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is online now
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Jan, "grok" is in the dictionary. It is used now to mean simply to "get" something in the sense of understand it. I mean the word in precisely that sense. People use it all the time here without intending an allusion to Heinlin.

Jayne, wolfdogs are occasionally used as seeing-eye dogs: https://www.pinterest.com/pin/52917364354909444/

Best,

Aaron
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Old 06-25-2018, 08:05 PM
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Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is online now
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Aaron, it's well-crafted as your poems always are, although "ever looking for" is out of keeping with the rest of the poem.

Overall, though, I can't get into it. It's a Pooch-by-numbers poem, to me: there's the grime, the secret wholesomeness in that grime, the nameless "you" who is lacking something and must find it in that secret wholesomeness. You've done this before, and better.

This one suffers for me especially from being too tell-y. Why believe that the man and dog are complete? Well, you've told me they are. Is there any better reason? The mere fact that he's got a dog? (Is the fact that the dog is half-wolf supposed to help?) It's not enough. Why believe that the "you" is missing something? There's a bit more there: he's coming from a hand-job parlor, and if you buy that anyone who goes to such a place does so from a place of emptiness, then maybe you get there. But I don't buy that—the mere fact isn't enough for me. And it isn't enough for you either, I guess, which is why you have to take this subtler clue and spell it out as explicitly as possible in S2L4.

I think the ending has potential, but you need to rethink substantially the way you get there. I dig the rhythms, dig the sounds, but I don't dig the poem.
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Old 06-25-2018, 08:32 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is online now
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What's wrong with "ever looking for"? The rhyme on a preposition? I'm fine with that here. It creates an expectation the next line fulfills.

I think the setting is clear and well-developed--the hand-job parlor, the liquor store, the blind beggar and his dog, all in a "slum of palms" (aka Fresno, CA), and I like the voice speaking to you one of these characters, like his conscience--it's the addressee's own mind working.

I have made some revisions to bring this reading to the surface. I think the revisions address your concerns, Aaron, about point of view and knowledge.

Best,

Aaron

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 06-25-2018 at 08:38 PM.
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Old 06-25-2018, 08:40 PM
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Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is online now
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No, it's not the rhyme on the preposition—I agree with you that's justified there. But the phrase is a touch formal, and doesn't sit well with the relentlessly casual air of "hey you", "hand-job", "grok stuff", "blind guy", "chuck some change", etc.

As for the rest, I've said my piece. If you aren't persuaded, that's fine.

[cross-posted with your edits to your post; looking at the revision now]

Ok, I see how your edits attempt to address my worry. All I can say is that my dissatisfaction runs deeper than can be resolved by a change of phrasing here and there. My judgment remains the same: "You've done this before, and better." If you're committed to this poem in its current form, and limit your revisions to smoothing the rough edges, then I'm not the audience for it. Maybe someone else will be—I'll be quiet now and let others have their say.

Last edited by Aaron Novick; 06-25-2018 at 09:22 PM.
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