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Old 07-22-2018, 07:56 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is online now
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Default American Divine III

American Divine

This is another way of being here
in Union Square: as ice descends half-thawed
past whirling numbers on a glass fašade,
all sorts of coats attached to totes, briefcases,
blueprint tubes and roller bags are reaching
a stairwell to the subway. They don’t fear
the local Moses, Mort, who flails and paces
back and forth before the top step, preaching
to infidels about a Weather God:
“Azuzu whispers, and the world goes round!”
Amused teenagers hoot and mock-applaud.
The trains keep making thunder underground.

You there, behind your breath, a rhythmic wraith
of breath, are voyeuristic in the slush,
absorbing everything—the twilight rush
and dizzying digits, a Sephora sign,
the antic razzing of a madman's faith—
till vertigo crescendos in a sense
of outside-in and inside-out, intense
clashes of light and shadow, warmth like wine,
and an exhilarating urge to dub
the grove holy, the old bandshell a shrine,
the whole bustling block a sanctuary
where the ineffable has residence.
This is the numinous, this is the hub
from which the stacked, starless and luminary
city spokes—the streets, the trains, the towers.

It starts this evening, in the winter flaw—
seeking new prophets, modern sites to cherish,
finding divinities in earthly powers.
You are a church of one, a private parish;
be passionate in the pursuit of awe.

. . . . .

S2L5: "antic" for "raucous"/was "the heathens heckling a madman's faith"
S2L11: "bustling" for "worldly" for "vital" for "living" for "modern"

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 07-25-2018 at 01:42 PM.
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Old 07-22-2018, 07:57 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is online now
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Hello, I have posted a third major draft of this poem. It's important to me to get this experience just right. I doubt I will ever publish this poem in a journal. Here's the previous draft:

American Divine

There is another way of being here
in Union Square: as ice descends half-thawed
past whirling numbers on a glass fašade,
numberless coats attached to totes, briefcases,
blueprint tubes and roller bags are reaching
a stairwell to the subway. They don’t fear
the local Moses, Mort, who flails and paces
back and forth before the top step, preaching
to infidels about a Weather God:
“Azuzu whispers, and the world goes round!”
Amused teenagers hoot and mock-applaud.
The trains keep making thunder underground.

You there, behind your breath, a rhythmic wraith
of breath, are voyeuristic in the slush,
absorbing everything—the twilight rush,
the loud boys laughing at a madman’s faith,
that New York aura, a Sephora sign—
till vertigo crescendos in a sense
of outside-in and inside-out, intense
clashes of light and shadow, warmth like wine,
much mesmerism, and an urge to dub
the grove holy, the old bandshell a shrine,
the whole plaza a modern sanctuary
where the ineffable has residence.
This is the numinous, this is the hub
from which the stacked, starless and luminary
city spokes—the streets, the trains, the towers.

It starts this evening, in the winter flaw—
seeking new prophets, modern sites to cherish,
finding divinities in earthly powers.
You are a church of one, a private parish;
be passionate in the pursuit of awe.

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 07-22-2018 at 08:00 PM.
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Old 07-22-2018, 09:35 PM
Jan Iwaszkiewicz's Avatar
Jan Iwaszkiewicz Jan Iwaszkiewicz is offline
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This will require time to parse Aaron, but I feel that it will be very worthwhile to do so and I shall.

Jan
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Old 07-22-2018, 11:57 PM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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I don't get why you won't publish this in a journal, Aaron. I think it's really good.

A phrase seems off-key: "modern sites to cherish," a tad sentimental compared to the rest. Maybe: "in the modern garish"?

Reminds me a bit of your Central Park poem.

Andrew
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Old 07-23-2018, 06:20 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is online now
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Thank you, Jan and Andrew.

Jan, please do come back.

Andrew, this is the first poem in my new book, and I see it as "programmatic." I assumed it was not the sort of thing a journal would want, but you have inspired me to try to get it accepted somewhere.

I will look at "modern sites to cherish" but I think I am wedded to "modern" (as opposed to "ancient") and "cherish"/"parish".

I'm glad that you don't have any nits with the revised sections in the first two stanzas. I want the experience to be thoroughly convincing for the "you."

Thank you.
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Old 07-23-2018, 01:10 PM
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Edward Zuk Edward Zuk is offline
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Hi Aaron,

This is excellent and, like Andrew, I was surprised to hear that you weren’t planning to send it out to journals. Why wouldn’t they take it?

I hear two strong echoes in the title and first line: ‘American Divine’ plays off of Stevens’s ‘The American Sublime’ and the first line brings to mind Larkin’s “This is a special way of being afraid” from “Aubade.”

Here are a few small tweaks after going through this with a metaphorical fine-tooth comb:

. . . In line 9, having “his Weather God” would emphasize the personal quirkiness of the preaching.

. . . In line 11, another adjective besides “Amused” for the teenagers might set up a contrast with the “you” of the next stanza. Maybe “Half-bored”?

. . . In line 13, you could set up a contrast between the “you” and the indifferent mob of stanza one by starting with something like “But you . . .”

. . . In line 14, having “stand voyeuristic in the slush” would introduce a stronger verb.

. . . In line 17, are you seeing “heckling” as 3 syllables? I pronounce it as 2, which makes this a tetrameter.

. . . In line 24, what about a stronger verb like “where the ineffable takes residence”?

. . . In line 26, I’m not sure what the adjective “stacked” is doing.

. . . In line 28, “flaw” is the only rhyme that I felt was a bit off. (I expected “thaw.”)

. . . In line 29, my objection to “modern” is that it appears a few lines before in the phrase “modern sanctuary.”

I can sense the larger themes of really looking at reality and finding the divine in the modern American landscape, and a lot of smaller touches like the name Azuzu or the underground thunder are great, too. As always, good luck with this.

Last edited by Edward Zuk; 07-23-2018 at 01:13 PM.
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Old 07-23-2018, 02:28 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Aaron,

I think this chimes like a bell, which is what you want to open your MS. On first read-through, I've not differentiated it from Version II, but I'll come back and try to take a close look at the changes you've made.
It is ambitious and meets that ambition. I like that you've anchored your sweep in the local: Mort, as it happens.

Cheers,
John
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Old 07-23-2018, 07:27 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is online now
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Hello, all. I have made revisions to address a number of concerns.

Edward, thank you for reading so closely.

I think I like "a" Weather God because it suggests a multitude of them.

I am looking at line 11 and considering other possibilities for "amused" and "teenagers." Thank you.

I do like the emphatic "you there" in line 13. I think I want focus on the "you" and not explicit contrast with the "teenagers." If anything, by being "voyeuristic" the "you" contrasts with "the coats" who ignore the scene in their hurry.

I will look at revising "are voyeuristic" though I do like it. I will also look at "has" in line 24.

Thank you for picking at line 17. At your suggestion I have revised it to "the raucous razzing of a madman's faith"--a much better line.

In line 26, the adjective “stacked” is meant to suggest the tall-buildings that surround Union Square.

In line 28, I mean “flaw” with its meaning of "a short spell of rough weather."

Thanks again for pointing my repetition of "modern." I have revised the earlier instance to "living"--"living sanctuary" and the lines is better for it.

Thank you very much.

John, thanks so much for helping me with this poem. Your comments have been very useful as I have worked through the various draft.

Best, best,

Aaron

[Also, Edward, you are very good at picking up on the allusions. I also intend "luminary" to be an allusion to Frost's "luminary clock" in "Acquainted with the Night."]

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 07-23-2018 at 10:21 PM.
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Old 07-23-2018, 11:48 PM
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Edward Zuk Edward Zuk is offline
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Aaron, please keep "voyeuristic" in S2 line 2. I like it too--my suggestion was to replace the weak verb "are" with "stand."

I missed the allusion to Frost. It fits nicely here.
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Old 07-24-2018, 07:21 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is online now
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Edward, thank you. Yes, I will keep "voyeuristic." I understood--you encouraged me to use a stronger verb than "are" there.

Let's compare:

You there, behind your breath, a rhythmic wraith
of breath, are voyeuristic in the slush,

Or

You there, behind your breath, a rhythmic wraith
of breath, stand voyeuristic in the slush,

I think I prefer the lighter line with "are." That said, I agree with the principle--generally, one should prefer a more vivid verb,
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