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Old 08-06-2018, 12:58 AM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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Default No Way

Secrets and Worms

I had no way to tell her
the worm population is different
in Massachusetts than in the open fields
outside of Longmont, Colorado,
or how they grow thick and lazy here
in the South, always moving
in the handfuls of black earth
scooped from the topsoil.
I also could not tell her I have
no way to make commerce
when the giants stalk by,
how I'm disgusted by their boot soles
covered with people clinging
or smashed flat by the heavy tread.
All those tiny people, smaller
then the worms that wait
inches below the surface,
are the same in Massachusetts as they are
in the open fields outside
Longmont, where they plant
the beets and even the tallest worker
has to bend to tend the plants
flaming green in the field that will be brown
as soon as autumn returns.

***

Secrets and Worms

I had no way to tell her about the worms,
how the worm population is different
in Massachusetts than in the open fields
outside of Longmont, Colorado,
or how they grow thick and lazy here
in the South, always moving
in the handfuls of black earth
scooped from the topsoil.
I also could not tell her I have
no way to make commerce
when the giants stalk by,
how I'm disgusted by their boot soles
covered with people clinging to them
or smashed flat by the heavy tread.
All those tiny people much smaller
then the worms that wait
inches below the surface
are the same in Massachusetts as they are
in the open fields outside
Longmont where they plant
the beets and even the strongest
and the tallest worker has to bend
to tend the plants flaming green
in the field that will be brown
as soon as autumn returns.

Last edited by John Riley; 08-10-2018 at 11:07 AM. Reason: edited--trimmed/cut two words suggested by Aaron
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  #2  
Old 08-06-2018, 06:40 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi John,

I always like your line breaks, and to me, your best poetry on the Sphere is very fine. That said, this is not one of my favorites of yours, it just doesn't spread wings and fly IMO the way others of yours do. I think the worms and the giants and the people are OK. Sorry it doesn't really take off for me.

Cheers,
John
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Old 08-07-2018, 11:17 AM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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Thanks for breaking the embargo on this one, John. I made a few changes. Hopefully, that helps it some.

John
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Old 08-07-2018, 11:22 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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I just reread this and I like it more revisiting. A bit weird, but what the hey? It is new.
Sometimes non-met just sits there.

Cheers,
John
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Old 08-07-2018, 05:24 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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It feels convoluted. My assumption is that the "her" is your daughter and you are searching for a way to tell her that life is unfair to those without nice shoes, so to speak. You are considering telling her by way of metaphor, but then you seem to trail off at the end -- digress I guess -- into the pointlessness of even trying.

If that's what you're trying to say, I still think you could do it in a more compelling way. Keep at it.
x
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Old 08-08-2018, 10:03 AM
Bill Dyes Bill Dyes is offline
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John:

I’ve spent some time coming back to this one but it still feels like a black box in most ways.
The ‘secret’ seems to alternate between something unknown and something withheld and
‘worms’ keep bringing me back to its usage as ‘a form of low life’ but that’s not a particularly
rewarding path to take. The relation between the narrator and this woman is sketchy at best.
Still, there are strong presences here: Massachusetts, Colorado and the south.
The giants seem particularly surreal, stalking by with people clinging to their boot soles
like something out of a James Tate poem. In fact, the whole thing as a James Tate feel to it.
You finish one of his poems and think “Wow, how interesting, but…”
“No way to make commerce” seems like a curious construction that could have been
expressed more simply. But then I thought “Well, who am I to say”.

I’ve lived most all of my life in Colorado and so wouldn’t be able to comment on the difference in the worm population
between here and anywhere else. I know Longmont is a fast growing area and the beet farmers and the worms must be feeling it.
Although I hear that beet farming in Colorado is making a come back.

I will return to your piece a few more times simply because it’s one of yours.

Bill
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Old 08-08-2018, 11:05 AM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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Thanks for the help to each of you. I think perhaps my issue is I don't make it clear somehow that the poem is not intended to be figured out. It's impressionistic and my failure at that level is evident. How does one let the reader know the poem isn't about wives or daughters or other aspects of his life? It should provide a way to stop the reader from trying to understand what is going on and to be willing to feel the wave, which is all I wanted. It's a poem about never being part of, of always being on the outside. Perhaps I can find a way to make that clear without the reader never feeling a part of.

Thanks again for the help.
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Old 08-08-2018, 01:21 PM
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Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is offline
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Maybe it's an update on "Jack and the Beanstalk." I can't tell what you trimmed from one version to the other, or which one is the original, which one is the revision. Perhaps the poem is an allegory about fascism.
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Old 08-08-2018, 04:56 PM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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Thanks for reading and commenting, Mary. I don't think it gives enough indication that it isn't supposed to be about specific references but is just an impressionistic, although I hate the word I'll say perhaps surrealistic, poem about never feeling part of the day in and day out world. It clearly needs work.
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Old 08-08-2018, 06:24 PM
Bill Dyes Bill Dyes is offline
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John.

You manage to infuse the worms and the people in your piece in such a way that they have been lifted far above the down to earth. In my experience, alienation has a way of mistreating both the exceptional and the pedestrian.

Bill
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