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Old 08-07-2018, 06:21 AM
Bill Dyes Bill Dyes is offline
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Default The One and the Other

Revision 2

Black & White


“This is America. When was there, sir,
ever a time when race did not matter?”
The other, as if punched, “You and I were
the unified voice they tried to scatter.

We spoke till bloody from within the fray,
cornered exiles on the same social shelf. “
One says, “There’s no trust at the end of day
if I must, at all times, protect myself.”

The circle tightens, neither can leave his
arena, no exits from stats and types.
No more talking, no time left, the crowd is
shouting the waves into the stars and stripes.

The one believes the other is to blame
“We are rivals, sir. We are not the same”




Revision 1:

Now it is a sonnet.

The One and the Other


"This is America. When was there, sir,
ever a time when race did not matter?”
The other, as if punched, “You and I were
the unified voice they tried to scatter.
We spoke till bloody from within the fray,
cornered exiles on the same social shelf. “
One says, “There’s no trust at the end of day
if I must, at all times, protect myself.”
The circle tightens, neither can leave his
arena, no exits from stats and types.
No more talking, no time left, the crowd is
shouting the waves into the stars and stripes.
The one believes the other is to blame
“Sir, we are rivals. We are not the same.”


Original:

The One and the Other


Breathing hard, one offers his hand to shake,
says again, “What difference does it make?

This is America. When was there, sir,
ever a time when race did not matter?”
The other, as if punched, “You and I were
the unified voice they tried to scatter.

We spoke till bloody from within the fray,
cornered exiles on the same social shelf. “
One says, “There’s no trust at the end of day
if I must, at all times, protect myself.”

The circle tightens, neither can leave his
arena, no exits from stats and types.
No more talking, no time left, the crowd is
shouting the waves into the stars and stripes.

The one, believes the other is to blame
“Sir, we are rivals. We are not the same.”

Last edited by Bill Dyes; 08-08-2018 at 10:02 PM.
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  #2  
Old 08-07-2018, 06:32 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Bill,

Interesting topic. I'm reminded a bit of the old song, "Smiling Faces Tell Lies", by The Undisputed Truth:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sV69WBvFGBA

Cheers,
John
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Old 08-07-2018, 04:35 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Hi Bill,

I love this:

xxxxxxxxxxxxxxthe crowd is
shouting the waves into the stars and stripes.


When I can read a poem straight through the first time and understand it, it passes the "does it make sense to someone like me who is easily distracted by words and whose mind wanders at the slightest chance" test. This didn't pass : ) I will be interested to see if others stumble on the presentation.

Right from the start I am not sure where the dialog begins re: no opening quotes mark. The dialog throughout is uneven and perhaps you rely too much on it to drive the poem.
I just can't get a grip on what is happening. It appears to be at a civil rights rally (present or past I can't tell) that is on the verge of getting out of hand. I assume the two are of different races. Their speech sounds oddly controlled for being in a situation that feels ready to explode. It also appears that the two were at one point on the same side (“You and I were/the unified voice they tried to scatter.") There's just a lot of conflicting information in this, the way I'm reading it at least

L7 sounds unnatural speech w/o "the" preceding day.
L8 is grammatically short. If/then needs to happen
L11 you say "no more talking" but then you end with more dialog.
L13 you don't need a comma after "one".

The final line sounds like the kind of bravado Alexander Hamilton would say to Aaron Burr (and vice versa).

I don't know why you went to sonnet with this. the stanza breaks in the original helped organize the back and forth between the two.
I wish I could say more positive things -- it just needs to be clearer and perhaps cut out most of the dialog. Maybe open and close with short dialog, but nothing in between.
x
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Old 08-08-2018, 10:54 AM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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Bill,

I think this is saying something like black and white Americans need to take responsibility for racial conflict. I personally find that to be a ridiculous pov, but each to his own. But maybe I'm wrong. I can't tell and that is the problem with the poem.

My current poem has been critiqued as being too opaque. I know the feeling. I will stick my neck out and say my poem isn't intending to deliver a message. It's one man's impressions of never feeling part of. No issue or topic is being addressed. It's not literal. I think your poem is addressing a social issue and it needs to have more clarity and defined speakers before it can pull it off.

Maybe I've missed the boat. It's hard to tell. I do think that if you are going to write a poem about racial conflict in the U.S. it should declare itself more than this one does.

Hope this helps.

John
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Old 08-08-2018, 12:49 PM
Bill Dyes Bill Dyes is offline
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John;

Yes, I know the song well. That the poem reminds you of its message makes sense

Jim:

I wanted this to be a sonnet from the beginning and I finally cut two lines that the form required.
I had in mind Claude McKay’s two sonnets “If We Must Die” and “America” yet I knew my sonnet had to be different in it's voice.

I wanted the identities of the ‘one and the other’ to meld because what they have in common
is more important than their differences although at some level they are still in conflict. The confusion
surrounding them has a lot to do with the hybrid nature of the venue they are in which is part sporting event and part public debate which seems fitting to me.
The witnessing crowd which is impatient for a higher level of conflict also seems fitting to me.
The dialogue between ‘the one and the other’” attempts to ignore what the crowd wants and so the dialogue continues in spite of the crowd.
I won’t pull the dialogue out of this piece.

I tend toward ranting when ‘race in America’ becomes a topic
and I would like my poetry to give more concern to it as well. I find I need as much discipline as I can handle in my lines
although the confusion is a lot harder to control and maybe the wish to be under control and be clear at all time is unreasonable.
The stanza breaks could be returned to the poem to help with some of the confusion.



John:

America is racist. It is now and it always has been.
These declarations should not automatically be appropriated by poetry or by argument.
The one and the other and the crowd in this poem cannot escape the problem of race.
Race is the hammer here whose pounding seems rather clear to me.

I'm one black man caught in my own time.
I'm not interested in poetry that is part black manifesto or a list of angry declarations.
Like most love poetry such poetry suffers from a simplistic point of view.

I don't write like Claude McKay or Langston Hughes and I don't share the declarative style of Nat Turner.


Thanks to all of you for reading and commenting.


Bill

Last edited by Bill Dyes; 08-08-2018 at 01:02 PM.
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Old 08-08-2018, 10:03 PM
Bill Dyes Bill Dyes is offline
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I have posted a second revision.

Bill
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Old 08-09-2018, 01:33 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Bill,

I quite like your revision. I think you could drop "when" in this line:

ever a time when race did not matter?

since you've got it in the preceding line doing the same work, and to my ear the new scansion would still work fine.

Cheers,
John
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Old 08-10-2018, 12:33 PM
Bill Dyes Bill Dyes is offline
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John:

Thanks for pointing at that the word 'when' is redundant in lines 1 & 2.
It seems rather obvious now. Thanks for reading and commenting.

Bill
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Old 08-10-2018, 12:54 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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The revisions help to bring this into better focus for me. The confrontation is more intense. A couple of things you may consider:

if I must, at all times, protect myself” -Do you need the commas? It feels like it should flow without interruption.

The circle tightens, neither can leave his” — perhaps a period after “tightens “?

Also, need a period after final line.
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Old 08-10-2018, 02:16 PM
Bill Dyes Bill Dyes is offline
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Jim;

You make some good observations. Thank you.

Bill
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