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Old 08-07-2018, 12:32 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Default Leaving Warsaw

Leaving Warsaw

On the night we left Warsaw
we trashed our room at the Marriott
set fire to our bed of secrets
bombed our bathroom bunker
choked our chambermaid in the hall
executed the concierge at his desk
commandeered our taxi
fled across the Vistula
to the Chopin Airport

snaked our way through security checkpoints
let loose one more incendiary blast
at the gate of our departure
before donning our disguises
to return home as Mr. and Mrs.
carrying with us fugitive thoughts tattooed
beneath our skin of the millions gassed --
and the memories weighted our future with the past.
x
x


----------------------

Leaving Warsaw (V.2/3)

On the night we left Warsaw
we set fire to our suite at the Marriott
ransacked our bed of secrets
bombed our bathroom bunker
choked our chambermaid in the hall
executed the concierge at his desk
commandeered our taxi
fled across the Vistula
to the Chopin Airport

snaked our way through security checkpoints
unleashed one more incendiary blast
at the gate of our departure
before donning our disguises
to return home as Mr. and Mrs.
carrying with us fugitive thoughts
tattooed beneath our skin
of the noxious whispering
surrender, surrender
permitting us no real escape.


Edits
  • S2L9 was "upon the future forever weighted in the past" then changed back to original last four lines.
  • Title changed from "Leaving Warsaw" to "Two Tourists in Poland" and back to "Leaving Warsaw"
  • Last three lines were:
xxxxxxxcarrying with us fugitive thoughts tattooed
xxxxxxxbeneath our skin of the millions gassed --
xxxxxxxand the memories will weight our future with the past.
[list]
  • S2 line break changes and the addition of "surrender, surrender"
    S2L9, changed "render" to "permit"
  • S2L8 was "of tortured souls whose faces"
x
x

----------------------

Leaving Warsaw

On the night we left Warsaw
we trashed our room at the Marriott
set fire to our bed of secrets
bombed our bathroom bunker
choked our chambermaid in the hall
executed the concierge at his desk
commandeered our taxi
fled across the Vistula
to the Chopin Airport

snaked our way through security checkpoints
let loose one more incendiary blast
at the gate of our departure
before donning our disguises
to return home as Mr. and Mrs.
carrying with us fugitive thoughts tattooed
beneath our skin of the millions gassed --
and the memories weighted our future with the past.
x
x

Last edited by Jim Moonan; 08-16-2018 at 01:26 PM.
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  #2  
Old 08-07-2018, 08:41 PM
Mary Meriam's Avatar
Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is offline
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This is a sophisticated and powerful poem, Jim. Well done!
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Old 08-07-2018, 09:53 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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I like this too, Jim. Pretty explosive.

Cheers,
John
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Old 08-08-2018, 03:36 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is online now
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Hi Jim,

This is different for you. It's tightly written and genuinely surprising. The heavy alliteration ('bombed our bathroom bunker / choked our chambermaid') gives a comic feel, as does the whole tone of the catalogue of destruction in the first S. That it's blackly comic, given the content, almost goes without saying. I'm not sure who this contemporary Mr and Mrs recreating the Nazi destruction of Warsaw are. A comment on the 'banality of evil'? The distressing idea that such things are perpetrated by ordinary people? I know I winced when I got to 'millions gassed'. I'm just not sure yet if I winced at the horror of the words or at the sense that the poem might not have earned them.

Still. It has some power to it.

I'm not sure you need the stanza break.
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Old 08-08-2018, 09:58 AM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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Call me Mr. Negative but grabbing the holocaust at the end seems gratuitous to me. Maybe it's the point of the poem? Even though, still feels arbitrary. Besides that, it works, for me. It sounds like a rock band from back in the day trashing their room.

John
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Old 08-08-2018, 12:27 PM
Bill Dyes Bill Dyes is offline
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Default Leaving Warsaw

Jim;

At first reading, I thought these were Nazi's leaving occupied Warsaw but then I saw the time period wasn't right and suddenly like John Riley I saw them as a rock band leaving a string of destroyed hotel rooms.


The fourth line in the final stanza changed all that but the Nazi or rock band doesn't dissolve well into a couple of tourists. Also, is the 'incendiary blast' at the gate just a figure of speech or were these tourists actually terrorists? That would explain a lot except their sudden attack of bad conscious at the end.

Bill
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Old 08-08-2018, 12:41 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Thanks Mary and John.

I wrote most of this 3-4 years ago sitting in the town square of Torun. I finished it (for the most part) at the Chopin Airport waiting to fly back home after a 3-week visit to Poland.
I’d like to know if the final lines are coherent and, to your mind, appropriate. I may need to rephrase the final line.

Mark: The heavy alliteration ('bombed our bathroom bunker / choked our chambermaid') gives a comic feel, as does the whole tone of the catalogue of destruction in the first S. That it's blackly comic, given the content, almost goes without saying.

Thanks Mark. I remember as I wrote it how absurd it sounded. I want the reader to think, "What is going on? Could it be that these tourists were that grotesque as to destroy everything, kill people, etc., before returning home? And why?" It was because, after visiting the concentration camps, I was unable to shake the vision of exactly that happening in wartime Poland and elsewhere as the war came to and end and the nazis retreated/ran away/disguised themselves/hid. I wanted a dark, comical/absurdist feel to it to set up what I wanted to say at the end. So I’m glad it mostly worked.

I too am on the fence about the stanza break. The original version was one stanza.

I know what you mean that the final two lines might not earn being said based on what comes before... If I make any improvements to this it would be for that reason. But I feel I have to say what I said at the end to give context to what comes before it. I'll try to think of a way to say it a bit differently...
But it was painful to be in that horrible space of the concentration camps and it haunts me still. In that real sense, the victimization of innocents by the nazis continues to this day. I can picture the thousands of visitors that stream into the concentration camps each day, at this very moment, and stream out traumatized, as I was.
I had trouble for the rest of the trip concentrating on anything else. I began to read about the details and in particular about the way the nazis retreated, destroying everything they could along the way. I began to get flashes of the violence that I list out and in the poem I've superimposed them over the rather placid touristy things we were doing.

What I hope comes through is a psychological expression of the utter depravity of the Nazi vision. It was a way of addressing head-on the nightmares I was having. If I could, I would burn the memories.

The Mr. and Mrs. “disguises” are actually meant to be me and my wife transforming back into to ourselves, leaving behind the very difficult psychic energy that I couldn’t shake while I was there. (I was also looking for a rhyme for “disguise”. “Mr. and Mrs”. is that rhyme : )

The final lines are heavily revised from what I had written originally.
They lacked the punch that I was building towards and didn’t provide the heaviness that I felt (and still do today) as a result of the experience. The new lines are improved but still may need some work...
x
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Old 08-08-2018, 12:51 PM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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I agree with John, re pulling up the holocaust at the close. Tough to do that~ not impossible of course, but very difficult. I also liked his idea about a band trashing everything around them (I guess the typical thing would be the hotel). Some not-too-obvious references in that case might be interesting. Risky, but could ultimately be more powerful. I think a lot of metal bands once (probably still) toured in eastern Europe. An idea. (One of the most poignant movies about the holocaust, imo, was Shine, and it was barely referenced. Also, for sure in my top 3 movies of all time.) Fwiw, as always.

JB
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Old 08-08-2018, 01:30 PM
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Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is offline
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Jim, here's a poem for you - today's PF poem of the day.

The identity of the speaker isn't the point of this poem, I realized by the time I got to L3. yes, L2 sounds like a bad boy-band, but that changes by L3. The speaker is anyone and everyone: rocker, liar, terrorist, murderer, Nazi, agent, soldier, Mr. and Mrs. 1950s, perpetrator, and by the time you reach "tattooed," victim. The speaker is the sickening mess we're in.
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Old 08-08-2018, 03:52 PM
Simon Hunt Simon Hunt is offline
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Hello--

I'm just here to say that, after repeated visits, I'm understanding the complexity of the poem. My first reading or two produced a response like those of Mark, Bill, and Mr. Negative: concern with whether the poem earned its tone-shift and its holocaust-invocation...

In case it's helpful...

--Simon
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