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Old 08-17-2018, 11:06 PM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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Default Panopticon II

Panopticon

After the breakup John
saw secret police on the lawn.
(They were expert at being gone
the moment I came around.)

They had ears and eyes in his phone,
till he smashed it. Their camouflaged drone
tormented him alone—
a chronic needle of sound.

When he whined like some hotsy-totsy
star whose paparazzi
were Russian, Trumpist or Nazi
(depending on the day),

I would ask him why a regime
would ever want to stream
his breakfast. He would scream,
“That’s just what they want you to say!”

To thwart their intelligence
he erected, at crazy expense,
a ten-foot tinfoil fence
and covered his yard with a tent.

No use. Their satellite
upgraded to thermal sight,
and they planted, late one night,
a sensor like a stent

in his brain's deep state, some room
where the Ur-urges bloom
and the cogito ergo sum
wells up thick and fast.

What can we say when the bug
goes deeper than any drug?
John dug and he dug and he dug
and broke loose life at last.


. . . . .

S1L3: "expert" for "masters"
S1L4 "the moment" for "whenever"
S4L3: "breakfast" for "home life"
S7L1-2 were
in his brain somewhere, some room
where deep-rooted urges bloom


S8 was
His shrinks could only shrug;
he was proof against every drug,
so he dug and he dug and he dug
and struck freedom at last.

S8L4: was "and killed himself at last"

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 08-19-2018 at 05:00 PM.
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Old 08-17-2018, 11:29 PM
Stephen Hampton Stephen Hampton is offline
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Default I liked it till the end

Honestly Aaron,
However it's getting late and I'll read it more carefully tomorrow.
Maybe I'm just tired, but the ending really irked me.
latter,
Stephen
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Old 08-17-2018, 11:37 PM
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Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
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This poem really doesn't work, Aaron. The narrator is a callous ass, making merry at a sick person's expense—and not in a Nabokovian way, where the art lies in making the reader inhabit the perspective of the monster narrator. This poem embodies it's N's perspective and never escapes it. If there's any questioning of it, it's very well-hidden.

I'd either scrap this one or radically rethink it.
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Old 08-18-2018, 01:07 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Aaron,

I like the rhyming, but the storyline is depressing. There's an inner logic to it, but Aaron N is right, it does come over as callous in the end. Maybe there could be some magical out to end the thing? Like a movie where they magically escape in the finale? Wildly implausibly?

Cheers,
John
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Old 08-18-2018, 03:19 AM
Aaron Poochigian Aaron Poochigian is offline
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The ending was what I changed.

from and "struck freedom at last."

I want the ending to be disturbing--but I will go back to the ambiguous last line.

Aaron N., our tastes are so different and you have proved so hostile in the past that I no longer take your opinions seriously. You are welcome to post on my poems but you will always get the same brush-off.

Last edited by Aaron Poochigian; 08-18-2018 at 03:31 AM.
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Old 08-18-2018, 03:53 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Aaron,

Yes, I do like "and struck freedom at last", with its radical double meaning, to end the poem. The old ending reminded me a bit of Belloc's Cautionary Tales for Children: "Always keep ahold of nurse, / For fear of finding something worse."

Cheers,
John
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Old 08-18-2018, 05:37 AM
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Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is offline
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There is probably a vital part missing in my personality but I don't find the attitude of the N in any way reprehensible. It's a common story and I am hearing it as though being told by a simple man, watching what happened to an acquaintance and telling it like it was.

I don't like new "coy" ending. If he killed himself, tell me so.

The N has told of the things John did in trying to beat his persecutors and the way they thwarted every his every attempt. I am fascinated by the idea implied by "cogito ergo sum" and the fact, since thinking was his ongoing undoing and the sweet conceit in the Latin means you can take it both ways, the perfect way to beat the thinking once and for all is by ceasing to be (cf Hamlet's soliloquy on the subject). Could you do a final riff on the thinking/being idea that is less of a euphemistic fudge?
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Old 08-18-2018, 06:02 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Ann's right and I'm wrong. Stay true to the narrative as it originally played out, it is remorseless. That's what Hilaire Belloc would do.
This also reminds me of the old joke: "The cow up and died." I do feel sorry for the guy though, as his world narrows.

Cheers,
John

Update: if you wanted some tonal change after he dies, you could always add a moral as coda...

Last edited by John Isbell; 08-18-2018 at 06:05 AM.
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Old 08-18-2018, 06:21 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hi Aaron,

Have you posted this one before? I recognise it. John's right, it does have a Hillaire Belloc cautionary-tale darkness about it, I suppose. I didn't find it either genuinely funny or genuinely tragic though, which could be a problem.

Last edited by Mark McDonnell; 08-18-2018 at 07:52 AM.
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Old 08-18-2018, 08:17 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is online now
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x
This one has echoes all around it of politics and gaslighting and stalking depression. I agree with Mark that it can't seem to find a pov. I also think Ann is onto something in her analysis and suggestion to go more Hamlet on the ending.

I feel like you have someone specific in mind that "John" inhabits. Though I can't figure out who. Paul Manafort? Roger Stone? Junior? The Big T himself? Perhaps you're trying to do too much in this one. But I enjoyed reading it nonetheless for it's wizard-like conflation of events.
x
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