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Old 08-19-2018, 12:07 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Default Unsubdued

Unsubdued Version III

Everybody has a plan till they get punched in the mouth.

Mike Tyson


Father hits the 2-year-old & the 2-year-old is unresponsive;
Father is parenting the child to the best of his ability.
He is speaking on the phone with another mathematician;
he is having a career, the daily grind.

Father is a much larger man
than the 10-year-old, & he believes
in order; there are rules to be enforced.

Meanwhile, the 10-year-old does not follow their rules.
He rides his bike wherever the hell he wants,
one day in July around 1973.

As the meningitis reaches the brain,
the children assist the doctor to the best of their ability.
The 10-year-old pays their invalid father’s bills;
sooner or later, those bills have to be paid.

This part is no conclusion. A small boy
swims into view, a thing which is routine.
Years have passed since those days, & the old man’s left

some gloves, a scarf, some bookshelves the boy doesn’t want.
Burn them away. Then what remains
is maybe solid gold, if this alchemy works.



Unsubdued Version II

Everybody has a plan till they get punched in the mouth.
Mike Tyson


Father is a much larger man
than the 10-year-old, and he believes
in order; there are rules to be enforced.

Meanwhile, the 10-year-old does not follow their rules.
He rides his bike wherever the hell he wants,
one day in July around 1973.

This part is no conclusion. A small boy
swims into view, a thing which is routine.
Years have passed since those days, and the old man’s left

some gloves, a scarf, some bookshelves the boy doesn’t want.
Burn them away. Then what remains
is maybe solid gold, if this alchemy works.



Unsubdued Version I

Everybody has a plan till they get punched in the mouth.
Mike Tyson


Father hits the 2-year-old & the 2-year-old is unresponsive;
he is parenting the child to the best of his ability.
He is speaking on the phone with another mathematician;
he is having a career, the daily grind.

As the meningitis reaches the brain,
the children assist the doctor to the best of their ability.
One child pays the invalid father’s bills;
sooner or later, those bills have to be paid.


Father is a much larger man
than the 10-year-old, and he believes
in order; there are rules to be enforced.

Father had a difficult childhood. That's what Mother says
much later to the 10-year-old. There is

no satisfying some people, as the 10-year-old found out.

Meanwhile, the 10-year-old does not follow their rules.
He rides his bike wherever the hell he wants,
one day in July around 1973.


This part is no conclusion. A small boy
swims into view, a thing which is routine.
Years have passed since those days, and the old man’s left

some gloves, a scarf, some bookshelves the boy doesn’t want.
Burn them away. Then what remains
is maybe solid gold, if this alchemy works.



Edited: Father hits the 2-year-old and the 2-year-old is unresponsive;
he is parenting the child to the best of his ability.
He is speaking on the phone with another mathematician;
he is having a career, the daily grind.


as Mother tells / this child when he’s much older. There’s

Last edited by John Isbell; 08-20-2018 at 02:51 AM.
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  #2  
Old 08-19-2018, 12:17 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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Location: Lazio, Italy
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Hi John,

With my initial reading of this (i.e. not much reflection), I'm drawn more to a couple spots in particular. Would it be cutting too much, for what you’re looking for in this, to leave just (and/or build on this):


Father is a much larger man
than the 10-year-old, and he believes
in order; there are rules to be enforced.

Meanwhile, the 10-year-old does not follow their rules.
He rides his bike wherever the hell he wants,
one day in July around 1973.

This part is no conclusion. A small boy
swims into view, a thing which is routine.
Years have passed since those days, and the old man’s left

some gloves, a scarf, some bookshelves the boy doesn’t want.
Burn them away. Then what remains
is maybe solid gold, if this alchemy works.


?????

The Mike Tyson quote is a knockout. :-)
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  #3  
Old 08-19-2018, 03:02 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Location: TX
Posts: 3,184
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Hi Andrew,

Yup, that Mike Tyson quote. It speaks volumes.
Thanks for your visit. Your suggestion is interesting and to my mind understandable: this began as three separate poems, separated by asterisks, with the last two stanzas added last to tie it together. It's tighter without the opening two, and now you show it, I agree, the middle 10-year-old stanza can go (though I do like "there's no satisfying some people", which I think is true).
OTOH, it's the opening where you see the nature of the father-son relationship here, echoing the Tyson quote. Without it, father could be just anybody, pretty much, though there is vague menace to "a much larger man".
So I hesitate. I kind of liked the jumps in time, in a sort of eternal present, but you've built a tighter poem with your suggestion. My first step will likely be to cut that middle stanza, which just confuses.
Update II: I'm deleting that middle stanza after all.

Thanks for the read,
John

Update: I've tried a last bid to save that middle "difficult childhood" stanza, hoping to have made it less muddy. But if others are also ready for it to go, I'll just delete it. I'm also hoping to somehow save the opening two quatrains, or at least the first, which has the hitting. What do people think? Should I restore the asterisks?

Last edited by John Isbell; 08-19-2018 at 03:16 AM.
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  #4  
Old 08-19-2018, 03:25 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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OK, I've posted a version II with, I hope, a tighter timeline and better separation (italics) between the two original pieces I built this from. The next step may be to delete the meningitis stanza.
Thoughts?

Cheers,
John

Update: OK, the meningitis stanza is gone. Though that was five years of my life.

Last edited by John Isbell; 08-19-2018 at 03:34 AM.
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  #5  
Old 08-19-2018, 02:20 PM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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The revision is an improvement. Nothing in the poem is better than the Tyson quote, though. Perhaps you can be a little more indirect in telling the story?

John
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  #6  
Old 08-19-2018, 02:22 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi John,

Thank you for taking the time to visit and comment; I'm glad you prefer Version II. Yes, the Tyson quote is hard to beat. It is very to the point.
Perhaps I could be more indirect.

Cheers,
John
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  #7  
Old 08-19-2018, 02:26 PM
Aaron Novick's Avatar
Aaron Novick Aaron Novick is offline
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I'd cut the epigraph and the first stanza, and just go with the last four tercets. That, it seems to me, gets you indirectness and avoids the "trying to compete with Tyson" issue.
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Old 08-19-2018, 02:32 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Aaron,

Thank you for your visit. Yes, your suggestion combines what Andrew and John are proposing. Giving up years of lived reality is a moderately painful process, but perhaps the Tyson quote is direct enough that the poem really doesn't need to add any further commentary.

Cheers,
John

Update: revision posted.
Update II: Aaron, rereading, I see you want the epigraph to go too. Well, there are all kinds of ways to believe in order. I think it's worth pointing out which particular way I'm discussing. So I'm not yet ready to give up the punches.

Last edited by John Isbell; 08-19-2018 at 02:49 PM.
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  #9  
Old 08-20-2018, 12:29 AM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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I'd forgotten how few visits non-met gets. Does anyone have any thought on this last major revision? If not, I think this can sink.
Since the two deleted quatrains speak to me, I've kept them as the kernel for another poem.

Cheers,
John

Update: OK, Version III is now up. You'll see that, after some trial and error, I've restored revised versions of the two lost quatrains, with some temporal muddle cleared up throughout the poem. I'm not "competing" with the Tyson quote: it is a postulate and I offer an application of it in practice and over time. That's why the two quatrains came back in in the end. There is a fist looming over this poem; the rest is pretty indirect.
Update II: thank you Andrew, John, and Aaron, for your help in reshaping this.

Last edited by John Isbell; 08-20-2018 at 04:00 AM. Reason: competing with Mike Tyson
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