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Old 08-27-2018, 07:27 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Default Visions of My Father

x
Visions of My Father (v5)

Your happy playground
in the sapphire sky
has an untiring view
of the pumpkin sun
sinking in a sea
of cobalt blue.

Monet is everywhere
playing peek-a-boo
in the crisping air
of a crescent rainbow
with happy children dressed
in their Sunday best.

There is a kiddie pool
and a merry-go-round
and popcorn on the ground
and in the air
and time is no longer an obstacle
and nothing is impossible.

There, everyone is forgiven.
There, no one is forgotten or missed.
Everybody gets a popsicle.
And at last you are laughing,
your conscience finally cleared,
your eyes bright again
above a Freudian beard.
And death, always thirsty,
has drunk your tears.


-------------------------
Here and There (v4)
x
...And what you do not know is the only thing you know...”
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx-T.S. Eliot, Four Quartets


The slammed doors
are gently latched.

The shouting hushed.
The venom extracted.

The rage softened
like the evening

fog over
the Delaware.

You are not there
and will never be

here again.
The pit is gone.

This is true:
no one knows.

Time is dismissed.
You don’t exist.

The dream is over.

xxxIn my end
xxxis my beginning.

xxxLet us pray
for a playboy mansion
with a view of the pyric sun
going down in a sea
of blue and you and
Sid Caesar are playing
pranks and peek-a-boo
with the babes in the pool
and the bar flows
scotch and water
and vixens carry
platters breast-high
of cheese cubes
and Ritz crackers.
Amen.

In my mind
you are forgiven.
Where I am
you are not forgotten.
You are missed.
I can taste the popsicle
that cooled your lips.
I can hear your laughter,
feel your conscience
finally cleared.
Your eyes bright
again above
your Freudian beard.
And death, always thirsty,
has drunk your tears.

-------------
Edits
S1L2: "closed" changed to "latched"
S3L1: "Your harshness softened" changed to "The rage softened"
S5L2: "find" changed to "be"
S6: was, "yourself here again./The anguish is undone."
S7: was, "This is true: no one knows./In my end is my beginning."
S8L9-13: was, "and the bar is open/and flowing scotch and water/with twists of lemon and vixens/carry platters of cheese cubes/and Ritz crackers."
This stanza:
"Time is dismissed.
You don’t exist.
The end is over.
You are in clover."
reworked into couplets
"bunnies" changed to "babes"
"Freudian beard" is back...
...and other tweaks to satisfy my desire for change : )


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

Here and There (v3)

The slammed doors
have been nailed shut.
The shouting stifled.
The venom extracted.
Your view softens
like the evening
fog hovering over
the Delaware River.
You are not there
and will never find
yourself there again.

You are here:
your playground has a view
of the pyric sun
going down in a sea
of blue and you and
Monet are everywhere
playing peek-a-boo
in the crisping air
of a crescent rainbow
with happy children dressed
in their Sunday best.
Here, there is a kiddie pool
and a merry-go-round
and popcorn on the ground
and in the air.
Here, time is dismissed
and all things possible.

Here, everyone is forgiven.
Here, no one is forgotten or missed.
Here, everybody gets a popsicle.
And at last you are laughing,
your conscience finally cleared,
your eyes bright again above
your newly unruly beard.
And death, always being thirsty,
has drunk your tears.



————————

x
(Untitled) (v2)

Oh me! Oh my!
My father, my son,
your playground has a view
of the pyric sun
going down in a sea
of blue and you and
Monet are everywhere
playing peek-a-boo
in the crisping air
of a crescent rainbow
with happy children dressed
in their Sunday best.

There is a kiddie pool
and a merry-go-round
and popcorn on the ground
and in the air
and time is dismissed
and all things possible.

Here, everyone is forgiven.
Here, no one is forgotten or missed.
Here, everybody gets a popsicle.
And at last you are laughing,
your conscience finally cleared,
your eyes bright again above
your newly unruly beard.
And death, always being thirsty,
has drunk your tears.



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

x
Visions of My Father

His happy playground
in the sapphire sky
has an untiring view
of the cinnamon pyre
sun going down
in a sea of blue.
Amen.

Monet is everywhere
playing peek-a-boo
in the crisping air
of a crescent rainbow
with happy children dressed
in their Sunday best.
Amen.

There is a kiddie pool
and a merry-go-round
and popcorn on the ground
and in the air
and time is no longer an obstacle
and nothing is impossible
Amen.

There, everyone is forgiven
There, no one is forgotten or missed.
Everybody gets a popsicle.
And at last
my father is laughing,
his conscience finally cleared,
his eyes bright again above
an ironic Freudian beard.
And death, always thirsty,
has drank his tears.
x
x

Last edited by Jim Moonan; 09-25-2018 at 08:08 PM.
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  #2  
Old 08-27-2018, 08:32 AM
Ann Drysdale's Avatar
Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is online now
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First read-through so no proper response yet - but I was hit by the "drank" in the very last line which is not what oldfashioned grammar expects me to see - that would be "drunk". How do other first-readers feel about this?
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Old 08-27-2018, 08:40 AM
David Callin David Callin is online now
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I think you've plugged into a great vein of rich sentiment lately, Jim. It suits you. This is another example of that.

I agree with Ann about "drank", but if that's your vernacular you should stick to it.

I think "pyre" sits very oddly in the poem, and I'm not much taken with the threefold appearance of "Amen", which I don't think you need. But you might very well think you do.

And I'm wondering about "Freudian" too.

However, on the whole I liked it - I wallowed in it, in fact - and I enjoyed that brief cameo from Monet! Truth be told, I am a great sentimentalist too.

Cheers

David
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Old 08-27-2018, 09:41 AM
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Rick Mullin Rick Mullin is offline
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Hi Jim,

I like this a lot until the last stanza. I have the same problems Ann and David have.

My first impression was about the title. Too straightforwardly dull. So many poems have been written about fathers and so many of them amateurish. This deserves a more interesting and thoughtful title. The poem itself identifies your father. So....

RM
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Old 08-27-2018, 11:02 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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I like it, Jim. The theme of the N’s father finally happy and free, is rich. I think you’re on to something but my take so far, having read this a few times, is that you’re still digging to get to the emotional core of it.

The first stanza is burdened with modifiers in monotonous succession: happy, sapphire, untiring, cinnamon. I’m not saying this is the best solution, but I tried looking at that sentence with these removed and “pyre” (which as David mentioned is a little awkward as is):

His playground in the sky has a view of the pyric sun going down in a sea of blue.

To me, it’s more immediate and unfiltered without those adjectives.

I do agree that “Amen” isn’t adding much, and that “drunk” would be the usual way of saying it (and I’m from Boston, too).

That’s about as far as I’ve gotten so far, in my reading of this. There’s a poignancy touched on in the final stanza, which is held at arm’s length, I feel, by the reference to Freud, and the closing 2 lines are beautiful.

There’s lot of possibility and feeling swirling in this poem, which I’m looking forward to seeing unfold.
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Old 08-28-2018, 09:23 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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x
Revision posted.
Among other changes, I've gone to second person. It feels closer, more direct.
There is so much for me to mull over. Revision has been a frustrating endeavor for me and underlines for me the hard work that needs to be done to complete a poem.

Ann, I’m still working on this one, so hold on. Or throw me a bone : )
I went back and forth with “drank” and “drunk” and landed finally on drank. It’s a perplexing grammatical decision. For me, at least. It’s now clear, though, that “drunk” sounds much better. And to think: I had already given it plenty of thought! I’ve made the change.

David, Thank you. “Cinnamon pyre” was a clumsy attempt to reference my father’s cremation and my attempt at tying it to the rising from the ashes of the phoenix and arriving at his “playground in the sky”. It’s not working : ) I’ve made changes to the first stanza based on Andrew’s suggestions.

I threw the “amens” in almost as an afterthought and wondered what the response would be. Bottom line: this is not a prayer. I’m going to take them out.

The mention of Freud is an attempt to suggest the complicated, fractured relationship I had with my father. It is a veiled reference to his demons (he and his father were estranged. Family business and Catholicism drove a wedge between the two). But it really doesn’t work -- and he didn’t even have a beard like Freud’s anyway. He had stopped shaving six months before he died and it had become an unruly, odd look for a man who prided himself his whole life on appearance. I’ve taken Freud out and instead will go with “unruly beard”.

That this comes across as sentimental is a problem I hope to fix. Remorseful is more like it. As I mentioned in comment to Andrew, I’ve got some work to do to get to the emotional core of the poem.

Rick, I agree the title is weak. Perhaps the new title can help impress the reader that my father fought his demons all his life. Or allude to the remorse I feel. For now I’ll change it to “Untitled”.
What is it that turns you off about the last stanza? I’ve made some changes...

Andrew, Thank you. I think you’re right about the overly modified first stanza and have largely taken your re-write that makes it read cleanly, simply. Thanks for that.

You surprised me with your hunch about not having reached the emotional core. I didn’t realize that until you said it. So thanks (I think) for that It’s a difficult complex of emotions to come to terms with in a single poem. My father died recently after a long, slow descent made worse by his inherently destructive character/personality flaws. He was an arrogant, argumentative man who would rather argue ad infinitum than admit to being wrong or simply acquiesce for the sake of friendship or love. I dare say he was Trumpian in many respects. Circular reasoning and humiliation were his chief weapons.
He did, however, have a glimmer of self-introspection that hounded him all his adult life. (He failed miserably as a businessman, a father and a husband in spite of such promise and opportunity). He saw himself as a problem solver but most everyone who was close to him knew him as an agitator. Much more than the poem lets on. I thought I could get away with making veiled reference to it in the final stanza (in particular “his conscience finally cleared” and “Freudian beard”).
So you’re right: If the poem goes to its emotional core it would be more apparent to the reader that he was a troubled man with demons that were present even as he took his dying breath. He was 91. I was his only caretaker for the last three years of his life, having estranged himself from my sisters. I was left holding the ball, so to speak. Perhaps I won’t be able to make it to the emotional core this time around. I will eventually. But I will indeed dig some more in revising and hope I get at least closer to it. It’s important that I make the effort.
x
x
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Old 08-29-2018, 11:24 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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Jim,

For me the core of the poem so far is here:

Here, everyone is forgiven.
Here, no one is forgotten or missed.
Here, everybody gets a popsicle.
And at last you are laughing,
your conscience finally cleared,
your eyes bright again above
your newly unruly beard.
And death, always being thirsty,
has drunk your tears.

I don’t think that’s the finished poem yet, but there is pathos and grief in it, touching on something deep. The playground imagery earlier in the poem skirts around it, like it’s trying to convince the N and the reader that things are cheery when they’re not. The real-life experience with your father might be too close still to say what you need to say, but I’m sure it will come.

As a reader without any background or biographical knowledge, I’d need to get a sense of the “inherently destructive character/personality flaws” that find release in the imagined afterlife you sketch in the poem.

Good luck with this,

Andrew
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Old 08-29-2018, 01:38 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Revision posted.
I’ve rid the poem of the meaningless first two lines, given it a new title and added the darker gravity that is necessary but was absent in the first 2 revisions. I hope I still have some who are interested in this...

Thanks Andrew. I know you are right about the heart of the poem needing to be expanded. Your encouragement inspired me to take another shot at it. I’m a sloppy, compulsive revisor and it pains me to see my revisions wilt... but I think this one is a step in the right direction.
X
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Old 08-29-2018, 02:39 PM
Andrew Szilvasy Andrew Szilvasy is offline
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Jim,

I don't believe in an afterlife. If I did, though, I don't know that I can go as far as this poem does, particularly in the final stanza. In that sense I'm with Rick. The ending, in particular, feels like it's trying to be an ending.

What is quite lovely to me is the simplicity of the new opening stanza. For my tastes (and, of course, likely just my tastes), I'd prefer something like:

The slammed doors
have been nailed shut.

The shouting throated.
The venom extracted.

Your view softens
like the evening

fog hovering over
the Delaware River.

You are not there
and will never find

yourself there again.
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Old 08-30-2018, 06:03 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
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Hi Jim,

It's a strange one for me, this poem, so I hope you don't mind if I ramble a little. I've read it many times now and sometimes it moves me and sometimes I think it's a bit of a frustrating mess.

I keep wondering about the details of the afterlife the poem imagines for the father: Monet, rainbows, popcorn, a merry-go-round, a kiddie pool, children in their Sunday best (in the kiddie pool?) They seem to suggest a generic sort of nostalgic idyll and I don't feel I learn much about the father from them. I'm unclear whether Monet the person is there, or if I am to imagine that the landscape looks like a Monet painting. The first version suggests the latter while the new one suggests the former. And why? Did the father like Monet? Is this an afterlife that the N himself would like, or one that he thinks the father would like? And is this ambiguity deliberate or a failure of the poem's clarity of vision?

The new opening seems an attempt to confront the harsher reality of the father as he was, with its references to slammed doors and shouting. It feels a little tagged on though. I thought of Simon's recent sonnet with its similar ideas and wondered how much you were genuinely digging here and how much was reaching for off-the-peg imagery of domestic strife. Forgive me if I'm way off here. Also the implication of the specific imagery feels confusing for me. If the idea is to suggest a sense of healing and that shouting and slammed doors are a thing of the past because here 'everyone is forgiven' and 'everyone gets a popsicle' then the word choices seem oddly violent. The shouting isn't 'hushed' for example, it's 'stifled'. The slammed doors aren't 'gently closed', they're 'nailed shut'. Again, I don't know how much these choices are deliberate or arbitrary. The poem doesn't quite convince me that its ambiguities are meant rather than accidental.

The positioning of 'here' and 'there' in the latest version, with 'here' being the afterlife, gives the impression that the N is either dead himself, or a divine being, which I found off-putting.

Of the three versions I prefer the first. It feels more thematically consistent even if it doesn't address darker aspects. I don't think you need to shy away from David's assessment of it as sentimental. The rawness could wait for another poem perhaps. The original is more rhythmically assured too.

I agree with Andrew F on the whole about where the heart of the poem lies.

Hope you don't mind my directness here Jim. I wish you all the very best with this one. And the next, and the next…

Cheers.
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