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Old 08-30-2018, 09:10 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Andrew, Mark -- Of course you are both right. The poem imagines an afterlife that is neither heartfelt nor is it one that reflects what soothed my father's fears in his final months. (Much to my surprise, we actually did gingerly tap-dance around the subject and he was open to the possibility of an afterlife.)

Andrew, I don’t know that there is an afterlife (And I’m sure that this thread is not the place to mull it over : ). That this poem includes a simplistic rose-red afterlife is probably the reason why there has been something of a reserved response to it. I get that.

And I do, of course, realize there is no credible evidence of it (an afterlife). I came across this photo recently that reminded me of the bare facts of our physical existence:

The caption was, "This is actually what you are, everything else is parts and casing." That's the unrelenting truth. That is the Larkin Aubade view. I think that much is known. We die. It's the unknown that is always just beyond my thinking, that keeps me thinking, keeps the door open a crack.

Anyway, I like your couplets of the first (new) stanza). It got me to thinking again about how I (and if I) should portray the afterlife. So I've once again reimagined that part with both you and Mark's comments in mind. One more revision for the sake of practicing, trying : )

Mark, your ramble is a good one. It thinks out loud about the inconsistencies that expose the lack of honest emotion. The emotion is pent up and spit out in a garbled, sanitized version of what is roiling me beneath the surface. This might be one of those poems I try to write but never finish. I'm better off for trying, though.

Revision posted. Perhaps it's closer to my true feelings.

Editing back in to say Mark, your thoughts around the opening stanza's (now couplets) expression being contrary to feeling forgiveness are fantastic. I took them... Thank you.

Last edited by Jim Moonan; 08-30-2018 at 11:01 AM.
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Old 08-30-2018, 09:22 AM
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Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is offline
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Originally Posted by Jim Moonan View Post
I’m a sloppy, compulsive revisor
Sounds like a bad habit, Jim. I thought the original was just fine. You could delete "has" here: has drank his tears. And the punctuation is... sloppy. A couple of periods are missing. Otherwise, the poem fulfills the premise of the title: visions of my father. It's interesting to have popsicles and Freud in the same poem, though let's not analyze that too closely!
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Old 08-30-2018, 09:35 AM
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R. Nemo Hill R. Nemo Hill is offline
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If the poem was longer, with more and different visions, then those visions could actually contradict one another. There's often more truth in contradiction than in trying to get it right.

I also wonder about all this head-on autobiographical analysis as subject matter for poetry. (Not that I don't do it myself, sometimes.) But I find the more powerful poems to be those in which the confessional creeps in by a side-or-basement-or-attic door. Here's to the full range of doors!

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Old 08-30-2018, 02:23 PM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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Yes, what Nemo said. In my opinion, you've really found a nerve, from what I've read from you recently. But it needs the oomph of coming from somewhere.

Added: I wanted to come back because suddenly the above comment seems harsher than I intended. I was a little rushed, and that's never a good idea when critiquing someone's work. I really like the direction of your more recent poems, the emotional risk. I should have commented on your second baby poem because, although the poem didn't entirely work for me, I thought a lot of what you were doing there was very effective emotionally. Unlike that poem, here I'm more uncertain about the speaker/situation. Of course I'm not implying that you need to go into really explicit detail. That could be worse... Maybe just a little something that tips off the reader. For example, for this poem, my favorite version so far is the original. That might be because the pov seems to almost come from a child (if you were to stick more with that version, I might adjust some of the diction accordingly). That, for me, gives the poem a hell of a lot more weight. Anyway, just some more thoughts to take or toss.

Last edited by James Brancheau; 08-31-2018 at 02:11 AM.
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Old 08-31-2018, 09:14 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Mary, Ah, there’s always work to be done : )
I don’t want to belabor this poem with spurts of the half-formed thoughts spun from my compulsion to reinvent. Instead I’ll let it sit and come back clear-headed. It may be a longer poem; it could be a shorter one. My father would’ve preferred a limerick. (Note that I’ve already made edits to the most recent revision. I can’t stop.) I am working on my revision skills -- mostly through making a thousand mistakes of sloppiness and compulsion. My learning method seems to be being hit over the head with what is obvious : ) Thank you for always pulling me back to what was important about the original. It’s not easy having been a cocooned poet for so long...

Thanks Nemo. Your words are never squandered on me. Indeed, I have conflicting thoughts on many things – not the least of which is the thought of an afterlife. And I see what you are getting at with the autobiographical approach at the expense of the confessional approach. I shall leave the doors unlocked and windows open.

James, thanks for even noticing that I might be in the midst of an enlightened vein of thought. Weaving those thoughts into poetry is like learning how to untie knots. Or, more accurately, how to tie a good knot. I, having been a cocooned poet for many years, have found my entrance and nourishment here on the sphere. (Do butterflies know how to fly from the get-go? I don’t know. There must be a moment’s hesitation... And how long does it take for that butterfly to control its erratic flight?) To fly like a butterfly seems to be what I was born to do : )

Mark, I forgot to say that yes, as you mentioned, the sonnet of Simon’s was a spark for me. I’ve been mulling over my relationship with my father for years. The last few, final years really threw me for a loop.

Last edited by Jim Moonan; 08-31-2018 at 01:05 PM.
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Old 09-01-2018, 11:19 AM
David Callin David Callin is offline
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Originally Posted by Mark McDonnell View Post
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.
Yes! First version is best. Embrace your sentimentality. That's the only way to transcend it.


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Old 09-01-2018, 03:03 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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David, Thanks for keeping up with this.
It seems I always end up here: someplace far away from the poem I started with but not any closer to the poem that it wanted to become. As I look at the latest revision I see nothing (or very little) of the poem I felt good about when I posted it. I tried to grow the poem instead of hone it. I began to write another poem on top of it.

I’m going to remove that barnacle of a poem that grew on top (and hold onto it for another poem) and return to the poem pretty much as it was. (I removed the “amens” because this is not a prayer; changed a few words ). I think it’s just one poem in a series I might write to say everything about the relationship I think is worth being put into poetry. So, it starts with sentimental dip into a very conflicted relationship. Thanks again for giving “sentimental” its due.

Andrew, though removing the modifiers made sense in terms of “cleaning” the image up, I’ve returned to them 1.) for the rhythm they help establish and 2.) to make every attempt at vividly coloring the place I’m describing. I’ve deleted the pyre, changed the color of the sun from cinnamon to pumpkin and added cobalt to the mix. The second stanza, too, is meant to give off a strong, colorful aura. It’s an absurdly unrealistic afterlife I’m going for ; )

Thanks, too, James, Mary and Mark for encouraging the same. Mary, thanks for pointing out the missing (periods) punctuation.

It can sink.

Last edited by Jim Moonan; 09-01-2018 at 03:06 PM.
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Old 09-01-2018, 10:26 PM
Anusree Ganguly Anusree Ganguly is offline
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Hi Jim,
The poem is very picturesque. But I feel the pictures take off from the third stanza onwards. The two stanzas before could be edited for a few clichés and continuity of thoughts. The lineation could have more caesura and enjambments to prevent reading like a line of prose.
For example:
His happy playground – the sapphire sky (? Cliché = replace with 'sky the hue of gentian/cornflower) –
the pumpkin (? = replace with 'swell of the sienna sun') sun,
I watch untired,
going down in a sea – cobalt blue (? Cliché = replace with turquoise sea).

Monet is everywhere (? = replace 'everywhere' with 'in the crisping air') – rainbow-studded –
playing peek-a-boo (it's his turn to hide and leave the seek)
of a crescent (? Redundancy with rainbow. I would prefer to cut this line out) rainbow
with happy (? – abstract noun; replace with ‘laughing/screaming) children dressed
in their Sunday best.
I agree with the others that 'drank' in the last stanza could be changed, if you want. I would prefer the verb 'has taken a swill'.
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Old 09-02-2018, 08:38 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Location: Boston, MA
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Hi Anusree,
Yes, the first two stanzas do teeter on cliche and stereotype and predictability. That is the effect I'm going for, though. I can see some readers not appreciating it : ).
Thanks for reading this and finding it picturesque. Other than the ending (when I finally get down to the real reason for writing this) I wanted to paint a picture not so different from a paint-by-number/velvet painting. The afterlife to me is so unfathomable as to leave me grasping.

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Old 09-11-2018, 09:48 PM
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R. S. Gwynn R. S. Gwynn is offline
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"has drank" still appears in the revised version.

There is a point of view problem in the opening stanzas.

His happy playground
in the sapphire sky
has an untiring view
of the pumpkin sun
going down 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.

At the beginning the father is said to be in the sky, but he is observing a sunrise/set as if located on earth. The images that follow are similarly earth-bound. Telling us that the blue sky is sapphire and that the blue sea is cobalt is a bit much.

Last edited by R. S. Gwynn; 09-11-2018 at 09:53 PM.
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