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Old 09-14-2018, 08:15 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Default Dress Rehearsal

x
v.3
It Takes 20 Seconds (to read this)

The timer has always been set.
Now all you have
is twenty seconds
and all you have
time for is this.

Don’t look up,
don’t think,
drink it down.
Somewhere else
is where you’ll be
very soon now.
Time is up.
The dress rehearsal over.
Your soup is hot
and ready for spooning.
x
x

----------------------
x
Dress Rehearsal (Time Is Up)

The timer has always been set.
Now all you have
is twenty seconds
and all you have
time for is this.

Don’t look up,
don’t think.
Stare it down.
Somewhere else
is where you’ll be
very soon now.
The bell chimes.
Time is up.
The dress rehearsal over.
Your soup is hot
and ready for spooning.


---------------------
x
Dress Rehearsal (Time Is Up)

The timer has always been set.
Now all you have
is twenty seconds
left to live,
and all you have
time for is this.

Don’t look up,
don’t think,
drink it down.
Somewhere else
is where you’ll be
very soon now.
The bell chimes,
Time is up.
Your exit twists
xxxxxxxxxxlike smoke swirling
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxinto somewhere else.
x
x

X

Last edited by Jim Moonan; 09-15-2018 at 04:52 PM.
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  #2  
Old 09-14-2018, 03:43 PM
David Callin David Callin is offline
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Egad! A touch of the Poes about this, Jim. Still thinking about that.

Cheers

David
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  #3  
Old 09-14-2018, 03:57 PM
Ann Drysdale's Avatar
Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is offline
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That feels like Russian roulette with a fully loaded gun. If this is the dress rehearsal, am I allowed to believe that there'll be another performance? Please say yes.
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Old 09-14-2018, 04:09 PM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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I think the close is terrible, which made me not want to show up and say terrible things. I like the first stanza a lot though. This is the second time I've said this in week, but I'd start by flipping the stanzas and getting rid of that smoke crap.

JB
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Old 09-14-2018, 08:11 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Woah! Yikes! Maybe I over-dramatized…

Revision posted.
The innocuous spark for the poem came from the microwave oven. I set the timer for twenty seconds to reheat something and this idea for a poem clicked in my imagination: what if I were suddenly able to know when I had twenty seconds left to live? Not thirty. Not an hour. Not a day... Just twenty seconds. I felt panic inside.

The poem is simply meant to give glimpse at the finiteness of our lives. Eventually there will be twenty seconds left of a person's life. Thankfully the vast majority of us will not be consciously aware for certain that the last twenty seconds are occurring. I don't have any desire to know either.

Btw, the poem can be read in approximately twenty seconds.

David, I didn't want creepiness. Just a pang of panic. (Why can Larkin write a poem like Aubade and scare the bejeebies out of me for the rest of my life? --This is in no way an attempt at writing a poem like that, btw.)

Ann, I'm startled that this startled you! I’ve posted a revision aimed to tone it down and put it in different perspective (the soup is done -- not me : )

I hadn’t thought about the implication of “drink it down” (It must have been the work of Freud). I was simply looking for another “D” line and one that played off the “up” in the first line in that stanza. By “drink it down” I was trying to say “face the fact”. So, I’ve changed it to “Stare it down” which I hope is better.

James, I did exactly what you said. Thanks : )
x
x
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Old 09-14-2018, 10:38 PM
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Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is offline
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Hi Jim, my suggestions are to call it this:

It Takes 20 Seconds to Read This

and to keep drink it down with the soup version.
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Old 09-15-2018, 12:01 AM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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Thanks for weathering my grumpy post, Jim. I need more time with the revision, but I think just getting rid of that original close is an improvement. For now, I just want to say that maybe this was posted too quickly. It feels like that anyway. My rule of thumb is when I think a poem is ready to go and I want to share it, I still let it sit for at least a few more days. (With the poem I just posted, probably I should have waited a week. Or longer. Seriously.) It takes time to kinda digest what you've done. And to actually learn from the poem itself. What it wants. Anyway, I'll try to come back to this.
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Old 09-15-2018, 01:52 AM
Curtis Gale Weeks Curtis Gale Weeks is offline
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I'm agreeing with others. It's half-baked. The initial impulse was good, I think; there is something there to be said. But I don't think you've quite bridged the distance between that and the initial impulse.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Moonan View Post
Dress Rehearsal (Time Is Up)

The timer has always been set.
Now all you have
is twenty seconds
and all you have
time for is this.

Don’t look up,
don’t think.

Stare it down.
Somewhere else
is where you’ll be
very soon now.
The bell chimes.
Time is up.
The dress rehearsal over.
Your soup is hot
and ready for spooning.
The things I've put in red feel as if they are hitting me over the head in one way or another. A little too on-the-nose in some spots.

I'm iffy on the final two lines. I see where you were going with that...I think? Maybe it's hitting me over the head again, since I've already had the poem "told" to me with mention of "dress rehearsal," so this is just a kind of blunt example after. On the other hand, if you are trying to draw a picture of a person in a nursing home or hospital—i.e. someone who is on their death bed—then maybe it could work, minus all those red items above it, and perhaps with more hinting along those lines before it. But then how to simultaneously have a person soon to be spoon fed and be at the true last 20 seconds, without mentioning dress rehearsal? But why be so blunt about the dress rehearsal part of it? (Part of the on-the-nose aspect, I think.)

I suppose my primary complaint would be that this doesn't leave enough open for me to grok real significance on my own.

I toyed with it, eliminating what I colored in, and making some other minor changes, for an example:

Microwave Life

The timer has been set.
Now all you have is twenty seconds.
All you have time for is this.
Stare it down.

Somewhere else
is where you need to be.
Very soon now.

The bell chimes;
the light goes out.

The door waits.

______________

Does this allow a couple interpretations? I.e., "Microwave life" describes those many times a week some of us may be wasting time waiting for the pot to boil—to mix metaphors. Or...It describes our life's final 20 seconds through our experience of waiting on microwaves to finish? Or...both?

Heck, I don't know if the result of my paring and altering does that or still remains slight. I'm not a very good judge of my own endeavors! But maybe you see what I mean in my criticisms of yours—in the contrast. The initial idea was pretty good, but the execution was too direct, too quick, and too closed for me.

Last edited by Curtis Gale Weeks; 09-15-2018 at 02:06 AM.
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Old 09-15-2018, 12:32 PM
David Callin David Callin is offline
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The revision is a great improvement, I think, Jim. I still don't get the idea of the dress rehearsal.

Cheers

David
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Old 09-15-2018, 01:24 PM
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Ann Drysdale Ann Drysdale is offline
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Well, TFFT.

However, I have read and re-read your first version and it still comes across as a message from Dignitas. How on earth was I supposed to get a whiff of soup?

And now the relief puts me in mind of this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6nd_RwYyym0
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