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Old 09-04-2018, 10:38 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Default Thoughts on Sumatra

x
Thoughts on Sumatra (v2)

Coffee like wine, words like sex.
Ouija thoughts have come back
after four cups of Sumatra drunk
with the first fall leaf falling
on my hands typing this.

Far away somewhere
in the sultry East
on a blazing hillside
full of hot rain and red wet beans,
a tree is stripped for me,
sitting here in the salt-pinched air
in a rotting Adirondack chair,
my back against the sun, facing the sea.

What naked hands picking,
what machinery hulling,
what burlap sack bulging,
what cargo ship churning,
what gray dock unloading,
what merchant discerning,
what store shelf waiting,
what special, limited-time offering
made me reach for this?

I sip chocolate notes and dream of flesh.
I see Ouija boards and floating hands
and falling leaves spelling out answers
in the hot rain on a hillside in Sumatra.


Edits
S2: line break and slight punctuation changes
S4L2: replaced"think of" with "see"


------------------
x
Thoughts on Sumatra

Coffee like wine, words like sex.
Ouija thoughts have come back
after four cups of Sumatra paired
with the first fall leaf falling
on my hands typing this.

Somewhere in the far away East,
Somewhere on a blazing hillside
full of hot rain and red wet beans
taken from the tree for me,
here, now, sitting in salt air
facing east towards the sea
my back against the setting sun.

What aching hands picking,
what machinery hulling,
What burlap sack bulging,
what cargo ship churning,
what gray dock unloading,
what merchant discerning,
what store shelf waiting,
what special, limited-time offering
made me reach for this?

I sip chocolate notes and dream of flesh.
I think of Ouija boards and floating hands
and falling leaves spelling out answers
in the hot rain on Sumatra.


Edits
S2L1: deleted entire line: "The path backward takes me there:"

x
x

Last edited by Jim Moonan; 09-11-2018 at 05:38 AM.
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  #2  
Old 09-05-2018, 03:55 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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I like this a lot, Jim. The opening line is wonderful (I’ll have what you’re having!), as is the whole first stanza. With the leaps of associations and the surprise proper name, Ouija, in five quick strokes (each line a new image) your poem sets things up so I’m eager to see where it goes.

One question there: do you need the word “paired”? The pairing is already implied.

Ditto for the opening line of S2--your poem already takes us there, no need to state it. The sentence fragment “Somewhere in the far away East” with a period is a stronger way to open that stanza, imo. This stanza further sets the scene, contrasting the source of the coffee with the place the N is sipping it. I think that’s effective and a necessary bridge to S3.

Which is the climax stanza, where the poem’s theme announces itself. I like it very much as a theme, but in my view this stanza could take things still further, extend the litany or anaphora, with the repeating “what” having still more chance to build to a higher pitch. If this were my poem, I’d want to add some elements there that don’t add up so easily or directly, in addition to the literal images that tell us what the poem’s about (that the N is enjoying the coffee because of all that underpaid labor far away). I think you need the literal images, too, but some less linear thought and less easily summed-up imagery could push it more beyond the moral content to an imaginative content that includes the moral. E.g., after “what cargo ship churning” could be a line about something peripheral, even surreal. The rest of your poem is so much more playful and whimsical, so why drop that here? Moral content doesn't preclude whimsy or inventiveness. In other words, and this might be very off for what you want with the poem, I’d enjoy more the direct statements about the work the people there are doing if they were mixed with images that “tell it slant.”

I think the concluding stanza is effective as it is.

One other thing: form-wise, I am reading this as free verse, well done free verse at that. Did you see it as metrical? Curious about this, though it has no effect on how I feel about the poem itself.

Which I think is a good one.

Best,

Andrew
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Old 09-05-2018, 05:55 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Thanks Andrew.
I like "paired" for it's allusion to "wine" i.e. "This wine pairs well with sea bass and artichokes".

I think the second stanza is better begun w/o the opening line, as you say. I like, too, your suggestions for extending and expanding the litany of the 3rd stanza. I will work on it.

I wrote this rather quickly. It felt metrical so I began to pay attention to the line breaks and stresses. As I began to finish it up I lost track of the metrics and assumed it would be at least acceptable as a metrical poem. At best, though, as a metrical poem it needs work and perhaps would breathe better as free verse.
I would not want to be barging in on this board with a poem that doesn’t measure up to the standards set by others more skilled than I at writing metrical/formal verse. If others feel the same I’ll check in with Jayne and ask for it to be moved. My apologies if anyone felt I was party crashing : ) I do want to write metrical/formal verse. (I’m working on a villanelle of all things!)
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Old 09-06-2018, 08:45 AM
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Daniel Kemper Daniel Kemper is offline
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out of time today, but love coffee poems and... Sumatra, ahhh simpatico!!
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Old 09-07-2018, 10:32 PM
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Jan Iwaszkiewicz Jan Iwaszkiewicz is offline
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The poem is very good Jim but a little too free to be formal.

I like where your voice is taking you.

This has such a flavour of former times.

Thoroughly enjoyed.

Jan
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Old 09-08-2018, 11:10 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Daniel, Jan, thanks for reading.

Jan, Yes, Andrew noted that as well. I've PM'd Jayne to see if it makes sense to move it. I can't help but imagine those who are strict formalists are gritting their teeth...

It started off metrical but I became distracted by what I was trying to say and lost track of things metrically -- then posted it without thinking.
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Old 09-08-2018, 07:35 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Hi Jim,

I find lots to like here.

For me, the first and last stanzas are strongest, and I wondered what would happen if you cut the rest?

Coffee like wine, words like sex.
Ouija thoughts have come back
after four cups of Sumatra paired
with the first fall leaf falling
on my hands typing this.

I sip chocolate notes and dream of flesh.
I think of Ouija boards and floating hands
and falling leaves spelling out answers
in the hot rain on Sumatra.


But that's just a wondering, I'm not saying you should.

The incomplete sentences of S2L1, and SL2L2 onward trouble me a bit. There's no verb, nothing actually happens in this somewhere. I guess you might consider a comma at that end of S2L1, and a comma at the end of the stanza after "sun". That said, I'm not sure that would quite make sense, as S3 moves from Sumatra to the N shopping. (I'm guessing the capitalisation of 'What' at the beginning of S3L3 is a typo.)

I'd echo Andrew on "paired". It's implied, even in the sense you've said you intend it, I believe. It did occur to me that you could replace it with "drunk" which then has the coffee being drunk, but also the N being drunk on Autumn, on the first falling leaf.

best,

Matt

Last edited by Matt Q; 09-09-2018 at 06:42 AM.
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Old 09-08-2018, 10:05 PM
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Allen Tice Allen Tice is offline
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The best of yours I can recall seeing.
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Old 09-09-2018, 12:45 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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Revision posted.

Thanks Allen.

Matt, I've re-written S2 to address the incomplete sentences and hopefully make more coherent.

Andrew, I've re-written S3 to lengthen/bring out the contrasting litany that you suggested.

Matt, thanks, too, for "drunk". It really completes the confluence of coffee/wine/fantasy/intoxication/seasonal inspiration that I was aiming for in the first stanza.
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Old 09-09-2018, 02:26 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Hi Jim,

In S2, you write "the tree", do you intend the tree that's dropped a leaf in S1? If not, "a tree" might work better.

Matt
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