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Old 09-09-2018, 02:45 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 1,671

Thanks again Matt.

I took the opportunity to re-write yet again that stanza, since your pointing out "the" tree also pointed out some other weaknesses with the poetics of the way I am trying to say things in that stanza.
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Old 09-09-2018, 03:03 PM
David Callin David Callin is offline
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Ellan Vannin
Posts: 1,972

Hi Jim. De gustibus and all that, but S1 doesn't seem to be working for me. I can't make sense of L1 at all. It's probably very obvious, but it's passing me by.

I like S2, but I'm not sure what an "always setting sun" would look like.

S3 was reminding me of something, and it seems to be the Twelve Days of Christmas. That's fun.

S4 is a very nice finish. In fact I think I'll go and get a cup of coffee now.


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Old 09-09-2018, 06:10 PM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
Join Date: Aug 2016
Location: Boston, MA
Posts: 1,671

Thanks David. I was taken aback by your reference to the 12 Days of Christmas brought on by the 3rd stanza -- until I went back and read it with the song in mind... Now what am I to do? Rename the poem "12 Cups of Sumatra"?

As for the 1st stanza, it is meant to evoke a confluence of floating images of coffee/wine/fantasy/intoxication/seasonal inspiration a la seance that then sets up the following stanzas' contrasting thoughts of the immediacy of the moment on my porch enjoying (lots) of coffee and the far away origin of the coffee itself.
The final stanza returns to the confluence of the first. It's a cup of coffee : )
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Old 09-10-2018, 07:47 AM
Matt Q Matt Q is online now
Join Date: May 2013
Location: England, UK
Posts: 2,709

Hi Jim,

I preferred the original ending, which leaves on us an image, and leaves in Sumatra. I liked being left there. I'd resist the temptation to add meaning here, or takes us out of the fantasy -- or, at least, the last line doesn't do much (and if leaving is a play on 'leaves', it's not doing much for me). I'd say leave it for the reader to draw their own conclusions about the coffee and the N's (globally) privileged position.

With S2, I think it was pretty good as was (though lacking a verb) and the move toward more 'poetic' language ("pelting clusters of crimson" vs "red wet beans") didn't strike me as an improvement. I preferred tree to bush, since it seemed to tie in more with the falling leaf of S1. That said, I like "stripped" picking up the sex of S1, as well as resource-stripping/exploitation hinted at by S3 and the rest of the poem. Maybe something like:

Somewhere on a blazing hillside,
hot with rain and red wet beans,
a tree is being stripped for me,
here, now, sitting in salt air
facing east towards the sea
and the always setting sun.

(I take "setting sun" to be a reference to the West)

I also preferred the original S3 for its simpler language and its flatter layout. I think the addition of the newborn baby risks taking us into the sentimental (in the poetic sense of obvious attempts to elicit emotion), which the poem otherwise avoids well. I think the allusion to raining blood in "pelting clusters of crimson" is problematic for the same reason.

So, for the most part, it's IPTO from me.


Last edited by Matt Q; 09-10-2018 at 08:09 AM.
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Old 09-11-2018, 01:12 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
Join Date: May 2016
Location: England
Posts: 2,276

Hi Jim!

I like a lot of this. It has the swoon of genuine reverie about it. I'm not getting the connection with ouija boards though, which could be my ignorance of some aspect of Sumatran culture. Is it?

I know Andrew loves the first line but it was a weak point for me. 'Coffee like wine' is an odd simile because they exist in so similar a category anyway (being drinks). But coffee is coffee and wine is wine, surely. And 'words like sex'? Which words? You don't say. Is it the words you're typing? Are you self-reviewing as you go?

But. My overall experience of the poem is a pleasant one!
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