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  #1  
Unread 12-28-2020, 02:36 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Default different image, different poem

Fruition (R2)

Perhaps she really was sucker-punched by some shady god,
or perhaps she was just wandering down a mountainside
following a trail marked with misleading signposts
and by the time she saw the stunted trees strung up
with raven-shaped leaves it was less effort to give way
to gravity than to contemplate the climb back up,
and when eventually she arrived at the brutalist architecture
of the underground carpark, she seemed to see a concrete haven
in which to lay her tiredness down, and took shelter there
only to wake up every morning to a doorless darkness,
unable to tell if it even was morning, and feeling conspicuous
in her solidity alongside the grey half-shapes of the dead.
And, of course, she ate the fruit that someone slipped her,
blood orange perhaps, or raspberry, or even sloe,
so hard to tell in a darkness where everything tastes of dirt
that has been rinsed clean of all of life’s residues,
and when finally she was allowed to return to the wraiths
of the living, she travelled to the city at the edge of the sea
and built herself a burrow in a nondescript alleyway
that lay between two similar alleyways, and it was here
that the fruit-bats finally found her, with their wolf-face grins
and their king-size fingers, and the single curved claw
that tipped each of their wings, with which they hung themselves
from her, burdening her body like a sickness.

Sometimes, in dreams, she seeks to befriend the bats,
naming each one and feeding them delicate slivers
of kiwi and melon, but the bats only grow fat
until she cannot walk for heaviness and is pulled down
back through the earth into the concrete caverns beneath.
Other times she dreams she has been transformed
into fruit and the bats lap with hungry tongues
at the juice spilling from the hook-holes their claws make
in her skin. And some nights, but very rarely,
she dreams that she is woken by the dawn
to discover that the bats have flown away in the night,
each one leaving behind a gift of blossom on her pillow.


-----------
changes from original: L5 "just" removed from "just easier"; L14, "pomegranate" -> "blood orange"; L16 "washed clean" -> "rinsed clean". Final stanza now in present tense; commas replaced with full-stops -- one sentence per dream.





Fruition (R1)

Sometimes, in dreams, she seeks to befriend the fruit bats
that hang from her body, naming each one

and feeding them delicate slivers of kiwi and melon,
but the bats only grow fat until she cannot walk

for heaviness and is pulled down through the earth
into the concrete caverns beneath, on other nights

she dreams she has been transformed into fruit
and the bats lap with hungry tongues

at the juice spilling from the hook-holes their claws make
in her skin – and sometimes, but very rarely,

she dreams that she is woken by the dawn
to discover that the bats have flown away in the night,

each one leaving behind a gift of blossom on her pillow.





Fruition

after Helen & Pat Adam's collage "(Perhaps No One Will Notice Them.)"


Perhaps she really was sucker-punched by some shady god,
or perhaps she was just wandering down a mountainside
following a trail marked with misleading signposts

and by the time she saw the stunted trees strung up
with raven-shaped leaves it was just less effort to give way
to gravity than to contemplate the climb back,

and so when eventually she arrived at the brutalist architecture
of the underground carpark, she seemed to see a concrete haven
in which to lay her tiredness down, and took shelter there

only to wake up every morning to a doorless darkness,
unable to tell if it even was morning, and feeling conspicuous
in her solidity alongside the grey half-shapes of the dead.

.......................................*

And, of course, she ate the fruit that someone slipped her,
pomegranate perhaps, or raspberry, or even sloe,
so hard to tell in a darkness where everything tastes of dirt

that has been washed clean of all of life’s residues,
and when finally she was allowed to return to the wraiths
of the living, she travelled to the city at the edge of the sea

and there she built for herself a burrow in a nondescript alleyway
that ran between two similar alleyways, and it was there
that the fruit-bats found her, with their dog-face grins

and their king-size fingers, and a single curved claw tipping
each of their wings, with which they hung themselves
from her, burdening her body like a sickness.

.......................................*

Sometimes, in dreams, she sought to befriend the bats,
naming each one and feeding them delicate slivers
of kiwi and melon, but the bats only grew fat

until she could not walk for heaviness and was pulled down,
back through the earth into the concrete caverns beneath,
other times she dreamed she had been transformed

into fruit and the bats lapped with hungry tongues
at the juice spilling from the hook-holes their claws made
in her skin – and some nights, but very rarely,

she dreamed that she was woken by the dawn
to discover that the bats had flown away in the night,
each one leaving behind a gift of blossom on her pillow.



--------------------------------
The image is here, and here's an article on Helen Adam's collages.

Last edited by Matt Q; 01-21-2021 at 03:04 PM.
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  #2  
Unread 12-28-2020, 03:01 PM
Katie Hoerth's Avatar
Katie Hoerth Katie Hoerth is offline
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Hi Matt,
I simply love this. What a fascinating image, and what a fittingly fascinating poem. Though the poem takes a bit to get going for me, it was certainly worth it. I particularly like the description of the fruit bats "burdening her body like a sickness." The last section reads the strongest to me for its rich imagery.
I have no nits for now.
k.
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  #3  
Unread 12-28-2020, 03:35 PM
Jane Crowson's Avatar
Jane Crowson Jane Crowson is offline
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Hi Matt,

I like this very much - itís a great back-story to the collage, with a wonderful blend of multi-sensory imagery; you create a narrative which slips between sense, myth and contemporary. When you bring in a sense of location/place (like the underground carpark) you locate the poem in all three dimensions.

I think it could be condensed. Itís long and although thereís the threading of imagery throughout the poem (in the landscape example it moves from carpark to alleyway to carpark/cavern) this isnít always cohesive. For such a long poem Iíd want to find clearer weft threads in the making of the piece - a progression from the carpark to the underground to a new understanding of cavern, for example - and I donít always find this.

Likewise, I want to know what/if anything the fruit bats are a metaphor for, and how this changes and progresses as I read through the poem. At the moment thereís a narrative sequence and a tripartite structure but I donít read how these work together beyond a kind of image-frame storytelling.

Having said that, there are some stand-out images. I love the start of this, bringing the reader straight into the middle of a narrative - and I love the echoes of the Penelope-myth threaded through it - also the sense of the central character as wanderer/stray/lost. I really enjoy the bats as ambiguous characters, too - and this echoes the picture beautifully.

Having said that (twice), on first reading, it coheres on the level of working as a kind of blurred narrative that uses repeating ideas of fruit/fruitbat/protaganist/place to structure and balance. Maybe consider losing the tripartite structure and thinking about the imagistic sense-making in a rearrangement.

In another context, it might be worth considering (given your locating features of animal/place/protagonist/fruit) turning this into an interactive visual poem (using tagtools, maybe, so when someone clicks on a bit of the image it brings out a part of the poem).

It's good, though, it's a hugely rich poem either as it stands or to play with further,

Sarah-Jane
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  #4  
Unread 12-30-2020, 09:50 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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Iím rather revision-crazy after working on my own poem today, so I will make an effort not to project that on to yours. But I can imagine this as just part 3 alone, setting aside parts 1 and 2 for other poems. The heart of the poem is in the third part, and I wonder if the first two, at least most of them, are essential to the poem.

If that degree of cutting is too radical, some cutting still could tighten the imagery and make it more evocative. The Persephone allusions go on too long, I think, and so much isnít needed to set up the second half of the poem, which is where, as an ekphrastic, the imagery in relation to the picture gets especially interesting and directly related.

In the opening section, for instance, I think you could leave out the opening tercet altogether. In part 2, I think another tercet would be expendable as well, e.g., I tried rewriting the opening there along the lines of:

And, of course, she ate the fruit that someone slipped her,
and when finally she was allowed to return to the wraiths
of the living, she travelled to the city at the edge of the sea

For me, nothing is really lost with these cuts, since the Persephone myth is so well known and just a hint or two is enough to evoke a series of images (or, for readers who never heard of it, the parts I am cutting wonít evoke her anyway).

The last section is more integral as is.

Of course, another kind of cuttingóagain, Iíll try not to project too much from my own poemís fateócould involve making the lines shorter and denser. In the first tercet alone, several wordsóreally, perhaps (the second time), just, marked withóseem like padding. Just appears in S2L2 as well, again, unnecessarily. Etc.

I get it that the chatty prosaic style is used ironically, for the dark subject matter, but I donít think extraneous words are needed to create that effect.

Anyway, some thoughts to throw into the mix.

Best,

Andrew
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  #5  
Unread 12-31-2020, 04:50 PM
Matt Q Matt Q is offline
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Katie, Sarah and Andrew,

Many thanks for your comments on this. I'm glad you found things to like.

Yes this could stand some streamlining, as you've all suggested. I'm planning have a go at producing a more streamlined version of the original. For now, though, at Andrew's suggestion, I've tried a revision that jettisons the first two-thirds of the poem. In the revision, I'm wondering if it comes across that the fruit bats are real, and not just in the dream -- and if not, if that matters. I'm also wondering if it stands alone without the collage image.

Katie,

I'm really pleased you like this, and particularly that line, which I tried (and failed) to get into the shorter version.

Sarah,

Regarding the fruit bats as metaphor; in general terms I was thinking something along the lines of: you get lost, you end up in a dark place. Eventually you get to leave, but you don't quite escape it (there always seems to be price paid for exiting in underworld myths) and you're marked/marred by it -- and this where the fruit bats come in. Maybe the bats will eventually leave, maybe not. So, I guess I was hoping the structure of the myth would leave space for the reader to construct their own specifics. Also, the specifics of what I personally have in mind are unlikely to generalise, or be easily hinted at. But probably I was hoping for too much here. One benefit of the short version, I think, is that it seems a lot easier to pin a metaphor on the bats: They are some sort heaviness or burden. You can try to make friends with it. It seems to be draining you. You wish it were gone.

Andrew,

The specific suggestions you made for cutting and very useful; I'll be aiming the pruning shears there first when I try to produce a shorter revision of the original.

thanks again everyone,

Matt
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  #6  
Unread 01-01-2021, 04:12 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
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I really like the new version, Matt. Including the move to the present tense, which makes the narrative more immediate. Also, the change to couplets and the sparing detail, which leaves more to the imagination and connects more emphatically with the ekphrastic source.

A couple of things I wonder about in this version:

The punctuation. Why is there a comma in line 6 but an em dash in line 10, where the two grammatical constructions are pretty much the same? I think the comma is better for this than the em dash, less of a dam on the poem’s run-on flow.

Also, since the poem is a dream-narrative with a few complete sentences and with only some commas here and there, I am thinking it could do without commas altogether. You could add extra spaces where the sentences end, to give the reader some help in parsing it.

One other question: for the phrase near the end, “woken by the dawn,” I don’t know, but it seems weak or imprecise. Would “woken by firstlight” or something more specific be more to the point? It would add an end-rhyme there, near the end.

Last edited by Andrew Frisardi; 01-01-2021 at 04:14 AM.
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  #7  
Unread 01-01-2021, 06:02 AM
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Andrew Mandelbaum Andrew Mandelbaum is offline
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I like the cut, Matt. It wasn't really pulling me in before that. The Persephone business was to much counterweight pulling in a different direction than the strength of the piece. It does read as if the bats are in a dream state. Why does that bother you?
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Unread 01-01-2021, 12:35 PM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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I like this, Matt. I think condensing it even a little more might benefit the poem. Like, for example, and for other reasons, "like heaviness is pulled through the earth into the concrete, the caverns beneath." And I think you need a period there. Concrete is human made- right? The close seems padded a bit, a little wordy. Maybe you need "the gift," and it's probably me, but I think of bat poop. Do you need "behind" too? "each one leaving a blossom, a/its breeze on her pillow." Sorry my messing around, and ignore it. But the close is something I'd continue to look at.

Last edited by James Brancheau; 01-01-2021 at 12:40 PM.
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Unread 01-02-2021, 08:50 AM
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Mary Meriam Mary Meriam is offline
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I love the original, Matt. The only word I'd change is "pomegranate" so that the Persephone allusion isn't too obvious. Look at the difference in opening lines:

Sometimes, in dreams, she seeks to befriend the fruit bats

Perhaps she really was sucker-punched by some shady god,


Which one would make you continue reading the poem?

The original is a story, an original story, and I was entranced all the way through. Though the art inspired your poem, I don't see your poem as ekphrastic. You don't need the art with it. Every line of the original has a new exciting concept. What some may see as wordiness is actually a kind of frame for that line's concept. I'll show some examples:

Perhaps she really was sucker-punched by some shady god,
or perhaps she was just wandering down a mountainside (who wanders down a mountainside?)
following a trail marked with misleading signposts

and by the time she saw the stunted trees strung up
with raven-shaped leaves it was just less effort to give way
to gravity than to contemplate the climb back,

and so when eventually she arrived at the brutalist architecture
of the underground carpark, she seemed to see a concrete haven
in which to lay her tiredness down, and took shelter there

only to wake up every morning to a doorless darkness,
unable to tell if it even was morning, and feeling conspicuous
in her solidity alongside the grey half-shapes of the dead.

.......................................*

And, of course, she ate the fruit that someone slipped her,
pomegranate perhaps, or raspberry, or even sloe,
so hard to tell in a darkness where everything tastes of dirt

I really don't see what the shortened version accomplishes. This story calls out for a fairy tale kind of voice. Knowing many of your poems, Matt, I see how this fits with them, and I understand where you're coming from.

EDIT: Meant to say before that your poem reminds me of "'Goblin Market."

Last edited by Mary Meriam; 01-02-2021 at 01:16 PM.
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  #10  
Unread 01-02-2021, 09:32 AM
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Jane Crowson Jane Crowson is offline
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Hi Matt,

I agree with Mary Meriam.

I think the shortened version works fine - it's more cohesive, and the metaphor is super-clear. But it's not as interesting a poem and it lacks the meandering vocab and interesting images that the first version offered.

In my reading, in the second version you've sacrificed interest/intrigue at the altar of sense-making/clarity.

The first version offers the reader a sense of mythological danger - a blurring of imaginary and real that's situated between the world of myth and underground carparks. It also has a more (in my reading) interesting authorial voice.

I will have a further think, as I'd intended to post later on today to say this but with some more thoughts on the first version (because I also still think this is too long) but I wanted to pop in just to say that I agreed with the last comment.

Sarah-Jane
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