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  #1  
Unread 03-17-2021, 01:58 PM
Phil Bulman Phil Bulman is offline
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Default departures

Leave-taking

We do not know how to leave each other;
we spend long, wordless embraces trying.

Our embraces beneath the Milky Way
glow like embers for days, resisting night.

Embers resist night in the memory
at dawn, our dreams weeping apart, alone.

Our dreams weep apart and merge like snowfall
in separate houses of unknowing.

In separation, unknowing strangers
glance without looking into our faces.

We face carved stones in graveyards, glance at dust,
place grief and words beneath dirt and ashes.

We bury our words of loss, then depart;
we do not know how to leave each other.
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  #2  
Unread 03-18-2021, 07:57 PM
Nicholas McRae Nicholas McRae is offline
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I don't know that I have much of a critique for this, I enjoyed it through and through. Beautiful poem, and maybe unlike anything I've read before.

The distance you've kept this from the reader works well for me. You've been clear with a few references, but you let the reader see themselves in the poem, rather than telling them what to feel or marking your own presence.

I'll be interested to hear the thoughts of others.
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  #3  
Unread 03-19-2021, 07:49 AM
Jim Moonan Jim Moonan is offline
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.

Hi Phil, I have trouble with this.
I'll be as straight-forward as I can: it feels like a connect-the-dots approach to writing in couplets. In the process, you muddy the imagery with a barrage of metaphors and abstractions.

Initially I thought it was about two lovers who needed to part but couldn't find a way to do it. But the last two stanzas seem to point toward the death of and burying a loved one.

In between the beginning and end is a montage of dreams, embers, memories, night, dawn, weeping, the Milky Way and strangers who do, but don't look into your faces.

It just never comes into focus — for me.

But I would consider taking this out of couplet form. I just don't think it's helping.

.
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  #4  
Unread 03-19-2021, 08:29 AM
Robert Grainy Robert Grainy is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim Moonan View Post
.

It just never comes into focus — for me.

But I would consider taking this out of couplet form. I just don't think it's helping.

.
Very nice comment. I fully agree with this.
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  #5  
Unread 03-19-2021, 01:43 PM
R. Nemo Hill's Avatar
R. Nemo Hill R. Nemo Hill is offline
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I don't mind the couplets. What I think is weak, Phil, is the content of the imagery. For such a spare poem, one that looks so lean on the page, too much of the minimal space is taken up by images that seem recycled: wordless embraces, glowing embers, dreams weeping, unknowing strangers, words of loss, they all seem vague generalizations of mood. Such tropes can work sometimes, but the format here calls out for moments that are more startlingly concrete, for specific shocks of recognition. I like the opening and closing line repetition, but everything in between is mushy where it might be crisp, maudlin where it might be clear-sighted, vaguely unremarkable where it might be darkly electric.

Nemo
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Unread 03-19-2021, 02:16 PM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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Phil, I don't think the form is the issue here. For me, the problem is the generic imagery serves to divert attention from what is the core of what is going on. Phrases and failed imagery such as "wordless embraces" and "embraces beneath the Milky Way," not to mention embers resisting and dreams weeping and gravestones with staring faces and on and on. IMO, the reason this doesn't work as poetry is that those types of images and phrases obscure the truth in the poem. They are divergences. Fuck the Milky Way! How did it feel saying goodbye? What did you see when you looked away from her or were you wondering if she hurt as much as you did? Dreams don't weep. It's that simple. Maybe there was a bird hopping around as she gets on the train and you can't stop looking at it. In my not-so-humble opinion, no one in any art form has dealt with moments such as this better than Ozu did in his films. So simple and quiet and powerful. That is what I mean but of course, others may disagree.
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  #7  
Unread 03-19-2021, 02:35 PM
James Brancheau James Brancheau is offline
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Just title it Leave. Then rewrite the entire poem, with a touch of humor. And a dash of salt. Try more enjambment, too. See where it takes you.

*Just read some of the other comments. Nemo's right about the lack of concrete moments.This reminds me of a poem on metrical now. The feeling is there-- and the couplets are fine, imo. But you need to make it a bit real.

Last edited by James Brancheau; 03-19-2021 at 02:56 PM.
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  #8  
Unread 03-20-2021, 04:20 AM
Nicholas McRae Nicholas McRae is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by R. Nemo Hill View Post
I like the opening and closing line repetition, but everything in between is mushy where it might be crisp, maudlin where it might be clear-sighted, vaguely unremarkable where it might be darkly electric.

Nemo
I don't mind a bit of the softness, but I agree that the imagery could be made a bit sharper.
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  #9  
Unread 04-29-2021, 04:24 AM
Robert Craig Thomas Robert Craig Thomas is offline
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Default A few funky spots...

I really like the poem, the repetition, the form, the structure, the language, the rhythm. All of it, it has a great feeling and holds together well.
On the other hand, after reading it several times over a couple of days, there are three places that felt a bit funky to me. Hopefully, my notes below will suggest something sensical or at least give you a jumble of word-thoughts from which you can extract and/or stitch together something useful.
RT
----
"Embers resist night in the memory at dawn"
-> this feels jumpy, I like "embers resist night" and I like "in the memory at dawn" but for some reason my brain slips a gear when I try and read them as a single thought... perhaps my brain is eager to patch together "memory of the night" or "resist the dawn" and when it reads "Embers resist night in the memory at dawn" my brain has a hiccup... perhaps the problem is with my brain and its hiccups, can't tell...
----
"In separation, unknowing strangers glance without looking into our faces."
-> it sounds nice but the combination of "unknowing" and "without looking" feels somehow disappointing... sooo... "unknowing strangers"... hmmm...? see something? turn away? intuit the heat that radiates from within us?
----
"then depart; we do not know how to leave"
-> the poem led me to expect something cleverer than "depart" since it feels too directly in conflict with "leave" (I wanted to be taken to somewhere more surprising and unexpected, rather than just "depart / leave")

Last edited by Robert Craig Thomas; 04-29-2021 at 08:54 AM.
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