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#1415292 06/29/05 11:34 AM
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I am still working on this one, any comments are welcome. Once it is done, I am giving it to my wife to read.

By rights, I should be watching you
Recede into the distance,
Taking along a chunk of my soul.

Instead, though undeserving,
I find myself next to you,
Your hand in mine.
I will not again allow you
To believe in my indifference.


Me: 41, INFP
Her: 46, ESFJ
Married 6/95
B-G Twins
4 yrs recovered from serious neglect on my part.
So happy together!
CuthbertCalculus #1415293 06/30/05 08:08 AM
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Okay, here are my impressions in no particular order:

The soul has got to go. t served a great purpose a couple hundred years ago, but it has been so over used and misused in this century it has no power left. In general, you want to avoid abstractions like "love" and "soul" and even "heart" (unless you're talking of the physical organ) because of their tendency toward broad, weak ideas. It is okay to attach one of those words to a concrete description. For instance, John Updike says in his poem "Report of Health"

Like sunlight passing from a patter of streets
I feel your bright love leaving.


He doesn't let love just lie there defenseless on the page; he attaches it to sunlight passing from a patter of streets. That works. Your chunk of soul is just lying there all exposed.

What might actually work there is if she is taking away something concrete and significant, like the good china, or some other important joint household item. Typcially, we can discern sadness and loss in how someone relates to or treats the environment around them. I wrote a sestina where a lilac bush plays an important role in the life and death of a child. After the child's death the narrator cuts down the lilac bush.

I really like the word "indifference" for a couple reasons. First, it rhymes with "distance" and helps tie the two stanzas together. But it's also somewhat unexpected. Anger, abuse, adultery (all them good "a" words) would seem to be prime candidates for driving the woman away with the good china in her hand, but it's so much simpler and sinister. Simple indifference. By saying "you to believe" you've explained briefly just how deeply this indifference has burrowed itself into the woman. A belief takes time and consistency to develop. Two lines and you explain that the indifference that almost destroyed this relationship was consistent and long term.

Don't capitalize the word, though. Subtlety is key to really making the reader feel it. If you put up a neon sign with an arrow pointing toward the word, saying "This is important! Pay attention!" the reader will be turned off by that.

Let me think on it for a while longer. There are ways to maintain the shape and thrust of the poem while making different word choices to help the rhythm and sonic texture of the work (rhymes, alliteration, etc). I'll see if I can pull together a few suggestions there, as well.

But remember, I'm critiquing this as a poet looking at a public poem. This also exists on the private husband/wife level. If it works well there (which you indicate above it did), then nothing I say really matters.


and I knew then that I would have to live, and go on living: what a sorrow it was; and still what sorrow burns but does not destroy my heart --Jane Kenyon
mikeb9 #1415294 06/30/05 12:26 PM
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This is really great feedback! Thanks, mike!

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The soul has got to go. t served a great purpose a couple hundred years ago, but it has been so over used and misused in this century it has no power left. In general, you want to avoid abstractions like "love" and "soul" and even "heart" (unless you're talking of the physical organ) because of their tendency toward broad, weak ideas.

OK, I see what you are saying. The meaning I am intending to convey is that a huge, ragged chunk of me would be gone. I've thought about this in terms of my "soul", because if she left, I would be empty inside, I would be less of a person, and I would likely sink deeper into the destructive habits that took me to this point in the first place. And that would prevent me from ever finding fulfillment or living up to my potential. I.e., I would be sorely tempted to throw away the rest of my life and drown in despair.

For me, "soul" carries all of these meanings. Certainly moreso than "heart". But I recognize that the meanings I attach to the word probably won't carry over for the general population.

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What might actually work there is if she is taking away something concrete and significant, like the good china, or some other important joint household item.

China would be less significant to me, because I personally have little sentimental attachment to it. We don't, really, have a lot of possessions that have a lot of that kind of attachment for me. Cats, we have. Cats and children, she would have taken with her, leaving me alone. Photographs, the wedding album, perhaps? She would have taken all the jewelry and clothes I have given her over the years, but those aren't joint possessions.

We have a large, framed wedding photograph hanging on the staircase walls. She might have taken that along with her? Or maybe not, because she would be the one walking away? How about if she left it behind?

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I really like the word "indifference" for a couple reasons. First, it rhymes with "distance" and helps tie the two stanzas together. But it's also somewhat unexpected. Anger, abuse, adultery (all them good "a" words) would seem to be prime candidates for driving the woman away with the good china in her hand, but it's so much simpler and sinister. Simple indifference. By saying "you to believe" you've explained briefly just how deeply this indifference has burrowed itself into the woman. A belief takes time and consistency to develop. Two lines and you explain that the indifference that almost destroyed this relationship was consistent and long term.

That's a really neat analysis. I didn't even realize the rhyme with the first stanza. But I did try to, in a short space of words, explain why she was ready to leave after 10 years of marriage.

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Don't capitalize the word, though. Subtlety is key to really making the reader feel it. If you put up a neon sign with an arrow pointing toward the word, saying "This is important! Pay attention!" the reader will be turned off by that.

I didn't want to capitalize it, because the word "indifference" itself is so offhanded, if that makes any sense. The lack of care and attention inherent in the concept of "indifference" means to me that the word itself should not be emphasized or have attention drawn to it. The emotion of indifference is so throwaway, so careless, that the word should reflect that.

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Let me think on it for a while longer. There are ways to maintain the shape and thrust of the poem while making different word choices to help the rhythm and sonic texture of the work (rhymes, alliteration, etc). I'll see if I can pull together a few suggestions there, as well.

I really appreciate this. To be honest, this is the first poem that I have ever written that really holds any meaning for me, or that I feel has anything worthwhile to communicate.

15 years ago, I appeared as a guest on a cable access show in Fairfax (I was working part-time on the station staff, asnd was friendly with the host of the show). I appeared in order to read my poetry, the "dada" pieces, nonsensical short stuff. And they really were meaningless - communicating nothing of value.

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But remember, I'm critiquing this as a poet looking at a public poem. This also exists on the private husband/wife level. If it works well there (which you indicate above it did), then nothing I say really matters.

I am interested in polishing it to be the best that it can be from a public level. It did work for my wife, though - and, from being married for 10 years, she probably knows more about how I use the term "soul" than a public reader would.

I think, though, that part of the impact was that she understood exactly what I was talking about, and deeply appreciated the sentiment. Also, this was the first time I'd ever written anything like this for her.

I told her that, with my stupid distracting hobby out of my life, that my creative urges could find expression in a more mature manner, and in a manner that might be meaningful to someone besides myself. And I think she is touched by that.

Thanks again for your critique, and I am looking forward to anything else you may have to say!


Me: 41, INFP
Her: 46, ESFJ
Married 6/95
B-G Twins
4 yrs recovered from serious neglect on my part.
So happy together!
CuthbertCalculus #1415295 07/01/05 06:06 PM
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Hmmm. I came to the area in 1988 when I got stationed at Andrews, so maybe I saw you on that local access channel. I'm down in Charles County these days. I don't know how it is across the river, but my house has more than doubled in value in the last year and a half.

Anyway, the fine china idea was just a swag, not meant to be taken literally. It could be the hallway mirror if it has importance (actually, that could set up a pretty cool image as the one left behind sees himself receding into the distance as he watches his reflection in the receding mirror. I may have to "borrow" that idea). I'm going to hunt dow a few poems on the moment of separation and send them your way. The first one that comes to mind is Eamon Grennan's Moving. If I can't find a copy of it online, I'll type it up and post it here.

If you aren't already, I recommend you start reading a healthy dose of contemporary poetry to help tune your ear and seed ideas. You mentioned how you were listening to music and your first draft took on the rhythms of that song. That's pretty common and something I do. I'll read a dozen or so poems by a poet whose work I really like and then jump right into writing a poem. It often begins sounding a lot like the other poet, but as I work it over and make revisions, it begins to sound more like me. I call that "seeding." I've heard others call it "spring-boarding." Remember, T.S. Eliot said "Bad poets borrow, good poets steal." Take whatever you need from wherever you find it, just make it your own once you do.

Also, if there are any poets whose work you're interested in, just let me know. I've got a hell of a poetry collection and the odds are better than even that I've got a book by that poet. I'm constantly sending my books out to people and I'll be happy to send you whatever I've got.


and I knew then that I would have to live, and go on living: what a sorrow it was; and still what sorrow burns but does not destroy my heart --Jane Kenyon
mikeb9 #1415296 07/05/05 08:01 AM
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Hmmm. I came to the area in 1988 when I got stationed at Andrews, so maybe I saw you on that local access channel.

LOL! It was a program called "The Larz from Mars Show" - supposedly it was the inspiration behind "Wayne's World", but I'll bet the producers of every cable access talk show say that.

I have a copy of the program on tape. I've never watched it. <img src="/ubbt/images/graemlins/crazy.gif" alt="" />

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I'm down in Charles County these days. I don't know how it is across the river, but my house has more than doubled in value in the last year and a half.

About the same - we think ours may have tripled, in fact, because of all the growth in our county. We bought in '97, and are the only original owners left on our block.

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I'm going to hunt dow a few poems on the moment of separation and send them your way. The first one that comes to mind is Eamon Grennan's Moving. If I can't find a copy of it online, I'll type it up and post it here.

Great, I'll look forward to it.

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If you aren't already, I recommend you start reading a healthy dose of contemporary poetry to help tune your ear and seed ideas.


If you have particular recommendations, about particular poets or particular poetry magazines, I'd love to hear them.

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You mentioned how you were listening to music and your first draft took on the rhythms of that song. That's pretty common and something I do. I'll read a dozen or so poems by a poet whose work I really like and then jump right into writing a poem. It often begins sounding a lot like the other poet, but as I work it over and make revisions, it begins to sound more like me. I call that "seeding." I've heard others call it "spring-boarding." Remember, T.S. Eliot said "Bad poets borrow, good poets steal." Take whatever you need from wherever you find it, just make it your own once you do.

Some poems I wrote in college never got past the "sounds like a song" stage, but it's nice to see this is a common technique.

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Also, if there are any poets whose work you're interested in, just let me know. I've got a hell of a poetry collection and the odds are better than even that I've got a book by that poet. I'm constantly sending my books out to people and I'll be happy to send you whatever I've got.

When I was in school, I read a lot of English poets - semi-contemporary, I guess - I liked Philip Larkin and Ted Hughes quite a bit. In fact, I got out of freshman composition in college by writing an essay about writing essays, and I based it around "The Thought-Fox".


Me: 41, INFP
Her: 46, ESFJ
Married 6/95
B-G Twins
4 yrs recovered from serious neglect on my part.
So happy together!
CuthbertCalculus #1415297 07/12/05 02:30 PM
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I like it just the way it is...

CuthbertCalculus #1415298 07/12/05 10:09 PM
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By rights, I should be watching you
Recede into the distance,
Taking along a chunk of my soul.

___________The inspiration I got from this:


_____
Woman, holding gentle grace in her hands, I fold my life into you
I know by right I should be standing, watching you fade into another life, town, desire and yet here we are:
my arms are gently tangling into yours, your heart full of grace always opening and holding us up, in this catastrophe
where time engraves even more profound
with exposed lights and curtain's raised, I have you
Never again left to indifference,
I'll be there when your heart comes home
Believe me Im nothing all alone without you now,
A disgrace
So please don't let anyone take my place.


Instead, though undeserving,
I find myself next to you,
Your hand in mine.
I will not again allow you
To believe in my indifference.

--------------------

AQUAPH0ENIX #1415299 07/13/05 01:18 PM
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I like it just the way it is...

Thanks, AQUAPH0ENIX!


Me: 41, INFP
Her: 46, ESFJ
Married 6/95
B-G Twins
4 yrs recovered from serious neglect on my part.
So happy together!
carina dream #1415300 07/13/05 01:20 PM
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___________The inspiration I got from this:

Carina,

Very interesting poem! I like how the same idea can be expressed so differently...


Me: 41, INFP
Her: 46, ESFJ
Married 6/95
B-G Twins
4 yrs recovered from serious neglect on my part.
So happy together!
CuthbertCalculus #1415301 07/13/05 07:06 PM
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*smile*

I gotta admit...you make me feel so shallow. :-)

When I write, I just kind of let whatever is bottled up in my heart flow without really thinking about what it really means or is saying.

I'm not making fun of anyone here...just makes me smile. I remember a literature class I took in college years ago and how the instructor was just analyzing different pieces we read...seeing things in there that the author was saying, but never actually said.

It reminds me of one of my favorite comic strips I saw in Penuts one time. Linus is drawing a picture that Charlie Brown comes up and admires. The gist of the conversation goes on with CB commenting on how the boy Linus is drawing has his hands behind his back. He then probes Linus as to what it might represent...his insecurity...or inablility to fully express himself...and Linus just looks up and says: "I don't know how to draw hands." :-)

What you have written here is very good. And like I said...I must be the shallow one. Carry on. I do admire good writing..whether I get it or now. :-)

lighthouse #1415302 07/13/05 10:23 PM
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Mike,

I think the word "soul" there works, because, as you said,

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Your chunk of soul is just lying there all exposed.

But I also like your suggestions. It's totally up to Cuthbert, IMO.

~ZP


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