Formaldehyde (ver. 3)
#1
1


A holy road is black with bloody pools.
The prophets bled to stand beside the throne;
their corpses cut according to the tools
that carve a priceless proverb on this stone:
a satellite in orbit is arranged
but shatters as it falls from steady state.
The stars and planets turn without a change –
prograding to the promise of their fate.
If telescopes don’t help the blind to see,
then I must lead this city from its dark
and dreary days. They feebly follow me
like beasts of ev’ry kind into my ark.
But only one remains in Herald Square:
a poet which a diamond can’t compare.


2


She writes her poems in pencil, sharply pressed –
each word a silent poison on her lips.
A selfish swipe – her sorrow – won’t divest –
that carbon chisel from her fingertips;
and while she writes of Armageddon’s breath,
it whispers, hanging low in hopeless air
where cigarettes, extinguished, promise death
for bodies that, not broken, self-repair.
The waves of warmth exhaust from swollen throats
with gaseous glow of neon embers, bright.
As fatal floods ascend the poet quotes
a fool who gently slid into the night.
Her final song was written with a pen
and she apologized for dying then.


3


Though crystal waters quickly ebbed to sea,
they couldn’t wipe the stain of mortal sin.
An asterisk was set. And what was she?
A line before the curtain-closing spin.
The mass had reached a point of full decay
and softly passed on through a silent sky,
while I – a guilty man – had run away
and begged her gracious God to let me die.
But life, he said, was worth the pain of loss,
and I, he said, had best accept the fall.
His wisdom slowly grew on me like moss
that decorates a couplet on her wall:
Formaldehyde will not preserve for long –
Eternal stars alone will hold her song.



Draft 2
1

A quiet road is black with bloody pools
of prophets killed while fighting for a throne;
their corpses cut according to the tools
that carve a priceless proverb on this stone:
a satellite in orbit is sublime
but falling to the ground disintegrates.
The stars and planets spin in rhythmic time –
from order they can never deviate.
If telescopes don’t help the blind to see,
then I must lead this city from its dark
and desp’rate days. They feebly follow me
like beasts of ev’ry kind into my ark.
But only one remains in Herald Square:
a poet which a diamond can’t compare.

2

She writes her poems in pencil, sharply pressed –
each word a silent poison on her lips.
A selfish swipe – her sorrow – won’t divest –
that carbon chisel from her fingertips;
and while she writes of Armageddon’s breath,
it whispers, hanging low in hopeless air
where cigarettes, extinguished, promise death
for bodies that, not broken, self-repair.
The waves of warmth exhaust from swollen throats
with gaseous glow of neon embers, bright.
As fatal floods ascend the poet quotes
a fool who gently slid into the night.
Her final song was written with a pen
and she apologized for dying then.

3

Though crystal waters quickly ebbed to sea
they couldn’t clear the stain of mortal sin.
An asterisk was set. And what was she?
A line before a curtain-closing spin.
The mass had reached a point of full decay
and quickly passed on through a cloudless sky,
while I, a guilty man, had run away
and begged her gracious God to let me die.
But life, he said, was worth the pain of loss,
and I, he said, had best accept the fall.
His wisdom slowly grew on me like moss
on rocky shores. Erosion marks my wall:
Formaldehyde will not preserve for long –
Her voice will echo as a vict’ry song





Draft 1
1

The empty roads are black with bloody pools
of prophets killed for spreading different views.
I cut their corpses, cold, for breaking rules
and carve this priceless proverb just for you:
a satellite in orbit is sublime,
but falling to the ground disintegrates.
The stars and planets spin in rhythmic time – 
from order they can never deviate.
If telescopes don’t help the blind to see,
then I must lead this city from the dark
and desperate days. They feebly follow me
like beasts of every kind into my ark.
But only one remains in Herald Square:
a poet which no diamond can compare.

2

She writes her poems in pencil, sharply pressed –
each word a silent poison on her lips.
A selfish swipe – her sorrow – won’t divest –
that carbon chisel from her fingertips;
and when she writes of Armageddon’s breath,
it whispers, hanging low in hopeless air,
where cigarettes, extinguished, promise death
for bodies that, not broken, self-repair.
The waves of warmth exhaust from dirty throats
with gaseous glow of neon embers, bright.
As fatal floods ascend the poet quotes
a fool who gently slid into the night.
Her final song was written with a pen
and she apologized for dying then. 

3

Though crystal waters had receded fast,
they couldn’t clean the stains of mortal sin.
An asterisk was set, the die was cast:
a line between – a curtain closing spin.
The body reached a point of full decay
and quickly passed on through a cloudless sky,
while I, with heavy heart, had run away
and begged her God above to let me die.
But life, he said, was worth the pain of loss,
and I, he said, had best accept the fall.
In time his wisdom grew on me like moss
and plainly showed his writing on her wall.
Formaldehyde will not preserve for long –
With me, the stars will always sing her song – 


Pick on everything you can. Continuity, word choice, punctuation, whatever you like. Title suggestions welcomed. Anything and everything. Please.

If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room.

"Or, if a poet writes a poem, then immediately commits suicide (as any decent poet should)..." -- Erthona
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#2
Thanks for sharing this - a good read.  General comments at the end, line-by-line for specifics, mild critique.

(08-25-2016, 12:21 PM)UselessBlueprint Wrote:  1

The empty roads are black with bloody pools  nice alliteration - might try an unusual verb in place of "are"
of prophets killed for spreading different views.  minor meter problem if "different" read with 3 syllables.  Use a different (g) word?
I cut their corpses, cold, for breaking rules  inversion (of "I cut their cold corpses") but removing the commas gives a variant of "cut [them] dead" - just a thought
and carve this priceless proverb just for you:  "just for you" somewhat cliche - try for more unusual with same rhyme?
a satellite in orbit is sublime,  could capitalize "A" to stress that it's start of the quoted inscription.  No comma needed.
but falling to the ground disintegrates.
The stars and planets spin in rhythmic time – 
from order they can never deviate.  inversion (of "they can never deviate from order").  One solution might be to move the dash from previous line to before "they" and reword "from order" so it fits.
If telescopes don’t help the blind to see,  is this comma necessary?  Also, might consider "can't" not "don't."  And... we're no longer in the inscription, are we?  (See at end.)
then I must lead this city from the dark  perhaps "its" for "the" - more specific
and desperate days. They feebly follow me
like beasts of every kind into my ark.
But only one remains in Herald Square:
a poet which no diamond can compare.  Need to free up a syllable here to allow "a X with whom no diamond..."  "Skald" comes to mind, but is foreign/antiqurian.  Or go metaphoric, "gem" or "pearl."

2

She writes her poems in pencil, sharply pressed –
each word a silent poison on her lips.  This is very good.
A selfish swipe – her sorrow – won’t divest –  don't like "divest" here; could change both it and "pressed" in your search.
that carbon chisel from her fingertips;  "graphite" for "carbon" - just a thought.
and when she writes of Armageddon’s breath,  since you're about to describe it, "while" for "when?"  Also, no comma needed.
it whispers, hanging low in hopeless air,  no comma needed at end of line
where cigarettes, extinguished, promise death  sounds well but slightly illogical - something more like "where cigarette butts smolder, pressage death" or the like.
for bodies that, not broken, self-repair.  I get the thought, but needs a subjunctive "if only they hadn't been broken [by smoking]."  Difficult.
The waves of warmth exhaust from dirty throats  Word choice - "But" for "the," "sooty" for "dirty" for example.
with gaseous glow of neon embers, bright.  Beautiful line, might do without the comma.
As fatal floods ascend the poet quotes  "fatal floods ascend" is lovely
a fool who gently slid into the night.  "gently slid" is nice, but "into" breaks the meter.  "[S]lid home into night?"
Her final song was written with a pen
and she apologized for dying then.   Really wanted to hear something about the pen here.  It wasn't her usual pencil, but how did that kill her?

3

Though crystal waters had receded fast,
they couldn’t clean the stains of mortal sin.  "Cleanse" perhaps?  Need a word that says "erase."
An asterisk was set, the die was cast:  Caesar cliche, the baseball asterisk much better
a line between – a curtain closing spin.  comma for dash, then hyphenate "curtain-closing?"
The body reached a point of full decay "its" for "a?"
and quickly passed on through a cloudless sky, is this comma needed?
while I, with heavy heart, had run away  perhaps vary the cliche - "while, dragging heavy heart, I ran away?"  (Pardon the rewrite)
and begged her God above to let me die.  "God above" - forgiveable cliche.
But life, he said, was worth the pain of loss,  for a bit of class, capitalize pronouns referring to a monotheistic deity - "life, He said"
and I, he said, had best accept the fall.  could capitalize "he" and even - to take it a step further - "[F]all"
In time his wisdom grew on me like moss  could capitalize "[H]is" in this line and the next.
and plainly showed his writing on her wall.  nice variation of the cliche "[hand] writing on the wall"
Formaldehyde will not preserve for long –
With me, the stars will always sing her song – Just a period, I think, though your dash is better than the three-eyed ellipsis.



Pick on everything you can. Continuity, word choice, punctuation, whatever you like. Title suggestions welcomed. Anything and everything. Please.


More general notes:  In Stanza 1, there's an unmarked shift from the inscription to a soliloquy (speaker as Noah) the speaker would *not* want carved in stone.  Could the inscription be italicized or even placed in double quotes?

Going through line-by-line, I fear I've overdone for mild - please take even the most hortatory above as gentle suggestions.

The triple sonnet is intriquing and mostly well done; the closing couplets of sonnets 2 and 3 could use work.  Likewise use of the inversion:  push on the line a little harder and it's almost always possible to use conversational word order.

An engaging triptych - hope to see more of it.
feedback award Non-practicing atheist
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#3
Draft #2 has been posted, taking several of dukealien's suggestions (though not all). Notes below.

S1
* The first four lines have gone through serious revision, and still feel incomplete.
* Minor adjustments to the last six lines, formatting adjusted for syllable count.

S2
* Punctuation lightly adjusted, dirty throats -> swollen throats
* Still trying to alter S2 L12 "a fool who gently slid into the night" (a shameful way to quote, I feel)

S3
* Major changes to much of S3. Word choice adjusted, and many lines altered severely or entirely. This was originally the stanza I rushed the most, hence the cliches in draft #1. I spent a long time writing these three, by the time I reached the third, I just wanted to get it posted to get some feedback.

Overall, I feel it's slowly shaping into the piece it's supposed to be. I'm still unsure of S1 L2-4, S2 L12, and S3 L14 in particular.
If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room.

"Or, if a poet writes a poem, then immediately commits suicide (as any decent poet should)..." -- Erthona
Reply
#4
(09-10-2016, 01:40 PM)UselessBlueprint Wrote:  Draft #2 has been posted, taking several of dukealien's suggestions (though not all). Notes below.

S1
* The first four lines have gone through serious revision, and still feel incomplete.
* Minor adjustments to the last six lines, formatting adjusted for syllable count.

S2
* Punctuation lightly adjusted, dirty throats -> swollen throats
* Still trying to alter S2 L12 "a fool who gently slid into the night" (a shameful way to quote, I feel)

S3
* Major changes to much of S3. Word choice adjusted, and many lines altered severely or entirely. This was originally the stanza I rushed the most, hence the cliches in draft #1. I spent a long time writing these three, by the time I reached the third, I just wanted to get it posted to get some feedback.

Overall, I feel it's slowly shaping into the piece it's supposed to be. I'm still unsure of S1 L2-4, S2 L12, and S3 L14 in particular.

You deleted the first draft when you should have left it there, and posted the edit above it. That's so readers can follow the revisions.

You may not have noticed how that works, in the other threads.
Reply
#5
Check the spoiler
If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room.

"Or, if a poet writes a poem, then immediately commits suicide (as any decent poet should)..." -- Erthona
Reply
#6
[quote='UselessBlueprint' pid='216191' dateline='1473485352']
Check the spoiler
[/quoteHysterical

 Hysterical Hysterical Hysterical
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#7
I was hoping to avoid clutter. I figured it would be easy enough to spot. I'll adjust that in a moment.
If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room.

"Or, if a poet writes a poem, then immediately commits suicide (as any decent poet should)..." -- Erthona
Reply
#8
(09-10-2016, 02:37 PM)UselessBlueprint Wrote:  I was hoping to avoid clutter. I figured it would be easy enough to spot. I'll adjust that in a moment.

I suppose it does avoid clutter, if that matters to you. But when you start talking about changes you've made to particular lines I want to be able to look at them, and compare the two (or more) versions, easily. Probably only because that's the way they do it here.

Signed: One disgruntled banana. Hysterical
Reply
#9
You're being cautious with your edits, which is fine.

Without meaning to repeat previous advice, you seem to have some difficulty with last lines (second line of the couplet in each sonnet/stanza).  In S3, it appears to be missing a foot, for example.  Old programmer trick:  the problem is often not in the line where it shows up.  In other words, to add interest to the last line of S2 (for example), look at the line before it with an eye to moving some of the action/drama to the last line.  Writing the second line first is not out of the question, or trying out a new end-rhyme.

To the mods:  Wish there were some way to create a more general-purpose "hidden" button, i.e. one you could label "Click here for Previous Versions" instead of having it automatically titled "Spoiler."  Hiding versions is terrific for relatively long poems, but having to re-purpose the "Spoiler" button in surrounding text every time is distracting.  If there is already a way to do that, please consider this a request for enlightenment. Huh -- good suggestion, we'll look into this for you/ admin  - thanks!/da
feedback award Non-practicing atheist
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#10
Very cautious at the moment. I'm trying to maintain its dual subjects each time I change a word, without adding anything unnecessary. The missing foot in the very final is actually a typo. "as a vict'ry song" is how it should appear. I will adjust this soon.
If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room.

"Or, if a poet writes a poem, then immediately commits suicide (as any decent poet should)..." -- Erthona
Reply
#11
Been a couple years, but managed to get to editing a bit. Here's a third version. If any mods wouldn't mind promoting this thread to intensive, I'd appreciate it.
If you're the smartest person in the room, you're in the wrong room.

"Or, if a poet writes a poem, then immediately commits suicide (as any decent poet should)..." -- Erthona
Reply
#12
(03-14-2019, 10:54 PM)UselessBlueprint Wrote:  If any mods wouldn't mind promoting this thread to intensive, I'd appreciate it.

It has been moved.  Thumbsup
The Soufflé isn’t the soufflé; the soufflé is the recipe. --Clara 
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