A Poem About A Canal
#1
A Poem About A Canal 


She spiralled—almost shatterproof—
a victim, a stray country,
like limbs at war.
She tortured and corrupted 
and turned my bicycle into a language
that spoke to me and said:

This is your idiot culture,
this shiny system,
this laugh riot.
These fractures and cracks and breaks 
are your real bones.
This acrobat is your real flesh.
You're a railway
and, despite your inhibitions, 
you have set yourself on fire
so that everyone can see
exactly what you are 
and what you fail to be.

We listened, 
ran off, hid, and spat
some garbled platitudes 
on a dustbin lid.
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#2
(09-22-2017, 12:24 PM)shemthepenman Wrote:  A Poem About A Canal 


She spiralled—almost shatterproof—
a victim, a stray country,
like limbs at war.
She tortured and corrupted 
and turned my bicycle into a language
that spoke to me and said:

This is your idiot culture,
this shiny system,
this laugh riot.
These fractures and cracks and breaks 
are your real bones.
This acrobat is your real flesh.
You're a railway
and, despite your inhibitions, 
you have set yourself on fire
so that everyone can see
exactly what you are 
and what you fail to be.

We listened, 
ran off, hid, and spat
some garbled platitudes 
on a dustbin lid.

Hello, Shem,

So this poem is a bit difficult to untangle.  It sort of makes one feel like they are speaking to the Caterpillar from Alice in Wonderland, like it all really does mean something, but the actual meaning is layered under so much metaphor it is hard to find.  I do not think I have fully comprehended all the layers, but I would like to attempt to untangle what bits I can.  Smile

So for a long time I couldn't decide if the Canal was a metaphor for something else, or if it was a poem about a literal canal.   But going with the idea that it really is actually a canal, I see something like -- a person on a bicycle somehow falls into the canal, and this is the chaos thoughts of panic, and "OMG I'm going to die!!!" and life flashing before one's eyes that a person experiences in a moment of crisis where one is forced to confront their own mortality.    

Assuming that the "She" in the first stanza is the canal, it was confusing to me me that she is the one spiraling and not the "me" of the narrator.  However, eventually I realized that to a falling person it does look like the ground is the one doing the moving.  Somehow from a first person perspective it does look like it is the earth rising.  I don't understand the "victim,"  but I love the "limbs at war."  

I also love "turned my bicycle into a language that spoke to me."  It is my favorite line in the poem.  Though once again this took me a while to understand that it wasn't Literally a talking bicycle.  (I read too many fairy tales, an actual talking bicycle I accept without a second thought, so it simply didn't occur to me at first that perhaps it was metaphor.)  But again, in the scenario where this is about a person falling, the bicycle becomes the catalyst for the brush with death, and hence the thoughts on mortality, and hence, the bicycle is responsible for the thoughts so the bicycle "spoke."  ... yes?  maybe?  :Smile

I do not understand who the "we" is in the third stanza.  Is that the narrator and the bicycle?  

I do not claim to completely understand everything that is going on here.  But I wanted to take a stab at it and also say that even on the first read when every word was a mystery wrapped in a riddle, I still love the spinning sound of it and the mental images it conjures up.  

Anyway, Lovely poem.  I have enjoyed the tightly wrapped mystery of it, as it allows for new understanding with each reading.   Big Grin
The Soufflé isn’t the soufflé; the soufflé is the recipe. --Clara 
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#3
(09-22-2017, 12:24 PM)shemthepenman Wrote:  A Poem About A Canal 


She spiralled—almost shatterproof—
a victim, a stray country,
like limbs at war.
She tortured and corrupted 
and turned my bicycle into a language
that spoke to me and said:

This is your idiot culture,
this shiny system,
this laugh riot.
These fractures and cracks and breaks 
are your real bones.
This acrobat is your real flesh.
You're a railway
and, despite your inhibitions, 
you have set yourself on fire
so that everyone can see
exactly what you are 
and what you fail to be.

We listened, 
ran off, hid, and spat
some garbled platitudes 
on a dustbin lid.


wanted to comment on this poem before but didn´t quite dare.. and now it´s here again. so i ll get over my inhibitions and give it a try, too.


i like this poem, it has a lot of brilliant lines (like "laugh riot") and images (like the railway, that set itself on fire)
 and as all good poems it might mean something different to every reader.

limbs at war could be understood in  a schizophrenic way, so the subject really talks to himself.
"we" in the last stanza could be another part of the subject.

but "bicycle" seems to be "poems" and the middle stanza would be what the poems say .. so there is some interaction with others involved.

or i could read this as adressed to someone like a stray country, who preaches frustrated/ frustrating views and inadvertently or not victimizes, which could be understood as torturing and corrupting ( i don´t know exactly how that connects but i think it does).

the second stanza seems to be split in two parts with the first being what "she" ´s cursing as she falls, and the part following "you´re a railway" would seem to adress "her" directly.
"railway" puzzled me first but  it is a good opposition to "bicycle", because the latter, at least as long as in control, can be steered in any direction freely.  

the canal  with its dumped poems and floating language seems to be flowing  through the last stanza again   somewhere in the background




and now that i have spread my delusional interpretation you post your meaning at the same time. this is hilarious

...
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#4
(11-09-2017, 06:24 AM)vagabond Wrote:  
(09-22-2017, 12:24 PM)shemthepenman Wrote:  A Poem About A Canal 


She spiralled—almost shatterproof—
a victim, a stray country,
like limbs at war.
She tortured and corrupted 
and turned my bicycle into a language
that spoke to me and said:

This is your idiot culture,
this shiny system,
this laugh riot.
These fractures and cracks and breaks 
are your real bones.
This acrobat is your real flesh.
You're a railway
and, despite your inhibitions, 
you have set yourself on fire
so that everyone can see
exactly what you are 
and what you fail to be.

We listened, 
ran off, hid, and spat
some garbled platitudes 
on a dustbin lid.


wanted to comment on this poem before but didn´t quite dare.. and now it´s here again. so i ll get over my inhibitions and give it a try, too.


i like this poem, it has a lot of brilliant lines (like "laugh riot") and images (like the railway, that set itself on fire)
 and as all good poems it might mean something different to every reader.

limbs at war could be understood in  a schizophrenic way, so the subject really talks to himself.
"we" in the last stanza could be another part of the subject.

but "bicycle" seems to be "poems" and the middle stanza would be what the poems say .. so there is some interaction with others involved.

or i could read this as adressed to someone like a stray country, who preaches frustrated/ frustrating views and inadvertently or not victimizes, which could be understood as torturing and corrupting ( i don´t know exactly how that connects but i think it does).

the second stanza seems to be split in two parts with the first being what "she" ´s cursing as she falls, and the part following "you´re a railway" would seem to adress "her" directly.
"railway" puzzled me first but  it is a good opposition to "bicycle", because the latter, at least as long as in control, can be steered in any direction freely.  

the canal  with its dumped poems and floating language seems to be flowing  through the last stanza again   somewhere in the background




and now that i have spread my delusional interpretation you post your meaning at the same time. this is hilarious


yes, that was uncanny. i deleted my comment. because it makes no sense for me to write a poem that intends to elicit multiple interpretations and then go “this is what it means”. my meaning was always meant to be fluid. and although i did have a scene in my mind while writing it, i’m not married to it at all. 

i like your interpretation very much. and i don’t think it necessarily contradicts anything i said about the poem in my deleted comment. 

i’m glad you liked it.
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#5
I love this poem. The first read through, even though it absolutely had nothing
to do with the poem at all made me think of my recent wipe out when I tried to
take a hill. Then reading it over and over I loved it more and more. It's a poem
about two-sided unconditional love, ultimately. I'm tearing up.


A Poem About A Canal                         admittedly, the title was edgy and troubled me


She spiralled—almost shatterproof—
a victim, a stray country,
like limbs at war.
She tortured and corrupted 
and turned my bicycle into a language
that spoke to me and said:

This is your idiot culture,
this shiny system,
this laugh riot.                              what a brilliant phrase
These fractures and cracks and breaks      
are your real bones.                          heart of hearts of the matter
This acrobat is your real flesh.
You're a railway
and, despite your inhibitions, 
you have set yourself on fire
so that everyone can see
exactly what you are 
and what you fail to be.                       seemed a bit hard

We listened, 
ran off, hid, and spat
some garbled platitudes 
on a dustbin lid.                              best stanza I've read in a poem in forever.
                                                                                             

thanks shem

-nibbed
there's always a better reason to love
Reply
#6
(11-09-2017, 11:24 AM)nibbed Wrote:  I love this poem. The first read through, even though it absolutely had nothing
to do with the poem at all made me think of my recent wipe out when I tried to
take a hill. Then reading it over and over I loved it more and more. It's a poem
about two-sided unconditional love, ultimately. I'm tearing up.


A Poem About A Canal                         admittedly, the title was edgy and troubled me


She spiralled—almost shatterproof—
a victim, a stray country,
like limbs at war.
She tortured and corrupted 
and turned my bicycle into a language
that spoke to me and said:

This is your idiot culture,
this shiny system,
this laugh riot.                              what a brilliant phrase
These fractures and cracks and breaks      
are your real bones.                          heart of hearts of the matter
This acrobat is your real flesh.
You're a railway
and, despite your inhibitions, 
you have set yourself on fire
so that everyone can see
exactly what you are 
and what you fail to be.                       seemed a bit hard

We listened, 
ran off, hid, and spat
some garbled platitudes 
on a dustbin lid.                              best stanza I've read in a poem in forever.
                                                                                             

thanks shem

-nibbed

that’s nice. i’m glad you liked it.
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#7
I have read the poem several times. It seems like a pleasant read and it is almost profound. I can't make a lot of sense (shocking, i know) out of

"this shiny system"

No matter what scenario i use to assume meaning to the poem, i can't make this line work in any of them.


I really like the second half of the second stanza.

It just doesn't feel like a poem about a person or a canal. There is a lot of imagery: canals, railways, dustbins, shiny systems, culture. Infrastructure.
Quote:These words are ... a mirror reflecting in a mirror of a lie

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#8
(11-09-2017, 01:48 PM)QDeathstar Wrote:  I have read the poem several times. It seems like a pleasant read and it is almost profound. I can't make a lot of sense (shocking, i know) out of

"this shiny system"

No matter what scenario i use to assume meaning to the poem, i can't make this line work in any of them.


I really like the second half of the second stanza.

It just doesn't feel like a poem about a person or a canal. There is a lot of imagery: canals, railways, dustbins, shiny systems, culture. Infrastructure.



Hi, QDeathstar
I was thinking shiny reflected perfection, almost sarcastically
or perhaps it could even fit the quality of anonymity (a play-on words, shyness = shiny)
just a few thoughts


-nibbed
there's always a better reason to love
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#9
(09-22-2017, 12:24 PM)shemthepenman Wrote:  A Poem About A Canal 


She spiralled—almost shatterproof—
a victim, a stray country,
like limbs at war.
She tortured and corrupted 
and turned my bicycle into a language
that spoke to me and said:

This is your idiot culture,
this shiny system,
this laugh riot.
These fractures and cracks and breaks 
are your real bones.
This acrobat is your real flesh.
You're a railway
and, despite your inhibitions, 
you have set yourself on fire
so that everyone can see
exactly what you are 
and what you fail to be.

We listened, 
ran off, hid, and spat
some garbled platitudes 
on a dustbin lid.

Sad. First, it begins "she" but this she just hangs there, no ref to anything. Is the poet a stray country? Another victim of imagination? Despite these questions I read through to the end where I found the poem describing itself succinctly:

"and spat
some garbled platitudes
on a dustbin lid"

The non-referencing "She" at the very beginning marked a downward spiral that the poem could not pull out of. The bicycle turned into language is a novel even exciting idea that never got off the ground and, worse, it's first destination head-on splat is "idiot culture" -

The writer stepped on himself right out the gate and the result is best expressed by the poem itself:
"you have set yourself on fire
so that everyone can see
exactly what you are
and what you fail to be"
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