Blue Lights (Edit #2)
#1
We daily walk the same streets,
but today, where I always turn right,
the pup pulls left.

We stroll past the spot
where they found Carlos last night,
curled up like a baby -- bloody,
but held together; his young, broken mind
at peace beneath a blue light.

Four years ago, when Paul’s family
became ashes in hand
and his body betrayed him,
he staggered to the other side
of the platforms
where the cleaners power-washed his parts away.
But I wonder if some piece of him
still remains there
in the air
or between the stones.

My dog sniffs the rails and ballast,
then lifts his leg to piss
on the ground.



Edit #2
I walk my dog along these same streets every day.
But today, where I always turn right,
I veer left.

We stroll past the spot
where they found Carlos last night,
bloody, but held together --
curled up like a baby --
like the child he was.

When Paul’s family became ashes
and his body betrayed him,
he walked to the other side of the station
and the cleaners power-washed his parts away.
But I wonder if some piece of him
still remains there
in the air
or between the stones.

My dog sniffs the rails and ballast,
then lifts his leg to piss
on the ground.

Original
I walk my dog along these same streets every day.
But today, where I always turn right,
I veer left.

We stroll past the spot
where they found Carlos last night,
bloody, but held together and
curled up like a baby.
Four years ago, a thousand feet north,
Paul’s body broke apart
and they washed it away.
But I wonder if some part of him
still remains there
in the air
or between the stones.

My dog sniffs the rails and ballast,
then lifts his leg to piss
on the ground.

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
(05-13-2019, 01:30 PM)UselessBlueprint Wrote:  I walk my dog along these same streets every day.
But today, where I always turn right,
I veer left. Nice, suggests to me the dog is pulling him toward the spot.

We stroll past the spot
where they found Carlos last night,
bloody, but held together and could "and" be cut?
curled up like a baby. so far we don't know what's doing the damage, good suspense
Four years ago, a thousand feet north,
Paul’s body broke apart
and they washed it away. okay, so probably not narcos killing them
But I wonder if some part of him slightly wicked - maybe change to avoid thoughts of "they missed a toe"
still remains there
in the air
or between the stones.

My dog sniffs the rails and ballast, cut "the" for flow?
then lifts his leg to piss
on the ground. or "where he lay," but existing line also has its points - switch to impersonal

Railroads are dangerous, especially if used other than as designed (hopping cars, sleeping in the yards).  Took me until the last stanza to get the whole scene ("Where's the rest of me/him?") but it works as a gradual reveal.

The thing that doesn't quite fit together, to me, is the viewpoint/narrator knowing the two casualties' names - presumably transients rather than local homeless? - but himself being a resident there and therefore unlikely to know them.  If he's part of the homeless community or a transient himself, it's unlikely he'd have a dog, I'm thinking.

These logical quibbles aside, I'm wondering if, given Carlos, Paul might be Pablo and yards could be meters.  Or Carlos could be Charlie... as it is, to an Anglo reader, shifting from Carlos to Paul/yards makes it more immediate, as if it was turning from partial to full/thought translation.  Which works rather well, if that's what you intended.

Title:  I see the blue lights as flashers on the railroad police/local police/ambulance, but not until the whole picture comes together at the end.  Could that be tied in somewhere, near "they found?"

What I expected at the end was one of those roadside crosses (for Paul, at least) - the dog marking the spot is an effective turn.

As noted, it's effective, might be made more visual toward the beginning, tied into the title. Quite good, catchy theme.
feedback award Non-practicing atheist
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#3
Thanks for the read, Duke. I'll look at trimming those little words out, but I definitely want to keep thoughts of "they missed a toe" because those are half of the thoughts surrounding the line. I didn't have the same gradual reveal as I do, but I wound up removing the line which only served as a reveal and nothing more.

From your logical quibbles, I see I'm missing some key information here, because Carlos and Paul are not transients or local homeless. The characters are real people from my neighbourhood who walked in front of trains at the station by my house, which is usually the route for local dog walkers.

As far as the title goes -- they've started installing these blue lights on many of the troublesome stations. According to the employees, they're anti-suicide lights. I guess the signs and hotlines weren't enough.
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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#4
(05-13-2019, 01:30 PM)UselessBlueprint Wrote:  I walk my dog along these same streets every day.
But today, where I always turn right,
I veer left.

We stroll past the spot
where they found Carlos last night,
bloody, but held together --
curled up like a baby --
like the child he was.

When Paul’s family became ashes the changes here support your narrative, including the "station" reveal, and by making it apparent that the narrator knew Paul, or knew of him
and his body betrayed him,
he walked to the other side of the station
and the cleaners power-washed his parts away. just a thought - "where" instead of "and" here?
But I wonder if some piece of him good solution to the juggling act of "pieces," "parts," and "apart" without repeating or near-rhyming
still remains there
in the air
or between the stones.

My dog sniffs the rails and ballast,
then lifts his leg to piss
on the ground.



I walk my dog along these same streets every day.
But today, where I always turn right,
I veer left.

We stroll past the spot
where they found Carlos last night,
bloody, but held together and
curled up like a baby.
Four years ago, a thousand feet north,
Paul’s body broke apart
and they washed it away.
But I wonder if some part of him
still remains there
in the air
or between the stones.

My dog sniffs the rails and ballast,
then lifts his leg to piss
on the ground.


Good edit. I can now see "blue" in the title as a mood suggestion, though I still don't find the connection with those warning lights because I didn't know about them.  Is there any way to connect them to the body of the poem - "where there are now blue lights," but more elegantly? (other side of the station) shadowed by blue lights?

Sorry for the delay in responding to your edit - hoped someone else would also join in.  It's a striking concept.
feedback award Non-practicing atheist
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#5
.
Hi UB,
intriguing read. Like the tone, but even with the changes,
were it not for your explanation, I'd think the blue lights
were those of emergency vehicles.

Just a thought on enjambments for S1,
I walk my dog along these same streets
every day. But today
where I always turn right,
we veer left.
and perhaps change the last 'I 'to 'we', then
return to 'I' in S2?

Is there a better way to say Carlos was young
than 'like the child he was'? It seems a little
heavy handed.

Agree with duke about the 'and' S3/L4.
But I wonder if some piece of him
remains. Between the stones
or in the air ?
Does the 'other side' mean of the tracks?
Or is it the 'other/far end' ?

'When Paul's family became ashes'
this also seems a little heavy, not in the
'conversational' tone as the rest of the piece.
Maybe
After Paul cremated his family,
after his body betrayed him,
after everything, he walked ... ?

Think you could trim the final verse a bit:
My dog sniffs the rails, the ballast,
lifts his leg to piss.
(unless the dog could be pissing on either
the 'signs or hotlines' you mentioned).
Alternatively it could be pissing on the 'wet ground'.


Best, Knot.


.
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#6
I like the poem's understated tone. The ending is sudden and contrasts well with the penultimate strophe. I also like (although I got this only from Duke's post) the suggestion that the dog pulled you left.
The only unnecessary part I found was S3L1, Paul's family. I think it works as well if Paul's body betrayed him etc. Given all the talk of death, Paul's family becoming ashes suggests initially that they died, but on further reading it seems more likely that they became 'ashen' with grief. At any rate, I don't think you need this complication in the strophe.
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#7
Taking all into consideration here, I have a few questions.
Would the poem benefit from a fairly straight and blunt sentence about what the blue lights are? It seems too unconnected to simply say "They've installed blue lights to keep more jumpers away."

Regarding busker's reply: which part is suggesting to you that Paul's family is alive and grieving? It's certainly not want I intended. Would it be clearer and justifiable to say "When Paul buried his family" instead? Or more bluntly, "When Paul's family had died"? I think his motivation for suicide matters, especially since it was known in that case, so I don't want to remove it.

Regarding Knot's reply: I'm also not too fond of my delivery for Carlos being young. The kid was in his mid-teens, and I feel that the current delivery undermines his actions. Not that I want to elevate his decision at all, but his precise motivation was unknown -- or undisclosed -- so I don't want to blindly dismiss it as a juvenile mistake. I'd also like to draw a little more on the idea that he may have survived the initial impact, at least enough to maintain the motor function to curl into a fetal position. If you have any ideas on that, I'd love to hear them. Yeah, it is heavy. (Side note: "other side of the station" means, as it says, of the station. That said, I hope you also think of the proverbial "other side")
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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#8
.
Hi UB.


I think if you cut the 'like a child line', so the verse ends with 'curled up ... '
that would sufficiently emphasise the 'survived the initial impact ... ' element.
Then insert a line between the current L2 and L3 regarding action/motivation.
Are you certain it was deliberate (or that it has to be for the purpose of the
poem)? Based on what you've said, would something like
We stroll past the spot
where they found Carlos last night,
fifteen, too soon to know more than he was,
bloody, but held together --
curled up like a baby.
work?

Yes, I got the proverbial element. However, the "other side of the station" is a
relative description, and I have no idea which 'side of the station' the 'other' might
be referring to. There's no fixed (view) point. You could argue it's the 'other side'
from where N is, but as I don't know were N is it doesn't really help (or why it
matters). Maybe you might to reconsider Four years earlier, a thousand feet north,
(though it's a little cumbersome).

Could you expand the title, slightly to something like
Blue Lights and Hotlines/Warning Signs ?

Best, Knot.


.
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#9
Hey UselessBlueprint,
I like what you're going for here, but I do have some suggestions. I'll go into more detail below:

(05-13-2019, 01:30 PM)UselessBlueprint Wrote:  I walk my dog along these same streets every day.
But today, where I always turn right, -Why not "we" instead of "I"? I feel like the dog has a significant role here.
I veer left. -Why not "he veers me left"? It would  give greater emphasis to how the dog is pulling the speaker towards remembering what happened.

We stroll past the spot
where they found Carlos last night, -My biggest issue is why did Carlos do it? If it was sudden and no one knows why, then that needs to be included some how. I almost want you to get in his head to explain it, which could be scary, but a worthwhile exercise as a poet. 
bloody, but held together --
curled up like a baby --
like the child he was. -I know others have mentioned reworking this line, so maybe combine the last two lines into "curled up like the child he was."?

When Paul’s family became ashes
and his body betrayed him,
he walked to the other side of the station -I agree with what Knot said about this image. However, I wonder if you should consider using "The other side of the station" as the title, if you explain what that means more inside the poem? The other thing to consider is that where I live railway trains have red caution lights by the tracks, so I didn't get your title right away.
and the cleaners power-washed his parts away.
But I wonder if some piece of him
still remains there
in the air
or between the stones. -I quite like the last four lines here. This is a morbid, but quite natural thought someone would have in this situation.

My dog sniffs the rails and ballast,
then lifts his leg to piss
on the ground. -I understand wanting to return to the dog image to give the poem a sense of going full circle. However, I wonder if you would consider grouping the dog stanzas together and ending on one of the suicides? It's entirely up to you, but I think it's worth thinking about.



I walk my dog along these same streets every day.
But today, where I always turn right,
I veer left.

We stroll past the spot
where they found Carlos last night,
bloody, but held together and
curled up like a baby.
Four years ago, a thousand feet north,
Paul’s body broke apart
and they washed it away.
But I wonder if some part of him
still remains there
in the air
or between the stones.

My dog sniffs the rails and ballast,
then lifts his leg to piss
on the ground.


I like what I'm seeing here and look forward to seeing where you take this piece from here.

Thanks for the read,
Richard
Time is the best editor.
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#10
hi blue, i'll just give feedback on the edit; the opening line feels a bit extended, can it be said in a shorter sentence? a suggestion would be something along the line of [me and dog do the same streets daily] it also gets rid of one of the three I's in the first stanza.

(05-13-2019, 01:30 PM)UselessBlueprint Wrote:  I walk my dog along these same streets every day.
But today, where I always turn right,
I veer left. is it the dog or you. if you then yes, if the dog then i'd go with tug or pull or something else.

We stroll past the spot
where they found Carlos last night,
bloody, but held together --
curled up like a baby -- maybe a semi colon instead f a second em dash
like the child he was.

When Paul’s family became ashes could do with an intro.
and his body betrayed him,
he walked to the other side of the station
and the cleaners power-washed his parts away.
But I wonder if some piece of him
still remains there
in the air
or between the stones. i like the inward look at this as i read it

My dog sniffs the rails and ballast,
then lifts his leg to piss
on the ground. a solid earthy end. the dog doesn't give a toss.



I walk my dog along these same streets every day.
But today, where I always turn right,
I veer left.

We stroll past the spot
where they found Carlos last night,
bloody, but held together and
curled up like a baby.
Four years ago, a thousand feet north,
Paul’s body broke apart
and they washed it away.
But I wonder if some part of him
still remains there
in the air
or between the stones.

My dog sniffs the rails and ballast,
then lifts his leg to piss
on the ground.

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#11
Thanks all for the input here. Lot's of good thoughts to consider, and good diversity in opinions and areas covered.
I've got edit #2 going up with some subtle and some not-so-subtle changes. I'm still struggling with some points I want to include and words I want to trim, but managing both without losing some elements will be tough. I expect at least another edit at some point.

No title change as of now, but under consideration.
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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