Comparing - edit
#1
Comparing


When I was soldiering, commanders said,
“Never compare your paycheck with the guy
who’s sitting next to you.” They meant he might
have less deducted, alimony, tax,
more time in grade, years prior service, or
incentive pay for special skills he’d learned.
Since inequality seeds envy, they,
with discipline and unity in mind,
suggested we stay ignorant and blind.

That’s long ago, but once you set aside
Command’s self-serving motives, there remains
a core of wisdom in that sage advice
because no-one gets just what he deserves–
not sunny days or friendship, joy or fame,
not suffering, dismissal, pain, or grief
get added up by some celestial clerk;
our acts don’t spin a giant cosmic wheel
that brings around comeuppance or reward.

So as you stand beside my bier don’t try
comparing all you have with what I got.
Our pay stubs will be equal when we’re done:
for item, “Lives,” our numbers will be “one.”


When I was soldiering they used to say,
“Never compare your paycheck with the guy
next to you.” What they meant was that he might
have less deducted, taxes, sort of thing,
more time in grade, years prior service, or
incentive pay for hazardous pursuits.
Since inequality seeds envy, they,
with discipline and unity in mind,
suggested we stay ignorant and blind.

That’s long ago, now, but to set aside
Command’s self-serving motives, there remains
a core of wisdom in their cold advice
because nobody gets what he deserves–
not length of days, nor friendship, joy, or fame,
not suffering, ignominy, and grief
are toted up by some celestial clerk;
nor do our deeds impel a cosmic wheel
that brings around comeuppance or reward.

So as you stand beside my bier don’t try
comparing all I got with what you have.
Our pay stubs will be equal when we’re done:
for item, “Lives,” the number’s always “one.”


Subtitle "Contra Karma" considered, but unnecessary?  "Crying Over My Bier," on the other hand, didn't seem properly Kippled.
feedback award Non-practicing atheist
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#2
Overall I think this just needs some judicious paring. It has a certain voice, and it's maintained, but I think it slows down the read a bit. Not sure about the title, but not sure I have any better suggestions. Equality? Comparisons? I'm not sure the explanation in the final line is necessary.

When I was soldiering they used to say, Maybe something more specific than 'they'. Sergeants?
“Never compare your paycheck with the guy
next to you.” What they meant was that he might
have less deducted, taxes, sort of thing, [b']fewer deductions' has a better rhythm, but might not fit he voice[/b]
more time in grade, years prior service, or
incentive pay for hazardous pursuits.
Since inequality seeds envy, they, like the line
with discipline and unity in mind,
suggested we stay ignorant and blind. remain rather than stay? Same thought as above

That’s long ago, now, but to set aside 'now' confuses the meaning a bit for me. 'That was then, but now to set aside'
Command’s self-serving motives, there remains
a core of wisdom in their cold advice
because nobody gets what he deserves– how about one rarely gets what he deserves? Sometimes they do...
not length of days, nor friendship, joy, or fame,
not suffering, ignominy, and grief
are toted up by some celestial clerk; Something about the construction of this line seems wrong[/s]
nor do our deeds impel a cosmic wheel
that brings around comeuppance or reward. [b] like the use of comeuppance


So as you stand beside my bier don’t try
comparing all I got with what you have.
Our pay stubs will be equal when we’re done:
for item, “Lives,” the number’s always “one.” OK - on the fence about needing this line
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#3
.
Hi duke,
considering the title took me straight to 'invidious comparison',
so ...maybe 'Envy' ... Or 'Choose you Battles'?

'Less deducted' might be saved with a different enjambment.


When I was soldiering they used to say,
- agree with Seraphim about 'they'. Alternatively,
.....................................we'd be told,
"Don't compare ..." '?
Never compare your paycheck
with the guy standing next to you.”
What they meant was he might have less
deducted, taxes, sort of thing
- Not sure' sort of thing' adds anything. Maybe 'no dependents'?
Have you seen this the Army.pdf  ?
https://www.dfas.mil/militarymembers/pay...utpay.html
deducted, fewer dependents, allotments,
or more time in grade, been serving longer
more time in grade, years prior service, or
- wouldn't all the years be 'prior'?
incentive pay for hazardous pursuits.
- not buying 'pursuits'. Too flip. 'Duty'?
(Is 'incentive pay' a thing? As opposed to, say, a combat bonus?)
Since inequality seeds envy, they,
- why 'seeds' rather than 'breeds'?
with discipline and unity in mind,
suggested we stay ignorant and blind.
- again, agree about 'remain'. Would the army 'suggest' ? Smile
And why not rephrase this and put it in speech marks like the
'paycheck' section? (And possibly do the same with whatever
you settle on as examples of what they 'deserve').

That’s long ago, now, but to set aside

- I'm lost by the combination of 'now, but'
Command’s self-serving motives, there remains
a core of wisdom in their cold advice
because nobody gets what he deserves–
not length of days, nor friendship, joy, or fame,
not suffering, ignominy, and grief
- I think you lose the voice with this list.
(Cowards live, brave men die ... ?)
are toted up by some celestial clerk;
nor do our deeds impel a cosmic wheel
that brings around comeuppance or reward.
- and again with the 'celestial clerk/cosmic wheel'.

So as you stand beside my bier don’t try

comparing all I got with what you have.
- maybe switch this,
comparing what I got with all you have. ?
or should it have been
comparing all I had with what you got ?
Our pay stubs will be equal when we’re done:
for item, “Lives,” the number’s always “one.”
- not quite as much punch as it should have, I think.


Best, Knot.




.
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#4
edit1;

When I was soldiering, commanders said,
“Never compare your paycheck with the guy
who’s sitting next to you.” They meant he might
have less deducted, alimony, tax,
more time in grade, years prior service, or
incentive pay for special skills he’d learned.
Since inequality seeds envy, they,
with discipline and unity in mind,
suggested we stay ignorant and blind.

That’s long ago, but once you set aside
Command’s self-serving motives, there remains
a core of wisdom in that sage advice
because no-one gets just what he deserves–
not sunny days or friendship, joy or fame,
not suffering, dismissal, pain, or grief
get added up by some celestial clerk;
our acts don’t spin a giant cosmic wheel
that brings around comeuppance or reward.

So as you stand beside my bier don’t try
comparing all you have with what I got.
Our pay stubs will be equal when we’re done:
for item, “Lives,” our numbers will be “one.”



Thanks to both critics.  I've tried to use as much of the advice as possible while maintaining blank verse (aside from a couple of rhymes).

In particular, I tried to change highfalutin language to make the voice more consistent.  "Bier" remains; could be "slab," I guess.


Jargon:  "time in grade" is how long you've been a particular grade (such as captain or tech sergeant) while "prior service" would be time outside the present branch or structure, for example a captain who was enlisted (a sergenat) before being commissioned as an officer so would be paid more than a captain with the same number of years as a captain.  It also works the other way (a sergeant who was demoted from captain) and crosswise - an Army sergeant who was previously in the Navy.  You meet all kinds.  "Hazardous duty incentive pay" is an extra allowance from volunteering for more dangerous assignments.  There are also myriad other incentives, such as for doctors and other specialties which are uniquely valuable; drone operator is one, or should be.
feedback award Non-practicing atheist
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#5
A nice epigrammatic ending.
"Bier" is a minor blemish on an otherwise engaging poem.
I liked how you went into some relatable specifics in the below list:
"They meant he might
have less deducted, alimony, tax,
more time in grade, years prior service, or
incentive pay for special skills he’d learned."
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#6
Much nicer - more readable - by my way of thinking. Only one suggestion.

not sunny days or friendship, joy or fame,
not suffering, dismissal, pain, or grief
get added up by some celestial clerk;

I understand what you’re saying, but it took me a couple of seconds. Maybe changing the ‘not’s would clear up what the reader expects next...

neither sunny days or friendship, joy or fame,
nor suffering, dismissal, pain, or grief
get added up by some celestial clerk;

Then again, maybe it’s just me. Good work.
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#7
.
Hi duke,
definite improvement, but I think S2 is simply overwritten,
you could cut L5-9 and lose nothing in terms of meaning.


I think you could switch 'commanders' for 'officers'
(or should it be 'our commanders'?)
Not convinced that the order of 'deductions' works as well
as it might.
have less deducted, more time in grade, no
garnishes for alimony or for
debt, have served for longer, earned extra pay
for special skills, not forgetting taxes.
Since ...


The final couplet is reads a little awkwardly (to me), maybe
So as you stand beside my bier don't try
comparing what was mine with what you got
cos it don't matter, when all's said and done
both slips say Life and (Exemptions): None.




Best, Knot




.
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#8
not much to add, y'all are more gifted in the critting arena and I find the interplay, an education in of itself.

just wanted to let you know I read the poem, enjoyed the poem and liked- our numbers will be 'one'

while hoping that is not case, as I seldom do anything right the first time. which is not the point, but I

thought it worth mentioning. Only so you feel that each response is individualistic. I always enjoyed that.

each reader and that otherness of the take. Thanks. Glad to be here. C
Reply
#9
i read it and i don't want to critique it. at best i'd say leave it as is, at worse i'd say cut a few words like but and just. but be judicious is you do. rarely do i read something on here that i think needs nothing doing to it. and for that i'm sorry. this is one of your best pieces duke

i like the story telling style you wrote it in as an advisory for others. it also captures something of what a soldier would think about on pay day. i just read it again. loved it.

(07-05-2019, 05:40 AM)dukealien Wrote:  Comparing


When I was soldiering, commanders said,
“Never compare your paycheck with the guy should it be pay check or is that just the english way?
who’s sitting next to you.” They meant he might
have less deducted, alimony, tax,
more time in grade, years prior service, or
incentive pay for special skills he’d learned.
Since inequality seeds envy, they,
with discipline and unity in mind,
suggested we stay ignorant and blind.

That’s long ago, but once you set aside
Command’s self-serving motives, there remains
a core of wisdom in that sage advice
because no-one gets just what he deserves–
not sunny days or friendship, joy or fame,
not suffering, dismissal, pain, or grief
get added up by some celestial clerk;
our acts don’t spin a giant cosmic wheel
that brings around comeuppance or reward.

So as you stand beside my bier don’t try
comparing all you have with what I got.
Our pay stubs will be equal when we’re done:
for item, “Lives,” our numbers will be “one.”


When I was soldiering they used to say,
“Never compare your paycheck with the guy
next to you.” What they meant was that he might
have less deducted, taxes, sort of thing,
more time in grade, years prior service, or
incentive pay for hazardous pursuits.
Since inequality seeds envy, they,
with discipline and unity in mind,
suggested we stay ignorant and blind.

That’s long ago, now, but to set aside
Command’s self-serving motives, there remains
a core of wisdom in their cold advice
because nobody gets what he deserves–
not length of days, nor friendship, joy, or fame,
not suffering, ignominy, and grief
are toted up by some celestial clerk;
nor do our deeds impel a cosmic wheel
that brings around comeuppance or reward.

So as you stand beside my bier don’t try
comparing all I got with what you have.
Our pay stubs will be equal when we’re done:
for item, “Lives,” the number’s always “one.”


Subtitle "Contra Karma" considered, but unnecessary?  "Crying Over My Bier," on the other hand, didn't seem properly Kippled.
Reply
#10
I sense a dignified bitterness. Nice;-) 

(07-05-2019, 05:40 AM)dukealien Wrote:  Comparing


When I was soldiering, commanders said,
“Never compare your paycheck with the guy
who’s sitting next to you.” They meant he might
have less deducted, alimony, tax,
more time in grade, years prior service, or
incentive pay for special skills he’d learned.
Since inequality seeds envy, they,
with discipline and unity in mind,
suggested we stay ignorant and blind.

That’s long ago, but once you set aside
Command’s self-serving motives, there remains
a core of wisdom in that sage advice
because no-one gets just what he deserves–
not sunny days or friendship, joy or fame,
not suffering, dismissal, pain, or grief
get added up by some celestial clerk;
our acts don’t spin a giant cosmic wheel
that brings around comeuppance or reward.

So as you stand beside my bier don’t try
comparing all you have with what I got.
Our pay stubs will be equal when we’re done:
for item, “Lives,” our numbers will be “one.”


When I was soldiering they used to say,
“Never compare your paycheck with the guy
next to you.” What they meant was that he might
have less deducted, taxes, sort of thing,
more time in grade, years prior service, or
incentive pay for hazardous pursuits.
Since inequality seeds envy, they,
with discipline and unity in mind,
suggested we stay ignorant and blind.

That’s long ago, now, but to set aside
Command’s self-serving motives, there remains
a core of wisdom in their cold advice
because nobody gets what he deserves–
not length of days, nor friendship, joy, or fame,
not suffering, ignominy, and grief
are toted up by some celestial clerk;
nor do our deeds impel a cosmic wheel
that brings around comeuppance or reward.

So as you stand beside my bier don’t try
comparing all I got with what you have.
Our pay stubs will be equal when we’re done:
for item, “Lives,” the number’s always “one.”


Subtitle "Contra Karma" considered, but unnecessary?  "Crying Over My Bier," on the other hand, didn't seem properly Kippled.
Reply
#11
(07-11-2019, 12:19 PM)ginaparaoan Wrote:  I sense a dignified bitterness. Nice;-) 
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