Burnt Orange Train
#1
Revision

Burnt Orange Train

I wandered around the old streets alone
Squared like a chessboard stripped of its hues
Set in weathered brown against the sky’s navy blue
I summoned memories of love on that senile train
Washing words down with pilsner and watching the rain

We sat amused and content on the cracked leather seats
On the blotted window shone dried drops with finger smudge
And all we had were hand motions and the occasional nudge -
Of the passengers within, we were becoming steadily wearier
Deciding to converse with the curious men, we crossed bravely a barrier

The dust-covered curtains fell down against teal carpet
They fit well there on the caterpillar locomotive, showing signs of time
And the four men, two old, two middle-aged, were robust, a rhyme
Of character and whim, for hours we talked and even prayed
They impressed me more than I them, so my thanks I then relayed

She sat to my left, looking amused, saying “Isn’t this grand?”
I whistled and shouted, smiling, hanging out the elderly caboose
Letting hair blow off my face and glancing at the grey-bearded muse
Grinning grimly, my body shivering from the mood, not the cold
At this point I returned, feeling assured that she’d be where she’d told

Back in the bar of the middle car I encountered the two younger men
Wearing tight faces they took my arm, appearing determined and stout
Turning the corners of their mouths slowly they motioned about
Pretending I understood, I finally did, and it was brutally clear
He’d simply asked if I’d sit down, and I could pay close attention and hear

Another story from my new friend, armed with Translate and smokes
Much obliged I took his offer – my heart was much too full
Like the sidewalks on a Bucharest Friday – my eyes the street lamps’ glow
I took another shake from my acquaintance’s rough hands
And asked him careful and slow if he’d been anytime to Indiana

The blank look on his face told me all I needed to know
Or maybe it was indifferent? Hell if I could decipher what he’d said
Nonetheless, I assumed the right answer, but went right ahead
And promised if he’d come, he would certainly have a place to stay
A place to sit, drink, talk, and waste away a day

I took his subsequent silence to mean (not that he was rude)
But that he would take me up on that offer – so instead of saying more
I hopped off, leaving a number on a white note between the seat and door
That number he found – and now I grin on this chessboard without hue
Because the rusty man on the train has called me more times than a few


I simply want genuine feedback from thoughtful minds on some of my poetry. I chose this poem as my first post because it is what I love most about poetry: telling a story for myself to later recount.



Burnt Orange Train



I wandered around the old streets alone

Squared like a chessboard stripped of its hues

Set in weathered brown against the sky's navy blue

I pondered when we loved on that old, slow train

Washing our words down with pilsner and watching the rain



Outside the blotted window there were dried drops and finger smudge

All we had were hand motions and the occasional nudge

A smirk or a nod to see the absurdity of the moment

Conversing with the peculiar men and crossing bravely a lofty barrier



The burnt orange curtains fell against teal carpet

They fit well on the caterpillar locomotive, smug and sublime

And the four men, two old, two middle-aged, were robust, a rhyme

Of character of sorts, nothing more, we talked and prayed

But they impressed me more than I them, so I send heartfelt thanks



And so I whistled and shouted, hanging out the elderly caboose

Letting hair blow off my face and staring down my grey-bearded muse

Smiling grimly, my body shivering from the mood, not the cold

At this point I returned, feeling assured that she'd be where she'd told



Back in the bar of the middle car I encountered the two younger men

Wearing tight faces they took my arm, piercing me with sharp eyes

Turning the corners of their mouths slowly and motioning about

Pretending I understood, I finally had, and it was clear

He'd simply asked if I'd sit down and I could give him my ear



Much obliged I took his offer - my heart was much too full

Like the sidewalks on a Bucharest Friday - my eyes the streetlamps' glow

I took another shake from my acquaintance's rough hands

And asked him carefully and slowly if he'd been anytime to Indiana

The blank look on his face told me an unsurprising no



Or maybe it was indifferent? Hell if I could decipher what it said

But nonetheless, I'd assumed the right answer

And promised if he'd come, he would certainly have a place to stay



I took his subsequent silence to mean (not that he was rude)

But that he would someday take me up on that offer

So instead of saying more, I hopped off

Leaving a +1 number on a white note between the seat and door
Reply
#2
Hello Roembkeeg,

Welcome to the site! A few comments for you below on this piece.

(10-02-2019, 06:57 AM)roembkeeg Wrote:  I simply want genuine feedback from thoughtful minds on some of my poetry. I chose this poem as my first post because it is what I love most about poetry: telling a story for myself to later recount.

Burnt Orange Train

I wandered around the old streets alone--nice tightly written first line. It establishes someone lost in past memories and now alone. "wandered" "old streets" and "alone" are solid word choices to set the immediate mood and hint at the past.
Squared like a chessboard stripped of its hues
Set in weathered brown against the sky's navy blue--What was once vibrant is now dulled. Again, nice building in the narrative. This is the effect of coming back and seeing the overlay of brightness upon rust.
I pondered when we loved on that old, slow train--While I like the sonics of wandered/pondered. I'm not a huge fan of pointing out introspection. Calling attention to it in my opinion weakens the reflection if that makes sense. I also don't think "old, slow" are the best modifiers. There may be one word that captures both ideas without losing the cadence (which I like).
Washing our words down with pilsner and watching the rain

Outside the blotted window there were dried drops and finger smudge--Seems like you could blend the phasing here to make the image more evocative.
All we had were hand motions and the occasional nudge
A smirk or a nod to see the absurdity of the moment--this is a bit too abstract for me personally I'd rather see this expressed through concrete imagery
Conversing with the peculiar men and crossing bravely a lofty barrier--Same comment here for peculiar something that establishes the peculiar aspect through imagery. I'm not suggesting anything overblown but something more than the lone modifier.

The burnt orange curtains fell against teal carpet--I'm not sure I like the line. Here's why. When I reflect on your title without this line the burnt orange could be rust which then ties into the fading elements of your opening. When I get here I say, "Oh, curtains" and the title loses something for me.
They fit well on the caterpillar locomotive, smug and sublime--I know this is a preference of mine and I don't want to get pedantic but I'm not a fan of tacking on modifiers like you've done here. They don't feel earned.
And the four men, two old, two middle-aged, were robust, a rhyme
Of character of sorts, nothing more, we talked and prayed
But they impressed me more than I them, so I send heartfelt thanks--This section felt a bit confusing to me how you structured it.

And so I whistled and shouted, hanging out the elderly caboose
Letting hair blow off my face and staring down my grey-bearded muse
Smiling grimly, my body shivering from the mood, not the cold
At this point I returned, feeling assured that she'd be where she'd told--I'm good with this section except this final line. It felt a bit flat.

Back in the bar of the middle car I encountered the two younger men
Wearing tight faces they took my arm, piercing me with sharp eyes--piercing me with sharp eyes feels a bit artificial to me.
Turning the corners of their mouths slowly and motioning about
Pretending I understood, I finally had, and it was clear
He'd simply asked if I'd sit down and I could give him my ear--give him my ear is slightly cliched. A substitute perhaps.

Much obliged I took his offer - my heart was much too full
Like the sidewalks on a Bucharest Friday - my eyes the streetlamps' glow--I like the phrasing herer.
I took another shake from my acquaintance's rough hands
And asked him carefully and slowly if he'd been anytime to Indiana
The blank look on his face told me an unsurprising no--I think blank look is fine but I don't think you need to spell out the unsurprising no part.

Or maybe it was indifferent? Hell if I could decipher what it said
But nonetheless, I'd assumed the right answer
And promised if he'd come, he would certainly have a place to stay

I took his subsequent silence to mean (not that he was rude)
But that he would someday take me up on that offer
So instead of saying more, I hopped off
Leaving a +1 number on a white note between the seat and door--I'd like to see something that hints back to the beginning as it comes across I bit too much like a wrap up and I think you could do more here. 
On the whole, it was a good read. I hope the comments are helpful to you.

Best,

Todd
The secret of poetry is cruelty.--Jon Anderson
Reply
#3
A formal poem only works if the rhyme scheme is consistent, if not consistent, it fails just as a tune with one false note fails. So you need to rewrite this with that in mind, also tighten the meter, some metrical variation is OK but if a poem strays too far from the meter it sets up, it is like a tune where the time signature changes in a haphazard way.
EG.
I wandered around the old streets alone
Squared like a chessboard stripped of its hues
Set in weathered brown against the sky's navy blue
I pondered when we loved on that old, slow train
Washing our words down with pilsner and watching the rain
In this 5 line opening S. you have a rhyme scheme of x/aa/bb

Outside the blotted window there were dried drops and finger smudge
All we had were hand motions and the occasional nudge
A smirk or a nod to see the absurdity of the moment
Conversing with the peculiar men and crossing bravely a lofty barrier
Then you have a 4 line S with a rhyme scheme of aa/xy

The burnt orange curtains fell against teal carpet
They fit well on the caterpillar locomotive, smug and sublime
And the four men, two old, two middle-aged, were robust, a rhyme
Of character of sorts, nothing more, we talked and prayed
But they impressed me more than I them, so I send heartfelt thanks
Now a 5 line S with a rhyme scheme of x/aa/yz.

And so I whistled and shouted, hanging out the elderly caboose
Letting hair blow off my face and staring down my grey-bearded muse
Smiling grimly, my body shivering from the mood, not the cold
At this point I returned, feeling assured that she'd be where she'd told
Then aa/bb
Back in the bar of the middle car I encountered the two younger men
Wearing tight faces they took my arm, piercing me with sharp eyes
Turning the corners of their mouths slowly and motioning about
Pretending I understood, I finally had, and it was clear
He'd simply asked if I'd sit down and I could give him my ear
Then x/yz/aa

Much obliged I took his offer - my heart was much too full
Like the sidewalks on a Bucharest Friday - my eyes the streetlamps' glow
I took another shake from my acquaintance's rough hands
And asked him carefully and slowly if he'd been anytime to Indiana
The blank look on his face told me an unsurprising no
Then another 5 line S and so on. 

You can't be this loose and expect the poem to work, I have not analyzed the meter but the same crit applies, it is too diffuse.  Read the poem aloud or record yourseldf reciting it, that is a good way to hear where it is stumbling. And read the poem from start to finish, meter carries across from S. to S. The content has a lot going for it, nice images and a concise narrative, but I wont go into that,  if you fix up the form the content will automatically be tightened too.
good luck
Ross
Reply
#4
You know what's funny. I read the second critique (which was good--not critiquing the critique). It made me relook at the poem. I honestly did not see this poem on my first few reads as written in formal poetry because of the inconsistent meter. I read this as a narrative free verse with an occasional end rhyme thrown in for the sonics. If a formal poem was the intention than I agree with normalizing the scheme. If not, I'd probably think about shifting the lines so that the rhymes fall midline for the sonics without causing a distraction for those looking for rhyme and meter and having the poem seem off.

Just a thought. Reading critique always makes me consider the choices that are made more.
The secret of poetry is cruelty.--Jon Anderson
Reply
#5
(10-05-2019, 03:38 AM)Todd Wrote:  You know what's funny. I read the second critique (which was good--not critiquing the critique). It made me relook at the poem. I honestly did not see this poem on my first few reads as written in formal poetry because of the inconsistent meter. I read this as a narrative free verse with an occasional end rhyme thrown in for the sonics. If a formal poem was the intention than I agree with normalizing the scheme. If not, I'd probably think about shifting the lines so that the rhymes fall midline for the sonics without causing a distraction for those looking for rhyme and meter and having the poem seem off.

Just a thought. Reading critique always makes me consider the choices that are made more.
There are end rhymes in every S, it is definitely not free verse.
Reply
#6
(10-07-2019, 07:22 AM)churinga Wrote:  
(10-05-2019, 03:38 AM)Todd Wrote:  You know what's funny. I read the second critique (which was good--not critiquing the critique). It made me relook at the poem. I honestly did not see this poem on my first few reads as written in formal poetry because of the inconsistent meter. I read this as a narrative free verse with an occasional end rhyme thrown in for the sonics. If a formal poem was the intention than I agree with normalizing the scheme. If not, I'd probably think about shifting the lines so that the rhymes fall midline for the sonics without causing a distraction for those looking for rhyme and meter and having the poem seem off.

Just a thought. Reading critique always makes me consider the choices that are made more.
There are end rhymes in every S, it is definitely not free verse.
No, I totally get what you're saying. I just didn't read it that way. Meter is usually what draws my attention not the end rhyme. Not at all saying you were wrong just it made me look at the piece again.
The secret of poetry is cruelty.--Jon Anderson
Reply
#7
Thank you both for your critique. Todd, you definitely helped with many of the lines, and Churinga, you made me look at the poem in a different manner.

I would say that there are times when I start a poem wanting to write free verse, and also times I aim to write a formal poem. This is more of a narrative that I carelessly sprinkled end rhymes into. I think perhaps it would improve the poem to move to more internal rhyming? I will give the poem an edit and see what you both think. In this poem, I was trying to write a visual narrative with longer lines and contrasts between stanzas. I have been writing poetry for a few years but haven't had any formal training other than reading the classics, so Churinga, I loved your critique. I think I have a way to improve the format, without tearing up the content.

Thanks to you both!
Reply
#8
I've edited quite a bit! Changed the wording on some things that Todd pointed out, added a few lines that I had taken out or moved them around, and kept the same x/aa/bb rhyme scheme throughout (except stanza 6 sort of? Although I felt the ends still matched up well enough, and it's my favorite stanza). Also, every stanza is now 5 lines. This allowed me to paint an even more concrete image and narrative as well as tie the ending back to the beginning a bit more. Let me know what you both think.

Burnt Orange Train

I wandered around the old streets alone
Squared like a chessboard stripped of its hues
Set in weathered brown against the sky’s navy blue
I summoned memories of love on that senile train
Washing words down with pilsner and watching the rain

We sat amused and content on the cracked leather seats
On the blotted window shone dried drops with finger smudge
And all we had were hand motions and the occasional nudge -
Of the passengers within, we were becoming steadily wearier
Deciding to converse with the curious men, we crossed bravely a barrier

The dust-covered curtains fell down against teal carpet
They fit well there on the caterpillar locomotive, showing signs of time
And the four men, two old, two middle-aged, were robust, a rhyme
Of character and whim, for hours we talked and even prayed
They impressed me more than I them, so my thanks I then relayed

She sat to my left, looking amused, saying “Isn’t this grand?”
I whistled and shouted, smiling, hanging out the elderly caboose
Letting hair blow off my face and glancing at the grey-bearded muse
Grinning grimly, my body shivering from the mood, not the cold
At this point I returned, feeling assured that she’d be where she’d told

Back in the bar of the middle car I encountered the two younger men
Wearing tight faces they took my arm, appearing determined and stout
Turning the corners of their mouths slowly they motioned about
Pretending I understood, I finally did, and it was brutally clear
He’d simply asked if I’d sit down, and I could pay close attention and hear

Another story from my new friend, armed with Translate and smokes
Much obliged I took his offer – my heart was much too full
Like the sidewalks on a Bucharest Friday – my eyes the street lamps’ glow
I took another shake from my acquaintance’s rough hands
And asked him careful and slow if he’d been anytime to Indiana

The blank look on his face told me all I needed to know
Or maybe it was indifferent? Hell if I could decipher what he’d said
Nonetheless, I assumed the right answer, but went right ahead
And promised if he’d come, he would certainly have a place to stay
A place to sit, drink, talk, and waste away a day

I took his subsequent silence to mean (not that he was rude)
But that he would take me up on that offer – so instead of saying more
I hopped off, leaving a number on a white note between the seat and door
That number he found – and now I grin on this chessboard without hue
Because the rusty man on the train has called me more times than a few
Reply




Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)
Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!