Hounds
#1
He said Nothing grows here,
as we climbed the path around Angel Island,
weaving like a circlet around its crest. The bay below,
disguising its depth in glitter, was ready
to catch me nonetheless.
 
Against his complaint, I felt the summer oak, the rattlesnake grass
assuring me of their fertility. I couldn’t bring myself
to hold his hand.
 
I’d never believed in evil. I believed 
in the hurt and the hungry, that a dog bites when it’s afraid.
Until I felt his fingers dig into my arm
and for some insult I’d never intended, felt in his grip
his palpable need to salt every inch
of my earth by hand-- felt a surging terror 
of the oak thicket and brush as he guided me.
An impulse to shout a warning to the birds there
that a dog was coming to crown himself in the snow
of their feathers, and that he was not mine.
 
I resisted, for the first time, so quietly, being
dragged into those summer woods like an easy kill,
a waste of his good will.
I wasn’t always this small.
In those slavering jaws, making promises to the next man, that I’d love him
if he hurt me the least.
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#2
.
Hi xyroph,
lots to like (if that's the appropriate word) here, an ugly story effectively told.
The tone is excellent (('a waste of his goodwill' and 'a dog coming to crown itself ...'
are just a couple of the standout parts, for me. There are lots more!)

It really comes down to the editing (in my opinion).

S1.
The bay below,
disguising its depth in glitter,
was ready to catch me nonetheless.
- good lines, but they rather interrupt the flow (and they give away too much too soon).

S2.
complaint to describe Nothing grows here seems a little late in arriving.
I'm not sure that him complaining matters. Does it? It might be better to cut that part and
just go to 'I felt the summer oak ...'

S3.
anything better than 'dig'?
-- felt a surging terror of the oak thicket
and brush as he guided me.
I get lost in this, it's the 'of the oak thicket'

S4.
I resisted, for the first time, so quietly, being
- Do you mean N resisted that first time, or that now N is describing another incident
and here he/she resists for the first time?

if he hurt me the least.
- Doesn't really make sense (how could the next man know his hurting would be the least?)
but the emotion works.

Just a suggestion.

Nothing grows here, he said
as we climbed the steep path, weaving
like a circlet around the crest of Angel Island.
I felt the summer oak, the rattlesnake grass
I couldn’t bring myself to hold his hand.

I’d never believed in evil - but in the hurt
and hungry, that a dog will bite
when it’s afraid - until I felt his fingers
claw into my arm, for some slight
I had never intended, And felt in that grip
his need to salt every inch of my earth

dragged into those summer woods
like an easy kill, a waste of his good will
I wanted to shout a warning
to the birds up ahead in the oak thicket
that a dog was coming to crown himself
in the snow of their feathers,
and that he was not mine.

(maybe needs a new line here?)
making promises
In those slavering jaws,
to the next man,
that I’d love him
if he hurt me the least.
I wasn’t always this small.



Enjoyed the read.


Best, Knot.


.
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#3
I am unsure who the N is in this. Is the N thinking of himself as a dog?

The description does not always seem to connect to the story or seems to not line up with what the N has previously said.

"felt a surging terror
of the oak thicket and brush as he guided me.
An impulse to shout a warning to the birds there
that a dog was coming to crown himself in the snow
of their feathers, and that he was not mine."

I think you are assuming that the reader knows what you know and so you are leaving out valuable information.

Is the "hound" a metaphor for a person? Here the "hound" appears to be other than the N, yet at the end the hound appears to be the N.

"In those slavering jaws, making promises to the next man, that I’d love him
if he hurt me the least."

In the end this poems leaves me confused and trying way to hard to find what is trying to be said.

best,

dale
How long after picking up the brush, the first masterpiece?

The goal is not to obfuscate that which is clear, but make clear that which isn't.
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#4
Hi, thank you both so much for taking the time to leave such detailed feedback. I'm sorry it turned out to be such a chore to read, I see that my attempt at brevity (i can be really long winded) was at the expense of context! I'll take another crack at this and see how it goes.
feedback award
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#5
Hello there -

This reads like a description of rape, minus extreme emotion- almost as if the N is an impartial observer.

My guess is the dog is a metaphor for the rapist. 

Even if I'm way off base, some tightening is needed... 

Example: a waste of his good will.  A line like this is very confusing to a reader, though it is probably very clear inside your own mind.  The surrounding lines don't add enough clarity (not that I need to be hit between the ears).

Simple subtraction suggestion (no new words of mine):

I resisted so quietly, dragged
into those summer woods like an easy kill,
I wasn’t always this small.
The next man, I’d love him
if he hurt me the least.



Thanks for the read.  Interesting,
Mark
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#6
Thank you for sharing this. This was a difficult story to absorb but narrated beautifully. I thought the first three lines were excellent and drew me into the setting right away. Although you did a nice job establishing some tension with the bay being ready to catch you and being unable to hold his hand, I was not prepared for the transition in the third line of the third stanza: "I felt his fingers dig into my arm". For me, there was definitely something of a shock factor there, where the abuse becomes physical and concrete.  

Overall the rhythm is quite compelling. One place I stumbled was:
"and for some insult I’d never intended, felt in his grip
his palpable need to salt every inch"

Perhaps adding punctuation at the end of "grip" would help it read more easily aloud. 

Finally, in the midst of all the horror of the third stanza, I think it is really important to keep it grounded in the images of the setting you set up so well at the beginning. The "oak thicket and brush" alludes to this, but personally I would like a little more. While the image of the dog and birds is compelling, I thought the "snow of their feathers" pulled me out of the summer island scene. 

Overall incredible work and I hope to see more.
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#7
[i]Thank you for sharing and writing about this. I fell into this poem and the imagery is outstanding. I have left a few comments below mainly about where I received mixed messages. Perhaps that was the point though- that violence is confusing and disorienting. [/i]


He said Nothing grows here,
as we climbed the path around Angel Island,
weaving like a circlet around its crest. The bay below,
disguising its depth in glitter, was ready
to catch me nonetheless.

The contrast between glitter and depth of support seems at odds. One is superficial, the other beautiful.

Against his complaint, I felt the summer oak, the rattlesnake grass
assuring me of their fertility. I couldn’t bring myself
to hold his hand.

I love this stanza on the second read through. “Responding to his complaint,” is a bit more clear, but perhaps it is worth it to make it a bit unclear.

I’d never believed in evil. I believed
in the hurt and the hungry, that a dog bites when it’s afraid.

This was lovely and my favorite line.

Until I felt his fingers dig into my arm
and for some insult I’d never intended, felt in his grip
his palpable need to salt every inch
of my earth by hand-- of the oak thicket and brush as he guided me.

felt a surging terror palpable need to salt every inch of my earth by hand is so powerful. I feel like it should be left alone. The break using “—” is good, but perhaps not enough.

An impulse to shout a warning to the birds there
that a dog was coming to crown himself in the snow 
of their feathers, and that he was not mine.

Snow of their feathers is very lovely, but does distract from the scenery you built before.
I am assuming he is the dog and you are the bird, but addressing and shouting to them makes the role of the narrator confusing. Are you trying to warn someone else about him?

I resisted, for the first time, so quietly, being

This captures the unpredictability of emotional and physical response to violence or rape. It is at once confusing and very fitting. Very nicely done. I am deeply sorry if this is born from experience. I applaud you for writing and speaking about it.

dragged into those summer woods like an easy kill,
a waste of his good will.

You mention above that you now believe in evil. Can he/she have good will then? Or are you still believing that he/she is a dog that bites when it’s afraid?

I wasn’t always this small.
In those slavering jaws, making promises to the next man, that I’d love him
if he hurt me the least.

This line is very powerful, but I am unclear about tenses.
Perhaps, “In those slavering jaws, I make promises to the next man, that I will love him
If only he would hurt me less.”

I also am left wondering how the bay catches you. Do you revisit or reunite with it later? Do you walk back to it alone?
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#8
(02-27-2020, 03:42 PM)xyroph Wrote:  He said Nothing grows here,
as we climbed the path around Angel Island, (Angel Island? Is that a made up place?)
weaving like a circlet around its crest. The bay below,
disguising its depth in glitter, was ready
to catch me nonetheless.
 
Against his complaint, I felt the summer oak, the rattlesnake grass
assuring me of their fertility. I couldn’t bring myself
to hold his hand.
 
I’d never believed in evil. I believed 
in the hurt and the hungry, that a dog bites when it’s afraid.
Until I felt his fingers dig into my arm
and for some insult I’d never intended, felt in his grip
his palpable need to salt every inch
of my earth by hand-- felt a surging terror 
of the oak thicket and brush as he guided me.
An impulse to shout a warning to the birds there
that a dog was coming to crown himself in the snow
of their feathers, and that he was not mine.
 
I resisted, for the first time, so quietly, being
dragged into those summer woods like an easy kill,
a waste of his good will.
I wasn’t always this small.
In those slavering jaws, making promises to the next man, that I’d love him
if he hurt me the least.
Interesting, so this poem is about hounds (just like in the title? Am I right?) it is a good effort though, thanks for sharing.

This is insufficient critique for this forum.  Please read the posting guidelines before posting.  
-Quix 
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