Rayuela
#1
I was going through your books,
the ones I didn’t keep,
to trade them into a strange world
that never knew you.
I came to Rayuela;
it looked as if it had been left out in the rain,
or fallen into a toilet,
swollen, warped, stained,
I started to toss it into a garbage can
but instead thumbed  through it
to find hundreds of pressed flowers
hiding every 50 pages or so.
They are all the same flower,
now almost transparent white
more like bizarre squashed insects
but I recognized them from the photos,
the pictures composed of dried flowers
that you made in Spain:  a seahorse,
a goldfish, two lovers.

Now this book is a relic of your passage,
the touch of your fingers
preserved one hundred times over:

I’m thinking a cedar box,
sealed with copper nails,
added to my reliquary of pens found 
when we cleaned out your car,
and the sun-faded Topo Chico bottle found in your garden.
Then I will build a shrine
out of limestone and cedar
in the oak grove that we cleared together.
Finally I will have a place to pray
and a spirit worth praying to.
"Take what you need and leave the rest"
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#2
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Hi TqB,
it takes a while for this piece to find its feet, but 'the touch of your fingers ... over' makes it worth the effort,
and the ending (except for the very last line which I think you should cut. Not only because the preceding line
is better, but you're saying that it's your shrine that makes the spirit better, which isn't what you mean, I suspect).

You used the phrase 'your passage' before. It doesn't bear repeating.


Rayuela ............... I don't think this makes a good title, 'I'm thinking of a cedar box' however Smile


I’m thinking of a cedar box,
sealed with copper nails, ....................bit more detail, perhaps?
to add to my reliquary of pens .......... don't explain this, it's much more interesting this way, I think).

I was going through your books, again
when I came to Rayuela; poor thing
it looked as if you'd left it out in the rain.

I went to toss it into the garbage
but started thumbing through, instead
and found pressed flowers inside.
Two or three every fifty pages or so.

The touch of your fingers,
preserved a hundred times over ...................there's something in this piece that suggest the exact number is known.

They are all the same flower, small(?)
white, almost transparent
unlabelled, but I recognize them
from your photographs
and the pictures
composed of dried flowers
that you made in Spain:
a seahorse, a goldfish, two lovers.

I'm thinking I will build a shrine
of limestone and cedar
in the oak grove we cleared together.
Finally I will have a place to pray


Best, Knot


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#3
Very powerful piece, Tim.

Knot has some really good ideas, especially starting and ending with "I think".

I took the liberty to do a full scale edit and I feel like I hijacked your poem. My edit retains most of your original wording, yet I rearranged it to form quatrains. I wouldn't have done it if I didn't really, really like your poem:

Reliquary

I think I will make a cedar box
sealed with copper nails:
a place for what I found
when I cleaned out your car.

I had come across a book-
Rayuela; it looked left out
in the rain, fallen into a toilet
swollen, warped, stained.

I started to toss it out
but instead thumbed through it
to find hundreds of pressed flowers
hiding every 50 pages or so.

They were all the same type
now almost transparent white
like bizarre squashed insects.
I knew them from photos you'd sent.

Now Rayuela has become a relic
of your passage, the touch
of your fingers preserved
a 100 times over.

I think I will build the shrine
out of limestone and cedar
in the oak grove we cleared together.
Finally, I will have a place to pray.
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#4
Thank you both for your readings and critiques.  I really appreciate it when anyone comments, but Knot has been in there from the first as a commentator (and I wish he would give us another poem soon!).

I really did make a box, alas, copper nails seem a thing of the past.
"Take what you need and leave the rest"
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#5
Hey Tim-

Thanks for not getting pissed off by my edit.  I couldn't help myself. 

As I went about it, the power of your poem nearly overwhelmed me, probably due to my recent cancer issue, learning that one of my brothers has cancer, and the real disaster of finding a few days ago that one of my nephews (11 years old) is battling brain cancer. 

Editing such a beautiful piece proved to be cathartic for me. 

Thanks,
Mark



(03-31-2021, 08:17 AM)TranquillityBase Wrote:  Thank you both for your readings and critiques.  I really appreciate it when anyone comments, but Knot has been in there from the first as a commentator (and I wish he would give us another poem soon!).

I really did make a box, alas, copper nails seem a thing of the past.

Quote:I really did make a box, alas, copper nails seem a thing of the past.

ps. The thought of that reliquary is beautiful. I can imagine it perfectly.
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#6
I don't think this is off topic, so I have a question for both of you.  You both strive for form in your poems (as in your making those quatrains, which I do take as a compliment; haven't studied either of your sets of comments sufficiently to say more, but ....), and I come from an almost exclusively free verse universe (although my first love was Dylan Thomas, and he was no wimp when it came to form), and, well, why do you do it?

I hope this doesn't sound contemptuous or naieve.
"Take what you need and leave the rest"
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#7
Tim-

Your question regarding form doesn't sound contemptuous or naieve.

I impose forms on myself, many times of my own construction.  I look at like taking a glass (the form) and pouring in water (the words).  The water will always conform to the shape of the glass. 

The trick is to try to use a "glass" that is so clean, and clear, that it becomes invisible, leaving only the words (hopefully a coherent poem).

That's my way of explaining it, at least.  It's also sort of like playing music in a band.  The music usually must follow a certain form; key, beat, etc. in order to sound coherent.

That said, I'm not any stickler for form, except when it comes to my own work.  It's part of my OCD approach.  And it frequently does not work.

With regard to your poem (to stay true to the purpose of this forum), I do think that it would benefit from some form-ality, which is why I suggested breaking it into quatrains.  NOW- that is only a suggestion, as it is your poem, and you decide how to process commentary/critique.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with free verse, and it could be called free-form, since it is a form in itself. 

Please understand that I'm no expert, I only write poetry because I have to.

Mark
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#8
(03-31-2021, 03:04 AM)TranquillityBase Wrote:  I was going through your books,
the ones I didn’t keep,
to trade them into a strange world
that never knew you.
I came to Rayuela; .... I don't know whether there's a second layer of meaning that comes from being familiar with the title, but I looked it up on Amazon and it's an  amazing book - I just ordered a copy
it looked as if it had been left out in the rain,
or fallen into a toilet, .... I like the realism of this alternative
swollen, warped, stained,
I started to toss it into a garbage can
but instead thumbed  through it
to find hundreds of pressed flowers
hiding every 50 pages or so.
They are all the same flower,
now almost transparent white
more like bizarre squashed insects
but I recognized them from the photos,
the pictures composed of dried flowers
that you made in Spain:  a seahorse,
a goldfish, two lovers.

Now this book is a relic of your passage,
the touch of your fingers
preserved one hundred times over:

I’m thinking a cedar box,
sealed with copper nails,
added to my reliquary of pens found 
when we cleaned out your car,
and the sun-faded Topo Chico bottle found in your garden.  .... i like the detail of 'sun faded Topo Chico' 
Then I will build a shrine
out of limestone and cedar
in the oak grove that we cleared together.
Finally I will have a place to pray
and a spirit worth praying to.

Again, I wouldn't want to change a thing in this beautiful poem
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#9
Hello again Tim-

So, you have 3 suggestions so far:
1- Knot offered some rearrangement and other slight changes
2- I offered a full scale, more structured arrangement
3- busker offered very minimal changes

As the poet, you get to decide how to process those suggestions.

As regards free verse, it is important to remember just how difficult that form actually is.  When one chooses to abandon set meter, rhymes, etc, it becomes all the more important that the words produce variations in rythmn and images, such that a reader is pulled along.  Many times I find that free verse is best when read aloud: examples include works by Ginsberg and Whitman. Much of their power lies in the SOUND of their poems.

When you read your poem aloud, listen for how it tells its story, and correct/strengthen areas of concern.  Since you floated this piece in MODERATE it indicates that you're seeking constructive critique, and I hope you got some to help guide you.  If not, please indicate the specific areas where you're struggling.

Here to help, and I know that Knot and busker are, as well.
...Mark

Me again Tim-

I think you may be having difficulty incorporating these details:

the pictures composed of dried flowers
that you made in Spain:  a seahorse,
a goldfish, two lovers.

added to my reliquary of pens found

and the sun-faded Topo Chico bottle found in your garden.


When I edited, I left them out, and focused on the book itself.  I know these details are important to you as part of the reliquary, but they need to be added in such a way as to be most effective in their addition.  Note how much of your poem is spent on Rayuela, and that the other details appear a bit "thrown in" to the reliquary. 

The commas at the line breaks aren't really necessary (unless this were written as prose).  You may also want to play with the line lengths and the line breaks to hear what effects that may produce.

All that said, I think I've worn out my welcome on this one,
Mark
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#10
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Hi Tim,
(as another non-expert) I suppose I use form where I can, where it suits the piece (and because that is what the poem wants.)  Often it (or rather, structure, what Mark is calling form-ality) is something that develops through the process of editing/rewriting. An emergent property, if you will Smile To paraphrase Michelangelo "the sculpture poem is already complete within the marble block, before I start my work. It is already there, I just have to chisel away the superfluous material.”
For me a lot of verse, free verse included, seems far to often to be used as a synonym for first draft (and an excuse for avoiding a second, third, or nth draft). But that's a purely personal view.  (Also, I'd second all that Mark has said, particularly of the free verse subject)

On an entirely unrelated note Smile
added to my reliquary of pens found
Can you tell me why this line ends on found and why the word is then repeated a couple of lines later? To me it reads like carelessness (hiding behind the idea of free verse) and so undermines my confidence in the voice I'm listening to, but I could be wrong Smile

In the vain hope that that helps,
Knot


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#11
It's not a vain hope, Knot.  I think you're right in that my free verse is often a draft and I just want to move on to the next poem.  But it's also that what come out and gets put on the page first thing is the most truthful version and altering it significantly means tossing out some of that truth, if that makes sense.  That'smy mental block to extensive editing.  In the old days I tried to write in strict self-imposed forms and the results, mostly, were terrible.

Thanks to all, this one is now going back into the laboratory.
"Take what you need and leave the rest"
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#12
(03-31-2021, 11:15 PM)TranquillityBase Wrote:  It's not a vain hope, Knot.  I think you're right in that my free verse is often a draft and I just want to move on to the next poem.  But it's also that what come out and gets put on the page first thing is the most truthful version and altering it significantly means tossing out some of that truth, if that makes sense.  That'smy mental block to extensive editing.  In the old days I tried to write in strict self-imposed forms and the results, mostly, were terrible.

Thanks to all, this one is now going back into the laboratory.

I don’t think this one should go back to the library at all
What is the “truth” that you refer to above? To me, it’s in the pauses.
It is my observation that poetry coming from within, particularly “inspired” poetry such as what you write, emerges with a specific cadence. Tinker with that, and something is lost. Of course, in the process of writing it out, some of the intended rhythm can be made ugly by words that don’t fit, and editing then becomes a case of finding suitable substitutes.
The other kind of poetry, the Parnassian (to paraphrase Hopkins) is written differently. There, the poem doesn’t have an inner soul, an inner rhythm, but it has a lot of technical beauty. Much of Ted Kooser’s poetry is of that kind. Editing has a much bigger role to play in such poems.
IMO the rewrites to your poem above lose the original cadences.
You can still improve on the poem, I’m sure, but over a time period of weeks to months to even years.  Not days.
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#13
(03-31-2021, 11:15 PM)TranquillityBase Wrote:  what come out and gets put on the page first thing is the most truthful version and altering it significantly means tossing out some of that truth


So, whither Craft?
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#14
Hello Tim (if I may),

I'm probably out of my depth in Mild to moderate, but I enjoyed reading your poem and the discussion too.

I like the structure, finding a clear progression through the stanzas. First, exploration; second, revelation; third, resolution. (There might be proper terms for these things; I can only hope I'm making sense here.) Does that sound about right?

As to the content, it's very engaging. I don't have much to add to what's already been suggested, just tweaks such as

I was going through your books
  (the ones I didn't keep)
to trade them into a strange world
that never knew you
  and I came to Rayuela

...etc. (so just punctuation and messing about with the formatting, if that's of any use to you).

I look forward to seeing how the poem develops.

All best,
Leaf
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