Last Life in Death (RETRO) - edit 2
#1
Last Life in Death (RETRO)


What must it be to drift unpeacefully,
not recognizing nurse or child or bed– 
while soul churns after memory has fled–
to see and search and veer meaninglessly
trapped in a breathing body, nearly dead?
Vain steeplechasing thoughts find neither name
nor reason, none to help or even blame,
forgetting words those gathered used or said.
Yet, though the mind is lost, it feels the same
emotion from its living body - fear
of all its tissues touch and see and hear
bereft of sense within its failing frame.
Someone will need to close those fearful eyes
and wonder if she’ll panic as she dies.


edit1;

What must it be to drift unpeacefully
while recognizing nurse nor child nor bed–
for soul to churn when memory has fled,
to see and search and veer meaninglessly–
trapped in a breathing body, nearly dead?
Vain steeplechasing thoughts found neither name
nor definition when strange visions came,
unhelped by words those gathered wrote or said.
Yet, though the mind is lost, it feels the same
emotion from its living body - fear
of all its organs touch and see and hear
bereft of sense within its failing frame.
Someone will need to close your fearful eyes
and wonder if she’ll panic as she dies.


original version;

What must it be to die unpeacefully,
not recognizing nurse or child or bed–
for mind to live when memory has fled,
to see and move and think  meaninglessly
trapped in a body, whole though nearly dead,
thoughts racing courses without knowing what
each thing perceived is called not having got
a clue from what those gathered say or said?
Yet though the mind is lost it still has brought
emotion from its living body - fear
of all its organs feel and see and hear
but cannot name in helpless, lonely thought.
Someone will have to close your frightened eyes
and wonder if she’ll panic as she dies.




[NAPM 2022 #15 - The form is pretty tight, but there are flaws as this was written quickly]
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#2
(09-03-2022, 11:34 PM)dukealien Wrote:  Last Life in Death (RETRO)


What must it be to die unpeacefully, "it must" might ring more informal than "must it" 
not recognizing nurse (nor) child (nor) bed– something to consider with the "n" of "nurse"
for mind to live when memory has fled,
to see and move and think  meaninglessly feels as though some punctuation is needed between "think" and "meaninglessly" - can't tell if the extra space was intentional  
trapped in a body, whole though nearly dead,
thoughts racing courses without knowing what racing thoughts is borderline cliche- lots of options to fit your meter 
each thing perceived is called, not having got
a clue from what those gathered say or said?
Yet though the mind is lost it still has brought
emotion from its living body - fear
of all its organs feel and see and hear I think you meant "of what" but couldn't squeeze it in.
but cannot name in helpless, lonely thought.
Someone will have to close your frightened eyes
and wonder if she’ll panic as she dies.




[NAPM 2022 #15 - The form is pretty tight, but there are flaws as this was written quickly]
I don't think there's much to improve upon with this one, Duke. A few little things slow the read but the meter admittedly limits your options.
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#3
Last Life in Death (RETRO)


What must it be to die unpeacefully, -- I like "unpeacefully." It's a nod to the propensity of great poets to make up their own words and combinations as they see fit. It comes across as confident, which is perfect for an opening line. Perhaps, think of other ways to say "die," since you use die/death 4 times if you include the title, and it's not that long of a piece. In this line, you might use "cease" for the sonics.
not recognizing nurse or child or bed– agree with Tiger here that it should be nor/nor
for mind to live when memory has fled, -- underscores the helplessness element. There's an opportunity here to add an image of where the memory went. 
to see and move and think  meaninglessly -- looks like there is an extra space after "think"
trapped in a body, whole though nearly dead, -- I want to see "whole" set off here from the rest. Perhaps something like: "trapped in a body -- whole, though nearly dead." 
thoughts racing courses without knowing what -- "what" is not a particularly strong word to end a line
each thing perceived is called not having got  -- "got a clue" is too colloquial here, especially with the formality of the tone at the beginning. I also think there needs to be some break between "called" and "not," if only a comma.
a clue from what those gathered say or said? -- I'd think of some way to break up the previous lines with at least one stop. It's a bit too long as one sentence. 
Yet though the mind is lost it still has brought -- this needs two commas to set off the phrase, "though the mind is lost"
emotion from its living body - fear 
of all its organs feel and see and hear 
but cannot name in helpless, lonely thought.  -- you also have "thoughts" in line 6. Also, you've implied helplessness and loneliness, so I'm not convinced that you need to state it. 
Someone will have to close your frightened eyes -- perhaps "frightened" or "panic" needs to change. It's redundant to have both. 
and wonder if she’ll panic as she dies. -- pulling back the frame here to include the experience of others around the dying person is a nice, subtle shift. Strong ending. 





I think it's going to be a strong piece. Overall, it could use more showing and not telling. It definitely reads as a kind of love poem, which is perfect for the form. Well done, and good luck with your edits.

Lizzie
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#4
edit;


What must it be to drift unpeacefully
while recognizing nurse nor child nor bed–
for soul to churn when memory has fled,
to see and search and veer meaninglessly–
trapped in a breathing body, nearly dead?
Vain steeplechasing thoughts found neither name
nor definition when strange visions came,
unhelped by words those gathered wrote or said.
Yet, though the mind is lost, it feels the same
emotion from its living body - fear
of all its organs touch and see and hear
bereft of sense within its failing frame.
Someone will need to close your fearful eyes
and wonder if she’ll panic as she dies.



I don't mind admitting I struggled with this, applying all the excellent advice.  It's still a work in progress - I use both "breathing body" and "living body," for example.

I do respectfully disagree with both critics about l.2 - to me, "nor" must have "neither," and looks archaic without it... for some reason, "or" implies "either" perfectly well but "nor" does not seem to successfully imply "neither."  But there it is, see if you agree.

Thanks to both!
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#5
Hi Duke,
Your edits are transformative.  This is an amazing piece.  Though there are always edits.

(09-06-2022, 07:17 AM)dukealien Wrote:  edit;


What must it be to drift unpeacefully
while recognizing not nurse nor child nor bed;
for soul to churn when memory has fled,         your    think semi-colon here or period
to see and search and veer meaninglessly-  beautiful line great rhythm, not sure about dash, comma might do
trapped in a breathing body, nearly dead?      this is it, right?
Vain steeplechasing thoughts found neither name   A vain steeple chase; thoughts finding...
nor definition when strange visions came,          come
unhelped by words those gathered, wrote or said.
Yet, though the mind is lost, it feels the same  nice break here
emotion from its living body, only fear   your,           semi-colon or period here
of all its organs, touch and see and hear   your
bereft of sense within its failing frame.  gone from yourvery nice
Someone will need to close your fearful eyes  Will someone, maybe?
and wonder if she’ll panic as she dies.    you'll, you die   heart breaking, but honest as it gets.

I know you had meter constraints, but I think the poem's needs out way the form.  I made it more personal and immediate as hard as that is.  My mother passed from Parkinson's and dementia in early April.  This is the poem.
Thanks,
bryn
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#6
(09-06-2022, 07:17 AM)dukealien Wrote:  edit;


What must it be to drift unpeacefully
while recognizing nurse nor child nor bed–   not recognizing nurse or child or bed?
for soul to churn when memory has fled,       while soul must churn....?
to see and search and veer meaninglessly–
trapped in a breathing body, nearly dead?
Vain steeplechasing thoughts found neither name
nor definition when strange visions came,
unhelped by words those gathered wrote or said.            Seems like these lines should be present tense, like the previous and following lines.
Yet, though the mind is lost, it feels the same
emotion from its living body - fear
of all its organs touch and see and hear                         Just didn't understand this bit
bereft of sense within its failing frame.
Someone will need to close your fearful eyes
and wonder if she’ll panic as she dies.

Hi Duke, been away in the mountains where I could read, but not successfully comment as I have trouble manipulating text in Pig Pen on my iPhone.  But wanted to and have been rereading this frequently.  I know you've addressed the nor/or business, but just adding my 2 cents/sense.  Lovely piece of work.

TqB
“All persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.”  Kurt Vonnegut
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#7
edit2;

What must it be to drift unpeacefully,
not recognizing nurse or child or bed– 
while soul churns after memory has fled–
to see and search and veer meaninglessly
trapped in a breathing body, nearly dead?
Vain steeplechasing thoughts find neither name
nor reason, none to help or even blame,
forgetting words those gathered used or said.
Yet, though the mind is lost, it feels the same
emotion from its living body - fear
of all its tissues touch and see and hear
bereft of sense within its failing frame.
Someone will need to close those fearful eyes
and wonder if she’ll panic as she dies.





Sincere thanks to all critics, including the more recent.  This is as difficult to edit as it was easy to write initially!

@brynmawr1 - You are probably right, that it would be best to lose the form and go to blank or free verse to maximize impact and communication.  On the other hand, I find that wrestling with forms can force unexpected directions while trying to pin the theme down.  If you would like to try expressing your own thoughts and emotions on this subject that way, give it a shot!  I'll consider a separate poem along those lines, too.

@TranquilityBase - as  you can see, I took quite a lot of your advice (I split the tenses, I think, properly instead of trying to drag the second quatrain entirely into the present.)  "[T]issues" may still not be the right word.
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#8
(09-14-2022, 07:57 AM)dukealien Wrote:  edit2;

What must it be to drift unpeacefully,
not recognizing nurse or child or bed– 
while soul churns after memory has fled–
to see and search and veer meaninglessly
trapped in a breathing body, nearly dead?
Vain steeplechasing thoughts find neither name
nor reason, none to help or even blame,
forgetting words those gathered used or said.
Yet, though the mind is lost, it feels the same
emotion from its living body - fear
of all its tissues touch and see and hear
bereft of sense within its failing frame.
Someone will need to close those fearful eyes
and wonder if she’ll panic as she dies.





Sincere thanks to all critics, including the more recent.  This is as difficult to edit as it was easy to write initially!

@brynmawr1 - You are probably right, that it would be best to lose the form and go to blank or free verse to maximize impact and communication.  On the other hand, I find that wrestling with forms can force unexpected directions while trying to pin the theme down.  If you would like to try expressing your own thoughts and emotions on this subject that way, give it a shot!  I'll consider a separate poem along those lines, too.

@TranquilityBase - as  you can see, I took quite a lot of your advice (I split the tenses, I think, properly instead of trying to drag the second quatrain entirely into the present.)  "[T]issues" may still not be the right word.
Duke,
It is a beautiful poem.  Well done.
bryn
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#9
Hello duke-
You know me- edit, edit, edit.

The interplay between N and the dying person could be brought into stronger relief by losing the formal structure and going with a more fragmented piece, while retaining the immediacy. Several times I've struggled with how to relate this type of experience, yet find few words that fit together to describe it.   

I certainly relate to the sentiment you express, yet feel distance created by the form, when the reality is much closer. (I hope that makes sense).  For me, it's like trying to describe a fire I can't put out (or may not even want to), while standing there helplessly with a cup of water, except that the fire is internal, defying description.

N's observations are the only thing that can be realistically related, since it's nearly impossible to reliably write from the point of view of the dying. Even when a dying person is still somewhat coherent, it's extremely difficult to place their spoken thoughts within living reality. Harder still to accurately interpret their body language.

All that said, best of luck with this one- it's a very, very difficult experience to convey.  I'd focus on N's observation of body language, and the setting (but it's not my poem, and I have yet to come close).

I'd build around these fragments :

to drift unpeacefully
not recognizing 
memory has fled
nearly dead
chasing thoughts
mind is lost
failing frame
fearful eyes
as she dies.
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