On a Scale of 1-10, I am Complicit
#1
On a Scale of 1-10, I am Complicit


It’s raining now. But I haven’t turned on the windshield wipers yet.
Ahead, tail lights line the evening’s horizon.
The highway is straight, mostly.
The radio is playing Fleetwood Mac, maybe.

I nod as the woman in the passenger’s seat tells me that she’s signing up for her local fitness studio. Three of her friends left their husbands after joining that gym.
...her first day is Monday...

It’s raining harder now. Beading up on the windshield. Distorting the road like a funhouse mirror.
She’s telling me about when she called the police.

Stevie Nicks is singing about Sweet Little Lies.
…But he’s a really good guy and it was just one time, so she didn’t press charges...

Through the windshield, the world has blurred beyond recognition.
She looks over,
as if about to ask if I can see,
and whether I’m going to turn on the wipers.

I move my hand to the knob.
Tail lights refract through so much water their distance is unknowable.
The road and horizon indistinguishable.

The rain drowns out Stevie’s voice.
I feel the ridges on my fingertips.
…And she hasn’t had a drink since the fight at Amanda’s wedding…

The rhythm of the worn windshield wipers matches Mick Fleetwood’s drum beat and,
for a moment, the road is clear,
before the rain begins to form streaked arches across the glass.
"What I want in poetry is a kind of abstract photography of the nerves, but what I like in photography is the poetry of literal pictures of the neighborhood." -John Koethe
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#2
(09-15-2022, 12:46 PM)ZHamilton Wrote:  On a Scale of 1-10, I am Complicit

It’s raining now. But I haven’t turned on the windshield wipers yet. 
In the distance, tail lights line the evening’s horizon.                   I imagine red lights trailing in the rain.
The highway is straight, mostly. 
The radio is playing Stevie Nicks, I think.  maybe.

I nod as the woman in the passenger’s seat tells me that she’s signing up for  her local fitness studio. Three of her friends had left their husbands after joining that gym. Her first day is Monday.    

This must be a cab or uber driver if he doesn't know the woman's name? Maybe the main character is detached from the situation.

It’s raining harder. The rain which had been beaded up on the windshield is now distorting the road like a funhouse mirror.         Favorite line
She’s telling me about the ex-boyfriend who has been charged with…

Stevie Nicks is signing about Sweet Little Lies. 
…But he’s a really good guy and it was just one time, so she didn’t press charges...

The windshield has blurred the world outside beyond recognition. 
She looks over at me
As if about to ask if I can see, 
And whether I’m going to turn the wipers on. 

I move my hand to the knob. The tail lights are now refracted through so much water that their distance is unknowable. 
The road and the horizon indistinguishable. 
The only certainty is that it is growing closer at 68 mph. 
The rain has drowned out Stevie’s voice. 
I feel the ridges of the knob on my fingertips. 

…And she hasn’t had a drink since the fight at Amanda’s wedding but is thinking of starting again…

The rhythm of the worn windshield wipers matches Mick Fleetwood’s drum beat and, for a moment, the road is clear, before the rain begins to form streaked arches across the glass.

The bolded words I would consider removing.

This piece feels very detached and dissociative. Interesting that it plays like a blurry memory even though it is set in real time, like the character is reliving it afterward. Reminds me of that painting scream. The road straight, the sky swirling-- the prose flat, interspersed with poetry.


As far as I can tell, I don't see many issues with your work, this is all that occurred to me. I feel just looking it over a couple times yourself could solve most of these edits, though.

I liked this piece a lot, cheers for the read
Sc
"Whenever is a really long never"
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#3
(09-15-2022, 12:46 PM)ZHamilton Wrote:  On a Scale of 1-10, I am Complicit

It’s raining now. But I haven’t turned on the windshield wipers yet. 
In the distance, tail lights line the evening’s horizon.
The highway is straight, mostly. 
The radio is playing Stevie Nicks, I think. 

I’m nodding, as the woman in the passenger’s seat tells me that she’s signing up for  her local fitness studio. Three of her friends had left their husbands after joining that gym. Her first day is Monday.     Maybe write in her voice:  "Three of my friends left their husbands after joining./ My first day is Monday."

It’s raining harder. The rain which had been beading up on the windshield is/ now distorting the road like a funhouse mirror./
She’s telling me about the ex-boyfriend who has been charged with…        and there's the ex-boyfriend/ who's been charged with...

Stevie Nicks is signing about Sweet Little Lies. 
…But he’s a really good guy and it was just one time, so she didn’t press charges...

The windshield has blurred the world outside beyond recognition. 
She looks over at me
As if about to ask if I can see, 
And whether I’m going to turn the wipers on. 

I move my hand to the knob. /The tail lights are now refracted through so much water /that their distance is unknowable. 
The road and the horizon indistinguishable. 
The only certainty is that it is growing closer at 68 mph. 
The rain has drowned out Stevie’s voice. 
I feel the ridges of the knob on my fingertips. 

…And she hasn’t had a drink/ since the fight at Amanda’s wedding but is thinking of starting again…

The rhythm of the worn windshield wipers /matches Mick Fleetwood’s drum beat /and, for a moment, the road is clear, /before the rain begins again to form streaked arches across the glass.

I too am enthuisastic about your poem, even with no edits, however, as a reader of poetry, the long lines I've highlighted need to be broken down, or condensed.  I've given an example, I hope, of how I'd go about it without too much cutting, but I did make some suggested cuts.  It's an absolute trip to read even without a word changed.

TqB

__________________________

p.s. Title is perfecto!

___________________________

p.s.s.  Slicer is spot on with this description in his critique:  Interesting that it plays like a blurry memory even though it is set in real time, like the character is reliving it afterward. Reminds me of that painting scream. The road straight, the sky swirling-- the prose flat, interspersed with poetry.
Reply
#4
(09-15-2022, 12:46 PM)ZHamilton Wrote:  On a Scale of 1-10, I am Complicit

It’s raining now. But I haven’t turned on the windshield wipers yet. 
In the distance, tail lights line the evening’s horizon.   Ahead,   less is more usually
The highway is straight, mostly. 
The radio is playing Stevie Nicks, I think.   I agree with SC, 'maybe' as it resonates with 'mostly'

I’m nodding, as the woman in the passenger’s seat tells me that she’s signing up for her local fitness studio. Three of her friends have left their husbands after joining that gym. Her first day is Monday.     this is great foreshadowing but loses its punch when the women only has an ex-boyfriend, maybe make him a husband?

Harder now,
It’s raining harder. The rain which had been beading up on the windshield is now distorting the road like a funhouse mirror.
She’s telling me about the ex-boyfriend who has been charged with…     Here you write that he's been charged but then write that she didn't press charges.  I suggest moving the 'didn't press charges' to this line, will have to adjust wording a bit  e.g ,she didn't press charges...

Stevie Nicks is signing about Sweet Little Lies.     singing?
But he’s a really good guy and it was just one time, so she didn’t press charges...

The windshield has blurred the world outside beyond recognition. the way written makes it read like the windshield is doing the blurring, maybe fixed with punctuation. Important line though as signals progression of the narrative.
She looks over at me
As if about to ask if I can see, 
And whether I’m going to turn the wipers on. on the wipers.  never end with a preposition, so they say...

I move my hand to the knob. line break The tail lights are now refracted through so much water that their distance is unknowable. 
The road and the horizon indistinguishable. 
The only certainty is that it is growing closer at 68 mph. shrinking or narrowing?  This line is a little vague and confusing, not sure it's needed
The rain has drowned out Stevie’s voice.   drowns
I feel the ridges of the knob on my fingertips. I like how you start the stanza with moving to the knob and then the feel of it.  very vivid.  You could almost cut 'of the knob' like a continuation of the first line

And she hasn’t had a drink since the fight at Amanda’s wedding but is thinking of starting again

The rhythm of the worn windshield wipers matches Mick Fleetwood’s drum beat and, for a moment, the road is clear, before the rain begins to form streaked arches across the glass.
The ending is good but could be strengthened by strategic line breaks.
Hi Z,
very nice piece.  I like the story within a story.  The women with her vapid banter and the narrator's indifference with a seasoning of self destruction. You have already gotten good input so I thought I would throw my own in to muddle things even more.  Most of my suggestions above involve tightening up the language.  It does read a little prosaic for a poem but I think if you cut some of the fluff, it will read better, to my ear.  One of the strengths of the piece is this sense of impending doom, of both characters.  Making the language a little more immediate, I think, will add to that effect.  Good work.  i look forward to seeing how it progresses.
Take care,
bryn
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#5
(09-15-2022, 01:44 PM)Semicircle Wrote:  
(09-15-2022, 12:46 PM)ZHamilton Wrote:  On a Scale of 1-10, I am Complicit

It’s raining now. But I haven’t turned on the windshield wipers yet. 
In the distance, tail lights line the evening’s horizon.                   I imagine red lights trailing in the rain.
The highway is straight, mostly. 
The radio is playing Stevie Nicks, I think.  maybe.

I nod as the woman in the passenger’s seat tells me that she’s signing up for  her local fitness studio. Three of her friends had left their husbands after joining that gym. Her first day is Monday.    

This must be a cab or uber driver if he doesn't know the woman's name? Maybe the main character is detached from the situation.

It’s raining harder. The rain which had been beaded up on the windshield is now distorting the road like a funhouse mirror.         Favorite line
She’s telling me about the ex-boyfriend who has been charged with…

Stevie Nicks is signing about Sweet Little Lies. 
…But he’s a really good guy and it was just one time, so she didn’t press charges...

The windshield has blurred the world outside beyond recognition. 
She looks over at me
As if about to ask if I can see, 
And whether I’m going to turn the wipers on. 

I move my hand to the knob. The tail lights are now refracted through so much water that their distance is unknowable. 
The road and the horizon indistinguishable. 
The only certainty is that it is growing closer at 68 mph. 
The rain has drowned out Stevie’s voice. 
I feel the ridges of the knob on my fingertips. 

…And she hasn’t had a drink since the fight at Amanda’s wedding but is thinking of starting again…

The rhythm of the worn windshield wipers matches Mick Fleetwood’s drum beat and, for a moment, the road is clear, before the rain begins to form streaked arches across the glass.

The bolded words I would consider removing.

This piece feels very detached and dissociative. Interesting that it plays like a blurry memory even though it is set in real time, like the character is reliving it afterward. Reminds me of that painting scream. The road straight, the sky swirling-- the prose flat, interspersed with poetry.


As far as I can tell, I don't see many issues with your work, this is all that occurred to me. I feel just looking it over a couple times yourself could solve most of these edits, though.

I liked this piece a lot, cheers for the read
Sc

I appreciate the close read, and thanks for being the first to take a crack at this one! Now off to the woodshed...

(09-16-2022, 05:19 AM)TranquillityBase Wrote:  
(09-15-2022, 12:46 PM)ZHamilton Wrote:  On a Scale of 1-10, I am Complicit

It’s raining now. But I haven’t turned on the windshield wipers yet. 
In the distance, tail lights line the evening’s horizon.
The highway is straight, mostly. 
The radio is playing Stevie Nicks, I think. 

I’m nodding, as the woman in the passenger’s seat tells me that she’s signing up for  her local fitness studio. Three of her friends had left their husbands after joining that gym. Her first day is Monday.     Maybe write in her voice:  "Three of my friends left their husbands after joining./ My first day is Monday."

It’s raining harder. The rain which had been beading up on the windshield is/ now distorting the road like a funhouse mirror./
She’s telling me about the ex-boyfriend who has been charged with…        and there's the ex-boyfriend/ who's been charged with...

Stevie Nicks is signing about Sweet Little Lies. 
…But he’s a really good guy and it was just one time, so she didn’t press charges...

The windshield has blurred the world outside beyond recognition. 
She looks over at me
As if about to ask if I can see, 
And whether I’m going to turn the wipers on. 

I move my hand to the knob. /The tail lights are now refracted through so much water /that their distance is unknowable. 
The road and the horizon indistinguishable. 
The only certainty is that it is growing closer at 68 mph. 
The rain has drowned out Stevie’s voice. 
I feel the ridges of the knob on my fingertips. 

…And she hasn’t had a drink/ since the fight at Amanda’s wedding but is thinking of starting again…

The rhythm of the worn windshield wipers /matches Mick Fleetwood’s drum beat /and, for a moment, the road is clear, /before the rain begins again to form streaked arches across the glass.

I too am enthuisastic about your poem, even with no edits, however, as a reader of poetry, the long lines I've highlighted need to be broken down, or condensed.  I've given an example, I hope, of how I'd go about it without too much cutting, but I did make some suggested cuts.  It's an absolute trip to read even without a word changed.

TqB

__________________________

p.s. Title is perfecto!

___________________________

p.s.s.  Slicer is spot on with this description in his critique:  Interesting that it plays like a blurry memory even though it is set in real time, like the character is reliving it afterward. Reminds me of that painting scream. The road straight, the sky swirling-- the prose flat, interspersed with poetry.

Thanks, TranquilityBase. I realized some of the feedback you offered addressed some points that weren't sitting so well with me but I couldn't find the path forward. I very much appreciate the close read.
"What I want in poetry is a kind of abstract photography of the nerves, but what I like in photography is the poetry of literal pictures of the neighborhood." -John Koethe
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#6
(09-16-2022, 11:27 AM)brynmawr1 Wrote:  
(09-15-2022, 12:46 PM)ZHamilton Wrote:  On a Scale of 1-10, I am Complicit

It’s raining now. But I haven’t turned on the windshield wipers yet. 
In the distance, tail lights line the evening’s horizon.   Ahead,   less is more usually
The highway is straight, mostly. 
The radio is playing Stevie Nicks, I think.   I agree with SC, 'maybe' as it resonates with 'mostly'

I’m nodding, as the woman in the passenger’s seat tells me that she’s signing up for her local fitness studio. Three of her friends have left their husbands after joining that gym. Her first day is Monday.     this is great foreshadowing but loses its punch when the women only has an ex-boyfriend, maybe make him a husband?

Harder now,
It’s raining harder. The rain which had been beading up on the windshield is now distorting the road like a funhouse mirror.
She’s telling me about the ex-boyfriend who has been charged with…     Here you write that he's been charged but then write that she didn't press charges.  I suggest moving the 'didn't press charges' to this line, will have to adjust wording a bit  e.g ,she didn't press charges...

Stevie Nicks is signing about Sweet Little Lies.     singing?
But he’s a really good guy and it was just one time, so she didn’t press charges...

The windshield has blurred the world outside beyond recognition. the way written makes it read like the windshield is doing the blurring, maybe fixed with punctuation. Important line though as signals progression of the narrative.
She looks over at me
As if about to ask if I can see, 
And whether I’m going to turn the wipers on. on the wipers.  never end with a preposition, so they say...

I move my hand to the knob. line break The tail lights are now refracted through so much water that their distance is unknowable. 
The road and the horizon indistinguishable. 
The only certainty is that it is growing closer at 68 mph. shrinking or narrowing?  This line is a little vague and confusing, not sure it's needed
The rain has drowned out Stevie’s voice.   drowns
I feel the ridges of the knob on my fingertips. I like how you start the stanza with moving to the knob and then the feel of it.  very vivid.  You could almost cut 'of the knob' like a continuation of the first line

And she hasn’t had a drink since the fight at Amanda’s wedding but is thinking of starting again

The rhythm of the worn windshield wipers matches Mick Fleetwood’s drum beat and, for a moment, the road is clear, before the rain begins to form streaked arches across the glass.
The ending is good but could be strengthened by strategic line breaks.
Hi Z,
very nice piece.  I like the story within a story.  The women with her vapid banter and the narrator's indifference with a seasoning of self destruction. You have already gotten good input so I thought I would throw my own in to muddle things even more.  Most of my suggestions above involve tightening up the language.  It does read a little prosaic for a poem but I think if you cut some of the fluff, it will read better, to my ear.  One of the strengths of the piece is this sense of impending doom, of both characters.  Making the language a little more immediate, I think, will add to that effect.  Good work.  i look forward to seeing how it progresses.
Take care,
bryn

Thanks, Bryn. I appreciate the close read and will work on tightening the language. And thanks for catching that issue regarding "pressing charges," the conflict was the result of an earlier edit where I changed one of the lines. I recently read this piece at a workshop and did find it wordy, but wasn't sure how to remedy. I think your edits, along with the other input offered, will definitely help. Cheers.
"What I want in poetry is a kind of abstract photography of the nerves, but what I like in photography is the poetry of literal pictures of the neighborhood." -John Koethe
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