Some Thanks and a Poem

To all the folks who responded to my request for help, thank you! 🙂  Based on your recommendations, I’m going to call this new category for my posts…”WriteInBetween”!

All my frightening attempts at writing fiction and poetry will be placed under its category (someday, I might build a separate blog for posts like this).  You, of course have been warned.

That being said, here’s the very first piece I’m going to post on this blog.  May god have mercy on our sanities.

Prodigal

I.

Soothing cool black

bitterness on my tongue

In the ridges of

my palate,

minnowing disappointment

down

my larynx

down

my throat

Burning acrimony in the belly

of my toothless pride

II.

You wonder

at my eyes of molten stone

Silence,

like a sleeping cat,

stretches between your world and mine

Scratching at my ankles

Asking me to stay

(Telling me to leave?)

The sun warms the air and

I feel myself kneaded

Rising like dough

(Who else here writes poetry?  I’d like to see your work!)

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15 thoughts on “Some Thanks and a Poem

      1. That would be cool, although I don’t have a whole lot to share in the way of poems. Just a few pieces. I mostly work on editing my novels, since I’m trying to get them published.

  1. Before anything, let me just say that I find it more productive and conducive for commenting/critique if we’re dealing with a collection (or at least several poems). One can gauge better the obsessions and concerns of the writer, see often-used techniques, and so on. So if you have more, please post them! 🙂 (And if it’s anything, I post some of my bulakbol “poems” here: http://thegrasspillow.wordpress.com/)

    Okay. (Please don’t hate me haha)

    I think the poem can benefit from either “solidifying” the persona or getting rid of it altogether. I say this because the images are somewhat disparate despite what I would dare call a “central emotion” evoked by the images. Either option entails a more coherent use of objects and images. It’s good that you’re attacking your subject obliquely, but I think even the images are too telling and abstract. By telling I mean that some lines/phrases *tell* rather than *show* what is supposed to be evoked: “toothless pride” and “minnowing disappointment”, for instance. (I am assuming, of course, that the “project” of the poem is the expression/evocation of that/those emotion/s w/o sacrificing ambiguity [evocation], and that’s why I *think* that the images don’t work too well with each other. Of course you can write w/o images, w/o a lot of the formal conventions we know to be “characteristic of poetry”, whatever that may mean.)

    A productive question would be, Where do the images come from? Or, Who is speaking (if there is one)? To whom is it addressed? From which we arrive at the issue of tone: “soothing”, “bitterness”, “ridges of my palate”, “minnowing”, “acrimony”, “toothless”. What occasions such changes in diction, in the choice of words? Aside from the elegance (and grotesqueness) of the image of minnows minnowing down the throat of the persona, why does the disappointment minnow down? (I’m guessing it’s reinforced by words related to eating/cooking in the first four lines.)

    On the other hand, the second part performs better than the first. The conceit of the cat is “stretched” well (well, until the dough part). And in light of that I think it’s stronger if you open it with the image of the sleeping cat. The phrase “your world and mine” can be evoked better by showing it, don’t you think? Like if a room divider or doorway were the threshold of “your world and mine”, and the cat is there, silent, stretching.

    And thus we arrive at the title, which I think is problematic due to its disconnectedness: how does it relate to both parts, and how does it clarify (or add a layer to) the change from the first part to the second? In fact I sense it best in the second part, in the lines “Asking me to stay / (Telling me to leave?)”, but still leaves me for the most part on the side of guesswork and speculation. It’s not always ineffective to have gaps, I mean there are “good” gaps, which thicken the layers and add to the richness of the piece.

    There. This is, of course, only one way of taking it apart (constructively, I hasten to add). One day you might even rehash it completely (I’ve had this experience, and it was difficult, not to mention the internal drama involved, haha). It’s not much, but I hope that my comments make sense and are, more importantly, helpful.

    Best,
    —P

    1. Thanks, Pepito. I don’t hate you, don’t worry. 🙂

      This actually gives me a lot to chew on – that is to say, you’ve given me LOTS of productive questions that can really improve this poem on a re-write (which I plan to do this April, because I believe that’s Poetry Writing Month).

      I do agree that there’s a whole lot of disjoint in this poem with regards to the supposed persona and the imagery that I associated with it. As I fully admit to this being a first draft (and one that’s written on the fly, to boot), I recognize that there is very little technique and contemplation to this work at this point. In many respects, I know I’ve failed to express what I meant to express in using the first “images” I found myself associating with the idea I started with (which was “returning in shame, to love”).

      It’s been a long time since I’ve seriously worked on a poem, so I know that I’ve got a lot to do. Given that my consistent problem involved a lack of focus and cohesion in terms of expression, I think having questions (like the ones you posed) can really help me be a decent poet in ten years or so.

      Yes, I’m realistic in my aspirations. XD

      1. I’m glad that at the very least my comments helped. It’s serious business, indeed!

        I find having a literary “parent” or “mentor” to be useful: a book or an author (deceased or not). Reading those books (or pieces) helps me get “in the zone” whenever I try to write, because such books/pieces/authors “speak to me”. Or at least has rendered whatever I have in mind that is impossible to surpass (for the moment). A favorite (I have many XD) is Cole Swensen. Jorie Graham’s *The End of Beauty*, too [most of the poems I admire in that collection can be found here: http://guccipiggy.objectis.net/poetry/graham/endofbeauty/%5D. And a slew of old guys like Jacques Dupin, Yves Bonnefoy, and Edmond Jabès (he’s dead).

        And don’t worry (too much) about your poem. I think it’s better to worry about the book that will “contain” your poem(s). 😀

      2. AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAND there’s the rub. I’m not quite sure where I am, thematically, when it comes to my writing. But given the anger/depression I generally feel when I write poems…I’m tempted to call the collection “The Suicides of Manila”. XD

      3. With that title you can easily conceptualize a programmatic way of going about it: a collection of suicide paraphernalia, probably with a word count limit, one for each city/municipality, which can somehow be read like a map. A map of Manila based on suicides—and so on. So yes, restrictions and constraints are very productive *and* generative.

      4. That…it’s a little scary how quickly you thought that up. XD

        And given the parameters you gave, it’ll probably take even the first draft of the collection some time to complete because I need to dive into a bit of cartography to determine the ideal progression (given the potential emotional intensity of a collection like this, escalation seems to be the way to go; I could be wrong, though).

      5. It was a handful, yes, but it’s just some idea, just linking constraints and possible (exciting) forms. XD It’s really up to you, but working on a collection as a whole helps me a lot. For my part, though, that ‘collection’ is just one big ‘poem’, so it has been and continues to be recalcitrant.

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