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By the Way


Revision tweaked.

By the Way

Here on 9th Street,
in the sealed safe place called home,
a cat’s throaty language
is sometimes all I hear.

The interstate ties a knot around this city.
I walk under the heavy strands,
looking for the bridges I may have to build myself.

The sun is a burden in the quiet.
A cold nose is all I have
to remind me where I come from.

There are a few things to rely on.
The rain, when it comes, dampens the dust
into streaks of gray mud.
Neighbors sweep their porches,
antiphonal scratching.
I have one friend within my reach.

Salty dust swirls on close-by streets;
the distant knotted highway is a dotted line.
The cat curls inside a nest of sunlight.

I am homesick, by the way.
No tears allowed.


I'm stealing this from the Poetry Sundays thread on Chalkboard. I am wanting critique on this....

By the Way

Here on 9th Street,
in the sealed safe place called home,
a cat’s throaty language
is sometimes all I hear.

The interstate ties a knot around this city.
I walk under its heavy strands,
looking for the bridges I may have to build myself.

The sun is a burden in the quiet.
A cold nose is all I have
to remind me where I come from.

Strong arms – mine and his.
I lift myself; he enfolds me.
Something to rely on,
along with smiling eyes and a
certain kind of understanding.

The close-by streets are empty;
the distant knotted highway is a dotted line.
The cat curls inside a nest of sunlight.

I am homesick, by the way.
No tears allowed.

Last edited by vkp, Dec/13/2012, 8:57 am
Dec/4/2012, 10:36 am Link to this post Send Email to vkp   Send PM to vkp Blog
 
36064 Profile
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Re: By the Way


VKP---

i like that the poem remains coherent and focused, in this case on language related to our living space. to home.

however, a cat's throaty sound may be a bit inconsequential;


Here on 9th Street,
in the sealed safe place called home,
a cat’s throaty language
is sometimes all I hear.



one trick, is to describe what the poem sees, throaty is good for a baritone or this particular cat, but it need not stop there; how is the cat connected to the narrator, or is the image intended to stand alone?

i might be tempted to take the cat to the windows, let him stretch across the stuffed couch, stare into the street---providing a bridge to the interstate.

The interstate ties a knot around this city. I walk under its heavy strands,
looking for the bridges I may have to build myself.


heavy strands, could our descriptor give the poem better service if we saw colors, temperatures and surfaces?

the iron arch of bridges peeling
their weathered paint, the cables
cold and lucid, the surfaces
crusted with a dew like moisture.


yeah, an appeal to the senses.


not sure why the sun is a burden:

       
The sun is a burden in the quiet.
A cold nose is all I have
to remind me where I come from.


huh?


much more emotional here:



Strong arms – mine and his.


this next line may be your final choice, but it sounds like a romance novel cliche. Yes/No:


he enfolds me.
Something to rely on,
along with smiling eyes and a
certain kind of understanding.





what kind of understanding would that be?


now, we have already been outside in the street, the interstate; do you really want to go back to that location?


I lift myself; The close-by streets are empty;
the distant knotted highway is a dotted line.
The cat curls inside a nest of sunlight.


me, i stick with the romantic interlude
inside the house, but i understand, I think, the desire of the poem to tie the ends of the poem---the interstate and that cat.

now the ending lines, they are literal, not visual or memorable. Yes/No?

I am homesick, by the way.
No tears allowed.


boys at camp missing their mom, or maybe the russian film


moscow doesn't believe in tears.


tough to find a poignant, fresh close. but i would try.

i like this poem, the concept, it is worth putting in more time.

if you decide to revise, good hunting.


bernie




Dec/4/2012, 3:28 pm Link to this post Send Email to 36064   Send PM to 36064 Blog
 
Christine98 Profile
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Re: By the Way


hi vkp,

I like this poem a lot and would only change it by removing or changing S4L4 (the "smiling eyes" line.)

Otherwise, for me, the images work to create a powerful sense of someone uprooted. I especially like these two images: "The interstate ties a knot around this city." and,
"The cat curls inside a nest of sunlight." I read them as two sides of a coin.

Chris
Dec/5/2012, 10:06 am Link to this post Send Email to Christine98   Send PM to Christine98
 
Zakzzz5 Profile
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Re: By the Way


vkp,

For me there really isn't much to change. I like the detail, and like it that the poem resists more detail. I'm left with just enough description to where I first imagine the scenery, the buildings, as being like Seattle, but not sure Seattle is ringed by an interstate. Could be many towns. But walking under the strands evokes images around Seattle. It could be any city, though.

It's clear the protagonist is a woman (or taking the feminine role), and I think the mention of the cat nails it. Is this your poem, or somebody else's poem? I ask because you say you are stealing it; that could be simply a way of saying it's yours from Chalkboard or it could be literal.

Zak

quote:

vkp wrote:

I'm stealing this from the Poetry Sundays thread on Chalkboard. I am wanting critique on this....

By the Way

Here on 9th Street,
in the sealed safe place called home,
a cat’s throaty language
is sometimes all I hear.

The interstate ties a knot around this city.
I walk under its heavy strands,
looking for the bridges I may have to build myself.

The sun is a burden in the quiet.
A cold nose is all I have
to remind me where I come from.

Strong arms – mine and his.
I lift myself; he enfolds me.
Something to rely on,
along with smiling eyes and a
certain kind of understanding.

The close-by streets are empty;
the distant knotted highway is a dotted line.
The cat curls inside a nest of sunlight.

I am homesick, by the way.
No tears allowed.



Dec/5/2012, 11:30 am Link to this post Send Email to Zakzzz5   Send PM to Zakzzz5
 
vkp Profile
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Re: By the Way


Thanks for feedback everyone. I will take under advisement for sure.

Zak: Sorry to be unclear. It is my poem, but I lifted it from a thread in chalkboard that I started for a poem a week "game" based on prompts. This one's prompt was to use a line from the Sexton poem, Locked Doors.

(Check out the thread called Poetry Sundays. It's kinda fun.)
vkp
Dec/5/2012, 12:49 pm Link to this post Send Email to vkp   Send PM to vkp Blog
 
Terreson Profile
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Re: By the Way


Good poem. I love how a game involving improv can sometimes lead to something more.

S1. Why sealed? What does the modification add to the "safe place?" Now that I think on it I might be inclined to go with the phrase the safe house of home. It would add to, foreshadow what the poem brings me too.

S2. These heavy strands. Are they the city's or the highway's?

S3. Excellent.

S4. Start is strong. Last line strikes me as an opportunity thrown away.

S5. Again excellent.

Ending couplet. Unless there is something needing to be conveyed about subject's situation I would drop last line.

Tere
Dec/8/2012, 1:33 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
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Re: By the Way


Made some revisions; probably more need to be made.
Dec/9/2012, 2:11 pm Link to this post Send Email to vkp   Send PM to vkp Blog
 
36064 Profile
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Re: By the Way


VKP

The addition of the highlighted lines is the change i see and i like these six new lines:

There are a few things to rely on.
The rain, when it comes, dampens the dust
into streaks of gray mud.
Stepford neighbors sweep their porches,
antiphonal scratching.
I have one friend within my reach.



the added lines highlight the narrator's practical dilemna and help me see her in a living context---less philosophy, more reality.



for what it's worth, i have decided against empty streets in my own poetry, too predictable and no longer fresh.





Close-by streets empty
except for the FedEx truck
and the solemn couple leaving
religious phamphelts
on closed doors;the cat curls
inside a nest of feverless
yellow sunlight.

 


The close-by streets are empty;
the distant knotted highway is a dotted line.
The cat curls inside a nest of sunlight.


 

nice job with those added lines.


bernie




Dec/9/2012, 3:08 pm Link to this post Send Email to 36064   Send PM to 36064 Blog
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: By the Way


Hi vkp,

Definitely a good revision. The only nits I have are minor ones:

I think you can cut "Stepford" before neighbors. It feels like too much telling to me. The fact that they sweep their porches and that the N only has one friend within reach tells me what I need to know.

Perhaps cut the first "the" in the next stanza, which feels "the" heavy to me:

Close-by streets are empty;
the distant knotted highway is a dotted line.
The cat curls inside a nest of sunlight.

Although I didn't have a chance to comment sooner, I thought S4 in the original was the weakest part of the poem, so I'm glad you made your big revisions there.



Dec/12/2012, 7:19 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
vkp Profile
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Re: By the Way


Kat, very practical and helpful! Thank you. I also changed the whole empty street thing -- Bernie, I believe, pointed out the triteness of that. See if you think it works, what I did. Grateful as always for people's attention and input. xo
vkp
Dec/13/2012, 8:59 am Link to this post Send Email to vkp   Send PM to vkp Blog
 
queenfisher Profile
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Re: By the Way


dear vkp

i like your tweaked version

i like the atmosphere you create with this one

so the sealed safe place called home - is really not home? sorry for the dumb question!

i love:

The interstate ties a knot around this city.
I walk under the heavy strands,
looking for the bridges I may have to build myself.

the bridges i may have to build myself - very
nice - as it gives the feeling of vulnerability - opp. of what it's saying.

i think the knotted highway could be changed - you've used interstate ties a knot & it seems like reptition.

the sun is a burden in the quiet - is a beautiful line & evokes a completely new poem for me - maybe i could steal that (with your permission!)

i like all those few things you rely on - very direct

The cat curls inside a nest of sunlight.
another lovely line - evoking a lovely image.

i think you could do away with the last line & end on btw.

enjoyed!
Dec/14/2012, 5:16 am Link to this post Send Email to queenfisher   Send PM to queenfisher Blog
 


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